Sharing your yard with a canine companion can be one of the best parts of having a lawn—until dog urine lawn spots and other dog damage show up in your carpet of green. By learning how to fix dog urine spots on lawns and prevent other dog-related lawn damage, you and your dog can coexist harmoniously and enjoy a beautiful, lush lawn.
Get your four-legged buddy on board and follow these basics for simple, effective dog urine grass repair:
Even though your pet is man's best friend and loves your lawn as much as you do, dog urine natural wreaks havoc on grass, leaving burned, bare lawn spots or discolored grass behind. Dog urine lawn spots happen because of the high amount of nitrogen and related salts naturally contained in dog urine.1
Female dogs often get blamed for dog urine burning grass, but their urine is no different than that of male dogs.2 When concentrated urine collects in a single area, lawn damage happens. It's a lot like fertilizer burn.
All dogs that squat to urinate, including females, puppies, elderly dogs, small dogs and some adult males, can burn grass when they urinate in one concentrated area. Because most male dogs lift a leg to "mark" their territory with spurts, they spread their urine over a larger lawn area, so not as many dog urine spots result.
Minor lawn damage due to dog urine spots often resolves on its own as healthy new growth emerges in your lawn.2 However, areas that your dog frequents for urination will typically need dog urine spot repair.
How to Fix Dog Pee Spots on Lawns
Fortunately, dog urine grass repair is a quick and easy lawn fix with the right information and lawn repair products. It helps to understand the types of urine spots dogs cause on lawns. Two types trouble dog owners most: green spots and brown spots. Dog urine causes both types, but the reasons and remedies are different.
How to Fix Green Lawn Spots
Because your dog's urine is naturally high in nitrogen—an essential plant nutrient—Fido's favorite spots can become greener than the surrounding grass. This happens primarily on grass that hasn't had enough nitrogen from fertilizer.4 Your whole lawn could be that same rich color if it had the extra nitrogen it needs.
To determine if your grass lacks available nutrients due to soil pH or other reasons, take a soil sample and have it tested. Correct low nitrogen in your lawn by applying Pennington UltraGreen Lawn Fertilizer 34-0-4 every 60 to 90 days through the growing season, or as recommended by your soil testing lab. This fertilizer increases drought tolerance, which is very similar to tolerance to urine salts, while boosting nutrient uptake for a lush, green lawn.
How to Fix Brown Lawn Spots
The most severe cases of dog urine lawn damage result in brown spots, which are areas of dead and dying grass. Lawns that are overly dry or already weak and stressed are especially susceptible to this type of dog urine damage. Whenever patches of brown grass appear, water the area deeply and repeatedly to flush the urine salts out of the surrounding soil.5 Minor dog urine damage may fill in with the surrounding grass over time, but you don't have to wait on nature.
Even though you can't bring dead grass killed by dog urine back to life, you can repair dog urine spots so they look as good as new. First, remove the dead grass from the area, and then repair the spot with Pennington One Step Complete. This all-in-one remedy for dog lawn spots combines drought-tolerant, water-conserving, premium Pennington Smart Seed grass seed, professional-grade fertilizer and natural wood mulch to grow beautiful, healthy grass where brown dog spots were.
Whenever you do lawn repairs, remember to keep your pet away from any area with new grass seed. You don't need to worry about your dog, but you do need to protect your future grass. New grass seed needs time to germinate and get established with strong healthy roots before it's ready for Fido to visit and play. A good rule of thumb is to let grass grow and mow it at least three to four times before you allow dog or people traffic.
To help prevent dog urine spots around your lawn, the best plan of attack is to train your pooch to relieve himself in a specific area of your yard.1 Mulch an area of your landscape with natural wood mulch so it blends in well and Fido can urinate somewhere other than on your grass. Dogs usually respond well to the extra attention and praise that using their special spot brings.
Avoid using mulch made from cocoa bean hulls, even though it smells nice and chocolaty and looks good. Cocoa bean hulls can be toxic to your canine friend if he decides to investigate that smell and see how things taste—and he probably will.
Some pet stores and even vet clinics offer dietary supplements that promise to change the nitrogen content or pH of dog urine. However, there is no scientific evidence that these products work. Some of these supplements are known to cause urinary system problems and other dangerous issues for some pets, such as calcium deposits in young dogs.1
Dogs, especially puppies, have a lot of energy that they often devote to digging. They may dig for entertainment, to try and escape, or to hunt prey such as moles.3 It can take some time to train your dog to stop digging once they develop the habit, so intervene early—with attention, training and praise—to stop digging problems right away.
Step in with quick lawn repairs to fix digging holes as soon as they appear:
- Fill holes with high-quality topsoil and gently compress the soil in the hole with your foot. Continue filling and compressing lightly until the solid soil surface is even with the surrounding area. Don't press too hard or you can create a pocket of compacted soil that inhibits healthy grass growth and may need aeration down the road.
- Apply Pennington One Step Complete seeding mixture to the surface of the soil according to label instructions.
- Water thoroughly, and keep the area moist until the grass is tall enough to mow, about 3 inches. To help you determine when to water, the natural mulch included in Pennington One Step Complete turns a lighter brown color when it gets dry and needs more water.
For other lawn areas hit with doggy damage, turn to Pennington Lawn Booster. This all-in-one product combines premium Pennington Smart Seed, professional-grade fertilizer and soil enhancer. It's guaranteed to grow quicker, thicker, greener grass in just one application.
While you can't change your dog's instincts, you can provide him with appropriate outlets for the extra energy that feeds his digging tendencies. Make sure he has plenty of toys to play with when you aren't around, and wear out him a little with backyard play or long walks.
For terriers and other types of dogs bred to dig underground for burrowing rodents, create an area just to satisfy those instincts. For example, build a sandbox and hide toys in it for your dog to find. Reward him with a treat and praise for digging only in his personal sandbox.3
Owning a dog and having a beautiful lawn free from dog spots requires a little extra work. But time spent with your canine companion enjoying a lush, healthy lawn makes every effort worth it. With patience, proper training and premium Pennington lawn repair products, you can have the lawn you desire and keep your grass-loving pooch happy, too.
Pennington, One Step Complete and Smart Seed are registered trademarks of Pennington Seed, Inc.
UltraGreen is a registered trademark of Central Garden & Pet Company.
- A. O'Connor and T. Koski, "Dog Urine Damage on Lawns: Causes, Cures, and Prevention," Colorado State University Extension, October 2014.
- A. Harivandi, "Lawns 'n' Dogs," University of California Cooperative Extension, 2007.
- Dig This: How to Get Your Dog to Stop Digging," The Humane Society of the United States.
- C. Bigelow, et al., "Animal Urine Damage in Turf," Purdue Extension and University of Illinois Extension, May 2006.
- C. Enroth, "Dog Gone Lawn," University of Illinois Extension, December 2014.