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litter box train dog

    How To Litter Box Train Your Dog

    By Teresa Heath




Passive Paper Training, the Best Alternative to the Crate!




To Me this was the greatest discovery for making litter box training or any kind of indoor house training as easy as possible.


With this method, the dog is no longer dependent on you to do so much of the process while learning.


Due to the fact that I have had several customers concerned about leaving their dog in the crate for so many hours while they are at work I discovered this form of confinement and NOW it is my preferred way of confining a dog during litter box training or any kind of housetraining.




How To Set Up For Passive Paper Training Method:




Determine a small area (not carpeted) that will work by blocking it off with a baby gate, using an ex-pen, or puppy playpen.


The $60 we spent on an ex-pen was a great investment!  It consists of 8 sections that you can arrange in different patterns.



A bathroom, or laundry room can work well for this.


But it is best if it can be an area close to where you and your family spend most of their time.

  • Completely cover the entire floor area with paper or pads.

  • Place a bowl of water inside the area.

  • It is best not to put anything else in the area, they will potty on it.

  • Covering the entire floor area of your confined area will make it so that your dog has no choice but to go potty on the paper or pads.


  • 90% of the time during litter box training this is where your dog will be.


  • Of course, that really all depends on how much time you have to dedicate to watching him closely while letting him  out to play.




For those dogs who have already been going potty outside regularly, I do not suggest taking your dog outside to play very often because it will cause confusion and some dogs will try to hold it until you take them outside again.


During the process of training, it is best to stick to the plan as closely as possible, this will cause it to go much quicker.


After a short time you should begin to notice your dog going potty in a specific area on the paper or pads.


At that time, you can begin to decrease the size of the paper or pads little by little until it is the size of the litter box you intend to use.




Do not be sad or feel bad about your dog being confined in this manner, it is truly best for him and his safety first of all, but it is wonderful how it will almost entirely eradicate accidents happening where you don't want them to.


Every time you leave to go for a long period of time make sure you have put clean paper down in the area.





As mentioned above, During this phase of your training, you will need to keep doggie in the confined area at all times...EXCEPT...when you take him out for play time and exercise.


This can be in the house or outside, it is up to you. Just remember that if your dog is used to pottying outside then his outside playtime must be limited!


The better and harder the play time, the easier it will be for them to relax while in their confined area. 




As you are progressing along with this portion of the training, you want to know exactly how small you will need to go with your paper, which is to be determined by the size of the litter box you are going to use.



It is crucial that The size of your LITTER BOX remain large enough for enough for your dog to do his circling routine (as most dogs do) before he actually does his business.


And depending on how big your dog will grow will be a determining factor in choosing the right size of box.


You may be thinking that this is kind of a silly thing to be concerned about but let me tell you it is NOT!


Here are some reasons why:


  1. Through much experience and trial and error  I have come to realize that most dogs....90% of them do not want to go poo (#2) at the same place where they go pee (#1). Due to this fact, your potty box must be large enough for them to have room to go #1 in one corner and #2 in the other. Plus to hopefully have room to do it more than once depending on the amount of time you are gone during the day.

  2. Through experience with thousands of customers and many discovering after their dog had become full grown they stopped going in the box or right beside the box.

This was due to their outgrowing their box and needing a larger box.


Yes, in the beginning the puppies will chew and tear the paper or pads.


Don't despair, that is quite normal. They are teething ferociously and love to play.



To discourage the chewing of the paper there are a couple of things I suggest that you do:

  • Make sure your puppy or dog has lots of healthy chewies and toys available to him.


There are digestible raw hide type chews that I use and the dentabones and many others that most puppies love.

Be diligent in taking the paper out of his mouth, and saying at the same time loudly,"No bite!", remove the paper from mouth and insert chewie! I then say in a happy voice,"Good bite!"



Like I mentioned above, the passive paper training is an acceptable alternative for those who have to be away for prolonged periods of time or those who have hectic schedules at home and it is impossible to use the crate training method which takes a lot more time and effort.


I just plain like it better because it is easier and makes my life with my puppy better!!!!!


Maybe you are like me and just plain don't have the time to dedicate to doing the crate thing.


I just love the passive paper training because I have been able to train so many at one time.


It may result in the length of the training being somewhat longer and it might not.


You can still use the crate when you are home and at night time if you want.


Of course, the closer you adhere to the instructions the quicker your dog will be trained completely.



It is quite understandable that every person's life situation is completely different so that is another reason why I make myself available to you for further assistance if needed. I am only a phone call or email away.



Proper Way to Discipline Puppy or Dog When An Accident Occurs!


Now, When the puppy is out of the crate or confinement for playtime and ONLY WHILE YOU ARE WATCHING CONSTANTLY, yes, like a hawk!


Make sure when you first give him freedom, that even that is limited at first to staying in the same room if possible of his confined area.


You must make it so that he can easily go in and out of the confined area by himself to go potty if the need arises.


If your dog begins to go potty in the wrong place,  this is what you need to do:


  • Make a loud noise (clap hands, or say "No!") and use a firm low voice to show your displeasure. 
  • Immediately take directly to the proper potty place and in a normal happy command voice say, "Go Potty on paper!"  "Good dog, go potty on paper!"

It is a good idea to keep a leash and collar on your dog during his playtime out of his confined area, that way it is much easier for you to get a hold of him when he makes a mistake and then quickly walk him to the proper potty place.


I realized that if I carry him then it will not stick as well for him to know how to walk himself to his potty place all by himself.



You MUST catch them in the act or don't waste your time.  They will not understand what you are doing if you try to discipline them even minutes afterwards. 


Sticking their nose in it or spanking is counter- productive and is not recommended at all.


What I mean by that is if they have gone potty and you did not catch them in the act, DO NOT scold them, because they will not understand.

They will think you are scolding them for what they are doing at that time. They might think you are scolding them for chewing on their bone or playing with their toy, if that is what they are doing at the time.


What if puppy goes potty in the wrong place and you don't catch him in the act?


 When he does pee or poop where you don't want him to, and you did not catch him in the act, quietly clean it up in a matter-of-fact way, ignoring him as much as possible.


This isn't a time to talk either lovingly or annoyed talk to him; essentially ignore him while you do the cleanup. Certainly never yell or physically punish him in any way.


Timing of catching the puppy in the act in order to correct and teach is crucial and CONSISTENCY is the key. 


Besides the preventative measures you are taking, this is the second most important facet of how they will learn the proper behavior.


So, if you are wanting your dog to learn quickly, then it is up to you to do everything you can to prevent him from making a mistake and when he does to make sure and catch him in the act every time.


Good behavior must be praised EVERY TIME you give a command and it is







Praise is a powerful force when it comes to training your dog.


He wants nothing more than to please you. So you must show him in a way that he can recognize that you are happy with his behavior.


Make a big deal about him going potty in the right place.... a big deal! Use expression in your tone of voice, stroke him, pick him up and love on him.


As I mentioned earlier it is not necessary to use treats to reinforce positive potty behavior.

Praise , Praise, Praise!!!.  Are you getting the picture?


Of course, when you are not home you will not see when he goes potty, but make sure you do it when you are home.


One day very soon with the passive paper training or the crate training, puppy will come to realize that the paper is the only place to potty.


If you have used a big area of paper, little by little begin to reduce the area of paper until it is the area of one paper (about the size of the litter box).


During this phase of the training, using the passive paper training method you will not have much work to do except changing the paper or pads and observing during playtime or free time.



Again, remember that all puppies do not learn at the same speed. It will depend on the time you spend with them and how consistent you are with training. 


There is no reason why any dog cannot be trained to do this.  We, the trainers must be consistent. 


The stages are important so that your puppy does not get confused.  (Actually, I believe that any size dog can be trained to do this, but for some dogs you would need a litter box the size of a tank.)



You will not even bring out the litter box you are planning to use until your dog is completely paper trained.


To make sure that your puppy or dog is completely paper trained. You will need to make sure that he is going to the paper on his own and using it to go potty every time.






Questions? Email me:

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