How can I train my dog to "litter" in a specific place after I landscape my yard?
I've always allowed my dogs to roam free in my large back yard, It is a natural landscape and not planned or highly maintained. This means that the whole yard has been their "litter box".
I am in the process of claiming the back yard for outdoor rooms. How can I train my dog to "litter" in a specific place so he won't ruin the more groomed landscaping?
Also, the neighbors have cats that roam freely in the neighborhood. Is there something that I can do to discourage them from using my yard as their litter box?
This is a question best answered by a training or behavior modification professional. Changing existing behavior is a bit trickier than training your dog to do something you want them to the first time. However, my initial advice would be to give your dogs limited access to the yard as a training start. You might fence off the turf where you want them to eliminate, or, walk them on leash in the back yard in the areas you want them to go. You might also keep the yard "picked up" so that they get the idea that there are "no poop" zones. You should also reward them with praise or treats when they eliminate in the preferred area. Try not to let them wander in the areas you don't want them to go, until you feel confident they know where you want them to "mark their turf".
As for the neighbor's cats, ask them nicely to please keep their cat inside as they are eliminating in your yard. If that doesn't work, a fence is one (expensive) option. Check with your veterinarian to see if there are any safe deterrents to keeping unwanted felines out of your yard.