We keep our dogs in our homes. Dogs need to do their business. We don’t like it when dogs do their business in our homes. These three facts sometimes conspire to create one of the major obstacles of having dogs, particularly puppies who need frequent bathroom breaks and, for example, dogs who refuse to go outside when it’s raining or for any other reason. Potty training for dogs is important, of course, but so is finding a way to give them relief when they can’t get to their usual outdoor spot.
The obvious solution is to stick a puppy pad on the floor, but those don’t always work. Some dogs don’t recognize pads as a place to do their business, some miss the target, and some simply tear the pads up. Luckily there are alternatives, such as a potty patch for dogs, dog potty grass, and washable dog pads.
Dog Potty Grass
- Dogs easily recognize its purpose
- Versatile – can be made to any size in any container with any medium
- Low maintenance
- Natural aesthetic
- Must have sun exposure
- DIY products must be put together
- Potty medium must be occasionally changed out and replaced
- Grown mediums such as grass must be rinsed and watered daily
This is, frankly, the top-rated solution for anyone not keeping their dog penned in a small indoor area. Options include commercial dog grass products that can be purchased and delivered regularly, or DIY containers that you can put together yourself and maintain long term. Rather than purchasing multiple packages of puppy pads and disposing of them with each use, real grass would require only a few minutes of rinsing/watering each day and sod replacement every couple weeks or months, depending on your design and how well you look after it.
The greatest strength of keeping natural turf is that its versatility is limitless. You can plant grass sod, instead invest in growing a species of sedge, and incorporate gravel or wood chips. You can use a container as small as a plastic storage bin, as large as a kiddie pool, or build your own planting container. For those with boy dogs, you can even add standing features like plastic fire hydrants or grow small shrubs on the edge of the container, to give them something to lift their leg against.
The only true downside is that you must place the turf where sunlight will reach it. Most often, this means a balcony or patio that your dog can get to. Most ground covers are generally tolerant of partial shade, but they do require some direct sun exposure, even if only dappled. Unless you have a good spot under a window indoors, and space enough in the room where you’d like to keep the container, an outdoor balcony is your best bet. This will not only keep the smell and bacteria away from your indoor spaces, but will also work in harmony with your dog’s instincts, which tell him never to soil his “den” but instead to leave and do his business elsewhere.
Potty Patch For Dogs
- Mimics natural potty areas, so dogs may be more willing to use it
- Long lasting
- No living parts to tend to
- Must be cleaned regularly, and may be difficult to clean depending on design
- May become unappealing to dogs with temperature shifts and acquired smells
A step down from real turf, in this writer’s personal opinion, is artificial turf. It is more ideal for when a dog is confined to an area that doesn’t get much natural light, such as a kitchen or den. Like with real turf, there are commercial products as well as DIY possibilities. DIY, however, is usually more complicated and involves suspending the turf in a tray over a container where any liquid mess can drop into absorbent material such as cat litter. You must also take care to use a type of turf that is pet-friendly, as many brands contain chemicals that can be rough on paws.
The greatest strength of artificial turf is that is mimics natural grass but does not require sunlight. Notice I didn’t say it requires less upkeep. On the contrary, artificial turf doesn’t naturally break down lingering waste the way plants would; instead, anything that lands on the plastic will cling to it indefinitely. It must be cleaned thoroughly and regularly to avoid becoming a haven for bacteria, especially if your dog has any tummy troubles that result in soft stool, the kind that would ooze (if you’ll pardon the unpleasant imagery) into the astroturf’s medium. On average, it’s possible you may spend more time taking an astroturf tray apart to hose it down than you would watering a small bed of natural turf each day.
Washable Dog Pads
- Cheaper than disposable pads
- Reusable and long-lasting
- Difficult for dogs to shred
- More aesthetic than disposable pads
- More environmentally friendly
- Dogs may not recognize it as a “business” spot
- Requires washing after each use
Washable dog pads are an excellent alternative for disposable puppy pads, especially if your dog likes to tear his pads up rather than use them for their intended purpose. The absorbency and waterproof requirements for these pads means they’re very difficult to DIY, but there are some excellent brands on the market, including those who use portions of their proceeds to help animal charities.
Compared to disposable puppy pads, the primary strengths of washable pads are their appearance, durability, and reusability. However, they still don’t mimic the natural outdoor ground where dogs are trained to do their business, so if your dog is one who opts out of using pads no matter what you try, these may not fare any better.
You’ll also have to maintain them the same way parents did with cloth diapers before disposable diapers were invented: by washing them! You have to be diligent, since even with waterproof, non-slip bottoms, you shouldn’t keep your dog’s business lying around on the floor, even if you think it’s “good for a couple more uses.” Would you want to use a toilet that already has something sitting in it? Don’t make your dog do the same.
On Your Dog’s Mark!
If disposable puppy pads aren’t working for you, or you’d like to save money and can spare a few minutes of maintenance each day in exchange, then consider one of these long-lasting, wallet-saving solutions for your dog. The best answer is whatever works best for the both of you, and these days you have plenty of options for what that can be.