Dog-Proof Litter Boxes: What to Know, What to Do, and What to Buy
What This Article Covers
One of the less glamorous realities of dog ownership is the canine obsession with cat poop. If you're a dog-only household you may be blissfully unaware of this nasty little reality, but if you're a cat owner, you're all too aware. Kitty litter boxes are some pooches' favorite things to sniff around or get into. Keeping a determined dog at bay can be the bane of a multiple-pet owner's existence, but it can be done.
When it comes to litter boxes, hooded and enclosed boxes are best for keeping out Scout. There are a number of covered or lidded options available, but if this is a war you intend to win, we recommend the Modkat Enclosed Litter Box. The top entry point limits a dog's access to the litter. Although some small dogs might be able to fit into the hole, they'd have to be very determined jumpers. If you have such a pup, since the Modkat is contained on all sides it, can be placed up off the floor without the risk of spillage.
Important to Remember
Self-cleaning litter boxes are also fabulous for those that travel or don't want to deal with daily scooping. You can also reinforce or enclose your existing litter box to avoid any intrusions or problems from your pooch. Enclosing also hides a litter box from sight, which is somewhat desirable if you don't want the "I have a cat" theme to dominate your interior decor. No matter what type of litter box you choose though, in order to make it totally dog proof there are three important things you absolutely must do:
1. Clean Frequently
If you are going to have a mostly or entirely indoor cat then be prepared to clean the litter box out very often unless you want it to become more and more enticing to the pooches in the family. Some litter boxes (like the Modkat) come with odor-blocking liners designed to prevent the smell from wafting - but they can only do so much. Some new cat parents don't realize just how much cleaning they will have to do. If you are not cleaning the litter box at least once a day and you have multiple cats, then you are asking for trouble.
2. Cover the Litter Box
Open litter pans not only look bad, they also give free access to any dog. Covered litter boxes make a lot of sense and give your cat a chance to use the bathroom without being bothered by other animals. If the entry hole is too small for your dog to fit their head through, then half your work is done. Owners of smaller dogs and puppies often have the most trouble with dogs getting into the litter box due to this very reason, so you may find that you'll need to place your covered litter box somewhere up off the floor.
3. Train Your Dog Not to Go There
Teaching a puppy or new dog to not try to bust into the litter box might be a bit more challenging for some dogs than others. It is important to use positive reinforcement and distraction. If you see them going towards the cat litter box then distract them with something fun. You can also take it to another level if you have a particularly destructive pooch to train. To do this, get your favorite pet-friendly bitter apple spray and thoroughly spray down the outside of the litter box. If they try to chomp the litter box it will be very unpleasant and may cause them to never try it again. Some dogs are more stubborn and determined than others, so you may have to keep it sprayed down for a week or two.
Why Do I Even Have to Do This? Why Is Eating Cat Poop a Thing?
As gross as it sounds, dogs' love for cat poop (called "coprophagia") is pretty normal. Dogs (puppies especially) love to chew, so if your dog is young and just won't leave the litter box alone, make sure he has plenty of stuff to do to occupy his time. Teething toys, chew treats, and plenty of daily exercise should keep your puppy too preoccupied to bother with the litter box.
If distraction doesn't work, your dog's obsession with cat feces (or "coprophagia") may be indicative of malnutrition. Make sure your dog's diet is up to snuff and that you're feeding them a high-quality diet free of cheap fillers. Most instances of coprophagia can be chalked up to a dog just being a dog, but in some rare cases, it could also be evidence of an underlying illness. If preventative measures don't work, or you'd rather just play it safe, make an appointment with your vet to address your concerns.
In the meantime, make sure to be diligent in treating your cats for parasites. Even with a monthly preventative, it's still possible that something gets through and infects your pup. What's more, even just ingesting the litter can lead to stomach issues and even more messes. This is why it is so important to stop the behavior as soon as possible, and your first prong of attack should be investing in a good dog-proof litter box.
11 Best Dog-Proof Litter Boxes
The Booda Dome is unlike any litter box most have seen. This litter box has a ramp that cleans your cat's feet after they leave the litter box so you don't have to deal with a big mess all around it. They claim this accommodates all sizes of cats because it is 50% larger than other litter boxes. Scout loves that this has an included carbon filter to prevent any residual odor from being apparent in the area.
This basic hooded litter box is great for keeping out even determined pooches. Your cat just has to slip under and in this vented litter box. Even small dogs will not be able to access what lies within. This is an affordable and durable solution that can work for multiple cats. The included filters keep the area smelling fresh for 3-6 months depending on usage of the litter box.
Ok, this is technically not a litter box but it is a multi use stand for a bathroom or washroom that you can use to protect and conceal your litter box. Plenty of people use the bathroom or laundry room area for litter box placement. This type of location is particularly good if you normally don't let your dog in those areas anyway. Also, this is a great choice for those of us that don't really like the idea of a litter box inside and very visible regardless. Just be sure to not forget it because it blends into your home so well!
This litter box is very basic but also very functional and affordable. A door that tilts out and a totally covered litter box area keeps dogs out and allows your kitty to not be annoyed by a puppy when doing their business. Just unsnap the sides and scoop or dump to clean. A Zeolite filter in the pan absorbs odors and is replaceable so you can keep everything smelling great. This is a standard sized litter box so if you have multiple cats or a really big cat then double check the measurements.
This high tech litter box is entered through the top. The top is vented and acts as a tray that keeps your carpet and floor clean and eliminates the need to buy a separate mat unless you just want some extra protection. Dogs cannot access the litter via the hole with any ease and any dog that is small enough to fit probably won't want to get down in it unless they can get up on something, and even then they would have to be very determined. The base is seamless so very leak proof. You get a free heavy duty scoop with the box. The unique Modkat liner is easy to lift out and dump for less mess during clean up. This will be the only litter box you need for a very long time.
This top entry litter box features a vented top and a hole that prevents dogs from being able to paw through the litter. A molded scoop hook allows for storage of your litter scoop so you can have it on hand where you need it. The lid has a non-slip texture so your cat doesn't get spooked by too smooth of a surface. The grating on the lid means when your cat jumps out, the litter on their paws falls back into the litter box and not where you have to sweep it up.
This igloo style litter box has actually won awards for how fabulous it works and how it keeps smells away. The entire litter box is encased in Ionpure, an innovative antimicrobial coating that keeps bacteria and odors away from your family and creates a nicer environment for your cat that helps keep them cleaner and fresher as well. The doorway is designed with keep dogs out and cats comfortable in mind. The internal corridor ensures that you don't have cat litter spilling out onto your floor. This box is definitely suitable for large cats and multiple cat households.
This nightstand style enclosure provides table or storage space along with a compartment below that you can use to hide your litter box. The enclosure would be well suited to a mud room or pet area. You could easily store pet supplies on top while having a stylish enclosure below. Scout still recommends using a covered litter box within the enclosure for best results. A lot of people will not even know you have a litter box if it is well hidden.
This solid birch plywood enclosure allows you to use up to a 58-quart storage container for a litter box that is fully contained except for the top entry hole. The wood is a rustic yet contemporary touch. If you have more than one cat, then using a large storage container and enclosure can make a lot more sense, especially if you have a curious pooch about the house!
A self-cleaning litter box is just what a busy pet owner needs. Instead of having to scoop every day to keep up with the cleaning you can set up this automatic cleaning litter box and only change it out every week or two. Plus, the hooded cover helps keep curious dogs from getting into anything in between cleaning sweeps. The ramp allows cats to have clean feet when they jump out. Every few weeks, just remove the bottom tray and throw it out and replace with a fresh one. If you hate cleaning litter boxes then this is the box for you. Throwing a tray away twice a month is so much easier than scooping daily. The unique crystal litter is also supposedly five times better at reducing odors than traditional litters.
Scout loves that this litter box helps make room in small spaces by fitting perfectly in a corner. The hooded style helps keep dogs out but since this fits in a corner you could easily put a barricade in front of it to provide further protection. This is a good style and design for those that want an affordable and space efficient solution. A charcoal odor filter makes having a litter box less of a smelly inconvenience. The entire litter box is made of non-stick materials so it is super easy to clean.
Dog Proofing The Litter Box You Already Own
If you already have a litter box that you like, then there are some things you can do to keep your dog out of it.
Put it somewhere with cat access but no dog access
Perhaps one of the easiest solutions for pet parents is to put a little box in an area that your dog cannot reach. This can be difficult but one example would be to put it in the garage and have a cat door that goes from the house. Of course, this only works with a connected garage, but you get the point.
Putting a small cat house or dog house over a litter box will encase it and prevent dogs from getting into it. You can also use panels like baby gates or wooden expandable gates to create a pen area with the litter box in it. Get creative and form a barrier that works for you until you get your dog trained. Some pet parents experience success by placing the litter pan in a plastic storage tote. You could even cut a hole in the lid of a storage tote and really take encasing to the next level if you need to.
Choosing a Litter Box for the Long Term
As can see from the list, litter boxes that are dog proof can be found in all price ranges. The more gadgets and features, the higher the cost. Paying for convenience like a self-cleaning box might be worth it and seem practical if you are really busy and only have a single cat, otherwise, the cost is too great when you are buying disposable trays. On the other hand, it is important to get a litter box that is going to perform well for your unique home. If your dog expresses only an occasional interest in the litter box, the corner fitting litter box from Nature's Miracle may work better for you than the Modkat box. If your dog is dogged (pun definitely intended) in their pursuit but the Modkat is out of your price range, remember that any litter box will last longer and be better protected if put in an enclosure like a storage tote. Once you've determined which litter box best suits your lifestyle, give your new training attempts at least a month to show some results. In the meantime, if you happen to unlock any litter box life hacks, we'd love to hear them!