How to Keep Dogs Out of Cat Litter Boxes

For one reason or another, some dogs love messing with cat litter boxes. This can be dangerous for the dog and the cat. Plus, it can make your house a huge mess.

There are a few different ways you can keep your canine out of your cat’s litter box. Often, the easiest thing to do is dog-proof your litter box. This will immediately prevent your dog from breaking into your cat’s litter box.

We’ll take a look at a few quick and easy methods to dog-proof your litter box, as well as other ways you can prevent your canine from enjoying the cat litter box.

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1. Use a Baby Gate

Cats often have no trouble getting around baby gates unless they are tiny. You can also install the baby gate so that it is just a few inches off the ground, which should allow the cat to squeeze underneath the bottom.

This is probably the most comfortable option, but it does mean leaving a baby gate up all the time.


2. Elevate the Box

Occasionally, you may be able to put your cat’s litter box up somewhere, like on a table. Your dog won’t be able to access it, but the cat can easily climb onto the table to get to the litter box. Of course, this only works if your cat is an expert climber.

You can always put a cat tree near the litter box if your feline needs a bit of extra help climbing.

cat litter box on table_Shutterstock_Sharaf Maksumov
Image Credit: Sharaf Maksumov, Shutterstock

3. Get a Self-Cleaning Litter Box

If your cat’s litter box is self-cleaning, your dog will have little opportunity to eat your cat’s stool, which is likely what is driving him to the litter box in the first place.

Self-cleaning litter boxes can be expensive, but they are a great option if you want something that works.


4. Purchase an Already Dog-Proof Litter Box

A few litter boxes on the market may work as “dog-proof” boxes as is. Litter boxes with covers will deter larger dogs, especially since they will not fit into the litter box. This usually won’t deter smaller dogs, though.

Some cat litter boxes are entered through the top. You put something taller, like a cat tree, next to it so that your cat can leap in. The dog will be unable to get in, no matter its size. These boxes work best for smaller dogs, as bigger ones may be able to reach their head in.


5. Install a Cat Door

You can also install a cat door to keep your dog out. These are usually made to go on an outside door. But you can put most of them on an inside door as well. Install one going into the room where you keep the litterbox and plan on keeping that door shut.

The dog will likely be unable to fit through the cat door, which will ensure that your canine can’t reach the litter box. However, your cat will have no problem going through it.

cat flap
Image Credit: AndreasGoellner, Pixabay

6. Use a Chain

This method is similar to a cat door, but it doesn’t require you cutting into your door. Instead, you use a drill to install a door chain. The chain should be long enough to allow your cat to fit through your door but small enough so that your dog can’t fit. This keeps the door open just wide enough for your cat but restricts your dog’s access to the room.

You may need to prop the door up when the chain is in use so that the door doesn’t close.


7. Teach the “Leave It” Command

Alternatively, you can also teach your dog the “leave it” command. This command teaches your dog to avoid anything you want them to, including your cat’s litter box.

Teaching this command is pretty simple. We’ll start with teaching your pet to “leave” treats.

  • Hold a treat in a closed fist next to your face. Your dog should see you pick up the food and know it is in your hand. Tell your dog to “leave it.” The second your dog takes his eyes off your hand and looks at your face, give them a treat. You can say the dog’s name to encourage them to look at your face if you’re having a hard time otherwise.
  • Move your hand further away from your space so that your dog has to move its eyes more to look at your face.
  • Next, hold the treat between two fingers so that your dog can see it. Repeat the above steps, but with the open hand.
  • Once your dog has that mastered, kneel on the ground in front of your dog and put a piece of food on the ground in front of you. Tell your dog to leave it. If your dog goes for the food, cover it with your hands. When your dog looks at your face, reward them with a different treat.
  • After your canine has mastered that part, stand up and drop a piece of food on the ground – close to you so that you can cover it with your foot if necessary. Tell your dog to “leave it.” Reward with another treat when they shift their attention to you.

Once your dog knows the command, you can use it to make anything off-limits, such as people, other dogs, and your cat’s litter box.

Angry at Dog_shutterstock_Jaromir Chalabala
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

8. Ensure Your Dog is Mentally Stimulated

Many destructive behaviors stem from your canines being bored. If your dog isn’t getting enough mental stimulation, they can act out in all ways. Different dogs will need different amounts of mental stimulation, which is usually tied to their intelligence level. Smarter dogs need to stretch their mind more than other canines.

There are many ways you can keep your dog mentally stimulated. One easy way is to provide daily training sessions. Training is hard for dogs, as they try to figure out what you want them to do. It also makes your dog better behaved and can result in them learning useful commands.

However, not everyone has time to train their dog daily. Some dogs may need a bit more mental stimulation than a training session as well.  In these cases, consider using puzzle toys to entertain your dog during the day. Puzzle toys come in all sorts of difficulties and utilize food to keep your dog interested. You’ll have to be home to refill them. However, a few puzzle toys can keep a dog busy for hours.


9. Make Your Cat’s Feces Less Desirable

Some dogs may think that your cat’s stool tastes good. In this case, it can be challenging to convince them not to eat it, even if they are entertained otherwise. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make your cat’s stool a little less pleasant.

Many owners have had success mixing MSG into their cat’s food. This is perfectly fine for many cats and doesn’t have any health effects when used in low amounts. However, it can make your cat’s stool taste unpleasant. Alternatively, you can also use substances like vegetable oil or canned pumpkin.


10. Use a Muzzle

If none of the other methods are working, you may need to muzzle your dog when the litterbox is available to them. You cannot leave a muzzled dog unattended, so this will not work when you aren’t home. (In those situations, you’ll likely need to use a kennel.)

There are many different types of muzzles – beyond those used for aggressive dogs. Some are specifically designed to prevent dogs from eating things they are supposed to. They also make muzzles that still allow a dog to drink, which is a reliable option if you need to leave it on your dog for an extended period.

dog with muzzle
Image Credit: Mikejamesshaw, Wikimedia Commons

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Do I Really Need to Keep the Dog out of the Litter Box?

Sometimes, our dogs are so persistent in breaking into the litter box that some owners may throw up their hands. However, your dog must be kept away from cat stool. Cats can have internal parasites, like hookworms, that can then be transferred over to your pet.

Furthermore, clumping litter is hazardous for canines. When eaten, it will clump up in their stomach and cause all sorts of issues. In some cases, it may cause a blockage that can be life-threatening.

Luckily, there are several things you can do to restrict your dog’s access to the litter box. We recommend trying a few of the things we listed in this article, as they tend to work best when used together.


Featured Image: Stephanie Ho, Pexels