Pets That Can Be Housetrained

Updated on April 26, 2018
Everything poos -- but can any pet be house trained?
Everything poos -- but can any pet be house trained?

For millions of years, when an animal had to poo or pee, they just did and walked away. When you try to house train a pet, keep in mind that you are going against thousands or millions of years of programming. Be patient and have a sense of humor. Besides, if you're more worried about your furniture than the comfort and well-being of your pet, perhaps you shouldn't have a pet in the first place.

Miniature Horses

Miniature horses were originally bred for royalty to live in palaces. It can be tempting to get a horse that's the size of a Labrador and keep him or her in the house. But miniature horses are still horses. They have all of the attitudes and habits of horses. Horses are a prey species, and always on the move. Whenever they think they might have to make a run for it, they dump any extra weight their bladders or intestines may be carrying. Horses just can't seem to understand the point of house training. Even miniature horses seem much happier outside or in a barn.

Cats & Rabbits & Ferrets, Oh My!

All three of these species of popular house pets can be easily house trained to use a litter pan. They seem to instinctively like to bury their scat. When you get a new house rabbit, ferret or cat, they are bound to be nervous and confused, so be easy on them if they have accidents. If you do observe them having an accident, gently pick them up and plop them in the litter pan. They'll eventually get the idea. If your cat, ferret or rabbit continually have accidents and still use the litter pan, this might be a sign of a health problem. Take them to the vet.

Some cats and house rabbits have luxuriously long, fluffy coats. Unfortunately, that same long, fluffy coat can get in the way of poo or pee. Check to see that your accident-prone long haired rabbit or cat is not just getting stuff caught in their fur. Carefully trim out any mats and try to keep the fur around the rear end short.

Some ferrets get used to using a favorite corner of the house rather than the litter pan, for whatever reason ferrets have. Consider moving the litter pan there and this will save you a lot of stress.

Pocket Pets

Pocket pets is an umbrella term that tends to cover little rodents and guinea pigs (whose rodent status is currently under debate).

Gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, chinchillas, guinea pigs and any other small furry creature in a pet shop are also prey species like horses. For millions of years, they were always on the move and pooed and peed often in order to be ready to run for their lives. Some people have reported that they are able to successfully house train guinea pigs by placing a dish with some poo and cage bedding in a corner whenever the piggy has some out of cage time. However, this writer has never been able to house train a guinea pig.

But pocket pets don't make all that much of a mess to begin with. And some species like hamsters really should not be let to roam about the house because of potential accidents. But pocket pets, if they like to be handled, will usually learn by themselves not to poo pr pee on you. They will start to get very restless suddenly. That is your cue to put them back in their cage to relieve themselves. You could also drape your lap with an old towel or cloth in case of accidents.


Forget it. Won't happen unless there is a major evolutionary leap in lizards, snakes and turtles. They are the pets most bound to their instincts. However, don't despair. They don't eliminate very often. They also tend to have to go at predictable times. Just with patience and keen observation of your pet reptile's normal behavior, you will be able to predict when they have to go.


Believe it or not, you can house train a pet bird. The larger species seem to be more trainable than smaller ones like finches and canaries. The same technique for reptiles also applies here. Observe the normal behavior of your pet bird. They can go at predictable times or make some motion that you will learn to recognize is their signal that they "gotta potty". You can then act accordingly to either move the bird to a more appropriate toilet or quickly place newspapers under the bird.

After a while, if you keep moving the bird to the same toilet place when they have to go, they will get the idea to go over there and toilet all on their own. This takes patience. Each bird is different and learns at a different rate. Don't let poo come between you and your pet bird.


Believe it or not, I have been seriously asked many times whether a fish can be house trained. I always tell them how fortunate they are to have a fish who knows how to leap out of the tank, poo on the floor and then flip back into the tank. They then frown and say that they meant if a fish could be trained to poo in a special part of the tank.

I'll make it crystal clear: NO.


Dogs can be successfully housetrained. They just learn in their own good time. There are many tips for housetraining your dog on the web and in books, but the best tip I can give might get you arrested in some places. My 7 week old puppy got the idea of where to go when I showed her what to do (use your imagination).

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

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