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

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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

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Effective
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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

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Least Recommended
1 Vote
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
Bagel
Bernedoodle
8 Weeks
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Bagel
Bernedoodle
8 Weeks

We bring our puppy to a fresh grass patch on our balcony every hour and he still manages to only go indoors (and in his crate). Any advice?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Michelle, First, if pup doesn't go potty when you take him to the balcony, I recommend crating pup for thirty to forty-five minutes, then trying again, so pup isn't free in your home until their bladder is empty. Check out the crate training method from the article I have linked below, except instead of taking pup potty outside, you will take them to the balcony. I also recommend purchasing a potty encouraging spray to spray on your grass pad before you take pup there each time temporarily. If your grass pad area is pretty small, I would add additional grass temporarily until pup has improved with going on there. In the crate, if there is anything absorbent in the crate, including a towel or soft bed, remove that. If you want to provide some padding in there, use something like www.primopads.com or k9ballistics crate mats that are non-absorbent until pup is fully potty trained. Also, make sure the crate is only big enough for pup to stand up, turn around, and lie down. If too big, pup won't be motivated to hold it in there. If you have a wire crate that's too big, you can use a wire crate divider to temporarily make yours smaller instead of needing a new crate. At this age pup will only be able to hold their bladder for a maximum of 2-3 hours during the day. Ideally pup should be taken out every hour like you are doing though. If any of the accidents are happening during longer stays in the crate, that could be why. Thoroughly clean your crate with a cleaner that contains enzymes to remove the potty smells, to discourage pup from going in there again too. Other cleaners won't be thorough enough, even bleach, to remove the smell to the level a dog needs. Read pet cleaner bottles for the word enzyme or enzymatic somewhere on the bottle, about half of pet cleaners contain it. Depending on where you adopted pup from, some puppies can loose the natural desire to keep a confined space clean. This often happens when pee pads are put in crates or puppies are in pet shop type environments where they are peeing and pooping where they sleep in the cage. If that's the case with pup, you will need to use an exercise pen with a grass pad inside also, and have pup stay in the exercise pen near the pad until they go potty at night and when you can't supervise pup, then when you have pup free in the home, supervising, keep pup tethered to yourself with a hands free leash so you will notice when pup needs to go potty to take them to the balcony. Pup should still be able to use the balcony and phase out the indoor exercise pen, but it will just take a lot longer to train that than it would with a crate. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Remy
Rat Terrier
1 Year
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Remy
Rat Terrier
1 Year

I am trying to housetrain my dog to pee on concrete and I had a response from wag telling me to use grass sod and then start slowly cutting away at it so that eventually all that is left is concrete. Do I purchase real grass sod or artificial grass?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lucia, I would purchase real grass sod. You can either try to locate somewhere like a tractor supply or garden store to sell you a small amount, or you can just use a disposable real grass pad (which is still real grass), online. Disposable real grass pad brands: www.doggielawn.com www.freshpatch.com www.porchpotty.com (their replacement grass pieces, opposed to the entire system. Doggielawn and freshpatch are often sold on Amazon. I would avoid the fake grass because it's essentially made out of plastic, doesn't smell like real grass, is less comfortable on pup's paws, and isn't as absorbent - so pup's not as likely to want to go potty on it, as they are on real grass. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bella
Bichon Frise
7 Years
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Bella
Bichon Frise
7 Years

Rescued a dog two weeks ago. She gets separation anxiety when I leave the house. Runs around the house barking until I come home.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
239 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. Because this behavior issue is complex, I have a lot of information to send you. With some time and practice, this is something that can be turned around over the next month or so. The first step in treating separation anxiety is to break the cycle of anxiety. Every time a dog with separation anxiety becomes anxious when their owner leaves, the distress they feel is reinforced until they become absolutely frantic any time they are left alone. Owners should give the dog an acceptable item to chew, such as a long lasting food treat when they go out. The goal is to have the dog associate this special treat with the owner’s departure. Treats might include hollow bones stuffed with peanut butter or soft cheese, drilled out nylon bones, or hollow rubber chew toys such as Kong toys with similar enhancements (place these in the freezer before giving them to your dog to make them last longer). Give the bone to your dog about 15 minutes before preparing to depart. The chew toy should be used only as a reward to offset the anxiety triggered by your departure. Hiding a variety of these delectable food treats throughout the house may occupy the dog so that the owner’s departure is less stressful. In an effort to prevent destructive behavior, many owners confine their dog in a crate or behind a gate. For dogs that display “barrier frustration,” the use of a crate in this way is counterproductive. Many dogs will physically injure themselves while attempting to escape such confinement. Careful efforts to desensitize and counter condition the dog to crate confinement before leaving them alone may be helpful in some cases. However, some dogs rebel against any form of restraint, including restricting barriers and, for them, crate training may never be a positive experience. Crate training and utilizing the crate while people are home can be a positive way to make the crate a safe place. If you utilize it when people are around, your dog won’t necessarily associate the crate with departure and being left alone. Creating nap time in the crate throughout the day can also be helpful. Building Independence Independence training can help fight separation anxiety and loneliness. Independence training can help build confidence and instill obedience. “Doggie Daycare” or hiring a pet sitter may be a better alternative for dogs that are initially resistant to treatment. It can be expensive, but prices vary. Independence training is one of the more important aspects of the program. It involves teaching your dog to “stand on their own four feet” when you are present, with the express intention that their newfound confidence will spill over into times when you are away. You need to make your dog more independent by reducing the bond between both of you to a more healthy level of involvement. Decreasing the bond is the hardest thing for owners to accept. Most people acquire dogs because they want a strong relationship with them. However, you have to accept that the anxiety your dog experiences in your absence is destructive. Essential components of the independence training program are as follows: Your dog can be with you, but the amount of interaction time should be reduced, especially where attention-seeking behaviors are concerned. You should initiate all interactions with your dog, and they shouldn’t be permitted to demand attention. If you give your dog attention every time they whine, it helps to foster the dog’s dependence on you and increases its anxiety in your absence. You should ignore your dog completely when they engage in attention-seeking behavior, and avoid catering to them when they appear to feel anxious. This means no eye contact, no pushing away, and no soothing talk or body language, all of which will reward their attention-seeking mission. Attention is encouraged only when your dog is sitting or lying calmly. The goal is not to ignore your dog, but to stop reinforcing attention-seeking behaviors so that your dog develops a sense of independence. Minimize the extent to which your dog follows you by teaching them to remain relaxed in one spot, such as their bed. To accomplish this, it is helpful if you train them to perform a sit-stay or down-stay while gradually increasing the time that they hold the command and remain at a distance from you. Providing a treat or toy and encouraging individual play time can be helpful. Once your dog has learned basic obedience commands, you can train them to hold long down-stays while you move progressively farther away. First, your dog should be trained to perform a “down-stay” on a mat or dog bed using a specific command, such as “lie down.” Your dog may have to be gently escorted to the designated spot the first few times. Initially, they should be rewarded every 10 seconds for remaining there, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on. Once they have figured out what is wanted, you should switch to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement [reward], as this will strengthen the learned response. Each time your dog breaks their “stay,” issue a verbal correction, indicating that there will be no reward, and then escort them back to their bed. First, your dog can be made to “down-stay” while you are in the room. Next, they can be asked to stay when you are outside of the room, but nearby. The distance and time you are away from your dog can be increased progressively until your dog can remain in a down-stay for 20 to 30 minutes in your absence. Your dog should be warmly praised for compliance. Of course, they need to accept the praise without breaking the stay. Your dog should become accustomed to being separated from you when you are home for varying lengths of time and at different times of day. You can set up child gates to deny your dog access into the room you’re occupying (i.e. reading, watching television, or cooking). Instruct your dog to lie down and stay on a dog bed outside the room. As previously mentioned, you can provide an extended-release food treat or toy to keep your dog calm and distracted. Once they are able to tolerate being separated from you by a child gate, you can graduate to shutting the door to the room so your dog cannot see you. Allowing a dog to sleep in bed with the family can increase dependence. If you decide to prevent your dog from sleeping in your bed, there are some steps to take to establish this routine. First, you need to train your dog to sleep in their own bed on the floor in your bedroom. They may have to be taken to their bed several times before they get the message that you really want them to sleep in their own bed. Alternatively, you can train your dog to enjoy sleeping in a crate to prevent unwanted excursions. Do not use a crate if it causes more anxiety and distress for your dog. Once they tolerate sleeping in their own bed in your bedroom, you can move their bed outside of the bedroom and use a child gate or barrier to keep them out. Always remember to reward your dog with praise or a food treat for remaining in their bed. Develop Departure Techniques Many owners erroneously feel that if separation is so stressful, then they should spend more time with their dog before leaving. Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the condition. Everyone in the family should ignore your dog for 15 to 20 minutes before leaving the house and for at least 10 to 20 minutes after returning home. Alternatively, your leaving can be made a highlight of your dog’s day by making it a “happy time” and the time at which they are fed. Departures should be quick and quiet. When departures (and returns) generate less anxiety (and excitement), your dog will begin to feel less tension in your absence. Remember to reward calm behavior. Teach your dog that your departure and return are just normal parts of the day and are not times to be stressed. You should attempt to randomize the cues indicating that you are preparing to leave. Changing the cues may take some trial and error. Some cues mean nothing to a dog, while others trigger anxiety. Make a list of the things you normally do before leaving for the day (and anxiety occurs) and the things done before a short time out (and no anxiety occurs).Then mix up the cues. For example, if your dog is fine when you go downstairs to do the laundry, you can try taking the laundry basket with you when you leave for work. If your dog becomes anxious when you pick up your keys or put on a coat, you should practice these things when you are not really leaving. You can, for example, stand up, put on a coat or pick up your car keys during television commercials, and then sit down again. You can also open and shut doors while you are home when you do not intend to leave. Entering and exiting through various doors when leaving and returning can also mix up cues for your dog. When you are actually leaving, you should try not to give any cues to this effect. Leave your coat in the car and put your keys in the ignition well before leaving. It is important to randomize all the cues indicating departure (clothing, physical and vocal signals, interactions with family members, other pets, and so on). The planned departure technique can be very effective for some dogs. This program is recommended only under special circumstances because it requires that you never leave your dog alone during the entire retraining period, which can be weeks or months. Timing is everything when implementing this program. If your dog shows signs of anxiety (pacing, panting, barking excessively) the instant you walk out of the door, you should stand outside the door and wait until your dog is quiet for three seconds. Then go back inside quickly and reward your dog for being calm. If you return WHEN your dog is anxious, this reinforces your dog’s tendency to display the behavior, because it has the desired effect of reuniting the “pack” members. The goal is for your dog to connect being calm and relaxed with your return. Gradually work up to slightly longer departures 5 to 10 minutes as long as your dog remains quiet, and continue in this fashion. Eventually, you should be able to leave for the day without your dog becoming anxious when you depart. When performed correctly, this program can be very helpful in resolving separation anxiety. Other Treatment Options Obedience Training Obedience training helps to instill confidence and independence in your dog. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes daily training your dog to obey one-word commands. It may be helpful to have training sessions occur in the room where your dog will be left when you are gone. All positive experiences (food, toys, sleep, training, and attention) should be associated with this area of the home. Exercise Your dog should receive 15 to 20 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise once, preferably twice, per day. It is often helpful to exercise your dog before you leave for the day. Exercise helps to dissipate anxiety and provides constructive interaction between you and your dog. It is best to allow your dog 15 to 20 minutes to calm down before you depart. Fetching a ball is good exercise, as is going for a brisk walk or run with your dog on a leash. Even if your dog has a large yard to run in all day, the aerobic exercise will be beneficial since most dogs will not tire themselves if left to their own devices. This is incredibly helpful in dogs that are working breeds that need a job to expend energy and work their brains. Supplements Recently, supplements have been released to the public that can help dogs with anxiety. Purina created a probiotic that has been shown to reduce anxiety and provide a calming effect on some dogs. Your veterinarian may recommend this product for treating anxiety, or other products that contain L-Theanine or L-tryptophan.

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Leo
Labradoodle
6 Months
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Leo
Labradoodle
6 Months

Looking for a regular dog walker to take Leo out in the afternoons.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
239 Dog owners recommended

Hi! You can download the Wag! app and follow the prompts to find a local dog walker in your area. The app is available on any smart phone in your app store.

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Ralphie
Toy Maltipoo
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ralphie
Toy Maltipoo
3 Months

He doesn’t poo where he is supposed and sometimes doesn’t wee where he is supposed to Which is a grass mat

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
239 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to give you some training information on how to work with your dog to use a potty spot. Choose Your Spot Pick a space in your house where you want your dog to go. Obviously, you’ll want this spot to be a low-traffic area. Make sure this spot is easily accessible to your dog, and make sure the floor surface is linoleum or tile, as opposed to carpet. If your dog “misses,” it will be easier to clean up. If the only spot you can put the pee pad is a carpet, you might consider getting a small tarp to put underneath the puppy pee pad to guard against spillage. Choose a spot that is outside of your “smell zone.” An important tip to remember is to make sure not to let your dog decide the spot he likes. Not only might he pick an area you won’t like, but he’ll learn that he is in charge – not you – which can cause a host of problems down the line. Monitor Your Dog When you are potty training your dog, full-time monitoring is an absolute necessity. It’s impossible to correct bad behaviors if you don’t see them happen. Dogs have very short memories. It is important to catch your dog in the act. If your dog goes on the floor, and you try to correct him hours after the fact, he will be confused and upset, not knowing what he did wrong. This can hinder training and your relationship with your dog. Puppies, in particular, must be watched constantly. They have less control over their bowels and will go when they have to go. If you miss these moments, you lose precious training opportunities. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to be with your dog 24 hours a day, but try to spend more time at home during the weeks you are potty training – it will pay off in the long run. Learn Your Dog’s Schedule Dogs, for the most part, are predictable. They will go to the bathroom at predictable times. You should be able to learn when your dog has to go based on timing as much as on his signals. Take some time to study your dog’s bathroom habits. You’ll learn the amount of time after he eats or drinks that he has to go, and you’ll get in rhythm with his daily bathroom schedule. This will help you reduce accidents and speed up the potty training process. Studying your dog’s habits can also help you identify his bathroom “triggers” – like having to go after a certain amount of playtime. Once you learn your dog’s schedule, use it to your advantage in potty training. Bring him to the pee pad a few minutes before he normally goes, and encourage him. This will help him get used to going in the right spot, and help you establish repetition in your training. Choose a Command Word Dogs have keen senses – they respond to sight, smell, and sound. When you begin pee pad training, choose a command word and use it every time you take your dog to the pad. Just about any word will work. The tone of your voice is more important than the actual word. Try phrases like “go on” or “go potty” in a slightly elevated, encouraging tone. Make sure to repeat this same command, in the same tone, every time you take your dog to the pee pad. Avoid Punishment When your dog has an accident, it’s just that – an accident. When you punish your dog during potty training, he will become confused and scared. He doesn’t know what he’s done wrong, and can’t understand why the person he loves most is mad at him. Most importantly, it will not help his potty training. Positive Reinforcement Both human and dog behavior is largely based on incentives. Dogs’ incentives are very simple – they want to eat when they are hungry, play when they are excited, and sleep when they are tired. But the most important thing your dog wants in life is to please you. Use this to your advantage. Whenever your dog goes on his potty training pad, shower him with lots of praise. If he sees that he gets praise for doing his business on the pad, he will be incentivized to keep going on the pad – and he’ll be excited to do it! Potty training – whether it’s a pee pad or going outside – will take time, but if you do it right, can take less time. Many dogs are potty trained in less than two weeks. Just remember that you and your dog are partners. Do everything you can to help him learn the proper etiquette, and you will enjoy a long, quality relationship together. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in.

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