An Indoor Dog Toilet? Yes, They Exist, and Yes, They Really Work

Kathy Beador was getting ready for work one morning when her 8-year-old son began begging her for a puppy – not for the first time. Beador advised her son (not for the first time) that because they lived in an apartment complex on the third floor and were surrounded by little else but concrete jungle, a puppy was not feasible. After all, where would it go to the bathroom?

“I tried to explain to him that a puppy needs to go outside a lot,” Beador said. “But when he gets an idea in his head, it sticks there like an old piece of chewed bubble gum. I knew I would be fending off questions about this puppy for the rest of his childhood.”

Knowing how much a puppy would enrich their lives as a family, Beador asked some friends if they had any ideas. Get a cat, said some. A hamster is easy to care for, said others. But it wasn’t until she spoke to one of her coworkers about the problem that she realized there was a way that her son could have the puppy of his dreams.

“She mentioned that there were indoor dog toilets on the market,” Beador said. “The minute I heard that, my eyes lit up. And sure enough, she was right!”

Not long after, she says, her son picked out a hound mix from the local SPCA, and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

“I have to admit, I had my doubts,” Beador said. “But I couldn’t believe how easy it was to train the dog to use it. Even if we move into a big house with lots of acreage tomorrow, I’m not sure I would get rid of it.”

Dog toilets sound like something out of a 90s comedy, but they’re real, and they can be very useful for any pet owner without regular access to a lawn or a grass-lined street. If you’re reading this with skepticism, we don’t blame you – we felt the same way. But after delving into the products out there, we’ve learned that it is actually possible to have the best of both worlds.

Why Would I Get A Dog Toilet?

Kathy Beador’s story is a common one throughout the United States. While some families are fortunate enough to live in clean, well-manicured suburban neighborhoods, millions of others have to make do with the not-always-hospitable conditions of the big city. These settings can certainly run the gamut between luxurious and austere, but few of them are particularly terrific areas to raise a puppy. Where’s the grass?

Of course, there are other reasons that you may want to consider an indoor dog toilet. Perhaps there is something in the health of the dog that prevents it from going outside. Maybe you have a condition yourself that makes frequent walks an impossibility. It could be that you have plenty of outdoor access, but the harsh weather outside makes it difficult to take your dog to go to the bathroom. In any of these situations, a dog toilet could be the answer.

It is also common for older dogs and those with certain health issues to lose their ability to hold their bladders for long periods of time. The general rule when it comes to potty training is that a puppy can hold it for the number of hours that correspond to its age in months. This is true up to about the 9-month mark, beyond which limit you should not push it. Unfortunately, this calculation can start running backward for older dogs. If you have a senior dog who is no longer able to make it until his designated outing, a dog toilet could make a big difference.

Potty Training Your Pup

Dog toilets aren’t always meant to be permanent solutions. As we’ll discuss as we get into our list of the types of dog toilets on the market, certain models and types are meant to bridge the gap between an untrained puppy and a housebroken one. Products such as pee pads can train the dog to go to the front door when he needs to relieve himself. After the dog has gotten the hang of this, you can take up the pads and immediately take him outside when he heads toward the door. Others can be used as a kind of backup plan when the dog can’t make it on his regular outing.

Do These Things Really Work?

The short answer is yes, they really do work. The long answer is…it depends. Certain products have a better track record than others, so make sure you always read a healthy sample of user reviews before you decide on a dog toilet. It’s also worth remembering that male dogs will have a harder time using an indoor toilet than their female counterparts. Because they lift their legs to go, there’s a greater chance that they will miss and make a mess of the surrounding floor. If you cover that area with plastic or some kind of protective covering, you may be able to make the dog toilet a successful part of your potty training procedure.

What Kind of Dog Toilets Are There?

We thought you’d never ask! Read on for an overview of the major dog toilet types, and you’ll get a crash course in this unusual subject.

Contained Training Pads

These are dog toilets in their most primitive form, but they are still effective. With one of these setups, you have a tray that you line with either disposable or washable pads. These pads are often treated with a chemical that makes the container attractive to the dog as a place to do his business. When placed by the front door, these training pads can become a powerful potty training tool. But other owners will enjoy using the pads as a substitute for going out – perhaps on those days when it is raining heavily outside and neither they nor their dogs want to venture out and get soaked. Whether you choose disposable pads or washable ones will depend on a few factors. Disposable pads are more convenient, but they aren’t necessarily as environmentally friendly, and they are likely to cost more in the long run. Washable pads or plastic ones can be used over and over again, but they require more of your attention.

Patch of Real Grass Dog Toilets

An upgrade from the standard puppy pads, this product is usually what people think of when they hear the word “indoor dog toilet.” Essentially, these devices are the same in construction: A tray or container filled with some kind of product that the dog does his business on. Instead of pads that you have to clean or change, though, these containers are filled with real grass! It’s like you brought the outdoors into your home. The dog enjoys the natural feeling, and he can use the box without turning away from his inner instincts. Because these products use natural grass as their primary component, they are among the most environmentally conscious dog toilets on the market. Fair warning, however: You’ll have to replace the grass toilet every month or so, so they aren’t always the most budget-friendly option.

Patch of Fake Grass Dog Toilet

There are a number of indoor dog toilets on the market that use synthetic turf in place of real grass. These products are beneficial when compared to loose puppy pads, because they come with a tray into which the urine drains as it comes out of the “grass.” If you are concerned that other products will leak all the way through to the floor, these fake grass toilets should alleviate your worries. However, it should be said that they can easily spill if you accidentally let them get too full before cleaning. It should also be noted that some dogs will be turned off by the feel of the synthetic turf. These products are also not ideal for #2, which is more difficult to clean out of the turf.

Grated Dog Toilet

These work similarly to the options already mentioned – a self-contained area where your dog can go potty without heading out the front door. The difference here is that there is no “catching” material included in the product. Instead, the dog stands on top of a basic grate to do his business. The urine drains through this top surface so the dog doesn’t have to stand around in a puddle of his own waste. It is collected in a tray beneath which must be cleaned regularly to avoid overflowing and persistent smells. These toilets are easy to clean and can be combined with puppy pads to make maintenance easier. Unfortunately, feces will not fall through the grate, and the grate itself may be uncomfortable for some dogs to stand on.

Self-Cleaning Dog Toilets

Here we have a product that takes the basic concept of puppy pads and adds an automatic function to it, giving you more freedom from the cleanup process. Be forewarned, however: These products are expensive. The most popular ones go for more than $250 at retail outlets, so you should be sure that you’re going to get some use out of it before shelling out the money. These dog toilets are plugged in to a nearby outlet, and they will roll out a new, clean puppy pad at regular intervals throughout the day. When a roll has been sullied, the machine wraps it up and seals it away. When the whole roll is finished, you just throw it away and install a fresh one. As far as ease of use goes, this should be at the top of your list. Its high cost and low weight limit (it isn’t recommended for dogs over 25 lbs) may prove inhibiting for some, however.

Bathroom Boxes For Dogs

Naming conventions can confuse new customers when they open the door to the dog toilet market. Any and all of the products listed above have been and are marketed as “dog litter boxes,” for instance. There are very few products that actually use kitty litter, however, because a dog does not share a cat’s affinity for carefully burying their waste. The litter, if anything, would only deter them from using the box. There are, however, self-contained bathroom boxes that use mats or pads in lieu of kitty litter. These boxes sometimes include stand-up “walls” around the tub, giving the dog a more den-like feel that he may appreciate. Most manufacturers insist that male dogs can use their products with ease, but there may be a weight limit, so pay attention to the specs carefully.

Dog Diapers

Have you (or, more likely, your dog) decided that indoor dog toilets are not going to work? Well, then it’s time for the option of last resort: Doggie diapers. If your dog struggles to “hold it,” these diapers can ensure that they aren’t having accidents all over your floor. Of course, these diapers are pretty much identical in use to those meant for babies (and adults, for that matter), so don’t invest in this solution unless you’re willing to frequently change your furry friend. As with diapers meant for humans, these products come in both disposable and reusable varieties, so choose the type you want according to your preferences.

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