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Why Don’t Dogs Use Litter Boxes? 7 Things You Need To Know

Why Don't Dogs Use Litter Boxes

When Fido needs to use the bathroom…

You take them outside to go potty every day.

But this might make you wonder:

“What if I train my dog to use a litter box?” 

It might sound like a good idea… 

But let me tell you why dogs don’t use litter boxes.

Continue reading to learn:

  • Which dogs can safely use litter boxes.
  • 3 surprising reasons why dogs don’t use waste containers. 
  • 7 essential things you need to know about dogs and litter boxes.
  • And so much more…

Why don’t dogs use litter boxes?

Dogs don’t use litter boxes due to their instincts and their size. As predator animals, canines don’t need to hide or bury their scents. Moreover, they have territorial instincts. That’s why dogs spread their scent by urinating everywhere. Lastly, litter boxes aren’t big enough for most canines.

Do dogs ever use litter boxes?

Dogs don’t ever use litter boxes. But exceptions might apply to smaller dogs, like toy breeds. 

Moreover, you can still try to train a bigger pooch to use it. Though, the results could still end up messy. 

For one, Fidos need enough space to use the box comfortably. 

At the same time, male dogs don’t pee the same way as females. Instead, they like raising their legs up to spray. 

That said, most litter boxes aren’t designed to catch a male pup’s urine. 

With this, you might end up with dog pee all over your wall. That’s why most male dogs can’t use litter boxes.

Dogs and litter boxes – 7 things you need to know

#1: Only small dogs can use litter boxes 

Most litter boxes are made for small animals. That’s why the average Fido won’t fit into a typical litter box. 

Just check out the table below to know a dog’s size differences: 

Breed sizeAverage weight
Small/Toy 12 to 24 lbs (5.4 to 10 kg)
Medium24 to 59 lbs (10 to 26 kg)
Large/Giant59 lbs to 100 lbs (26 to 45 kg)

From this, toy breeds are the best ones you can train. Especially if they’re 1 of the best-behaved small dogs out there.

Moreover, you’re lucky if you have a very smart and obedient pooch. 

You see, most of these Fidos will struggle to use a litter box. Regardless if they’re a toy breed or not. 

So if you have a small doggo…

It’s best to train them how to use the litter box as early as you can. 

You can also learn some training tips from this video: 

#2: Dogs don’t need to bury their poop 

As you’ve read in the beginning… 

Pups don’t feel the need to hide their poop. If anything, all they do is bury their treats.

Don’t forget, dogs are predator animals. And that’s how they know that no one’s out to track their scent. 

In that case, these Fidos feel confident. 

If only they could talk, your pooch might say something like:

“Hooman, I’m one of the strongest. So why do I have to hide my glorious poop?” 

And they’ll sit there, looking at you with a confused face.

However, this doesn’t mean that dogs have no enemies at all. 

If you look at their wild cousins (wolves), they have some rivals too. 

To name a few, here’s a list of Fido’s potential foes: 

  • Lynx.
  • Bears.
  • Bobcats.
  • Coyotes.
  • Red foxes.
  • Wolverines.
  • Mountain lions.
  • Siberian tigers.
  • Honey badgers.

Fact: If hunger strikes, wolves might eat their fellow wolves. But that’s a rare affair.

As you can tell from the list above, those 9 animals are strong predators too. 

But despite their strength, these creatures still avoid clashing with wolves. And that’s why these wild canines hardly fear anything. 

Thanks to that, domesticated dogs inherited the confidence of wolves.

So why would Fido hide their poop if they don’t have a lot of threats?

Now that’s something your furry friend might wonder about.

#3: They have a territorial nature 

It’s in a dog’s nature to mark their territory. But not everyone knows why exactly. 

So, let me explain it: 

In the wild, Fidos have to defend their resources. 

Guard against who, you ask? Well, it’s the same enemies I told you about in point #2. 

Those 9 animals are your dog’s rivals when it comes to food. So to keep them away, your furry friend pees everywhere.

And in Fido’s language, they do that to send a message that says:

“Back off. This place is mine. Go find your own hunting spot.” 

Moreover, scientists also say: 

By marking their grounds, dogs can save energy. This means they can avoid pointless fights with their rivals.

And that’s why your pooch will struggle to learn how to use a litter box.

#4: Some Fidos might dig in their litter box

No matter the age or breed…

Some dogs just have a habit of digging for fun. Especially if they’re a hyperactive pooch.

And when Fidos feel bored, they’re prone to have unwanted habits. 

So other than digging, your pooch might also do the following:

  • Chewing on your furniture. 
  • Trying to escape or run away.
  • Breaking other items at home. 

With this, you might come home to a mess. 

What’s worse, their poop could get all over the place. 

That’s why using litter boxes isn’t ideal for your furry friend.

Find out more: 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Suddenly Being Destructive + Tips

#5: Dogs could end up spraying on the wall 

Dogs Don't Use Litter Boxes Because They Could End Up Spraying On The Wall

Is your fur baby a male? 

Whether they’re neutered or not, you might have this problem: 

Spraying or peeing on the wall. 

As I mentioned before, that’s because male Fidos lift their shanks up to pee. 

Fun fact: Smaller dogs raise their legs higher when they use the bathroom. And science says that pups do it to trick other Fidos about their height.

Now, this peeing issue has a solution. Basically, you’ll need a litter box with higher sides. 

You can either make this on your own…

Or you can try to find a container that’s suitable for male Fidos.

#6: You have to clean their litter box every day

Let’s say you managed to train a bigger doggo to use the litter box. 

Great job. But you have 1 more concern:

You see, you’d still have to clean your dog’s litter box every day. 

After all, unlike smaller animals like cats…

Fido’s poop is much bigger. That’s why they’ll easily fill up the space in the box. 

Now, this might lead to a few expenses. 

After all, you’ll keep replacing the sand for the litter box. 

Plus, isn’t it tiring to clean it up daily?  

At that point, you’re better off just taking your pooch out for a walk. 

Not to mention…

Some dogs refuse to go potty if there’s no space for them. 

Your pup might look at you and think: 

“Really, hooman? I already filled up this place. There’s no space for my new poop.” 

All in all, litter boxes aren’t convenient for most doggos.

#7: Many dogs are prone to coprophagia 

Many fur parents know this weird habit in dogs. 

And it’s the act of eating poop. Which is also known as coprophagia. 

Now, according to the AKC

About 16% of Fidos are regular poop eaters. That means they won’t stop doing it at all. 

Meanwhile, at least 24% of dogs have eaten waste once. 

And it’s not just their own feces. Fido could eat deer poop too, or other animal waste. 

So if you have other furry friends at home… 

They might dig up the litter boxes to grab a bite. 

Not only is it nasty to think about… 

But this habit will also create a huge mess, as I said in point #4. 

Though, this might make you wonder: 

“Why do dogs eat their own poop?” 

Dr. Coren shares a theory: 

Wolves tend to go potty far away from their territory. Or somewhere out of reach by their pack members. 

Now, experts think that wolves do it to avoid spreading illness. Just in case their waste might have parasite eggs. 

However, sick Fidos can’t move too far from their home. 

So what do these wolves do? 

Well, they eat the unhealthy pup’s poop. 

And the researchers say:

It could be due to the parasite eggs in the feces. If the wolves eat them fresh, the other members won’t get sick.

Plus, the parasites won’t survive in Fido’s body too. Since it goes straight to the wolf’s belly. 

Now, that’s why they think dogs have the same habit. And it’s hard to make Fido stop it. 

So if your pooch might have this problem… 

It’s best to keep them away from litter boxes. Especially if there are other animals at home. 

Otherwise, you’ll find Fido feasting on the dirty snacks.