The Art of Keeping Your Dog Out of the Litter Box
It’s no secret that dogs can be a bit gross. From licking things they probably shouldn’t to drinking out of the toilet, many of their habits are pretty questionable. However, perhaps nothing is as stomach-turning as their penchant for poop.
If you’re lucky enough to own a dog and a cat, you’ve probably witnessed your dog dining on delicacies from the litter box. This isn’t a great habit for many reasons, but it’s also a tough one to break. The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital are here to educate you on the art of keeping your dog out of the litter box.
Know Thy Enemy
To outsmart your dog , you must understand your dog. So, what’s with the obsession with cat poop?
Many times, the habit of eating feces, known as coprophagia, has a behavioral component. Although there are medical reasons a pet might choose to dine on feces (malnutrition, intestinal parasitism, decreased digestive ability), this phenomenon is most often rooted in habit.
Dogs are pack animals and are hard wired to clean up after one another. They may choose to raid the litter box for any of the following reasons:
- The cat is part of their pack, and they’re pitching in to clean up.
- Poop is stinky and therefore irresistible.
- They’re curious.
- They’re bored.
Making sure your pooch doesn’t have a medical issue is the first step in stopping coprophagia. Give us a call so we can be sure there’s nothing going on internally. Once we rule out medical causes, we can address potential behavioral issues.
Keeping Your Dog Out of the Litter Box
If your pooch is poaching the litter box for behavioral reasons, there’s no quick fix. Behavior problems take a lot of hard work and dedication to banish. With time, though, it is possible to work through the issue. Consider some of the following tips:
- Keeping a clean litter box may solve your issue entirely. Most people don’t scoop quite as often as they should. A tidy litter box not only decreases the chances for poop scavenging, it’s also healthier for your cat. Aim to scoop once or twice daily.
- Self-cleaning litter boxes may also be tempting, but keep in mind that some cats don’t like them and will choose to eliminate elsewhere.
- Positive reinforcement training yields great results for most dogs. This means rewarding desirable behavior (i.e., avoiding the litter box) with a treat, toy, or praise.
You may also find the following helpful:
- Move the litter box to an area that’s less accessible to your dog.
- Use a less traditional form of litter box (e.g., an end table or a storage tote with a hole cut into it).
- Use an indoor Invisible Fence system to make the litter box off limits.
- Banish your dog’s boredom with increased mental and physical stimulation.
While you’re likely going to love your canine companion regardless of their dining preferences, keeping the turd burgling to a minimum is in everyone’s best interest. Keeping your dog out of the litter box is a reasonable goal for all. Please let us know if we can be of any assistance in your mission to keep the poop in the litter box where it belongs!
We accept walk-ins during our Doctor’s Hours to meet your busy lifestyle. If you’d prefer to make an appointment, we offer those too!
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Training is back! We are excited to offer Puppy Class for dogs under 4 months where students learn socialization. Basic Manners Class will be offered for dogs 4 months and older focusing on manners and training basics (sit, down, etc.)
See below for the 6-week class schedule. Classes held at Elmhurst Animal Care Center. Please call 630.530.1900 to register or with any questions. Students must be up to date on their vaccines prior to class start date!