How to Keep Your Dog Out of the Litter Box Ideas
If your dog has been getting into your cat’s litter box to indulge in a “treat,” you are not alone – eating cat poop is a surprisingly common habit for dogs with several possible explanations: compulsion, boredom, playfulness or an interest in the protein or other nutrients in cat poop.
Eating cat poop could be harmful to dogs because of the risk of passing on parasites or allergens, and clumping litter could pose a blockage risk, but typically the bigger problem is the effect it has on your cat. The litter box is a sacred space, and if they begin to feel “unsafe” while using it or notice a constant mess around it, they might be more likely to go elsewhere. So this situation necessitates finding a way to keep your dog out of the litter box without constant monitoring.
While training your dog to stay out of the litter box is the ideal situation, sometimes this is just not possible or you need a temporary fix until they learn. Pet owners have found a lot of different strategies for keeping a dog out of the litter box, and solutions vary depending on how many rooms you have in your house, whether you are able to cut out cat doors and how much space you have for furniture-style litter boxes. Here are a few possible solutions to try out if you need to dog proof a litter box:
Create Cat-Only Areas
If you have room in your house, you can designate different areas, floors or rooms specifically for your cats: the upstairs floor, a laundry room or an unused bathtub, which has the added benefit of containing their litter. You can also try installing a chain lock or a latch hook on a door to one of these areas so that the door opens just enough for a cat to slip through but not for a dog. This solution requires the option to install these on your doors, as well as making sure a small dog can’t fit through too – and it might not be the prettiest home décor.
Block Litter Box Access
There are a few different ways you can make a litter box harder to access for your dog:
- Turn the entrance – Sometimes the solution is as simple as turning the entrance to face a corner or putting it between two pieces of furniture (i.e. a washer and dryer) where your cat can still easily get to it.
- Put the entrance on the top – You can buy a litter box with entrance on the top, or make your own using a Rubbermaid container – this option also works for making an entrance that is too small for a dog.
- Elevate it – Try putting the litter box on a piece of furniture or shelf where your dog cannot access it, but a cat can jump up to it. If your cat has mobility issues, try putting a cat tree next to the box so it can climb, but be sure to keep a separate tree elsewhere for relaxation.
- Install the gate so that it is a few inches above the ground – small enough for a cat to fit under, but not a dog.
- Some baby gates have gaps on the sides that you can adjust so that your cat can slide through.
- Put a stool or some other piece of furniture next to the cat gate so that your cat can jump over it easily.
- Some gates have small pet doors, like the Carlson Extra Wide Walk Through Gate with Pet Door. You can also try creating a small hole in a gate yourself, but be careful not to leave jagged edges that could hurt your cat.
- If you’re looking for a more finished, decorative gate, check out the Grandin Road pet gates.
Special Litter Boxes
You can try buying a special litter box designed to keep dogs out:
- Hooded litter boxes – While this is one way to keep a dog out of a litter box, this option could cause more problems then it solves by trapping the smell inside if it isn’t cleaned highly regularly. Cats won’t want to use a smelly litter box, so they might start going in other places around the house. However, depending on your cat and housing situation, some options, like the Marchioro Freecat Maxi Covered Cat Litter Pan, might be worth a try.
- Meowspace – A clear, ventilated box that you can put the litter box inside and the cat can access through a cat door that keeps larger dogs out.
- Litter box furniture – You can also try using a specially designed liter box that is both difficult for dogs to access and is nicely disguised as a piece of furniture, for example, the Nora Designer Litter Box Chest.
- Self cleaning litter box – Part of the battle is keeping the litter box clean so that dogs never have access to their forbidden treats. Try a self cleaning litter box, like the Litter Robot, to stay on top of the cleaning.
If you have larger dogs and can modify your doors, installing an interior cat door is another possibility for keeping a dog out of a litter box area:
- Kitty Pass Interior Cat Door – This set comes with a frame shaped like cat ears on one side and a tail on the other that you can put over a cutout in your door to make it look finished. The frame comes in a white semi-gloss, but could be painted over, and the set includes instructions for carefully measuring the cutout to fit.
- Paneled cat doors – If you have panels in your interior doors, hiring a carpenter to turn one into a cat door that hinges on hidden screws could be a nice, subtle way option.
A dog raiding the litter box can be a real threat to your cat’s litter box habits, so try experimenting with different fixes if your dog is not responding to training and you can’t keep up with the constant cleaning – always keeping in mind that the litter box should still feel convenient for your cat.
What tricks and tips do you have for how to keep your dog out of the litter box? Any products you would recommend? Suggestions for keeping a small dog out? Share your experiences here!