How to Train Your Dog to Use Fake Grass

Medium
1-2 Months
General

Introduction

Training your dog to go potty outside is hard enough, but what if you need to leave your pup alone at home for hours at a time. You can't leave him kenneled for this long on a daily basis as it is not healthy. Your pup will not pee or poop in his kennel unless he has no choice, just as a wolf will not defecate or urinate in his den. One way to deal with this is to train your dog to use fake grass both indoors and out.

By doing this, you can teach your pup to do his business on a small piece of fake grass that is placed in a specific place in your home. Not only will this keep any messes he might make all in one place, it will allow him to be free in your home instead of caged up for hours at a time. The same concepts can be applied to help your dog adapt to using artificial turf outside in your yard, if necessary. 

Defining Tasks

The concept is to teach your pup that it is only okay for him to relieve himself in your home when he does so on the fake grass. The only real problem with this is that if you have already trained him to go outside to go potty it can be hard to train him to do so in the house. This is a big change for both of you, who have worked so hard to get him to go outside.

The best way to make this training stick is to pick one location in your home to place the fake grass and leave it there. Moving it around will only confuse your pup and make it that much harder to successfully train your pup. Be aware that it can take your pup a few weeks to master this skill and not forget how to do his business outside when appropriate. 

Getting Started

Start training your pup during a time when your house is nice and quiet. It is so much easier to train when there aren't any distractions. Be sure to choose a spot in your home with a hard floor, not carpet. It is possible, at least in the beginning, that your pup might miss the fake grass from time to time and his urine may soak through onto the floor. You will also need a few supplies, including:

  • Treats: You need a way to reward your pup.
  • Leash: To lead your dog to the fake grass and hold him there until he goes potty.
  • The fake grass: You need a large piece of fake grass that can be cut to size as needed.
  • Patience: This type of training takes plenty of patience if you want it to be successful.
  • Time: Be prepared, it will take your pup some time to master this new "skill."

Once you have all supplies gathered, the only thing left for you is to commit to the time needed to work with your pup several times a day until he masters this skill. The good news is your pup is very smart and loves learning new things, make use of this along with plenty of treats and he will soon know where to go potty when he can't get outside. 

The Pick a Spot Method

Effective
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Step
1
Choose your spot or rather, his
Pick a spot in your home for your pup's fake grass potty. It should be on linoleum, tiles, hardwood, anything but carpet. If you don't have a spot like this, you can put plastic or a tray under the fake grass to protect the floor beneath. Once you have chosen a spot, stick to it, as moving it around will only confuse him.
Step
2
Never trust your dog
Just because your pup understands that the real grass outside is where he is supposed to go potty, don't assume he will automatically start using the "fake grass" on the inside. Chances are he won't want to, especially now that you have worked so hard to get him to go outside.
Step
3
Back to potty training 101
Remember taking your puppy outside every half hour whether he looked like he needed to go or not? Well, training him to use the fake grass on the inside will be a lot like doing this all over again. Keep your pup on a leash at the beginning and walk him over to the fake grass every 30 minutes or so. When he goes potty, be sure to reward him and give him lots of praise.
Step
4
Take the leash off
Now you should be able to take his leash off and let him roam free. Keep a close eye on him and watch to see if he goes to the fake grass or tries to go somewhere else. If he goes on the fake grass, give him a treat, if not go back to working with him on a leash until he does.
Step
5
Repeat this step
Repeat this until your pup will go over to the mat on his own without the leash on. Each time he goes potty on the fake grass successfully, be sure to praise him and give him a treat.
Recommend training method?

The Dogs Love Routine Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Pick a spot
Find a safe place in your home to place the fake grass, one that you can leave it in place and that your dog will be able to find easily that is not near his kennel if you use one.
Step
2
Take it to the mat
Just like in the early days of potty training your dog, you will need to take him to the mat (fake grass) frequently during the day, when you first get up, just before bedtime, and after meals or when he drinks a lot of water.
Step
3
Stand in place
Once you have your dog standing on the fake grass, make him stand there for ten minutes. The idea is to give him enough time to decide he needs to go potty. If he finally goes, be sure to praise him and give him a treat.
Step
4
When he won't go
If he hasn't gone potty after ten minutes, release him and keep a close eye on him. If he shows any indication that he might need to go potty, usher him over to the fake grass. This may take a while, but you need to watch him closely or you may end up with messes to clean up.
Step
5
Keep trying
Once your pup has decided that it's okay to use the fake grass as his potty, the rest involves plenty of practice, but in time he will get the message and you will no longer have messes to clean up.
Recommend training method?

The Getting Smaller Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Pick a room
Find a room in your house that has a solid floor such as the kitchen or bathroom, one that you can confine your dog in during the training process. It should be a room in which you can cover the bulk of the floor with fake grass.
Step
2
Lay out the grass
Lay the roll of fake grass out flat, leaving as little open floor as possible for your dog to use instead of the grass.
Step
3
Enter the pup
Place your pup in the room and barricade him in it. When he does his business on the fake grass, be sure to give him treats and a heap of praise.
Step
4
Reduction time
Start cutting the fake grass, making it smaller by about one foot all around every three days. If he keeps going on the fake grass, give him plenty of treats. If not, put the fake grass you cut out back in place and work with him until you can start removing sections again.
Step
5
Work your way down
Keep repeating this process until you have cut the piece of fake grass down to the size you plan to use. Keep working with your pup using treats until he never misses the fake grass and voila! Your pup will always use the fake grass in the house to go potty.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Oliver
Shih Tzu
2 Months
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Question
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Oliver
Shih Tzu
2 Months

I recently purchased an artificial grass pad for my pup, but he constantly takes his toys on the pad and does more playing than eliminating. Is there anyway I can get him to realize it is strictly just for eliminating? I've looked into the potty sprays but I dont want to spend the money if it's not worth anything.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
78 Dog owners recommended

Hello Makalya, The problem is that Oliver has no reason to differentiate the fake grass from the rest of the house. He needs a strict potty training schedule and close supervision, or confinement between potty trips. Either attach a six to eight foot leash to Oliver and to yourself when you cannot focus sole on just him, so that he will stay close to you, confine him to a crate when you will be gone or cannot supervise or attach him to yourself, or directly supervise him so that you will immediately catch any attempts to go potty or indicate that he needs to go. Also, whenever you are home take him to the fake grass every hour on a leash and tell him to "Go Potty". If you don't want to use a leash you can place the fake grass in an Exercise Pen to keep him from wandering off of it or bringing toys onto it. Taking him to the fake grass and telling him to "Go Potty" will be the most effective in the morning after he has held his bladder overnight. When he goes potty, then give him three small, soft treats or pieces of his dog food and praise him enthusiastically. Repeat this every hour while he is young and learning where to go on his own. If he does not go potty when you take him, then take him again in thirty minutes. Continue to try every thirty minutes until he goes potty on the fake grass. If he is having accidents even while following this schedule or simply will not pee on the fake grass, then he needs to be crate trained. You can use the crate to teach a dog to go in almost any area, not just outside. While in a crate, a dog naturally tries to hold his bladder because of his inherit instincts to keep a confined space clean. Crate training means that he is either in a crate where he does not want to pee and poop or on the fake grass where he is more likely to pee and poop, unless his bladder is completely empty. By crate training him you remove all the other options of places he could pee until he learns to go in the right spot by himself. It also forces him to pee on the correct spot so that you can reward him for it and teach him that that was correct. By rewarding him you will help him to want to go in that spot instead of somewhere else. Here is an article on crate training. Follow the "Crate Training" method, and instead of taking him outside to go potty like the article mentions, take him to your fake grass area instead each time. If you can get him to pee on the fake grass simply by crating him, then you probably don't need the pee spray. The spray simply makes the training go faster and works well for dogs that are having a hard time making the connection between an area and peeing. When they smell it, it essentially reminds them of going to the bathroom so that they are thinking about that while in that area instead of being as distracted by other things. Once your puppy goes in the correct area a few time he should begin to associate that area with peeing more and be less distracted. Potty Training with the crate article: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Prancer
Australian Cattle, German Shepherd
7 Years
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Question
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Prancer
Australian Cattle, German Shepherd
7 Years

My dog is trained to use the yard as her bathroom. Recently due to new circumstances that make this so much more annoying we made a grass spot on the porch for her. I try to let her out often but we are having difficulty getting her to go ON the grass. She seems to avoid it. I’ve tried putting real grass shavings on it and putting her urine smell on it, and keeping it clean from poop but she still seems to avoid it and pee on the regular porch instead OR pee/poo in the house. I’ve gotten her to pee with me out there a few times but she doesn’t like to poo with people watching. I plan to use method two(patterns) but wasn’t sure if you had other suggestions for my situation. I’m a new mom and her stubbornness is really stressing me out, please help.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
78 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jazzmyn, I would suggest trying method two like you mentioned. If that does not work there are a couple of other things you can do. The first is to lay a piece of real grass sod on top of the area until she gets used to going in that location on the grass. When he will go there on her own, then you can leave remove the piece of sod and leave some of the dirt and grass blades on the fake grass to reminder her of the sod, like you tried before. After she will eliminate on that, then you can remove the remaining dirt and grass. I suspect that the issue is the consistency and feel of the fake grass. Fake grass feels more like carpeting than regular grass does and can also be spikey and uncomfortable on sensitive dogs' paws. Using real grass will help her form a habit of going in that spot so that she will be less discouraged by the fake grass later on, and the habit will hopefully trump the unpleasantness of the fake grass. While you are doing this, every time that she eliminates on the grass sod give her at least three small treats, one at a time. This will help her to associate peeing and pooping in that area with rewards, which should help her continue eliminating in that area once you remove the grass later on. Another option is to substitute the sod for a wide litter box made out of a large, shallow plastic tray and cat litter. Many dogs prefer litter boxes over fake grass or pee pads. Since your dog is larger you can create a shallow one out of a wide plastic tray. A third option is to use crate training with her temporarily to force her to pee on the area until she gets used to going there. To do this, start on a day when you will be at home all day, like the beginning of the weekend. Place her into a crate with a chew toy, such as a food stuffed Kong, and then when it is time to take her out to go potty, attach a leash to her and quickly lead her over to the fake grass and tell her to "Go Potty". Stand by the fake grass with her for five to ten minutes and wait for her to go. If she does not go, then immediately take her back inside and place her back into the crate for thirty to forty-five minutes. After that time has passed, then take her to the fake grass again, tell her to "Go Potty", and wait for her to go there. Repeat crating her and taking her to go potty until she will go on the fake grass, and when she does go give her at least five treats, one at a time, praise her profusely, and then give her three hours of free time before placing her back into the crate until she needs to eliminate again. Repeat this entire process for as many consecutive days as you can, until she will start to go over to the fake grass on her own when she needs to go. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Guero
adopted
8 Weeks
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Question
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Guero
adopted
8 Weeks

My dog has 8 weeks old and doesn't want to use the synthetic grass. I made the mistake (i think it was) of making his potty spot larger with potty pads but he only uses those and plays on the grass. Is there a way to make him use the grass to pee and poop so that i can eventually use no more potty pads?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
78 Dog owners recommended

Hello Anna, If he will use the Pee Pads just fine, then place one Pee Pad in the middle of the fake grass for Guero to go on. When he gets comfortable going there, then slowly decrease the size of the Pee Pad overtime by cutting or tearing the sides of your Pee Pads off. Do this until the Pee Pads are only three or four square inches wide and he will go on it and the fake grass also because the Pee Pad is not large enough to contain all of his urine anymore. When he reaches that point, then remove the Pee Pads altogether so that he is peeing only on the grass. Reward him with three small treats every time that you catch him peeing on the fake grass until he develops a habit of going there. You can also skip straight to removing the Pee Pads completely by spraying a Potty Elimination Spray, such as "Go Here" or "Hurry Spray", on the fake grass and taking him over to the area on leash when his bladder is full. To get his bladder full enough without causing him to have an accident, place him into a crate for one hour. At the end of the hour, clip a leash on him and bring him over to the fake grass and tell him to "Go Potty". If he goes then give him four small treats, one treat at a time .If he does not go, then take him back to the crate and place him back inside for thirty minutes, then take him over to the area again. Repeat this until he goes potty on the fake grass when you take him and you can reward him for it. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to use the crate to teach him to go potty on the fake grass. 1. Do not let him stop on his way from the crate to the grass or he might have an accident on the floor. 2. Make sure you stick to the schedule very strictly until he gets comfortable going potty on the grass. When he is comfortable, then you can go back to your original method of potty training if you wish. 3. Make sure that you reward him when he goes potty there so that he will want to go potty there instead of somewhere else. 4. Make sure that his bed, food, and water are not within a couple of feet of the fake grass or he might avoid peeing there to keep those things clean. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Captain
German Shepherd
11 Weeks
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Question
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Captain
German Shepherd
11 Weeks

Hi.My main problem is at night.I left him alone at night with my bedroom door open and he would mess up the whole house(Eliminate at 5 different spots).I bought fake grass to put in my room at night with a closed bedroom door.The thing that worries me is that I want him to potty outside on the real grass because I have a big yard and now I'm scared he will only potty on the fake grass.(FIY:He stays outside most of the day and only comes inside at night and when I am there).Will this idea of mine work because I cant wake up every 4 hours to take him outside.
Thank You

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
78 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lou, Some dogs will potty on both fake grass and real grass no problem. Since Captain is so young and is just now learning to go potty outside, the most important thing is to emphasize using the bathroom outside more than inside. You need to spend time potty training him. You need to use a method that teaches him to hold his bladder when there is not a toilet area present, and to only relieve himself when there is grass or fake grass available. Opposed to just going to the bathroom whenever he feels the urge, like an outside-only dog would. The easiest way to teach that is to crate train him because dog's have a natural instinct to hold their bladders inside a confined space where they eat and sleep. The crate needs to be large enough for him to lay down and stand up, but not so large that he can use the bathroom on one end and stand in the other end of the crate, away from his mess. Buying a large crate and using the included wire divider to temporarily make the crate smaller accomplishes this without having to buy multiple crates. If you are spending time taking him outside to go potty, praising him and rewarding him when he pees and poops outside, and supervising him or confining him inside so that he will not an accident, then he may learn to only use the fake grass and grass and not go potty just anywhere in the house. The main concern with the fake grass so early on in his training is that he might start to have accidents when you remove the fake grass later. You can take that risk if you choose, and increase your chance that he will be fine by taking him outside to go potty and rewarding him for going with treats. You can wake up during the night to take him to go potty. In about a month he should only need to go potty once during the night or possibly not at all. When dogs sleep their bladders sort of shut off, allowing them to hold it for longer during the night. If he is going more than once by 16 weeks of age, then he is probably crying for attention and not because he needs to go potty. In the long run, taking him to go potty during the night will be less work, but he needs to be crate trained and to sleep in his crate at night to prevent accidents and bad habits from forming until he is potty trained. When you crate him at night, either crate him where you can hear him if he wakes up and needs to go potty, or set an alarm to take him. Another option, that is the compromise between the first two options, is to create a real grass toilet area for him, so that he will learn to pee on grass and the training will transfer more easily to the outdoors. To do this, purchase a piece of real grass sod, cut the sod into the correct size that you want, and place the grass sod in a container, like a large plastic storage container or sealed wooden box that is not too tall. Set up an Exercise Pen, place the grass toilet in one end of the Exercise Pen and a chew-proof bed, like a PrimoPad that can be ordered online, on the other end of the Exercise Pen. Have Captain sleep in that pen near the toilet so that he will go to the toilet as needed. You can also place him in the Exercise Pen when he is inside and you cannot supervise him, to prevent him from having accidents inside. When he is able to hold his bladder through the night, then you can place the grass toilet outside on the grass and take him to pee on it there. When he gets used to that, you can gradually take away part of it overtime, until you are only left with the grass in the yard and he will pee in your yard without the toilet. I recommend spending time taking outside to pee and rewarding him for peeing during the day while he is using the grass toilet at night still. You ultimately want him to prefer peeing outside. It is easier to create a new habit than break an old one. You want him to develop a habit of peeing outside while he is young. When you take away the indoor toilet, either the grass sod toilet or the fake grass toilet, when he can hold his bladder overnight, you might still need to crate train him to teach him to try to hold his bladder, since he may be used to peeing more frequently than he has to because it was convenience before. Keep this in mind when choosing a method. Also, the reason I suggest real grass instead of fake grass, even though they look similar, is because they are not that similar to a dog. Fake grass it made out of a plastic type substance and does not smell like grass. To a dog it is completely different and they do not associate the two with each other normally. Fake grass is better than Pee Pads because fake grass does not look that much like other areas in your home, like your rug and shirt, so fake grass is still a better option than Pee Pads. Real grass will likely stink if you use it, but it will be temporary, and will be an easier transition since it is the same as real grass. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Howl and Calcifer
Dachshund and Cairn Terrier
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Howl and Calcifer
Dachshund and Cairn Terrier
3 Years

My boys are trained to go outside, but I want them to have the option to use a patch of turf for when we are away at work or really gone for any amount of time longer than 5 hours. I have set up an area in a quiet corner with the turf as well as a puppy pad. I put them on the leash and bring them over to it. I've always praised them with "[good] potty" whenever they've gone outside, so I use potty to indicate the area I've set up as well. Usually they will sniff at the turf (which I encourage) but then just sit/lie down on it (I don't know if I should discourage this or just wait it out). I've also tried to find things that other dogs have marked on and brought them to the turf in an attempt to entice them to mark over it or at least know that urine is alright there (was this unwise?). Nothing has worked and it's been some time. I always end up caving and bringing them outside because I don't want them to cause themselves kidney damage or blood toxicity in their ardent adherence to being good boys and not peeing inside. I know that caving in can reinforce that all the need to do is wait long enough, but I don't know what else to do. Any suggestions?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
78 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jeffrey, You are essentially trying to get them to break two new rules at once in their minds. The first is to pee inside. The second is to pee on a plastic type surface, which is what turf essentially is. Grass turf does not look or smell like real grass to a dog and puppy Pads closely resemble carpeting to many dogs. I would suggest removing the Pee Pads immediately because they can cause long term accidents if your dog does not differentiate between the pads and other fabric surfaces, like carpet and rugs, well. For the grass turf, try placing some grass turf outside where your dogs normally pee. Encourage each dog to go potty on the turf outside, where he is less likely to feel like he is breaking a rule. If he needs further encouragement, then spray a potty encouraging spray on the fake grass or have another dog pee on it or place one of your dog's feces on it. When your dog goes to the bathroom on it, praise him and offer him several treats. Practice this until he is completely comfortable going on the fake grass outside. When he is comfortable with that, then practice on the grass turf inside. First, try taking the dogs over to the piece of grass turf that they are used to peeing on outside by moving that turf inside. If the grass turf is gross, you do not have to use that specific piece long term but the smell of it will help temporarily. After the dogs are used to peeing on that, then you can switch it out for a cleaner piece of turf. Tell the dog to potty there and if he does, praise him and reward him. If he is still unwilling to go, then set up an Exercise Pen so that one end of the Exercise Pen is the grass and the other end is a place where he can lay down off of the grass turf spot. Place the dog inside the pen, tell him to potty in a happy tone of voice, and then wait. Go far enough away from him while you wait for him, for him to not to feel like you are spying on him, but stay close enough to see when pees for the first time. Expect this to take a long time the first time. A great time to do this is right after he wakes up in the morning when his bladder is full. Take him to the Exercise Pen and tell him to 'potty' rather than taking him outside. Eventually he will be forced to go potty there. The key to minimizing prolonged strain on his bladder often is to get him used to peeing on the grass turf outside beforehand, telling him to go potty, having a positive attitude so he does not feel like he will get in trouble, giving him some space, and catching him peeing and rewarding him for it, so that he will be more likely to go there in the future. You will need to catch and reward both dogs peeing on the turf several times before they will start to feel comfortable going there. When both dogs are comfortable peeing on the turf inside, then you can remove the Exercise Pen if you wish. If you have the space for it, it may be beneficial to keep it up though, and to keep the door to it open so they can use it as needed. The Exercise Pen can serve as a clear bathroom spot, making your dogs less likely to confuse the turf with other surfaces in your home. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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