Can a dog pee on a sod balcony?
July 30, 2008 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Puppy Housebreaking Question: Sod on a balcony as an occasional potty spot a good idea?

I have a new, ten week old wonderful puppy who is tiny now and will probably grow up to be about 20 lbs. Next week I am moving to a new apartment that I expect to be our home for a couple years. The apartment is on the third floor and has a medium sized balcony. My question is about housebreaking. As of now, in the old house, we are doing a pretty good job of getting the puppy down the stairs (also a third floor apartment) and outside when he needs to go and can certainly continue that in the new place. However, we always carry him out the door and down the stairs because he's so small and the stairs are steep and also because I am afraid he would pee before we got outside. It worries me that he doesn't walk out the door himself because I am afraid he won't learn how to "tell" me that he needs to go outside by waiting at the door or scratching.

To remedy this at the new place, I am thinking about building a planter box with sod in it to put on the balcony so that this could be a door that the puppy could go to and get outside to a good "potty spot" immediately. I still very much plan for most of the potty-ing done to be outside (not on the balcony) on the 4-5 walks we take every day, but want there to be somewhere that the puppy can get to without having to be carried so that he will learn to scratch at the door etc.... Generally my plan was to keep the sod a year or so until the puppy's bladder is big enough to only relieve himself on our walks, but if I have to keep it the entire time we live there I probably could.

Things I am worried about using the sod box:

1. That somehow the puppy will decide not to pee anywhere except the box. Right now (at what is admittedly a very early stage of potty training) he kinda goes on command, and while he has favorite spots in our yard, he goes wherever we are on walks just fine. I hope that by making sure he still goes outside on walks several times a day, this won't be an issue, but would love some insight about whether I am just developing bad habits that will be a problem later.

2. That the sod box will stink or not grow or otherwise cause problems. Any construction tips are welcome.

Basically, please tell me if you think that I am setting myself up for problems and shouldn't even attempt this. Continuing regular potty training from the third floor is totally fine with us, I just thought this might speed up the process.
posted by mjcon to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Small dogs can actually be litterbox trained as well. I'm not saying that it's the ideal situation for your pup, but if you foresee being in this living situation for a while, it might be an option.
posted by Madamina at 11:53 AM on July 30, 2008

Puppy training pads (there are all sorts of varieties and are available at any pet store) have worked well in my experience. I tried them just as a last resort type of thing with an adult dog who, in his later years, couldn't hold his bladder as long as he used to. He'd never seen/been exposed to the pads before, but the first time I laid a few on the floor before leaving for work I returned home to find that he had used them! So perhaps instead of a sod box, you could put some of these pads on your balcony for those "no one's home to take me outside" times. (Even after the addition of the pads, my dog still alerted us that he needed to "go outside" when we were home. He only used them when there was no other choice.)
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:21 PM on July 30, 2008

That sod is not going to last anywhere near a year if it's being peed on regularly.
posted by toomuchpete at 12:30 PM on July 30, 2008

Why not let him walk out onto your landing before you pick him up, so that he learns to scratch at the door? The sod thing will just be super stinky, and all the grass will die.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:36 PM on July 30, 2008

I've been doing far too much business travel, so I happened to see this sort of thing in the SkyMall catalog. It seems be what you're looking for.

I have no experience with it besides knowing of its existence.
posted by Gucky at 2:39 PM on July 30, 2008

dog pee burns grass dead; not sure you'll have any sod in 2 weeks.
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:50 PM on July 30, 2008

is there a balcony below yours? If so, this probably isn't a very good idea for a lot of reasons concerning seeping, dripping.... let your imagination wander....

unless you live in the desert..
posted by HuronBob at 2:53 PM on July 30, 2008

I don't see why it wouldn't work, you will probably have to replace the sod fairly often. I remember seeing a service in NYC that would deliver sod weekly or biweekly for pets to pee on while the owner's were at work.
posted by bradbane at 3:44 PM on July 30, 2008

It should work fine as long as you change the sod often, and pick up the poop/water it well to rinse out the urine regularly. And as long as you don't ONLY use the sod, there should be no problem with having the puppy use regular grass (puppy pee pads are a bad idea, sod is a good idea). Ian Dunbar suggests exactly this solution for puppies whose owners cannot take them out as often as they need. Enjoy your puppy!
posted by biscotti at 3:55 PM on July 30, 2008

Here's another link. It shows how the bottom can get pulled out for cleaning and all that. PetaPotty (the bottom of the page has details of how it works)
posted by Vaike at 6:18 PM on July 30, 2008

HuronBob has a point, depending on how big your balcony is. I have an older Pomeranian who was raised on puppy pads and when he came to live with me, he still used them. Apparently bad aim is a universal boy trait, whether you are dog or human. I would hate to be your downstairs neighbor on a day when your dog decided that the only acceptable pee place on the balcony was close to the edge.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:36 AM on July 31, 2008

I don't see this as being a problem or promoting bad habits. And, by about 5-6 months the pup should be able to go several hours between potty I doubt you will need 1 year's worth of sod.

Puppies can learn to go on non-porous materials too (i.e. cement), so you could also try putting a paver or two in a litter box to make a potty spot that will never die. It might help to put a puppy pad in it to start. And, to help with pee smell on cement, a mixture of water, baking soda, and vinegar works pretty well. Good luck!
posted by hazel at 8:29 PM on August 14, 2008

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