How to Build an Outdoor Dog Potty Area

Save Your Grass – Build a Dog Potty Areadog potty area

Are you tired of urine burned backyard grass? Do you wish you could train your dog to go potty in a designated area? Then this weekend, build yourself an outdoor dog potty area. It’s easy!

You will need:

  • 2 inch by 6 inch boards cut to size
  • fiberglass screen (found at hardware store) cut to size for two layers of stone
  • sand pebbles
  • pea gravel
  • shovel
  • a good back (those bags of stone get heavy)

Select the Area: Select an area to excavate and call the utility company to make sure the utilities are not where you plan to dig. Next, determine your size. My dog potty area measures 10 feet by 5 1/2 feet and is located by the garbage cans outside of my garage door. Very convenient.

Use Stone for Proper Drainage: A dog potty area will contain a lot of urine in a very small area. Therefore, especially in areas where soil is clay, drainage is a necessity. We built our dog potty area using rock and gravel so that it can be hosed off easily and provide proper drainage.

Building the Frame: A frame is necessary to contain the stone. We purchased long 2 inch by 6 inch boards, cut them to size and secured them with 4 or 5 inch lag screws. We built the frame in the garage and moved it to the designated area. Looking back, it would have been easier and we would have seen the sprinkler head if we would have built the frame on site.

Fiberglass Screen:  Measure your dog potty area and take the measurements to your hardware store. You will need two layers of screen (one to cover the excavated soil and the other to separate the sand pebbles from the pea gravel). The screen varies in width so have the hardware specialist calculate your need and cut it for you.

Sand Pebbles: Sand pebbles can be purchased by the bag at your local gardening center. They are sold in half cubic feet bags. For our 10 feet by 5 1/2 feet dog potty, we used 24 bags of sand pebbles which made the first layer about 2 to 3 inches thick. Sand pebbles are a good first layer as they are large and will provide proper drainage.

Pea Gravel: Pea Gravel can also be purchased by the bag at your local gardening center. They, too are sold in half cubic feet bags. We used 12 bags of pea gravel as the top layer of the dog potty area.

Let’s Begin:

Excavate the area by skimming off the grass and first layer of topsoil. We dug in an area where there were a lot of gas lines and cable, so we only went down about an 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Haul the removed topsoil to another area of the garden and prepare to lay the first layer of fiberglass screen.

build a dog potty area

Hmm…it looks like we left a little grass under the screen. No problem. The grass (we hope) will be suffocated by layers and layers of rock. We used fiberglass screen instead of landscape fabric because we were afraid landscape fabric would hold the urine odor. Fiberglass screen is flexible like landscape fabric and the holes discourage weeds while letting liquid drain through. When the first layer of landscape fabric was down, we added 12 bags of sand pebbles.

build a dog potty area

Twelve bags covered all the fiberglass screen, but we decided to double it to make the sand pebbles about 1 1/2 inches thick.

dog potty area


build a dog potty area

There, now doesn’t that look better? Notice how we notched out the potty area’s frame near the sidewalk where during excavation we ran into a hidden sprinkler head. The positioning of the sprinkler head seemed less than ideal until we realized that it will hose down the potty area. Now that’s a happy accident!

build your own dog potty area

When we had dumped twenty four bags of sand pebbles over the first layer of fiberglass screen, we put down the second layer of screening.

build your own dog potty area

You can see that there is about 1 1/2 inches of area left before the top of the frame. After the second layer of fiberglass screen was laid, it was time for the pea gravel.

build a dog potty area

We used 12 bags of pea gravel to cover the second layer of fiberglass screening. In the end, I thought it was just the right height for the frame.

pea gravel potty area

My golden retriever, Sydney, was the first to try it out. She doesn’t look very thrilled, but who does when the using the facilities. Anyway, after a little coaxing and a lot of sniffing, the other two retrievers used it, too.

dog potty area

I dressed up the area with a little doggy sign. I thought it was a nice touch, but something was still missing.

dog potty area

So I added some daylilies to brighten it up and hide the doggy litter box from the street.

dog potty area

So there you have it. Finished! This is definitely a weekend project and aside from hauling the heavy bags of rock, pretty easy to do. It was worth all the effort and will be especially convenient when it rains. No more standing in the middle of the burnt out backyard waiting for the dogs to finish their business and hopefully, there will be a lot less dirt on the paws and in my house!

Does your dog have a special potty area? Let us know!

UPDATE: One year later and aside from the closed blooms on the day lilly and my exchange of the wooden decorative fence for a dog flower pot, the area has survived a harsh Great Lakes winter and looks very much the same.

outdoor dog potty

A Note Regarding Odor: Since my post, many of you have asked about odor. I haven’t smelled any offensive odor, but so as not to discourage people from creating their own dog potty, I found a product that will set your mind at ease. It’s called Simple Green and I bought it at Petco. The bottle said: “Simple Green Outdoor Pet Odor Eliminator neutralizes and eliminates odors in outdoor spaces. Odor eliminator quickly removes pet urine, stool and vomit odors. The multipurpose formula is ideal for the patio, deck, dog run, artificial turf and yard. Simple Green Outdoor Pet Odor Eliminator is completely safe for use around children, pets and landscaping. Simply connect your hose to the nozzle and spray area.” I did exactly that. It was very easy to attach to my garden hose and has a nice smell. Now, just for good measure, I’ll spray off the pea gravel potty area seasonally. Enjoy your dog potty area!


112 thoughts on “How to Build an Outdoor Dog Potty Area

  1. Hi, I am getting ready to build one of these. My dog goes to the bathroom right off our back steps, doesnt make it out far into the yard, so i am looking at putting this pee area close to the steps/patio. Would it be ok to build this box next to the foundation of our house and patio? I am just worried about rain water sitting in the box and possibly flooding our basement because water will be sitting next to the foundation. Please advise.

  2. Hi Brian!
    I don’t have any water in the potty box because it drains properly. There is no solid bottom to hold water. The layers and layers of stones filter and drain the urine. However, I do have concerns about anything right next to the foundation. Is there any way you can put it a foot or two away from the foundation? If you ever did have water problems you wouldn’t want your basement to smell like urine.

  3. Hi,

    I\’m doing a project about dog fouling and I am trying to find solutions for it. i like your idea, however I wanted to know whether these out door dog potties are also suitable for dog faeces or is it just urine, since I don\’t have a dog myself so I am not quite familiar with how their \’going to the toilet\’ process works :).

  4. Hi,

    I’m doing a project about dog fouling and I am trying to find solutions for it. i like your idea, however I wanted to know whether these out door dog potties are also suitable for dog faeces or is it just urine, since I don\\’t have a dog myself so I am not quite familiar with how their \\’going to the toilet\\’ process works :).

  5. Hi Dalia!
    Yes, these outdoor dog potties are even better with feces because you don’t have to worry about drainage. You do have to scoop them up and throw them into the trash can as soon as possible to avoid flies and bacteria, but it is easy because feces is sitting in pea gravel. It’s like a giant kitty litter box. You will have to replace the pea gravel more often if they urinate and defecate in the potty box because you’ll scoop some of the pea gravel each time, but it will work just fine. Good luck with your project.

  6. My husband built a box in the back yard for our golden retriever puppy (now 10 weeks). He wants to lie down on the stones. He\\\’ll do everything in his power not to soil the litter box, then as soon as he gets out on the grass, he does his business. We have tried a spay purchased from the pet store but he doesn\\\’t seem to get the idea.

  7. Your 10 week old puppy is playing you, the little stinker! Do you crate the puppy? If so, put the puppy in the crate until it’s time to potty. Take him out and to the potty area and wait until he goes. If he lies down on the stones, then he doesn’t have to potty. Return him to the crate for a time, and try again. He eventually has to pee. When he does, it must be in the stones. Keep doing this until he does. Never let him use it as a leisure area. The stones are all business. This may mean crating him for a half hour and trying again and if unsuccessful, returning him to his crate and repeating the process. He will learn and if he does his business in the grass (and they all would prefer that) then he’ll do it on the stones. If he poops on the grass you can quickly bag it and it won’t burn the grass. But the urine is the problem. It loves to kill your lawn. Be persistent. He’s just a puppy and it will take repetition and time. He may never love it, but he doesn’t have to. He needs to get it done and then he can play.

  8. Have you had any problems with your dog digging and tearing the fiberglass screening? How tough is the screening that you utilized in your project?

  9. Have you had any issues with your dog tearing or digging up the fiberglass screening? How thick/tough is the screening you used in your project?

  10. Hi Ryan!
    The fiberglass screening is very thin and can be easily cut. I would imagine dog digging could tear it up. My dogs don’t like hanging out in the potty area and are always there on leash, so I haven’t had problems with the dog’s digging it up. It does surface when the pea gravel is displaced and that reminds me that I need to replenish the top with a bag or two of pea gravel as the grave settles throughout the year and/or the dogs kick it up after they potty. The screening is only there to add a barrier between the pea gravel and the larger stones so that the pea gravel doesn’t pack into the larger stones and cause the urine to not drain. So if you have to bury the fiberglass screen deeper so they cannot find it, that’s all right. Just top it with more pea gravel as deep as you’d like. Good luck!

  11. I’ve been wanting to create a designated potty area for our two beasts since we moved here last year. My old dog never went on the lawn, so we didn’t have this problem (she liked to keep her play area clean, I guess!). But our current dogs not only pee on the lawn, but also pee and poop in the same area they run around, which causes sanitation problems as well as ruining the lawn. My question is: Since we don’t have a dirt area available for this gravel pit, is it possible to somehow build it on concrete? What would we need to do differently to make it work? Also, how do we keep the dogs from going on the lawn once it’s built? Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated!

  12. Hi Lisa!
    This method is meant to be used on the ground, not on cement. Cement wouldn’t work well because the urine has no where to drain and no earth to absorb into. I am not an engineer or architect so I don’t know what you could otherwise do, but my design won’t work on cement. Sorry.

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