How to Train Your Dog to Pee on Gravel

How to Train Your Dog to Pee on Gravel
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-4 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

The Jones family live in a small townhouse, with an equally small backyard. Their 2 and 4-year old children love to run barefoot on the little patch of grass in their yard. Unfortunately, that is also where their Cocker Spaniel, Muffin, does her business, and the lawn has become brown and patchy, due to being burned by dog urine. The Jones’s do not want their children running barefoot and playing on dog-pee-damaged lawn! 

The Jones’s have an idea--to teach Muffin to use a gravel patch for a bathroom they will create in their backyard. The advantage of using gravel is that it allows dog urine to seep through, and prevents having to constantly hose down the bathroom area to clean it, which is necessary for concrete doggy bathrooms. A little bit of work creating the doggy bathroom and training for Muffin is going to be required for the plan to be a success.

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Defining Tasks

Creating a gravel doggy bathroom and teaching your dog to pee on the gravel patch is a great idea to prevent unsightly dog urine burns on your lawn. Teaching your dog to pee on gravel can be accomplished by teaching your dog to pee on command, and then applying that command to the gravel potty area, or by teaching your dog to associate bathroom behaviors with a particular area, your gravel potty area. Training your dog to pee on gravel will require supervision and time on your part, to ensure that your dog learns to pee on the gravel area and stop peeing on other surfaces, like grass.  

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Getting Started

Create a gravel area for your dog to use as a potty.  Lay down sand or other material that will drain well, and cover it with clean gravel. You should use gravel that is free of dirt, sand and other debris, that would become messy when peed on. When your dog pees on the gravel, urine should drain through the gravel and the sand below into the ground. This will eliminate the need to hose down the area as frequently. It will still be advisable to rinse the gravel bathroom area periodically. You may want to also put a permanent or temporary fence up to help direct your dog to this area and contain them while they are having their bathroom break. For a temporary fence, you can use snow fence or garden fencing.

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The Pee on Command Method

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1

Prepare

Choose a command for your dog to pee. Make sure your dog has access to lots of water so he has urine to pass. It's pretty tough to train a dry dog to pee on command!

2

Go to gravel

Take your dog to go pee, on a leash, to the designated gravel potty area.

3

Provide command

Provide the 'go pee' command and wait for your dog 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.

4

Repeat to establish

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 the gravel area, give the 'go pee' command.

5

Remove command

Once your dog starts associating the command and the gravel area as his designated potty spot, you can give your dog access to that area and your dog will begin to choose that space to pee on his own. Supervise and provide the 'go pee' command on the gravel area if your dog looks like he is investigating the grassy area to pee in.

The Direct and Reinforce Method

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1

Create gravel bathroom

Create a designated bathroom area for your dog in your yard, with gravel. 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.

2

Take dog to gravel

When you let your dog out to pee, do not let him run around on your lawn. Instead, take your dog to his designated gravel area on a leash, or carry him.

3

Direct back to gravel

Wait with your dog on leash to keep him in the bathroom area. Or, if off-leash and the dog leaves the area before going pee, redirect him by calling him back or making a loud noise such as clapping to get his attention and redirect him back to his bathroom area.

4

Reward for using gravel

When your dog pees in his area, reward him with attention and a treat. Then take him to the grass o play or have some free time. If your dog looks like he is going to relieve himself again in the grass, immediately take him back to the gravel potty area.

5

Practice

Gradually give your dog more space and off-leash training in his gravel bathroom area. Continue to supervise and redirect him as necessary. If your dog has an pees on the grass instead of the gravel, take him inside to end playtime. Do not punish him, he will come to learn that playtime on the grass is a reward for peeing in the gravel area instead of the grass.

The Contain on Gravel Method

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1

Create gravel area with fence

Create a designated gravel bathroom area Put a temporary containment fence around the gravel area using snow fence or garden fence.

2

Contain dog on gravel

Give your dog lots of fluids 1-2 hours prior to introducing the bathroom area.Let your dog out in the fenced gravel potty area.

3

Supervise

Supervise and wait until your dog pees on the gravel.

4

Reward and release

When your dog pees on the gravel, give him a treat and lots of praise. Let him out of the potty area.

5

Establish and remove containment

Repeat until your dog has come to associate the gravel area with going pee and getting rewarded. You can then remove the fence and continue supervisor and direct your dog, if necessary, to use the gravel potty for peeing.

By Laurie Haggart

Published: 11/09/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Hopper

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Golden Doodle

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1 Year

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Question

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1 found this helpful

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1 found this helpful

I am needing him to pee on rocks rather than grass because it ruins our grass.

May 8, 2021

Hopper's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Phoenix, I recommend purchasing a disposable real grass pad, placing it on the rocks, taking pup there to pee, telling pup to "Go Potty" and rewarding with a treat when they do go. Once pup is used to going on that spot and going on command, then gradually cut away the grass pad an inch or two at a time, until pup is finally peeing on the rocks underneath as the grass pad decreases. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 10, 2021

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Tina

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German Shepherd

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3 Years

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1 found this helpful

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1 found this helpful

Dog was raised in fenced in area. Now lives with us in unfenced area and has to be on leach when outside

Jan. 17, 2021

Tina's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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Hello! I am sending you quite a bit of information on potty and crate training just in case you want to use the crate to help with potty training. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

Jan. 18, 2021


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