Living with dogs in the city can present unique challenges. If you’re living in an apartment complex, for example, where will your dog go potty? Today, we’re going to tell you all about grass pads and help you decide if they’re the best fit for your pup.
Grass pads can be useful for many dogs, including those who are elderly or disabled. They can help in situations where you’re potty training a puppy, your small dog can’t tolerate cold weather, or your elderly dog can no longer climb downstairs to get outside.
Although grass pads have their uses, they shouldn’t replace walks or playtime outside for healthy, mobile dogs. Remember that getting that sunshine and fresh air is good for your dog, and the outdoors means more to them than just a place to pee.
In this article, we’ll discuss what dog grass pee pads are, when you should use them, and how to do so effectively. We’ll also talk about real versus artificial grass pads and provide some other tips and tricks to help you along the way.
Table of Contents:
- What Are Dog Grass Pee Pads?
- When Should You Use a Puppy Grass Pad?
- Real Grass Pads: Pros and Cons
- Artificial Grass Pads Pros and Cons
- Indoor Dog Grass Pads
- Do Dog Grass Pads Smell?
- Can You Use a Dog Grass Pad for Your Balcony?
- Grass Pads for Medium or Large Dogs
- How Do You Clean A Dog Grass Pad?
- How to Potty Train a Puppy Using a Grass Pad
What Are Dog Grass Pee Pads?
Dog grass pads are just what they sound like—small pads of grass where your pup can go potty. These can be made of real or artificial grass. Below the grass is a tray that collects your dog’s urine.
If you have a yard, you likely don’t have much need for grass pads, but for people potty training a puppy in an apartment, they can be a life-saver!
Puppies have small bladders, and walking them every time they have to pee would mean going for walks as often as every two hours.
If you don’t want to or cannot do this, a dog grass pad in your home or on the balcony is a great idea.
Grass pads are also great for senior dogs or those with mobility issues.
When Should You Use a Puppy Grass Pad?
Puppy grass pads are an incredibly useful tool, but they’re not great in every situation. For example, if you have a yard, then it’s usually preferable to simply let your puppy use the bathroom outside.
No type of puppy pee pad should replace walking your pup, since daily walks come with other benefits like exercise and leash training.
You’ll likely also find that there’s less use for a grass pad as your dog grows older and begins to use the bathroom less frequently.
The following types of dogs do well with puppy grass pads:
Young puppies who are still potty training need to be brought outdoors to do their business every couple of hours. A great way around this, especially for apartment-dwellers, is to use a grass pad.
This way, you can bring them to the grass pad instead of trudging all the way outside of your home every time.
Once the dog is older, you can either transition them to using real grass outside or keep the grass pad around for continued use.
Grass pads for puppies are especially great for those who are not yet vaccinated. By keeping them within your home or even out on the balcony, you’re ensuring that they aren’t around other pups.
This will prevent them from catching anything contagious until you can make your veterinary appointments for the necessary vaccines.
Senior dogs sometimes have difficulty navigating their environment, and stairs, in particular, can present a challenge.
It’s not uncommon for senior dogs to have accidents toward the end of their lives due to these difficulties.
A dog grass pad placed indoors may help your senior dog. However, you may have to retrain them to go potty indoors—after all, they’ve spent their entire lives doing the opposite.
While you can teach large breeds to use grass pads, smaller breeds tend to do better with them. This is mostly because grass pads are made with small dogs in mind.
If you have a medium to large breed, you’ll have to place 2 or more grass pads together in order for them to be large enough for your dog to use.
Remember that dogs tend to circle in the grass, looking for a good spot. If your dog doesn’t have room to do this, they’re more likely to have accidents.
If your pup can’t stand fully on the grass pad, they may miss the object entirely. If their front feet are on the pad, they often believe their back end is as well.
Lastly, grass pads are great for disabled dogs who can’t get around like your average pup. If your dog has accidents due to trouble getting outdoors, grass pads are an excellent option.
They will make your clean-up easier and help to set your dog up for success in potty training.
Real Grass Pads: Pros and Cons
There are pros and cons to both real and artificial grass pads. In these next sections, we’ll discuss them both so that you can decide what’s best for you and your dog.
Pros to Real Grass Pads
- Dogs will instinctually use real grass, making potty training easier.
- Training goes best when things are kept consistent. Transitions to and from grass pads may be easier when the grass is real, since the dog then encounters the exact same thing outdoors.
- Real grass pads are more eco-friendly.
- Grass roots will absorb urine, leaving less odor.
- Real grass pads don’t contain soil, eliminating the risk of messy paw prints or garden pests.
Cons to Real Grass Pads
- Real grass will die if left outdoors in cold climates.
- These types of pads need to be replaced every couple of weeks as the grass dies off. For this reason, they are more expensive over time than artificial grass pads.
- As the grass dies, it looks less aesthetically pleasing than an always-green artificial grass pad.
Artificial Grass Pads Pros and Cons
Pros to Artificial Grass Pads
- With no living plants, artificial grass pads thrive in all climates.
- Artificial grass pads can hold up for much longer than real grass, and you won’t have to replace them as regularly. Therefore, they are cheaper in the long run.
- As this grass stays green no matter what, it’s more aesthetically pleasing.
- A removable tray makes cleanup easy.
Cons to Artificial Grass Pads
- Potty training may be more difficult with artificial grass, especially if you are transitioning a dog who is used to using real grass outdoors.
- Artificial grass smells different than real grass, which may confuse some dogs.
- Artificial grass pads are less eco-friendly than real grass.
Indoor Dog Grass Pads
Dog grass pads can be used indoors, but there are some things to keep in mind if you are doing so.
The most important thing to think about with indoor dog grass pads is placement. You want the pad to be very accessible to your dog at all times.
You also need it to be on an easy-to-clean surface, such as tile flooring. Never place the grass pad on the carpet.
This is in case your grass pad leaks or overfills, or your dog misses the pad by mistake.
Another thing to keep in mind is training. If your dog has already been trained to only do their business outside, it will take them time to unlearn that behavior and be all right with going in the house.
Be patient and remember that, if your dog resists the grass pad at first, they’re just trying to be good!
Do Dog Grass Pads Smell?
It’s true that dog grass pads can build up a smell, especially when used indoors. But if they’re cleaned properly, it isn’t as bad as you think!
The problem arises when you don’t clean the grass pad daily or when feces is left to sit on the grass for too long.
While nothing will stop your dog’s poop or pee from smelling, a thorough cleaning should always take that smell away.
If you do notice a lingering smell, consider deep cleaning the grass pad or replacing it.
Can You Use a Dog Grass Pad for Your Balcony?
You can use a dog grass pad on your balcony so long as your apartment complex allows it. However, some buildings have rules against allowing a pet to do their business on the balcony.
Once you’ve checked the rules for your particular building, there are some additional things to keep in mind when placing your grass pad.
Make sure no urine can drip into the area below your balcony into your neighbors’ spaces. Accidents happen, and you don’t want to anger your neighbors!
Think about what would happen if your dog missed the grass pad or it overflowed or leaked. Place the pad someplace that allows for this, such as a foot away from the edge of the balcony.
In addition, be prepared to empty the tray regularly if using an artificial grass pad. This will reduce the risk of it overflowing.
Grass Pads for Medium or Large Dogs
A single grass pad works for many small breeds, but they aren’t suited to medium or large dogs. For them, you’ll have to place multiple pads side-by-side.
Ideally, your dog should be able to move around with all four paws on the grass. Most dogs do some searching and circling before settling on an area—even if, like my pup, they always end up at the same exact spot in the end!
Also, keep in mind that larger dogs have larger bladders. Make sure the tray below the grass pad can hold that amount of urine without leakage.
While you can try potty training a large dog to use a grass pad, you’re less likely to find success. For some dogs, you’d simply need too big of a pad—which can be tricky if you’re living in a small place.
Larger dogs may also have a more difficult time aiming at the grass pads if the area isn’t large enough for them.
Sometimes, unfortunately, the only answer is to potty train your pup outdoors.
How Do You Clean A Dog Grass Pad?
It’s important to clean your dog’s grass pad so that it doesn’t begin to smell or grow bacteria. We’ll discuss how to clean each type of grass pad below.
How to Clean an Artificial Dog Grass Pad
Every day, you should empty the tray at the bottom of the grass pad and run water through the grass to remove any urine in the blades.
You can also line the bottom of the tray with a puppy pad to absorb urine and replace it daily.
Wash all parts with soap and water regularly. If the grass pad begins to smell or you’d like a more thorough clean, wash it with vinegar and water or use an enzyme cleaner made for pet odors.
A hose or spray attachment to your sink or shower will make this job easier, but use what you have to get the pad clean.
Scoop poop from the grass pad as soon as you can. If there is residue left after scooping, clean the surface with soap or vinegar and water.
Never use harsh or scented cleaners on your dog’s grass pad. Odors can deter your dog from using it.
If you cannot get the grass clean or an odor remains, replace the artificial grass or buy a new pad.
How to Clean a Real Dog Grass Pad
Cleaning a real dog grass pad is very similar to cleaning an artificial one.
Remove poop as soon as possible from the top of the grass. If needed, clean any leftover feces from the grass blades.
Empty the bottom tray, wash it with soap and water (or water and vinegar for a deeper clean), then place the grass back inside of the tray.
Never use any chemicals on the grass, whether you’re cleaning it or trying to improve its growth or appearance. These can be harmful to your dog, and residual odors may also cause them to avoid the grass pad.
Replace the grass as it dies off, or if it begins to smell and you cannot get it clean.
How to Potty Train a Puppy Using a Grass Pad
If you’ve ever potty trained a puppy before, you’ll be glad to know that the experience isn’t much different when using a grass pad.
Potty training puppies
You still want to focus on consistently bringing your pup to the pad and rewarding them heavily when they use it.
The following steps will help you train your puppy to use a grass pee pad:
- Create a schedule. To begin, you’ll need a plan. Puppies, in particular, cannot hold their bowels or bladder for very long, and you need to focus on getting them to the grass pad before they have an accident.
The frequency of your potty training schedule will depend on how old your dog is. Young puppies can hold their bladders for about one hour per month of age, so you can’t expect to only bring your two-month-old pup to the pad every four hours.
Keep in mind that it’s better to overdo it than to have a mess on your hands.
- Watch your dog for signs that they need to go. If you see puppy sniffing around looking for a spot to pee, get them to the grass pad immediately. Keep a close eye on your dog and learn the signs that they need to go so that you can catch them before they have an accident.
- Use a leash to bring them to the grass pad. Just like if you were venturing outdoors, snap on your dog’s leash before bringing them to the grass pad. This way, you can hold them there for a few minutes. This gives you more control and gives them more time to go potty on the grass rather than wandering away to do so elsewhere.
- Reward good behavior. When your dog uses the grass pad for the first time, be ready to celebrate! Offer them a high-value treat and tons of praise for a job well done. This will make them excited to use it again and again.
- Ignore accidents. If your dog has an accident elsewhere in your home, simply clean it up. Don’t draw attention to it or make a fuss. Remember that they’re still learning and aren’t misbehaving on purpose.
- Never punish your dog for not using the grass pad. Punishments are ineffective for dog training, so don’t scold your dog or put their face in their mess. Never, ever hit a dog for any reason.
- Have patience. Your dog won’t learn to use the grass pad overnight, so have patience and think about things from your dog’s perspective. Young puppies are just learning the rules, and older dogs can have a difficult time using a grass pad indoors after having learned that going in the house is bad.
Bringing them to the grass pad on the regular can be tedious and annoying, but this phase won’t last forever. Before you know it, you’ll have a dog who uses their grass pad consistently on their own.
I’ve written these guidelines broadly to apply to puppies who are potty training for the first time as well as older dogs who are already housebroken.
However, you should remember that housebroken dogs may take longer to potty train using a grass pee pad. They’re learning something that directly contradicts what they’ve been taught before, and at first, this may confuse them.
Tips for Already Potty-Trained Dogs
- Never expect a dog to use a grass pad just because they’re potty trained. Artificial grass smells much different than real grass, and even real grass pads are placed within your home where your dog wasn’t allowed to poop or pee before!
Go back to basics and train your dog to use their grass pad just like you’d potty train a new puppy.
- Watch your dog extra closely for signs that they have to go. Already-housebroken dogs may try to hold in urine or feces since that’s what they’ve been taught previously. This makes them more prone to accidents when they finally can’t hold it anymore.
- Remember that reluctance to grass pads only happens because your dog is trying to behave. Have patience while they try to understand the sudden change in rules.
Dog grass pee pads can be a real life-saver for people or dogs who cannot make it outdoors every time the pup needs to go potty!
Living with a disabled dog or keeping a dog in an apartment complex is made much easier when you can train them to pee indoors or on the balcony.
So long as you train your dog right and clean your grass pad well, you’ll be on your way to an accident and odor-free home in no time.