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Litter Box Training

Litter Box Training

1. While you are housetraining your Italian Greyhound, he/she should always be in a confined area with access to a litter box, or be under your supervision. Supervision is critical - the fewer accidents there are, the smoother housetraining will go.

  • One option is to use a covered exercise pen that has a cushion, water bowl, and litter box area. Initially, you can spread newspaper or pee pads beyond the litter box, thereby increasing the litter box area and increasing your IG's chance of going on the "proper" material. The litter area can gradually be made smaller until it only consists of the litter box. If using an ex-pen, it should be set up in a location near where you tend to be; you do not want your IG isolated.

  • If you do not have the space for an exercise pen, another option is an extra large (48" long, 30" wide, 33" high) crate. These crates have a top, slide-out pan, and room for a cushion and litter box. Since this does not provide space to play, I would recommend this option only if you are home and able to supervise your IG most of the time. This is not crate training. Crate training utilizes a small crate, providing enough room for your IG to stand  up and turn around, without a litter area.


In addition to having a main confinement area i.e. covered exercise pen or crate, supplementary tools to assist with supervision are beneficial:

  • To help with supervision, some IG owners leash their IG to them.

  • Richell makes a child enclosure system that can be used to assist with supervision. In addition to creating an enclosure, it can be used to block off areas. It is light-weight, not as easily climbable as some enclosures, and is higher than many other enclosure systems. However, it is only 36" high. Therefore, it needs to be used, especially initially, when you are in the same area as your IG. If your IG is inclined to jump, or attempts to climb out, do not use this product without the optional Convertible Pet Mat (can be used as a floor mat or enclosure top).


2. You may need to have more than one litter box so that your IG always has access to one. If there are rooms that your IG will be in with you, especially if the door to it is closed, there needs to be a litter box. You can have more litter boxes initially and gradually reduce the number, but your IG should always be able to get to a litter box when inside. If eliminating a litter box, do it slowly by gradually moving it closer and closer to another existing one. 


3. You need to choose a litter box and filler material

  • A plastic litter box - you can purchase a dog litter box (which will have one lowered side for entry/exit) such as the Puppy Pan, a large plastic container with low sides, a large plastic container with higher sides (you will need to cut an entry/exit on one side, being sure to smooth and then cover rough edges with duct tape), a rabbit tray (available in various sizes and styles through Tractor Supply, and rabbit supply sources), a hot water heater or washing machine overflow pan, or a plastic wading pool. Higher sides work well for male leg-lifters. If a low-sided litter box is placed against the side of an ex-pen, disposable or washable pee pads can be extended up and taped to the wire of the pen for leg-lifters. If a low-sided litter box is placed against a wall, disposable or washable pads can be extended from the litter box up the wall and attached to the wall with removable, adhesive spring clips or painter's tape. For leg-lifters, there needs to be an acceptable, vertical area for them to urinate on - pee pads work great for this.

  • It can be beneficial to place a washable, non-skid mat beneath the litter box to prevent the litter box from sliding if a dog jumps into it.

  • Litter box filler - you can use disposable pee pads (some puppies will chew these, in which case, choose a different material or consider using a training pad holder; once past the chewing stage, disposable pee pads can often be used without chewing occurring and work great when traveling), washable pee pads, newspaper, or cat litter (if using litter, consider Feline Pine; it is chemical and dust free). Another option is hydrated hay (often called dehydrated hay) or Timothy hay - since the hay has a similar odor to grass, it, along with the litter box designating the litter area, can be beneficial in encouraging dogs to only potty in the litter area or outside on grass. Hay can be purchased at Tractor Supply, SmartPak, or stores selling rabbit supplies. A combination of materials can also be used.

4. You need to purchase cleaning supplies - it is important to clean accident locations with an enzymatic cleaner to remove odor so that your dog is not encouraged to "go" in that location again. One recommended product is Zero Odor Pet and another is Anti-Icky-Poo. The following solutions are also recommended:

Mix four tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide, two tablespoons of warm water, and several drops of dish soap in a spray bottle
Mix together eight ounces of hydrogen peroxide, three tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of dish detergent

Although white vinegar and water, with or without baking soda, is often recommended, some sources indicate that the strong scent of vinegar might encourage the dog to "reinforce" the urine scent. Do not use cleansers that contain ammonia - they will enhance the smell of urine. Using a black light in a darkened room will help you locate past accident spots that are in need of additional cleaning. Floor steam and carpet cleaners from companies such as Bissell and Hoover can be a good option.


5. Choose a phrase to use when your IG eliminates in the proper place. Your IG will associate this phrase with eliminating and will eventually know that you want him/her to "go" when he/she hears the phrase.


6. Housetraining should be a positive experience!

  • No yelling, hitting, or rubbing your IG's nose in "it." IGs are sensitive and will learn best with a positive approach.

  • When your IG is eliminating in the correct place, use the phrase that you have chosen and, when he/she is finished, provide a small treat (really yummy and used only for house training) and praise. Let him/her know that he/she has done a great thing!


  • If your IG is in the process of having an accident, have a short sound that you say such as, "uh uh," and bring him/her to the correct place where he/she will, hopefully, complete "going," after which you can praise him/her. If you find evidence of an accident after the fact, do nothing except clean it. 


7. Help you IG by anticipating when he/she will have to "go" and bringing him/her to the correct spot. It is better to bring your IG to the litter area too often, than not often enough. Some disposable pee pads are impregnated with a scent that will encourage your IG to "go.'" You can also put some of your IG's urine on the litter material that you have chosen in order to encourage him/her to eliminate there.


8. If litter box training has been progressing well and your IG has an accident, make sure you are providing adequate supervision and reinforcement. Perhaps you have given your Italian Greyhound too much freedom, too soon. When more freedom is being given, a breakaway cat collar with a bell can be used to assist in knowing if your Italian Greyhound is leaving an area. If there is regression after your IG is trained, go back to the original training procedure, but only after making sure that there is no medical cause for your IG's regression.



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