How to Save Your Grass from Your Dog

If you’re a dog owner you know well that caring for a dog is like caring for a small child who stays a small child for their entire life. They’re a lot of work, but dogs are a part of the family and anyone lucky enough to have a canine companion will tell you that they’re more than worth the trouble.

One difficulty many dog owners face is burn spots on their lawns. Most people assume that dogs are going to kill their grass one way or another and it’s useless to try to prevent it. However, with some diligence and training you can prevent dead spots from taking over your lawn.

What is lawn burn?

Dog urine is very high in nitrogen. While a little bit of nitrogen is healthy for your soil and your grass, too much makes the soil extremely acidic which kills your lawn causing “burn” spots.

If you’ve ever gardened before you might be familiar with the concept of soil’s pH number. A pH number describes how acidic (0-6) or how basic (7-14) a substance is. Different types of plant life require different levels of acidity on the pH scale.

When you buy fertilizer or plant food at the garden shop you’re really buying a mixture of chemicals that alter your soil’s pH. The ideal pH for growing healthy grass is 6.5-7, roughly midway on the pH scale.

What can be done?

Ok, so now you know the science behind why your dog doing his business kills your lawn. But what can you do about it?

There are a number of different techniques that have been proven to be effective at mitigating or eliminating the damage caused by lawn burn.

  • Training. The most effective methods of preventing lawn burn is through proper training of your dog. Find a part of your yard that you ideally want to train your dog to do their business in. This part can be dirt, rocks, or an out of sight patch of lawn that you don’t mind taking some damage. Lead them over to this area when it’s time for them to go out and give them treats and verbal praise when they do their business in that area. If they start to urinate in another area, correct them by calling them over to the area they should be in. Don’t punish them, as this will confuse dogs and they might not feel safe urinating outside at all.
  • Water down. An effective method of preventing burn spots is to simply saturate the area where the dog urinated with water immediately afterward. This will dilute the nitrogen from the urine and limit damage.
  • Healthy nutrition. Dog food is sometimes very high in protein which increases nitrogen in their urine. Pick a food that has healthy amounts of protein in it. Similarly, dehydrated dogs will have urine with a higher nitrogen level. Encourage your dog to drink plenty of water.

Myths about lawn burn

Many myths about dog-related lawn burn have appeared over the years. Some people argue that female dogs’ urine burns a lawn more than males. This is untrue. If a female dog’s urine does burn the lawn more it is simply because female dogs have a tendency to stay in one place while doing their business.

Other myths include the usefulness of feeding your dog supplements to eliminate spots or that certain dog breeds have more acidic urine and cause more spotting. These are also misconceptions.

The best options are to work together with your dog and make sure they are well-fed and hydrated. Soon your lawn will regrow to its former glory.

Introducing an Adopted Dog to A New Home

Have you ever been away on vacation or traveling for work and had a difficult time getting to sleep at the hotel? Have you ever moved and it took a while for your new house to start to feel like home? Dogs experience these feelings as well, especially older dogs who have gotten used to their environment at their old home.

However, there are some things you can do to help your dog become acclimated to her new home. Whether you and your family already have a dog and are planning a move or if you’ve recently adopted a new canine friend here are some tips that will help them feel at ease and welcomed in their new home.

Adopted dogs

Adopting an older dog is a wonderful thing. When you adopt, you are supporting animal shelters that provide an indispensable service to our communities. You’re also giving a dog a second chance at a happy life, rather than being overlooked for a puppy.

Adopted dogs require special care when moving to a new home. Not only is their environment new, but so is their company. Here are some tips for acclimating your adopted dog to her new home:

  • As soon as you get home, take the dog to where she will be doing her business to get her used to the area. Reward her when she urinates there
  • While your dog gets used to her new home she may have accidents indoors, but with time she’ll learn where her bathroom is. Be patient.
  • When your dog first gets inside her new home, let her explore it freely so she feels safe
  • If you have small children, remind them to give the dog her space while she gets used to her new environment
  • Establish training rules with your family. You should all be on the same page about what behavior is acceptable. Similarly, you should all be using the same commands (i.e., everyone should say either “come” or “here, girl,” not a combination of both)
  • If the dog had a crate that she liked to stay in or a favorite toy make sure you let her have these items in the space that will be her bed
  • Show your ne dog plently of love when she comes to you, but give her space when she needs it

Moving with Your Dog

If you and your pet are moving to a new home, many of the same techniques apply as adopting a dog. Your pet will be unfamiliar with their environment, but you’ll have the advantage of them being familiar with you. Here are some tips for moving to a new home with your pet.

  • Bring all of their favorite items into the new home before the dog sees it. Food bowls, crate, toys, leashes, etc. Having these familiar sights and smells in their new home will help them acclimate
  • Bring your dog to their new neighborhood for a walk before the move if possible
  • Stick to your dog’s old schedule as much as possible; breakfast and dinner times, walks, and when to go out to the bathroom should be the same as before the move
  • Have your dog around often during the moving process. Remain calm so that your dog understands that everything is okay