Setting Up a Dog Potty Area For Your Patio (or Balcony)


A dog with a potty

If you’re like the Captain, you love your canine companion as much as you love spending Sundays outside on the patio. But, you don’t want to spend that Sunday cleaning the smell of pet urine out of your pavers! Let’s face it, your little fur buddy needs a place to do his or her business. As a loving, responsible owner, it’s up to you to set that up. But don’t worry! The Captain is going to give you the information you need to give your pup a dog potty area on your patio.

Why Would You Need a Dog Potty Area For Your Patio or Balcony?

This is a good question. Won’t your canine just be able to hop off the porch and do their business in the yard? We know that’s a hard no if you have a balcony. But many patios are screened in or have fences around them, preventing your pup from peeing in the grass. Additionally, your dog may be hesitant to run out in the yard during the cold winter months when deep snow is common. Whatever your needs, you want to make sure you have a good setup for your furry friend.

What Materials Do You Need For An Outdoor Dog Potty?

I don’t have to tell you that each dog is unique (just like people!). Each dog has their own thoughts, feelings, and motivations when it comes to potty training. Some dogs may just be able to hold their urges until you take them on a walk or let them out in the yard. Other dogs (and this has been my overwhelming experience) will simply hike up their back leg and whiz all over the first thing that strikes their fancy. For those dogs, we need to make sure we offer up a more appealing than your concrete patio or outdoor plants.

There are some common elements to any outdoor potty setup, most of which I’ve used myself.

  • Artificial grass, actual sod, pea gravel, or cedar mulch
  • A container to hold the material
  • A fake fire hydrant or other pylon-like structure for the dog to aim at
  • A drainage basin

Artificial grass vs. sod vs. mulch

Which material should you choose to provide “filling” your dog potty? Each has their own pros and cons, and ultimately it’ll be up to your taste. Captain Patio isn’t going to presume anything about how you should set up your outdoor space!

Dog Potty Artificial Grass Pros

  • Mostly permanent
  • Cost effective

Dog Potty Artificial Grass Cons

  • Doesn’t really look like grass
  • Dogs aren’t always fooled

Dog Potty Sod Pros

  • A very natural option!
  • With proper maintenance can last a long time
  • Dogs will treat this like any other grass

Dog Potty Sod Cons

  • Expensive!
  • Requires a lot of upkeep and maintenance
  • Can easily die if you don’t take care of it

Dog Potty Cedar Mulch Pros

  • Cheap
  • Natural looking

Dog Potty Cedar Mulch Cons

  • You’ll need to replace it every year or so
  • Dogs don’t always take to it

I chose mulch for a couple of reasons. Basically, I had some spare materials lying around from another patio project and my dog seemed to take to using it fine. If I had a picky canine companion, I’d probably go with one of the artificial grass options.

What kind of container?

What kind of container to use depends entirely on how sophisticated you want to be with your approach. If you’d like to save money (who doesn’t?), I’d recommend using something like a plastic storage bin. You’ll need to slightly prop up one end and add drainage holes, but this is an economical solution that can get you started quickly.

If you’d like more of a permanent solution and would prefer the outdoor dog potty be a part of your decor, you can easily construct a wooden option (much how you’d build a raised bed).

Why do I need a fake fire hydrant?

You don’t explicitly need a fake fire hydrant, but dogs really love to pee on things. I like to include a small structure for the canines to aim at. In my experience, it has reduced accidents and helped reduce training time. Plus, it’s hilarious to have a small fire hydrant sitting in the corner of my patio surrounded by grass.

I don’t really have a specific fake fire hydrant to recommend here (I found mine at a yard sale), but many can be found on online retailers:

Can I Use Pee Pads On My Patio?

I would only recommend pee pads on an outdoor patio when space was a concern or if the potty area was going to be temporary. Not only will you need to think about weighting the pad down to keep it from blowing away but any amount of rainfall can turn the area into a stinky mess.

What is a Porch Potty?

The Porch Potty is an indoor/outdoor “dog potty” made to be a complete solution for training your pup to use the bathroom. In addition to artificial/synthetic grass, the manufacturers offer a “real sod” option as well (meant to closely mimic real grass). It also self-rinses, eliminating a great deal of cleanup effort.

I’ll be real, if you’re looking for an out-of-the-box solution to set up a dog potty area, the porch potty is definitely one of my top picks. That being said, you’re looking at spending $250 minimum for one of their units. This doesn’t fit into everyone’s budget (it certainly doesn’t fit into mine). Luckily, there are other options that seem to be just as good. I’m going to include a few links below.

Are there any more options?

Have you seen any great solutions for an outdoor dog potty? Feel free to list a few in the comments and maybe it can help other folks get inspiration for their own project!

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Captain

I'm Chuck (the Captain). I'm passionate about my outdoor space and love sharing my experiences with the world at large. I want Captain Patio to become the best place on the internet to find, share, and learn about all things patio-related. When I'm not keeping up my content schedule, I'm spending time with my wife and two kids (usually on my patio!).

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