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Stop Your Dog’s Snacking from the Litter Box

It’s piquant and has a distinctive bouquet. It has excellent mouth feel, is quite pleasing on the palate and even packs extra protein. But regardless of its culinary appeal, it’s cat scat from the litter box and your dog has no business chowing it down.

Those sought-after litter critters can transmit parasites and further strain a precarious cat-dog relationship. It’s also downright disgusting.

Dogs are known to eat any manner of animal waste. Because, well, it tastes good. It also has nutritional value because cats and other critters don’t always completely process their food.

The habit also serves a house-keeping purpose for mama dogs tending to a litter of pups. This behavior is often copied by puppies, so it’s a habit ingrained early in life. Most dogs will outgrow this behavior, but some habits die hard. Here are some tips to tamp down your dog’s unhealthy hankering for a heaping helping of fresh poop. We’ll start with ways to address Fido’s feces fixation and keep him out of the litter box.

How to stop the scat attacks

1. Keep your cat's litter box as clean as possible. Scoop daily, change litter regularly and clean the cat box often. Leaving the waste for any length of time makes the scent even more tempting to dogs. Crystal litter is a great way to reduce litter box odors (it’s five times more effective than clay or regular litter) and it dries waste quickly, buying you a little more time to evacuate the stool. The new PetSafe® Deluxe Crystal Litter Box System even comes with a handy scoop and wall mount.

2. If it’s hard to stay on top of kitty’s droppings, invest in a PetSafe® ScoopFree® Self-Cleaning Litter Box. This popular litter box, which uses crystal litter, is designed to automatically sweep the feces into a bin within a short time following the cat's deposit.

3. Place litter boxes on a table (not necessarily the dining room table) or counter out of reach of nosy dogs.

4. Place the litter box in a small cabinet or closet with a door latch that allows it to open only wide enough for the cat.

5. Baby gates keep most dogs at bay, while a cat can either slink through the bars or leap over the barrier. Some pet gates can be raised a few inches above the floor so the cat can slide underneath.

6. You can always keep a litter box in a room or cabinet accessed by a PetSafe® Pet Door.

7. Try using a covered litter box with an opening that the dog can't fit his head through. Remember, though, that covers keep smells contained and may feel like a trap to the cat, so use covered boxes with caution.

Dogs love the solid waste smorgasbord provided by litter boxes, but many will chomp feces wherever they find it. Here are some other tips and tricks to use when your dog is intent on a scat attack.

1. Supervise potty breaks in the yard by keeping him on a leash. If he targets inappropriate snacks, say "no!" and lead him away. A PetSafe® training collar may also be effective. When he turns from temptation, always reward with praise, a toy or a treat.

2. For dogs intent on eating their own or other pets' waste, as soon as you see the dog finish his business, call him to come and sit. Reward with a toy or treat unique to the occasion. He should quickly learn that once he's productive and comes to you, he'll get a prize after every bowel movement and won't be tempted to search for cat or dog sliders that may be lying about.

3. Give bored dogs something better to munch, like a puzzle toy stuffed with a healthy treat. Peanut butter sticks to the roof of his mouth and makes a dog less likely to go sniffing out nasty alternatives.

Every dog is different, but every dog has his day. With some precautions, discipline and positive reinforcement, make it the day he swears off litter critters and other stinky treats for life.

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