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Most of us house train our dogs as puppies, and consider ourselves pretty successful when we get our pup to start peeing outside, and not on the Persian rug in the living room! Unfortunately, after several months of your dog peeing in your yard, you may notice your lawn has dead patches and ugly brown spots. The problem is that dog urine contains high amounts of nitrogen, which can burn grass and result in unsightly dead patches.
Maybe it’s time to consider teaching your dog not just to go pee outside, but not to pee on your lawn either. Also, your neighbors may not be that happy about your dog peeing on their lawns when you go for a walk Teaching your dog an alternate spot or surface to relieve himself on will keep your lawn looking better and can maintain your popularity with your friends and neighbors too.
Teaching your dog not to pee on the lawn will require you to provide an alternate space for your dog to pee. Most people who want to avoid their dog peeing on their grass create a special bathroom spot in their yard with mulch, gravel or cement. Subsequent training to teach your dog that this new designated spot is the best place in the yard to pee will prevent him from leaving dead spots on your lawn. Teaching your dog to pee on command can be part of a strategy to direct where your dog pees and can be used in conjunction with creating a designated bathroom spot. Providing your dog with lots of on-grass fun, such as play and investigating, can be a great reward for your dog peeing off the grass, and provides alternate on-grass behavior.
Before you start teaching your dog not to pee on the grass you will need to provide him with an appropriate place to pee. You can set up a grass-free area by removing all vegetation, including existing grass, with a non-toxic grass killer or by removing grass and vegetation manually, which will mean some digging. Then, replace grass and soil with sand for drainage and mulch, gravel or cement overtop. If your dog already has an area of your yard he likes to relieve himself in, and it is practical to do so, you can set up his designated bathroom area in that spot to help establish his new bathroom routine. You will need a leash to direct your dog to his new bathroom area, and lots of treats for rewarding desirable behavior. Ensure you have lots of time to spend shaping your dog's new potty habits and to spend rewarding him with play and outdoor activity on grassy areas, that does not involve him relieving himself there.
The Pee on Command Method
Choose a command word for pee such as “go pee”. Make sure your dog has access to lots of water so he has urine to pass for training!
Go to non-grass area
Take your dog to go pee, on a leash, to an area without grass or a designated potty area.
Ask and wait
Provide the 'go pee' command and wait for him to pee. This may take quite a while. Ignore your dog while you wait. When he does pee, repeat the verbal command to reinforce the association, especially if a significant time period has lapsed since the original command. When he has finished, say “yes”, and give him a treat. If he does not pee, take him back inside.
Repeat the process daily for several days. The time between giving the initial command and your dog peeing should decrease. When the behavior is well-established, you can try taking your dog off leash. Call your off-leash dog to a non grassy area or his spot and give the 'go pee' command.
Use off grass
Once your dog is peeing on command, you can use the command when on walks. Give the command on the sidewalk or in an alleyway, not in the park or a neighbor's lawn.
The Designated Spot Method
Create potty spot
Create a designated bathroom area for your dog in your yard, without grass. Cement or mulch are common surfaces to use. You can use a barrier of some sort, such as garden fence, plant pots, or portable fencing to create a barrier that helps designate the spot to help your dog distinguish it. If your dog already tends to use an area of your yard and it is convenient, make that area your designated bathroom area, this will contribute to training success.
Go to spot
When you let your dog out to pee, do not let him run around on your lawn, instead take your dog to his designated area on a leash, or carry him.
Wait in area
Wait in the area. Keep your dog on-leash to keep him in the bathroom area, or call him back if he is off-leash and leaves the area before going pee.
Reward use of spot
When your dog pees in his area, rewards him with attention and a treat, then take him to the grassy area to play or have free time. Supervise at first, and if your dog looks like he is going to relieve himself again in the grass, immediately go take him back to his bathroom area.
Gradually give your dog more space and off-leash training in his bathroom area. Continue to supervise and redirect him as necessary. If your dog has an “accident” and pees on the grass, take him inside, ending playtime. Do not punish him, he will come to learn that play on the grass is a reward for using his bathroom spot.
The Train on Cement Method
Create cement bathroom
Create a designated bathroom area with cement blocks or using an area of a concrete patio. This will be used to teach your dog to pee on cement only.
Pee on command
Teach your dog to pee on command. See the 'Pee on Command' method.
Establish cement area
Teach your dog to use the designated cement bathroom area. See the 'Designated Spot' method.
Start taking your dog out on a leash in the neighborhood. Give the command to pee only when on cement surfaces. If your dog uses a grass surface, immediately end the walk.
Associate cement with peeing
Eventually your dog will learn to associate peeing with cement surfaces and avoid peeing on grass or lawn. You will need to ensure that your dog has access to cement surfaces in order to relieve himself regularly.
Written by Laurie Haggart
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 11/14/2017, edited: 01/08/2021