Woman working with soil in garden showing how to make a dog potty area outside

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Creating an outdoor potty area for your furry friend is easier than you think, as you’ll find out in this comprehensive guide.

A potty yard is like a personal bathroom area for your dog, and there are plenty of reasons why you and your pup deserve it.

Do you want to make your dog’s outdoor potty experience better? Continue reading this post for helpful tips on how to make a dog potty area outside, designed for comfort and easy cleanup.

4 Important Factors to Consider When Making a Potty Area

There are certain matters that you need to get right before embarking on this project. These prerequisites will make the potty area comfortable and encourage your dog to use it more often.

1. Location

Pick a location in your yard where it is comfortable for your dog to use and it shouldn’t be near an outdoor living space.

The bathroom areas should not be too far from the house. Select an area that can easily be accessed from the main house to make it easier during training and supervision.

Image Credit: ForeverLawn Palm Beach from Instagram

Avoid placing your potty yard near your prized vegetable bed. Ensure the bathroom area is not uphill of the garden because a small rain could wash the dog’s waste downstream.

2. Size of the potty yard

Since dogs naturally circle before they eliminate, ensure the potty yard is big enough to accommodate this behavior.

The potty yard’s overall size will depend on your dog’s size, the number of dogs, and the available space in your backyard. A tiny Yorkie for example, won’t need as much space as a giant Great Dane.

While a good size is important, don’t forget about cleanliness. Dogs, regardless of the potty area’s size, prefer a space free of waste to eliminate comfortably.

3. Ground surface

With so many surfacing materials to choose from, you should focus on those that are easy to clean, highly porous, and not rough on your dog’s paws.

Consider some great options like grass and mulch if you’re on a budget. Despite the initial cost of grass being lower, it generally requires additional maintenance to keep the surface in top condition.

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Long-haired Dachshund Dog sitting on grass
Image Credit: Magnum and Scarlett from Instagram

Dog-safe mulch is much softer with great drainage and good looks, but it needs frequent replacing depending on how quickly it degrades. Cocoa mulch is toxic to dogs, so it should be avoided at all costs.

One downside of mulch is that it absorbs dog urine and may eventually smell. The extent of smell will depend on the number of dogs using the potty area.

The excellent drainage of gravel and river rock is a huge plus for those considering these potty yard surfacing options.

Standard gravel may however require regular replacement because it can easily be washed away compared to pea gravel.

Pea gravel is often preferred for dog potty areas due to its small, smooth pebbles – a much gentler surface for paws compared to rougher types of gravel.

Smooth river rock is gentle on paws and can be a decent choice for the potty yard. However, it’s important to supervise your dog, as some may be tempted to play with or ingest the stones

4. Drainage

Before starting your potty yard project, pay close attention to the slope of the chosen area. It’s in your best interest to ensure the yard slopes away from the main house and outdoor spaces like patios.

A proper drainage design will keep your dog’s waste in its place and prevent urine runoff from contaminating other important areas promoting hygiene in your home.

How To Make a Dog Potty Area Outside in 5 Steps

Supplies and Tools Needed

  • Measuring tape
  • Shovel
  • Landscape fabric
  • Edging material
  • Pea gravel
  • Rake
  • Hose and spray nozzle
  • Waste disposal bin

1. Choose your location

This is perhaps the most important step when designing and creating a personal outdoor bathroom for your canine friend.

As per our previous recommendations, pick the perfect spot for your dog’s designated potty area. Prepare it by removing rocks, grass, weeds, sticks, and other debris from the area.

2. Measure and mark

Use a measuring tape to determine the size of your desired potty yard based on your dog’s size and intended use.

Once you have the ideal size, create an edging border to mark it out. Feel free to go for wood, plastic edging, paver stones, or a decorative material that complements your backyard’s overall landscaping.

After edging the space, add a layer of weed-block landscaping fabric to prevent those unwanted weeds from messing with your dog’s bathroom.

3. Drainage

For better drainage, start layering the area with one-inch soft rocks or sand as the base of your dog’s potty area. This will enhance the flow from the filler material in the potty yard.

4. Add the filler

Next, you’ll want to calculate the exact amount of pea gravel you need for your upcoming potty area to avoid wastage.

To figure out this, calculate the square footage of your potty area (length x width). Next, multiply the area by 0.25 (representing 3 inches of depth), and you have your desired volume.

A french bulldog sitting in front of a designated outdoor potty area
Image Credit: Patrycja Kandoragolter from Instagram

Pour your pea gravel onto the landscaping fabric and use a sturdy rake to distribute it evenly for a smooth surface.

After setting up your drainage material, you’ll want to rinse the area with a hose pipe to remove loose dirt and help the gravel settle.

5. Final touches

Congratulations on making the potty area! At this point, we will put our focus on some final touches to make this bathroom appealing.

Set up your waste bin in a nearby, convenient location. If desired, add a shaded area or a few designated potty yard toys to keep your dog entertained.

You can decorate the pathway leading to the potty yard using flagstone pieces of irregular shapes and patterns.

Make sure to partially bury the paving stone to create a sturdy walking area. Some other cool ideas include installing a sign stating ‘dog potty area’ for all your visitors, and a mock fire hydrant.

Maintaining an Outdoor Potty Area

Setting up an outdoor potty area and training your pup to use it are all important, but you should never ignore the requirement to keep this area usable.

If the potty area is messed up, dirty, and not cleaned regularly, your dog will certainly avoid using it and it will stink.

For proper cleanup after elimination, you’ll need a good pooper scooper and a lined waste can to dispose of your dog’s waste.

Look for a scooper that’s easy to use, has a large waste capacity, and includes a rake feature to separate poop from pea gravel.

Plan on hosing down your dog’s potty area at least once a week for optimum cleanliness and hygiene. The potty area might temporarily smell when wet, but that odor will go away after a few minutes.

Occasionally, you might need to top up or replace some of the pea gravel or other surface material to keep the potty yard in top condition.


By following these steps on how to make a dog potty area outside, you’ll have a fun project and create a cleaner, more convenient space for your pup.

Remember your dog may take a little while before getting used to their new toileting area, so practice patience and consistency.

Just like other obedience training, potty training can be a challenge. If you’d like some extra tips, we have a helpful post on our blog about how to potty train your puppy.

Do you think a particular surface material might be more effective for your dog? Please let us know in the comments below!

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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