How to Build a Backyard Dog Potty Area

by Victoria Lee Blackstone
    "This is the nice section of yard. Our potty is over there."

    "This is the nice section of yard. Our potty is over there."

    Jupiterimages/ Images

    If you're tired of yellow circles in your yard or stepping in smelly piles, it may be time to build a backyard dog potty. With a few simple steps, you can create an area perfect for Fido to do his business. Training him to use this area may take time and patience, but it will eventually give you a backyard free of doggie messes and you'll know exactly where to go to clean up the piles.

    Step 1

    Find an area in your yard that's big enough for your dog to move around in and provides ample space for doing his business. A secluded area, hidden by trees or brush, is ideal for a dog that likes his privacy.

    Step 2

    Clear the area of grass and weeds. Dig up the surface with a shovel and use a rake to create a flat surface.

    Step 3

    Cover the area with a 2-inch layer of cedar mulch or round gravel. Cedar mulch provides a softer surface for your dog to do his business. Round gravel allows urine to pass through to the soil and makes pickup of feces easier. If odors build up, you can hose down the gravel and rinse with vinegar.

    Step 4

    Bring your dog out to the new potty area on a leash and keep him within the area until he has eliminated. When he does, offer praise and a treat. Allow him to play in the rest of the yard after he's done his business in the new potty area. Do this every time you let him outside. If you notice he's about to go potty in a non-designated part of the yard, tell him "no" and guide him to the potty. Praise him again after he has done his business.

    Items You Will Need

    • Shovel
    • Rake
    • Round gravel or cedar mulch
    • Collar and leash
    • Dog treats


    • For male dogs who like to lift their leg on objects when urinating, consider placing a fence pole in the center of your potty area before adding the top layer of mulch or rock.
    • If choosing gravel, look for round gravel. Sharp rocks can be uncomfortable to your dog’s feet and may keep him away from the potty area.


    • Do not yell or reprimand your dog for going in a different area of the backyard. This could cause confusion, and your dog may think he should not be going potty outside -- which could lead to entirely different problem. Simply lead him to the designated area when you notice he's going.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/ Images

    About the Author

    Victoria Lee Blackstone is a horticulturist who propagates heirloom and native plants for her nursery. She has authored research-based scientific/technical papers, plant care sheets and magazine and newspaper articles. Blackstone studied botany and microbiology at Clemson University and is a former University of Georgia Extension Master Gardener Coordinator.

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