Getting your dog to go outside in the cold of winter, especially if it is sleeting, drizzling or snowing, can be a real issue. This is particularly true for the toy breeds that really hate the cold, damp weather and really shouldn't be out in the cold for their health. Luckily for owners there are several different options to consider that can make toileting inside a viable option without leaving messes all over the house or apartment.
One major consideration if you are going to train your dog to toilet inside is to choose the location you want to use as the bathroom area. A good idea if you have an attached garage is to use a doggy door going from the home to the garage, and set up the bathroom area out of the house. This will cut down on odors and any possible indoor mess while still allowing your dog to say dry and warmer than being outside. A heated garage really solves a great deal of the problem, especially if you start your dog off on this right from being a puppy.
The type of flooring in the designated area is also a concern. Any type of flooring that may absorb even small amounts of urine or waste material is going to be very unsanitary and horribly smelly over time, no matter what you do. These types of surfaces include carpets, soft linoleum, tiles that are not properly sealed and the older types of hardwood floors that aren't correctly or completely surfaced and sealed.
Starting a puppy, usually a toy breed or small breed of dog, off on toileting in a selected area of the house is done relatively the same way as housetraining. The key is to get the puppy to understand that relieving him or herself on specific types of surfaces in particular locations is good, while doing it anywhere else in the house is not acceptable.
Dogs that have been fully housetrained are going to have the biggest problem in adjusting to now going to the bathroom indoors. Some dogs will never make this transition, so you really have to work with the dog and remember they are having to unlearn what they have previously learned. In addition some dogs may have been punished for messing in the house, which will lead to even more confusion as to why you now want them to do what before was a bad thing.
One of the best ideas for adult dogs or puppies is to use puppy pads. These are commercially available in pet stores and most department stores with pet sections. Look for pads that have been treated with attractant as this will cue your dog to go to the bathroom in the same area. An attractant is a chemical that is added to the pad that is similar to the chemicals found in dog urine. Since dogs tend to urinate where other dogs have gone before, this is a very normal way to get the dog interested in urinating on the material.
For obvious reasons, females are going to be easier to teach to urinate in a specific area than male dogs, especially intact males. This is because intact males engage in a practice known as marking, where they urinate to actually stake out their territory. Once they are trained to urinate in the house they may start marking, even if this has not been an issue before. Males also stand differently when urinating, making it more difficult to actually have them pee on the pad rather than on the wall, floors or furniture beside where the pad is positioned.
For adult toy and small dogs or puppies, place the pad or paper in a specific area of the house, ideally on a rubberized mat and away from a porous type of floor covering such as carpet. You may have to confine the dog to the space until she urinates, then provide praise and a reward. Keep repeating this process, placing the dog in the room with the pad or paper when you would normally take them outside. Reward for using the pad or paper and make sure they cannot sneak off anywhere else such as under or behind furniture. A small dog pen is perfect to keep them only on the pad or the paper until they understand.
Litter box training is done with the same method. For toy or very tiny dogs you may need to cut down the sides of the box so they can easily get in and out. There are options to use cat litter and natural pine or chemical free types of liters as well. There are flushable litters that are safe for any type of plumbing, which may be a great option for those that live in apartments. If you have a cat and a dog, they may use the same box or they may not, depending on how tolerant the cat is. Some cats are very particular and won't go in the box after the dog, so this is really up to the cat!
Just keep in mind that dogs, no matter what you do, will not use the litter box the same as a cat. They cannot be trained to cover their waste, so the odor control of the litter will not be the same with dog waste as it is with cat waste. In addition, some dogs will find cat waste incredibly fun to play with or even eat, which can pose a serious health issue if they are also ingesting the litter.
Having a toilet area in the home that is out of sight such as a closet area or in a corner of the bathroom is often a good option for the toy or small breeds that cannot tolerate being outdoors in the cold. Keeping the area clean, disinfected and free from odors can be a challenge, but routine removal of waste immediately as well as cleaning with the natural citrus cleaners can be very effective for most surface areas.