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How to Keep Your Dog out of the Litter Box

Photo: Pam Johnson-Bennett

Create a Dog-Free Litter Box

In addition to figuring out the possible cause for the coprophagia and incorporating necessary training with the dog (teaching the dog the “leave it” command, and so on), it’s time to tweak the litter box set-up. If the dog can’t get to the cat’s poop, then he can’t eat it. Simple as that. The key though, is to make sure the box is convenient for the cat but inconvenient for the dog.

The easiest way to keep the dog out of the box is to place the litter box in an area where he can’t gain access. If the dog is bigger than the cat, place a hinged baby gate in the doorway to a room but raise it up a few inches from the floor so the cat can easily go underneath. You can also cut a little entrance in the middle of gate so the cat can slip through but the dog can’t. If using a gate with a mesh-type center, cut a square out that will easily accommodate your cat and then secure a wooden frame around it so there’s no jagged mesh exposed.

If the dog is small and could fit under the gate, then put the baby gate at normal height but place a box, stool or other object just inside the room, on the other side of the gate, so the cat can get over but will have something to land on.

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If elevating the litter box is an option and the cat doesn’t have any difficulty climbing or making a small jump, then that’s another option. If you have a small dog, you may be able to simply put the box on some kind of platform.

If the litter box is elevated and you have a cat with mobility problems then place a cat tree nearby so she can easily climb up and over to reach the box. The carpeted perches on the cat tree will make it easier for her to grip. If using the option of putting a cat tree near the box, make sure you also provide an additional cat tree away from the box so she’ll have a safe elevated resting area that isn’t near her toileting spot. No one likes to sleep in the bathroom.

What NOT to Do

Don’t resort to using a covered litter box or stick the box in a closet with a pet door. Cats do like some privacy but not covered boxes or ones hidden in closets. They types of boxes limit escape potential. When a cat only has one way in and out of the box, it can set her up for an ambush by another companion animal. Many covered boxes also can make cats feel cramped in there when taking care of personal business.

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