How to Build a Backyard Dog Potty Area

Having a dog-friendly backyard is part of the fun for both you and your canine friend. Even if your backyard is small, it can be a pleasant place for him to play with his toys, sleep in the sunshine, and enjoy safe plants and pleasant smells. And yes, going potty is going to happen there, too!

Fun time. Girl playing with her dog in the backyard.
Having a dog-friendly backyard is part of the fun for both you and your canine friend.
credit: nortonrsx/iStock/GettyImages

A dog potty area is a great idea for a backyard, because dog pee and poop is hard on grass. I Heart Dogs explains that it's the nitrogen in dog urine that turns grass yellow, and it only takes one time to end up with a dry, yellow spot on your lawn. You can create a dog potty area with some simple items, and with some training, you can reduce the damage to your lawn by having your dog do his business in one area set aside just for him.

Dog outdoor potty

The Canine Training Center had a simple solution for a dog outdoor potty. Their solution is to designate an area in your yard as the potty area. The area does not have to be large, but should be roomy enough that she can sniff around, circle, and have room to pee and poop. You could add some landscaping or something for visual interest such as a dog potty rock for your dog to enjoy.

If there is any grass or plants in that area, dig them up with a shovel. Replace the grass or plants with a one- to two-inch layer of cedar mulch. To keep the mulch contained, and to allow you to easily replace the mulch later on, consider building up a small raised area, similar to a raised garden bed.

Dog Tipper had a similar simple idea for a dog outdoor potty, but they use pea gravel. Building an outdoor dog potty area can be as simple as nailing a few boards together, placing a screen in the bottom, and filling the frame with pebbles and pea gravel.

Den Garden took things to a whole new level by building a "dog patio," which included a plywood platform and PVC pipe for drainage. Once you get the platform ready, the actual surface where your dog will do her business can be either sod or Astroturf. A real grass dog potty box would mean that over time, the sod would need to be replaced with new sod to keep everything green, but at least your dog would enjoy going on a real grass surface. Astroturf can be sprayed off with a hose and washed.

Training your dog

Training your dog to use the outdoor potty is the part that might take the longest. If your dog is used to being able to go anywhere in the yard that he wants to, limiting him to one area might be tricky. The Canine Training Center offered some key points for training, which, as you might expect, include lots of praise when he goes where you want him to.

When it's time, take your dog to the potty area, on a leash, and keep him in that area until he goes. If he doesn't go right away, take him back into the house, then return again to the potty area. While in that area, say "go potty" or whatever your normal verbal cue is. When he goes, praise him as if he is just learning what to do; and, in a way, he is!