What’s the best material for dog potty areas?
When it comes to cleaning up after your four-legged friend, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. There’s not actually any one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Instead, for most pet owners, the answer comes down to one of these three things: pet preference, human preference, and location.
Your dog’s preference
Perhaps the most important factor, this first consideration is really a matter of what your dog is comfortable with. Most dogs prefer a potty area that:
Absorbs well: Most dogs don’t like getting their feet wet, and a surface that absorbs liquid well will keep them from getting their paws soaked while they relieve themselves.
Doesn’t hold odor: While dogs generally like to be able to scent mark “their” area, they’re also likely to avoid a place that reeks of waste. Look for a material that doesn’t retain too much of those smells.
Feels soft: If the ground is hard on their paws or impossible to dig, dogs tend to avoid it. Look for a material that will feel comfortable beneath their feet or loose enough to dig in.
Feels familiar: Depending on how you potty train your dog, most animals will go for a material that they’re already comfortable with. They also like places that they recognize as their own, no matter the material.
Like your dog’s preference, your own preference is largely a matter of taste. Before you pick out a material, consider factors like:
Cleanup: You’ll probably want a material that’s easy to clean up. Try to steer clear of any materials that promote clumping or that don’t drain properly.
Maintenance: Similar to the above, you’ll most likely want a material that’s easy to keep in the same condition.
Unwanted side effects: Avoid materials that trap odor or attract bugs.
Where your dog’s potty area is can impact the material you should use. Consider the drainage of your patio as compared to an open lawn.
Green Grass or Turf Lawn?
If you’re looking for a real grass potty area, there are a few things you should look for when you’re picking out grass types. In general, you’ll want a strain of grass that grows quickly, has deep roots, and is suited for your specific climate.
Not only will this help your grassy area bounce back after your dog’s bathroom breaks, but it will also make sure that the simple wear and tear of daily dog damage won’t leave your lawn looking patchy and dead.
Some of the most common breeds for dog lovers include Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, Fescue, Bermuda, and Zoysia. Depending on where you live (as well as what type of grass you, personally, prefer), one of those should work well for your backyard. Kentucky Bluegrass, in particular, is stain-resistant and especially durable, which makes it a great fit for families with dogs who are always on the move.
If you don’t have the space for a real grass lawn or if you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of constant upkeep, artificial turf is a great option! Now more than ever, there are lots of artificial grass choices for pet-lovers with limited space options.
The Petgrow Indoor/Outdoor Artificial Turf Rug, for example, is a good choice for when you have the space, but don’t want to deal with a lawn. It measures 40 square feet, which means your dogs will have plenty of room to mark their territory, and it’s also enough space to let you enjoy the look of a grass lawn without all the upkeep. If you have a smaller backyard space, the Petgrow rug lets you customize by trimming the rug down to a size that will fit.
If you want a more standard size of dog potty area, the Starroad-Tim Artificial Grass Rug measures roughly three feet by two and a half feet. Its small size makes it a great fit for pet lovers who don’t have a lot of extra space to spare, and it’s got a deep enough pile that your dogs will be sure to love the way it feels on their paws. The rubber backing keeps the mat from sliding while also making sure that any messes will stay on the mat instead of leaking out onto your floors.
Similarly, the MTBRO Artificial Grass Rug offers a more realistic look while still providing plenty of protection for your floors or for your backyard. This rug features small drainage holes to prevent liquid from puddling up on the surface, which in turn helps prevent odor buildup. Like the first example, the MTBRO rug can be trimmed to fit any space, regardless of how big or small.
Ultimately, whether you decide to go with an artificial turf rug or a real grass lawn is up to you. Depending on your schedule, your space, and your budget, you may find yourself leaning more in one direction than the other. The best material for dog potty area is the material that fits your lifestyle and your pet’s lifestyle.
As a general rule, artificial turf rugs are cheaper, easier to clean, and easier to maintain. However, they can also trap smells and occasionally cause mold or mildew if they’re not properly looked after.
On the other hand, a real grass lawn is more natural, more odor-repellent, and less likely to attract bugs or pests. Unfortunately, real grass lawns also tend to be more expensive to install, as well as requiring far more time and effort in order to keep looking neat and green.
Other dog-friendly landscaping material
Of course, grass and artificial grass aren’t your only options. Depending on where you live and the amount of effort you want to put into cleanup and maintenance, there are tons of other options as well! Some of the most common include sand, gravel, or mulch.
Anyone who’s ever had to clean out a kitty litter box shouldn’t be too surprised that dogs sometimes prefer sand as a potty area material as well! It may not be the first thing you think of when you’re planning your dog’s space, but sand can offer a few key advantages over traditional materials.
Pros: It’s soft, which makes it a great fit for dogs with delicate paws. It also drains well and doesn’t trap odors for long periods of time, which makes it easy to clean. It’s also easy to replace, should you ever need to change out the filler.
Cons: If you’re worried about what your dog tracks in, you may want to avoid sand, as the finger grains can stick to their paws. It also washes away fairly easily, so you’ll need to make sure your dog’s potty area is fully enclosed.
You can buy sand at most landscaping stores. Unlike some other options, you probably won’t need specially-treated sand in order to guarantee your dog’s safety.
However, if you’re looking for a good brand that will provide plenty of support for your dog’s paws while also keeping the potty area neat and clean, try looking for play sands. These are sands that are meant to be used in children’s sandboxes, which means that they’ll be soft enough to let your dog feel relaxed while also staying light enough for you to clean easily.
If you’re not as concerned about the overall feel, however, a classic sand should work just fine.
Gravel is similar to sand, but it’s a little less messy and a little bit heavier. Most landscapers offer pea gravel as an aesthetic choice, but you can also buy smooth-ground gravel online!
Pros: Like sand, gravel drains easily and washes even easier. It won’t attract bugs or pests, and the smooth stones won’t hurt your dog’s paws.
Cons: Some dogs are uncomfortable using gravel for the first time. You’ll also have to be very sure that you’ve purchased the right kind of gravel, as any gravel that isn’t smooth-ground can seriously injure the pads of your dog’s feet.
Oupeng Pebbles are a beautiful choice for when you want the smooth practicality of gravel without ruining the look of your outdoor space. Each stone is polished and coated in a light wax that will help with any drainage issues you may be anticipating.
If you want a more rough-hewn look, these Mexican Beach Pebbles are still smooth enough to protect your dog’s feet while providing a slightly less glassy look for your finished outdoor area. Each pebble is hand-picked in order to provide a level of quality that will leave you and your dog feeling confident.
Mulch, or wood shavings, are another popular choice for dog lovers who don’t want to deal with grass, real or artificial. Make sure you’re getting a wood shaving that’s specifically designed for pets, however. Anything too rough, and you’ll risk your dog getting splinters in between their toes!
Pros: If sourced properly, mulch is great for your dog’s feet. It’s also aesthetically pretty, so if you’re worried about your dog’s potty area taking up too much space, this may be a great fit. Mulch is readily available online or in most landscaping stores, which makes it easy to find and replace.
Cons: Mulch is extremely absorbent, which means it’s probably going to start to smell pretty soon. Make sure you change your mulch out regularly to prevent the buildup of any unpleasant odors. In addition, make sure your mulch is rated for pets, as regular landscaping mulch may contain harmful chemicals or treatments.
Amish Aromatic Cedar Wood Shavings were originally designed with pets in mind. They’re hand-shaved wood curls that are completely chemical-free and should be perfectly safe for your four-legged friend!
Similarly, Pet’s Pick Cedar Bedding is designed for use in kennels, which means that it’s safe to use and helps to cover the smell of the potty area with the natural aroma of cedar wood.
Cedar is often a popular choice in pet beddings, and 100% Natural Cedar Chips are always a good way to avoid some of the more obvious drawbacks of using hyper-absorbent mulch as filler.
What else do you put in a dog potty area?
Once you’ve picked the best material for dog potty area, there are still a few more options you can consider. Depending on where you live and what the weather usually like, you may want to consider adding a little bit of shade. If it gets too hot outside during the day, your dog may be tempted to take care of business indoors, which can lead to a lot of extra headache on your part.
Especially during the summer, you may want to also add some sort of water feature near your dog’s potty area. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but a simple water bowl can go a long way towards keeping your dog cool and hydrated during the long, hot months.
Make sure you don’t put your dog’s bowl too near the potty area, however, as some dogs may not want to eat or drink in the same location in which they relieve themselves.
Finally, if you have a male dog, you may want to think about getting him a pee post. It may not stop him from marking telephone poles or fire hydrants on your daily walk, but it will feel more natural for your pooch. It will also help him feel more confident in his space, now that he’s effectively claimed it as his own.
No matter how you dress it up, the most important part of any dog potty area is that it’s clean, it’s neat, and it’s theirs!