You love your pet, but sometimes they can wreck havoc on a beautiful green lawn. Not necessarily by digging holes, but just by peeing on the grass.
Pet urine, especially from dogs and cats, can cause brown spots to appear on normally well maintained lawns. The culprit is the concentration of nitrogen in the pet’s pee. By diluting the nitrogen that is deposited in the urine, it is possible to eliminate brown ‘pee spots’ and have a beautiful green lawn.
Tricks to Get Rid of Brown Pet Pee Spots on Grass
When a pet pees on the grass, it is basically adding extra nitrogen onto the grass in a small concentrated area.
Too much nitrogen can chemically burn the grass, just like when too much fertilizer is applied.
To avoid this, try some of the following tips:
- Train pets to use certain spots away from the lawn.
- Water urinated areas right after pets pee.
- Reseed brown areas.
- Adjust fertilizing methods.
Once upon a time, my dad took great pride in his green grass.
He would spare no expense in watering, fertilizing, and reseeding it year after year.
Each time I would visit, he would show off the backyard lawn with a proud smile as my kids would roll around and play on its beautiful lushness.
That was, until they got some dogs.
My family always had a dog since I was a teenager, but the dog usually contained its ‘business’ to a certain corner of the yard.
However, busy schedules and crazy lives made it impossible to train the new dogs to pee in one certain area.
Now, my parent’s backyard is a dusty patch of desert, a far cry from its soft fresh glory.
The moral of this tale isn’t that dogs are bad for yards, but that the pet owner needs to take certain steps to keep grass green for man, cat, and pooch.
How to Train Pets to Pee in Certain Areas
Housebreaking, house-training, litterbox training, spot training, potty-training for pets…
Whichever term you prefer, teaching an animal to do its business somewhere other than a favorite shoe or new carpeting is the least favorite part of pet ownership for many animal lovers.
Sometimes pet owners feel that they and their pet have achieved continence competency if their furry loved one does ‘their business’ outside on their own,
However, a pet peeing anywhere they like on the lawn can cause brown spots.
To fix this, or to avoid the problem in the beginning, it is important for the pet owner to train the animal to pee in a certain spot to avoid having your lawn dotted with lots of brown spots.
Choosing the Right Spot
An ideal spot for a dog or cat to use as their personal outdoor bathroom is an area away from the grass, excess traffic, easily accessible, and where the animal can feel comfortable.
Watch your pet to see if they already have a preferred area that they use that isn’t the grass.
It is much easier to encourage the animal to use a certain spot that they already like.
If their favorite spot is not an ideal location, see what makes them prefer that particular spot.
Does it have certain textures, smells, visuals, or objects that they enjoy?
If you notice something that they particularly enjoy, try to incorporate that into the ideal location that you choose.
Mulch, tall grasses, or other vegetation can replicate the cooling sense of grass that some dogs enjoy and can be set aside as the official ‘pee zone’.
For cat owners, a litter box can be placed on the patio or a corner of the yard where the cats can feel safe to use it (away from high traffic areas).
Taking Your Pet Outside
Like people, most of the time an animal has certain behaviors or body language that tells you that they ‘need to go’.
Pay attention to these signals, and when the animal needs to go take them outside on a leash to the designated ‘pee spot’.
Stay in that spot and wait for them to go.
Make sure that you do not yell or scold the animal when they are doing their business, even if they miss the spot or do something wrong,
It is important to make peeing in that spot a positive experience for them.
Once they are done, give them a treat and let them know that they did a good job.
Make sure you are consistent.
At night, don’t open the door and let them pee wherever they want to, this will send mixed messages to the animal.
If you have a cat, place the cat on their litterbox as soon as it is set up so they can explore and get used to its scent.
Right after a cat eats, or whenever they wake up from a nap, place the cat on the litterbox.
Give the cat treats or some other reward whenever you notice them using the litterbox.
Start Giving the Pet More Freedom
Once you think your pet has gotten used to peeing in one spot, start taking them outside without a leash, but stay close to make sure they pee in the correct area.
Do not yell or loose your temper if they do not pee in the right spot.
It might mean that you need to continue with the leash for a few more days or weeks until they can get more used to peeing in the right spot.
However, if they seem to have developed the habit in peeing or pooping in the right spot gradually allow the pet have more independence when they defecate.
Keep this up until you are satisfied that they will be consistent in peeing and pooping in the right spot.
Things to Consider when Housebreaking Pet
Make sure that you keep the designated pee/poop area clean and welcoming to the pet so they will continue to use it.
Do your best not to disrupt the area or change it too much.
Your pet will rely on the familiarity of the area, but if there are too many drastic changes the pet may become discouraged them from using it.
If a pet regresses in their consistency of using the designated area to pee, take time to see if the environment of the area has changed (new smells, sounds, objects, and so forth).
You may need to redo the process again if new environmental factors become an issue.
Watering Urinated Spots
If you do not have time to train or retrain your pet to use a certain spot, another option to save your grass from the concentrated nitrogen of the urine is to water the area immediately after the animal is done peeing.
By watering the spots the animal pees at, it is possible to dilute the concentration of the urea (the form of nitrogen in the urine) before it can soak into the ground.
Why Does Dog and Cat Urine Burn Grass, but Not Other Animal Urine?
The reason that dog and cat urine is detrimental to grass, while other animals such as rabbits, goats, and chickens seem to improve it is because of the diets of the animals.
According to Diana Alfuth from the Extension Polk County from the University of Wisconsin-Madison:
Urine consists mainly of water and urea, a form of nitrogen, which results from the metabolism of protein. Since dogs are carnivores, they consume relatively high amounts of protein, which translates to high urea (nitrogen) content in the urine.Diana Alfuth, Horticulture Educator, Pierce County UW Extension
She also warns about the popular advice that suggests altering the animal’s diet to include more acidic foods will help with reducing the browning of grass.
Altering a pet’s diet will not help in preventing brown spots, and can even lead to health issues for the pet.
Reseed Brown Spots
If the grass is dead from pee urine, it may be time to reseed that particular area.
However, before you take the time to go buy grass seed, make sure that your pet will not have access to that area, especially as it is in the early stages of growing.
It may also be a good idea to thoroughly water the area to dilute any remaining excess nitrogen in the soil.
If you would like a more pet resilient lawn, fescue grasses can handle higher concentrations of nitrogen than most other grasses.
To reseed, simply aerate the area (poke holes in the ground), cast the seeds, and then water.
Adjust Fertilizing Methods
If you look closely at brown spots, you may see that there is a ring of darker green grass surrounding the dead grass.
This is because nitrogen is one of the main ingredients of fertilizer.
The dark green ring is formed by some of the pet urine which gets diluted the further it gets from the center of the pee spot, fertilizing the surrounding area without killing it.
When it comes time to fertilize your lawn in spring or winter, pay attention to these spots and avoid adding fertilizer to these spots.
If you aren’t sure how much fertilizer to apply to certain spots, use a soil test kit to determine what your lawn needs.
(For more information to winterize your lawn, check out this article)
Grass for Man and Beast
Dogs and cats enjoy a beautiful green lawn almost as much as people do.
The fact that you own a furry companion should not deter you from trying to achieve a beautiful lawn.
With the proper training and preparations, you can have gorgeous grass that you and your fuzzy family members can enjoy for years to come.