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The Poop Zone


As a puppy, we've found that a little structure goes a long way. Since pugs have a tendency to have separation anxiety, we kennel Shelby for 2 hours a day so that she gets used to her kennel, and to being alone for a little while. We also put her in her pen for a few hours during the day, especially after she eats and enters the "poop zone." We are training her with dog litter. Here is a successful elimination, however there have been many accidents too, and she likes to chew her litter too. Training is complicated because Shelby likes to eat hair, and it tends to make pooping a messier business than usual.

February 26, 2004 | Permalink


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I've had a couple questions on how to litterbox train a pup. I can't say this will work for everyone, but this method worked for Shelby.

First, we made sure that Shelby ate at regular times, thereby making her poops time predictable. No water or heavy exercise after 7pm.

Then, we would crate her at night. Most dogs try not to mess their beds. In the morning, we were pretty sure Shelby needed to poop. The trouble with Shelby was that she also really likes to play. So if we were watching her (getting ready to praise her if she poops) then of course she would not poop.

What we ended up doing was buying an exercise pen. We arranged the walls of the pen so that they surrounded 3 sides of the litter box. You can see this in the photo above. In the morning we put Shelby's crate on the fourth side, and open the door. The idea is that Shelby can go into her box, or her crate.

Then we leave, so we don't distract her from pooping. We come back and check on her every 2 minutes or so. If there's no poop, we just her to "go potty." No petting. No playing. No snacks.

Eventually, maybe 10 minutes or so, we'll smell something funky, and that's our signal to praise Shelby, give her a treat, and release her from the pen to play with us.

Be patient. Pugs don't have full control of their bwoels until they're around 13 weeks, which is about how much time it took for Shelby to be consistent with the box.

Posted by: Winnie | Nov 11, 2004 8:36:53 AM

Is there any reason why you didn't just put newspaper in the litterbox? I am planning on litterbox training my shih tzu but not sure if I should use newspaper in the box or actual litter....I am also afraid that he will start eating the litter.

I have been hearing a lot of negative things about litterbox training a dog. Would you recommend it?

Posted by: Shoma | Jan 5, 2005 11:21:30 AM

Actually, I like the litterbox training. I think it's worked out pretty well. It's more expensive than just taking her outside, but I like that neither of us has to stand outside in the cold, waiting for Shelby to poop at odd hours of the day.

We put her litterbox in the bathroom, and when she poops, we just take a wad of toilet paper to pick up her "log" and flush it. The brand of litter we use does crumble when it gets wet, so that's not particularly great with peeing. We scoop out the wet parts out every night and put it into a trash bag.

As for using newspaper, we've never tried it, but I hear it works. It's cheaper than litter. The litter is also made of recycled newspaper, so if your pug is going to chew the litter, he might like to chew the newspaper too. And for all the litter that Shelby chews, she never seems to want to chew the stuff that has already been used.

I haven't tried this product yet, but I found something online that is basically a grate that sits above a puppy pad. It keeps the pup from chewing up the pad, and it elevates his feet from the pee. Seems like a good solution. I'm a bit curous to try it. If you try it, please leave a post on how it went. http://www.wizdog.com/

Posted by: Winnie | Jan 5, 2005 11:39:01 AM

I am picking up my pup from the breeder this Friday and am super excited about it!

I too think the litterbox idea is great...it is easy on me and the dog. By the way do you stay home during the day? If not how did you handle getting Shelby to use the litterbox when you are not there?

I will have to work outside of the home so I am a bit concerned about whether the pup will be able to be litterbox trained properly.

Posted by: Shoma | Jan 5, 2005 1:19:14 PM

I do work from home, and that did help a lot. It takes a bit longer but it all works out. Check out crate training. That should help the process. And we found that having an exercise pen helped a lot too. We put the litter box on one end, and a crate on the other. If Shelby did good, then she was praised. If she missed, she gets yelled at (if we catch it in time), and she watches us put the poop or pee rag into the litter box before we throw it away.

The puppy pads might work too. They are supposed to have a scent in them that prompts the puppy to pee on them. And there's also stuff at the pet store to spray on things to get them to either pee or not pee.

But it definitely took some patience. I read somewhere that pug pups don't get full control of their bladder until they are about 13 weeks. (Which is about how long it took Shelby to get the hang of things.)

Posted by: Winnie | Jan 5, 2005 1:37:14 PM

Thanks Winnie!

Posted by: Shoma | Jan 6, 2005 4:41:33 AM

Dear Winnie, thank you for writing about many puppy raising issues. As a first-time
dog owner, I am learning as I go and asking questions, when I can from the Vet, my friends, and you (through your column).
My 8 months old Chihuahua bit off her collar, refuses to use the wee wee pads more
than once, and dislikes stepping on the
professional prepared litterbox fillers.
I walk her at least one hour a day, and give
her fresh air and sunshine. I would like
to thank you, Winnie, for sharing the good
and the bad of puppy raising. We Love Your

Posted by: Jade | Feb 4, 2007 3:06:12 PM

Thanks Jade :)

Sounds like your puppy is making life quite exciting for you. I sometimes tell Steven that puppies are cute because they have to be. With all the poop and pee, we'd never let them into our homes if they weren't cute. :D

Posted by: Winnie | Feb 4, 2007 3:47:56 PM

poop poop poopidy poop

Posted by: jmac | Jun 4, 2007 9:12:06 PM

This blog makes me smile. I’d like to share my pug kiddo’s experience with using the wizdog toilet. It was surprising how flat and large (~2 x 1.5 ft) the plastic board was. A plastic grate goes right on top of the newspaper, leaving no airspace. The plastic isn’t great of quality, flimsy but light. It’s nice how it never tips over because it’s so flat, but since there are no upturned sides like the traditional litterbox, she sometimes misses and I have to clean up piddle on the floor. She never misses with poo, though when she had the runs I had to get it out of the grate. She adores playing and napping on it, which is weird because I imagine the grate would be uncomfortable. The pup chews on everything but the wizdog, probably because it’s flat. You could definitely make one with hardware store supplies, but if you don’t feel like doing that, you could buy it cheaper on ebay than on the wizdog website.

Does anybody know if the Furminator brushes work to rid most of the shedding?

Posted by: Jessica | Jun 16, 2007 11:14:23 AM

I read almost all topics in your blog.Very useful with lots of information.Good job.Happy new year.Love your shelby.Thanks.

Posted by: Nancy | Jan 2, 2008 5:47:53 PM

Re: Furminator

Jessica, I bought the small sized furminator for my 7 year old pug a few months ago, the first few times i tried to use it on her, she hated it and i didn't accomplish anything, but then i got wise to her and started brushing her while she was sleeping on my lap. It worked wonders! I couldn't believe how much fur came off! just have a trash can near. I live in a small apt. so fur is always an issue. Now i brush her twice a week (it can take a good 15 min to get a good brushing in, you have to use very small strokes, sometimes holding the skin a bit tight because pugs have so much extra skin)it's more like shaving motions than brushing motions. if your pug will put up with being brushed or if you can sneak up on them while they are sleeping, it's worth a try.

Posted by: Rebeka | Nov 3, 2008 10:43:52 PM

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