Why Won't My Dog Pee On Fake Grass?

Dogs can be picky about where they potty — just ask any dog owner who has wandered around in vain begging their pup to pick a spot to go before bedtime. Some dogs, however, are extra picky about where they choose to relieve themselves, sticking to only the realest of real grass to do the deed.

But why? Why are some dogs totally adverse to going on fake grass, like astroturf? Let's dig in.

Cute small Pomeranian dog peeing in the park
credit: Aonip/iStock/GettyImages

How do dogs decide where to pee in the first place?

In order to understand the mysteries of why a dog won't pee in a particular place, we need to first go back to the very beginning: Why they pee where they pee in the first place. Dogs use urine and feces as a means of scent marking. When dogs relieve themselves, they're leaving information for future dogs who will pass by the spot; it's their way of saying, "Hey! I was the last dog here!"

Why won't some dogs pee on astroturf and other fake grass?

There are several reasons a dog might be reluctant to do his business on a patch of fake grass, and most of them are traced back to smell. First, the astroturf might not smell like other dogs at all. Unlike real grass, astroturf can be (and often is — especially if it's in a place where dogs might use it as a potty) cleaned, thus removing the enticing smells of other dogs, along with your dog's desire to cover those scents with his own.

Another reason could be an issue of the dog in question being so well house trained that anything that doesn't smell like the places he's been told are okay to go (like real grass) seems off-limits. This can be especially true of patches of astroturf that are placed indoors explicitly for use as puppy potties.

Dog running on artifical grass by decking with a toy in his mouth
credit: CBCK-Christine/iStock/GettyImages

So, how can we train a dog to pee on fake grass?

Fear not. If your dog isn't into using the potty on fake grass but you need him to (maybe you're redoing your own lawn in astroturf or maybe you need to teach your dog to pee inside on a special patch of fake grass because you work long hours), your dog can be trained. The bad news is it might not be easy.

Training a dog to use fake grass, especially patches of fake grass that are indoors (like most pet relief areas in airports, for example) can take a lot of work — as much work as potty training him in the first place.

If you need to teach your dog to go on astroturf, go back to the methods you used to teach him to go outside to begin with. That means regular, frequent trips to the astroturf (as often as possible, every 30 minutes if you can) and treats and praise when he goes where you want him to go. It also means preparing for some accidents along the way and being ready to deal with them as they come.