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How To Make an Outdoor Dog Potty Area


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It’s not too difficult to make a potty area that’s exclusively for your dog to use.

And there are many reasons why such a potty area is desirable.

My dogs have a potty yard that we’ve fenced in ourselves.

It’s easy to clean because it’s not as large as the play yard.

By the way, if you’re having trouble potty training your puppy then you might want to check out our post on how to potty train you puppy.

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In about 2 months we’re moving to a new home that doesn’t have a specified outdoor dog potty area.

Guess what? Today’s post is all about how to make an outdoor dog potty area.

Why Make a Dog Potty Area?

Having a defined place for your dog to potty in has many benefits. 

  • It’s much easier to keep clean than trying to find poop in a large yard.
  • Your regular yard will remain cleaner. The acid in urine won’t discolor and burn your beautiful lawn. 
  • And you won’t step in poop land mines there.
  • Also, even after you pick up and dispose of feces in your regular yard, a small portion remains even if it’s not visible.
  • If you have children playing in the same yard that the dog uses as his bathroom, they may become ill. 
  • Young children often put their hands in their mouths or rub their eyes, Unfortunately, they may have some remnants of their pup’s feces there too.

My life is so much easier since we have a dog potty yard. 

What Should You Consider When Creating a Dog Potty Yard?

It’s important to decide certain matters before making your potty yard. You want it to be the best place possible so that your dog will use it regularly.

Location

Of course, the potty yard should be convenient for the dog to use. But you also don’t want it to be near any outdoor living spaces.

No one wants to be grilling or eating near a recently-used potty yard.

Also consider the weather in your region. If you live where it’s very hot, the yard should be in an area where there’s some shade.

The potty area shouldn’t be so far from the house that it wouldn’t be convenient. If, for example, you live where you get blizzards, you don’t want to have to shovel a long path to the potty yard.

Many people place their potty yards near their homes;. Some even place the yard along a side of the house that’s not used for other things.

You may want to have a dog door into the yard. Of course, that makes the decision that the yard will be placed next to your residence. 

If you love gardening, you don’t want the yard near your prized tomatoes. And you also need to ensure that it’s not down-slope from the potty yard.

Size

The size that your potty yard should be depends on the size of your dog and yard.

Of course, a chihuahua won’t need the same size as a Great Dane. Keep in mind that dogs circle around when deciding where to poop.

Dogs also don’t want to step in feces that are left in the area’s the right size and not too small. 

Also, make sure the area’s cleaned regularly.

An eight-by-eight foot area may be sufficient for a medium-sized dog.

Surface

There are a number of surfaces that you can use for the top layer of the yard. Whatever you choose, it should be easy to clean and drain and not hard on your dog’s feet

Lower-cost options (grass and mulch): Two of the cheapest surfaces are grass and mulch. But grass will burn from urine. It will have to be re-sodded or re-seeded.

Mulch may be a better option because it drains well and looks appealing. Of course, you may have to add to or replace it every year or two.

It’s important to use mulch that’s safe for dogs, as you don’t want added chemicals or dyes. So it’s best to choose undyed mulch.

Also, cocoa mulch is toxic to dogs.

A downside of mulch is that dogs may choke if they eat it or get a blockage. Some dogs like to chew on wood.

So if you have a dog who just grabs things to munch on, that might be a consideration. However, they also can eat other ground cover surfaces.

When you train him to use the potty area, you’ll be present to stop him from grazing on the surface.

Another downside of mulch is that it absorbs urine and will eventually smell.

You can instead choose artificial grass. But you have to ensure the layer underneath it will drain properly. 

If in the sun too long, the artificial grass surface can become too hot for your dog’s pads because it absorbs the sun’s rays. A benefit of it though is that it won’t absorb urine.

Higher-cost options (gravel and river rock): Both types of gravel drain well, but regular gravel is more likely than pea gravel to be washed away. 

When doing clean-up duty, unfortunately poop will stick to either. 

Regular gravel is used in driveways and pathways. Usually, the size used in driveways is between ⅜ and ¾ inches in diameter. That used on pathways is between ¼ and ⅜ inches in diameter. 

But regular gravel has sharp edges that can damage a dog’s feet.

Smaller gravel is better for the dog’s feet but will wash away more easily.

Pea gravel is a better option. It has smaller pebbles that are smooth. They’re less likely to hurt a dog’s feet.

Another option is smooth river rock which doesn’t have sharp edges. But some dogs may try to play with and even ingest it.

Defining the Area

You’ll need to define the area containing the pea gravel or whatever surface you’ve chosen. 

You can use cinder block, garden trim, or the like to create a nice-looking potty yard. 

Garden trim that’s high enough to hold the pea gravel is necessary. It usually is driven into the ground so it won’t move around. You can get as fancy a barrier as you choose.

Some people even create a dog run with the pea gravel. You can put a simple fence in or even wood posts with netting between them. 

We created ours with green metal stakes that are about four feet high and we attached green-coated wire that were intended for that purpose.

Drainage

The potty yard should slope away from your house and not toward any  areas that you use. 

No one wants urine run-off where they garden, eat, or relax.

Additional Considerations

You’ll need some tools, of course, to make the potty yard, such as a pick ax, shovel, and string to mark the area. 

You’ll also need weed block so that all your work is undone by those unwanted weeds. 

Weed block is a cloth that not only blocks weeds but also has great drainage. So urine will pass through to a lower layer.

General Construction of the Potty Yard

You need to prepare the surface of the yard and have the proper drainage material before you do the finishing steps. The general steps are as follows.

  1. Once you’ve chosen the area and marked out the area for the yard, you’ll need to clear the area of rocks, grass, weeds, and any other materials such as sticks.
  1. Then weed block should be laid down covering the entire area..
  1. Next, add the raised border like the pre-fabricated landscape border, two-by-four wood that’s been treated for outdoor use, or low cinder blocks.
  1. A type of drainage material like sand or rocks made for that purpose should then be laid down. The water and urine should drain down properly from the top filler material you choose.
  1. Then the filler material like pea gravel should be placed, which may be between two and four inches deep.
  1. The fun time comes then of decorating the potty area with a pathway leading to it, a sign stating “potty area,” or even a mock fire hydrant. Though decorative, the hydrant can lure male dogs to potty there.

Maintaining the Potty Yard

It’s important to maintain the potty yard. If it’s not cleaned regularly, your pup may not want to use it. And it will stink.

You’ll need a pooper scooper and a waste can with a liner to clean up Fido’s feces.

You should also hose down the area once a week. Wetting the urine will make a horrible stink, but it should resolve when it dries again.

You may even have to replace some of the pea gravel or other surface sometimes.

How to Get Your Dog to Use the Potty Area

You’ll want to train him again as if he were a puppy

Bring him out on leash to use the potty yard first thing in the morning.  Most dogs have to go to the bathroom right after they wake up.

Tell him to “go potty.” Make a big fuss and praise and reward with a small treat immediately after he goes to the bathroom.

Every time he has to go to the bathroom, take him on leash to the area in the same way. 

I suggest doing this for two weeks or until your dog understands what’s expected. 

Eventually, he should go to that area to potty.

Final Thoughts

Using a potty yard is a personal choice. Once you’ve set it up, it should make your overall clean-up of your dog’s feces much easier. And it will save your regular yard from urine burn.

Have you ever used a potty yard? Are you thinking about using one?

Please tell us about it in the comment section below.

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How To Make A Dog Potty Area - White Dog Fire Hydrant peeing

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