Xena is the first dog we have ever owned. To be quite honest, we weren't very clued-up on the etiquette of owning a dog before we got her. I was definitely going to be very careful about picking up her poo. But what about wee? I didn't realise how much of a nuisance that could be too.
It was obvious from the start that she saw our lawn as her personal toilet, but we really didn't want it ruined.
If you have this problem too, here's a quick summary of things that can help:
Train your dog to pee in a specific area of the garden. Install a pee post to attract them to the toilet area. Keep your dog exercised, so there is less need for peeing in the garden. To discourage your neighbourhood dogs, put up a small fence or flowerbed around your lawn.
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Read on for lots more ideas, and find out what worked for us.
Why does dog pee burn grass?
Dog pee appears to 'burn' the grass because it naturally contains nitrogen.
Nitrogen is a well-known grass fertilizer, but at high levels it can cause grass to go brown and die.
This explains why you often find an area of healthy green tufty grass around the dead part. The nitrogen from the wee was less potent in surrounding areas and actually fertilized the lawn.
Other aspects of dog urine may contribute to the problem. Dog pee can contain salts and may be highly acidic, which can also cause problems for the health of your lawn.
So now you know how dog pee can kill areas of your grass. How can you keep your dog from peeing on the grass?
How to stop your dog peeing on your grass
Our dog has never had a pee accident inside the house. She knows that peeing inside the house is not allowed, but we can't seem to train her to understand that the lawn is not her toilet!
So what can be done?
Train your dog to pee elsewhere
As I said, training your dog, especially an older one like ours, is easier said than done. But here is something to try:
Is there a specific area in your garden that you can make into a dog toilet? If there is, then each time she goes into the garden, take her to the designated toilet area. Reward your dog when they pee in the correct place, and she will soon get the message.
For the toilet area, you can make a soil bed or put down some sand or gravel.
Try a pee post
If you are struggling to get your dog to use her dog toilet, try encouraging her with a pee post.
A pee post is a pheromone-infused stake for your garden that will attract your dog to the toilet area.
I've noticed that my dog Xena likes to urinate on things she likes the smell of, such as cow and fox dung, or things that other dogs have previously urinated on. This is what a pee post tries to emulate.
Walk your dog regularly
The first wee of the day is the most potent. If you can make sure that it is done when you are out on the first walk, then all the better for your lawn.
Better still, keep the lawn out of bounds until she has had a good walk.
Get them a pet loo
A pet loo is designed to be used in places with less outdoor space. It contains a small area of artificial grass with drainage underneath, so you can hose it down to keep it sanitary and reduce odors.
Check your dog's diet
It is known that the protein content of dog food can affect the level of nitrogen in dog pee. Dog food that is more highly processed can have a higher protein level than more natural foods. Wet food can be better than dry food.
It is always best to check with your vet if you are considering altering your dog's diet.
What worked for us
This spring we laid a brand new lawn in our back garden.
For the first few weeks, no one was allowed to walk it.
Later on, we began to enjoy using it, and the dog started to relieve herself. We then realised how damaging dog urine could be for the lawn. Our new lawn had several dead patches on it. (I wish I had taken a picture of the damage but sadly not).
This is what worked for us:
- Keep walking her regularly to minimise accidents (easy as we were doing that anyway).
- Never let her in the garden unattended.
- Never let her on the lawn before she has had her first walk of the day (when urine is most potent).
- Keep a watering can nearby to deal with accidents (read on to find out how that works).
How to stop dog urine from killing the grass naturally
So you have tried your best to stop your dog peeing on the grass, but what should you do if your dog does a pee anyway?
Accidents can always happen as we know.
Here are some tips on how you can stop the inevitable dog pee from burning the grass:
Immediately pour on water
Always have a watering can handy. When you know your dog is likely to urinate, follow them with a can and immediately soak the area with plenty of water.
The first pee of the day is the most concentrated and therefore can cause the worst damage to your lawn. Pour a very generous amount of water on and around the spot to make sure it is thoroughly diluted.
Encourage your dog to drink more water
If your dog drinks more water, the nitrates in the urine are less concentrated. Whilst you can't force your dog to drink, make sure there is always enough water available.
Use dog rocks
Another thing you can do is to try some dog rocks. These are naturally occurring rocks that can prevent your dog's urine from burning the grass.
All you do is put them in your dog's water bowl and then make sure your dog drinks only from that. They don't change the PH level of the urine and are safe for all your pets, including cats.
Keep your lawn as healthy as possible
Keep your lawn as healthy as possible so that it will recover more quickly when the inevitable accidents happen.
Cut it high and keep it watered. A key ingredient of lawn fertilizers is nitrogen. If you are fertilizing, and your dog pees on it too, then the nitrogen levels become even more potent. Fertilize less, knowing that your dog will be doing most of the fertilizing for you.
Switch to dog urine resistant grass
If you are thinking about replacing your lawn, consider the type of grass you choose. Some grasses are more sensitive to the nitrates in dog urine than others.
Here is list of grass varieties known to be less sensitive to dog urine:
- Bentgrass species
- Kikuyu grass
- Seashore paspalum
- St. Augustine grass
- Tall and Red fescues
Bermuda grass is known to be very sensitive to dog urine, so avoid choosing it if you can.
For UK dog owners, you will be pleased to know that you can buy a grass seed that has been specifically developed to resist dog urine. Check it out here.
How to keep dogs from peeing on artificial grass
Here are some ideas for keeping dogs away from your artificial grass:
- If you have problems with neighbourhood dogs, put up a fence. It doesn't have to be high, just high enough to stop dogs wandering onto your lawn.
- Create a border and plant some shrubs to make a clear boundary between the path and your front garden.
- Put up a sign to ask passing dog walkers to keep their dogs from urinating or pooing on your lawn.
Homemade dog urine repellent for grass
Here are two repellent sprays you can make up and spray over the areas that you want your dog, or your neighbour’s dog, to keep away from.
Add the following to a spray bottle:
- One cup of distilled white vinegar
- Two cups of apple cider vinegar
Vinegar can be quite smelly. If you prefer to use something that smells a little better, try mixing up some citrus juice with water instead.
Frequently asked questions
Will the grass grow back after my dog urinates on it?
The grass where the urine was most concentrated will be dead. But, the grass around the dead area is more healthy and will eventually cover the dead part.
Can dog urine burn artificial grass?
Dog urine will not burn artificial grass, but it can make it smell. Make sure your artificial grass has a permeable sub-base so that most of the urine will drain away. If you catch your dog urinating on your artificial grass, immediately pour on water to help it dissipate.
How can I repair my grass?
The great news is that burnt patches will recover. One option is to do nothing at all. You've probably noticed that there is a much greener circle around the brown spot. This is where the nitrogen was less concentrated and actually fertilized the grass. As this is healthy grass, it has an excellent chance of spreading and covering up the brown parts.
If you want your lawn to recover more quickly, here is what you can do to encourage regrowth:
- Rake the area to remove the dead grass.
- Add a few drops of dish soap to a spray bottle of water. The dish soap helps the water to penetrate the soil better.
- Mix up some topsoil and grass seeds.
- Cover the brown patch with a few handfuls of the topsoil and seed mixture and pat it down.
- Water the area.
- Going forward, keep the treated area well watered and cut your grass high.
Here is a useful video on how to repair the brown spots on your lawn:
Is female dog urine worse than male?
The urine of both genders can equally damage your grass. However, female dogs tend to urinate in one spot. Whereas male dogs will spread their pee over a greater area as they mark their territory.