All dog owners wish, at some point, that they did not HAVE to take their dogs for a walk. And for those who have busy lives, unpredictable schedules, and/or live in extremely hot, rainy, or cold climates, taking your dog outside to pee or poop may not only be an inconvenience, but a real challenge. The good news is that there are alternatives to taking the dog for a walk - dog potties.
Dog potties don't look much like human potties, but they don't require plumbing either. Most of them try to look like grass - some are even made of real grass or other ground cover, in an attempt to make your dog think he's outside. Dogs don't really fall for this disguise; nevertheless they can be trained to 'do their stuff' on a dog potty with a combination of scents, treats, and persistent operant conditioning.
Based on human considerations, however, I've selected five of the top options for dog potties, plus a few extras, and provided some tips on getting your dogs to use them.
Types Of Indoor Dog Potties
There are a variety of dog potties available. One of the biggest issues to consider is cost. Some potty options, like the fresh grass potties or doggy pads, can get expensive. Others will be less expensive, but will require more work from you to keep odors and mess under control.
Another issue is whether your dog will use the dog potty you choose. Your dog may be trainable on real grass but not accept the fake grass. You may need to try a few different options to find the best potty for you and your dog. But don't get discouraged, because once you find a potty option that works, it will change your life, freeing you from the leash when you're unable to take your dog out.
There is only one dog potty that is completely self-cleaning (see number 1, below). Mostly, therefore, you will have to actively manage the cleanup of the dog potty. While some dog potties do a good job in helping you manage liquid wastes and their odors, you will have to promptly collect and discard any solid waste in order to keep your house from stinking up. And, if you have a really large dog, there are few options besides lining up several smaller dog potties together, or using doggy pee pads.
In considering which dog potty will work for you, look at the overall cost of the potty over time (include supplies), the frequency of cleanup required, the size of your dog, and the placement of the dog potty in your home. In covering my 5+ top dog potties, I have tried to highlight some of the key factors:
Recently debuted, the BrilliantPad is the first totally automatic self-cleaning dog potty. It's really a pretty neat invention that holds a large spool of 27 eco-friendly puppy pads that wind up to the opposite side when soiled. Both urine and feces are absorbed by the pad and, when spooled, they and their odors are automatically sealed so there is no need to pick up, or even deodorize. You don't believe me? Watch this!
The wind-up can be set to spool automatically three times a day or by touch any time you want to spool it. After the roll of puppy pads are used up, you just lift the soiled spool out of the BrilliantPad, throw it away, and replace it with another roll.
It doesn't get much better than the BrilliantPad. Large dog owners are going to be jealous, as there is little room for any dog but a small one. Anyway, I'm not sure how much poop and pee a machine like this could handle, but the BrilliantPad is just perfect for small dogs. You might have to spend several days or several weeks training your dog to use the BrilliantPad but that, and the bucks you pay for it, is well worth it, according to customers. And don't worry, the company provides plenty of training tips with the BrilliantPad. We have a complete write-up of the BrilliantPad here.
DoggieLawn Disposable Dog Potty is an excellent indoor potty solution for several reasons. First, for those who would prefer not to clean a potty, DoggieLawn is "no fuss no muss." It comes in a "pizza box" type cardboard container that you can simply throw out when it's full and replace it with a new one when it's needed. Second, for pets and owners who prefer something that is not artificial, DoggieLawn is real grass. It smells like grass and feels like grass because it IS real grass and dogs seem to really like it for doing their business. Third, this product is effective. And fourth - this is the one I love...
The company will send someone to your home to train you and your dog on using it!
DoggieLawn is especially designed with a complex root system that absorbs urine and odors. After one to three weeks of use (depending on the how much your dog uses it), all you have to do is discard it and open up a new one.
The manufacturer states that one potty is usable for dogs up to 25 pounds; to accommodate larger dogs, arrange several boxes together, depending on the size of your dog. You will know how much space your dog needs by trying one out. In my opinion, one DoggieLawn, at approximately 25" x 21", is not large enough for a 25 pound dog, especially a male dog. But again, try it out.
The only downside to this potty is expense. Depending on how often your dog uses this potty, you will have to get replacements every one to three weeks, but if the cost is worth the convenience for you, this product may work well for your needs. It is definitely cheaper than a dog walker!
A similar product, but more pricey, is Fresh Patch Dog Potty Grass Litterbox. It also uses fresh grass, hydroponically grown fresh grass. (You can read our detailed product review for Fresh Patch here.)
The Pet Loo Pet Toilet comes in 3 sizes and it works well for most dogs. It is one of the better options for medium to large dogs.
The Pet Loo is a tray with a top layer of synthetic grass and a unique collection tray on the bottom. The shape of the collection tray allows urine to be directed to a smaller collection bin called the "Pee Pod." The Pee Pod only is removed, emptied, and then both the Pod and the tray can be rinsed. Baking soda or white vinegar can help diffuse urine odors and should be mixed with the rinse water. You can use a gentle washing solution, but make sure to rinse the parts thoroughly with water.
There are some concerns about the grass topper being 'poor quality.' But there are alternative grasses you can use with the system, for example, a premium synthetic grass like Pet Zen or replacement grass pads. If you want more odor control, the Pee Pod can also hold Wee Sponge Powder, a powder that absorbs the pee and turns it immediately into a gel that traps odors. It seems to work well on odors and may be a great option to try.
The PAW Puppy Potty Trainer is a popular three-layer system that includes 1) an artificial grass layer that is non-toxic and odor-resistent; 2) a plastic drain; and 3) a base that collects the urine. It's easy to clean - all parts are washable with soap and water.
The PAW Puppy comes in small and medium sizes. Both sizes are suitable for small dogs of both genders and, possibly, okay for medium females. You can purchase a double small pack or a double medium pack. The doubles are a good bet. For larger dogs, you can attach multiple Potty Trainers together.
Another similar system, also quite popular, is the Pet Zoom potty for dogs. The Paw Paw Prince Dog Shaped Potty Patch is another more simple two layer option that gets decent reviews and has a fun bone shaped design.
The Porch Potty Premium Grass Litter Box For Dogs is a great solution for owners with a patio and a source for a hose that they can use for the potty. The Porch Potty is pretty large at 2 x 4 feet, the largest single potty we've seen. The potty has a high quality resin frame surrounding either a fresh grass patch or a high quality artificial grass patch that looks and feels a lot like real grass. You can choose either. Then you can install a drain hose or drain container and use a manual rinse or the Porch Potty sprinkler system. The potty is easy to use and easy to clean. The innovative design enables drainage to a container stored under the Porch Potty or to a drain hose. This is suitable for dogs from 5 to 120 lbs.
With one of these top 5+ best doggy potty solutions, you don't need to have your life controlled by your dog's bathroom schedule any more. In addition to the training instructions that accompany some of the above dog potties, there are some really good training ideas on the web that will help your dog learn to use his potty: I like Training an older dog to use an indoor dog potty by Doggy In The City.
It will take some experimentation to see which product your dog will use and which works best for your lifestyle and pocketbook. But the investment of money, effort, and time you make to find a great indoor bathroom solution will definitely be paid back many times over by the freedom and convenience a indoor potty will provide for you and your family.
Bonus Pet Care Potty Tips:
If you have a fake grass potty, put some real outdoor grass or bark on top of your dog potty, better yet if it's peed on.
For male dogs, there should be something like a small (peed-on) fire hydrant, or a small tree stump on the dog potty. Frankly, another dog's pee is even better to entice your dog to the dog potty.
If your pet leaves a spill around your house, you may want to try my favorite, Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator, or Particular Paws Pet Stain Remover, which also performs well on pet stains.
Also, if your pet tends to miss the potty area, lining the exterior with these All-Absorb Training Pads may be a good way to keep the mess to a minimum.
Most dogs require a good deal of training to use an indoor potty. But if your dog is so trainable, she doesn't even need grass, or fake grass, to encourage her to use a dog potty, there's the bare bones Any Pet Indoor Dog Training Toilet.
Soon, your dog will be enjoying the toilet as much as this big guy!
BrilliantPad: A Self-Cleaning Potty Invention For Small Dogs
Fresh Patch Detailed Product Review
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Originally published in May 2014 and last updated November 2017.