Living in urban areas can be stressful more often than not. Unfortunately, we are not the only ones who have to pay the toll for living in this unnatural environment—our pets need to adjust, too. Even though they are born and bred in cities, pets still have to follow their instincts when it comes to their most basic needs. Among other things, this means that they like to do their business on grass. This is why a DIY dog grass box is a great idea.
Potty training is always one of the biggest concerns of new dog owners. Along with socialization, it is the most important thing a puppy must learn. Traditional methods like newspapers all over the place or pads in the crate are not accident-free and don’t feel very intuitive to dogs.
The grass box method is great because dogs instinctively want to use it to go potty and the transition to going potty outside is much faster. It saves you time and spares you from a lot of frustration. The only downside is: they are not cheap. But that’s what DIY is for! Making one on your own is a very easy and short project, so get your tools out and get to work!
In this article, we are going to tell you about the general purpose and different kinds of grass boxes, plus their pros and cons. We are also going to give you a detailed walkthrough for making one yourself and explain how to use it.
Why Use a Grass Box?
There are many benefits you can enjoy from using a grass box for dogs:
#1: Potty Training a Puppy
Dogs like to do their business on the grass—there is no doubt about it. Even puppies born and raised in apartments will prefer a grassy surface over anything else. That’s why a grass box is an ideal choice from the very beginning.
When the time comes for your puppy to start going potty outside, the transition will be quick and easy. Slowly, the grass box will become less appealing, and after a month or two, your pooch will be entirely adapted to doing his business outside. No accidents, no frustration.
#2: As an Option for Dogs with Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions might cause a weak bladder or diarrhea, in which case the dog might not be able to hold it in for a long time. Having a grass box in the apartment makes it much less stressful for the dog and so much easier for you.
Even older dogs who have already been housebroken will immediately understand that this new thingy is their emergency bathroom.
#3: If You are Working Long Hours
When a dog walker is not an option, and you need to be out of the house for a long time, having an apartment potty box is the only option. The problem might appear if your dog just doesn’t see the pad or the pile of newspaper as an acceptable substitute for his favorite grassy potty.
A grass box can help such dogs (and you, for that matter) because it brings a patch of outside into your apartment. This is exactly what made grass boxes popular in the first place. Even the most stubborn dogs can’t resist a patch of fresh grass. And you can place it wherever you want!
#4: Relief for Senior Dogs
Senior dogs are often not so eager to go for long walks, or even spend a lot of time outside. They might find the busy streets to be too stressful or might dislike meeting new, energetic dogs and people. The metabolism of a senior dog is also much different than it used to be.
Having a grass box somewhere in the apartment makes an old dog feel much more relaxed and secure, because he can decide whether he really wants to go out or just do his business and go back to being cozy.
Types of Grass Boxes for Dogs
There are two types of grass boxes you can make:
#1: Grass Boxes with Artificial Grass
The idea is simple. There is a box with a grass pad on top, and a removable tray at the bottom. When your dog goes potty, you scoop up the number two and remove the tray with pee, clean it, and put it back. How easy is that?
These grass boxes last forever and can be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water. There is no digging, no mud, and no dirt all over your apartment. The downside is that they have to be cleaned every day and might need additional products like enzyme cleaners to keep it fresh and appealing.
#2: Grass Boxes with Real Grass
This is, of course, the ideal variant, and all dogs love it. All you need to do is scoop up the poop, and the grass will soak in all the liquid and odors, keeping the box fresh with minimal involvement on your side.
However, the grass needs to be removed every two weeks or so. Companies that sell dog litter boxes with real grass actually deliver a new grass patch every two weeks. Or you can buy the patch yourself in well-equipped pet shops.
Most dogs will instinctively use this grass pad. Even though it might seem like a hassle to maintain, it might be the best short-term option for potty training a puppy.
See Also: How to Potty Train a Puppy
How to Make a DIY Grass Box for Dogs
Making a DIY grass box is easy, cheap, and will benefit you in the long run. There are two different approaches you can choose from:
#1: Method 1 – For Experienced DIY-ers
This is a general list of tools and hardware you’ll need for this project. The rest of the supplies depend on the type of the grass box you choose.
Before you start, make sure to sketch the box. How big do you want it to be? Is it just for potty or do you want your pooch to be able to chill in it, too?
When you decide on dimensions, calculate the area of the box because you will need it for the pegboard and sod/artificial grass shopping.
Saw. Whatever type you can get your hands on, because there isn’t going to be too much sawing involved
Electric screwdriver/electric drill. You’ll need to assemble the box with screws
Corner braces (8 pieces)
Plywood for the bottom of the box (you should measure and cut it to match the outer area of the frame first)
Screws (they should fit the corner brace; 4 screws per brace = 32 screws) and additional screws for screwing in the plywood base (4 screws for corners and an additional 2 per each side = 12)
Pegboard matching the inner area of the box
Lumber for the frame (preferably pressure-treated, because it lasts longer)
Wood paint (optional)
Gravel for drainage (if you’re using real grass) or cat litter (if you’re making a fake grass box)
Here are the steps you need to follow when assembling the frame:
If you want to put finish on the wood, you should do it before you start assembling the frame. This step is optional, but if your grass box is going to be a permanent set up and/or placed on the balcony, it’s a good idea to protect the wood.
Arrange the lumber strips into a rectangular shape and use duct tape to secure them in place.
Place the corner braces on the corners (two braces on each corner) and screw them in tightly.
Decide which side of the frame is going to be on the bottom and screw in the plywood board.
Place the waterproof tarp inside the box. Cover both the sides and the bottom and fix it to the sides with glue. The bottom is going to be covered with gravel/cat litter, so you don’t have to worry about that.
Put the pegboard on top.
Now that you have assembled the frame, next is to put the grass in. For a grass box with real grass, you will to need a couple more supplies:
You should buy enough topsoil to cover the inner surface of the box by two inches. Sod is the uppermost layer covering the topsoil. Make sure to buy quality sod if you want it to last as long as possible.
If you go with this alternative, you should be prepared to water the grass frequently. How often? It really depends on the time of the year and the weather conditions, but it should never be dry. After all, you want that little patch of grass to look green and lush at all times.
A bit about maintenance. This setup is the best one money can buy (and your hands can make), but it needs to be taken care of relatively frequently. The sod should be replaced every two to three weeks, the topsoil should be replaced once in two months at least, and the gravel should be taken out and rinsed from time to time.
Even though the grass breaks down ammonia and other organic matter, some odors might appear after a while, so keep the box clean. You can also replace the tarp if needed, or just wash it with soap and water.
Real grass is amazing for dogs that don’t like to dig, and it can be a permanent micro dog park. Of course, real grass needs sunlight, so it works best for apartments with a balcony.
If your pooch likes to dig and make a mess, the fake grass variant is a better option. Furthermore, you can put it anywhere you want because it doesn’t need sunlight.
The only additional purchase to the list above is, of course, the fake grass. There are many varieties to choose from, so find the one you think your puppy will prefer. If you use fake grass, it’s a good idea to put silica-based cat litter on the bottom instead of gravel, just so it can soak the odors.
The fake grass mat needs to be washed every day. Rinse it with non-toxic detergent and water and put it back in the box. The cat litter needs to be changed every week or less, depending on the number of pooches you have and their size.
#2: Method 2 – For Beginner DIY-ers
If you have a small dog or a litter of puppies and don’t want to go all handy with the wood and stuff, there is a simpler way to make a grass box. This method is better for those who don’t want the grass box to be a permanent setup, or want it to be easily movable and light.
Here is what you’ll need:
Two shallow (an inch deep) plastic containers that fit into each other; they should be around 15 inches wide, or whatever dimensions are suitable for your dog.
Sand or cat litter, just like before (you won’t be using gravel for such a tiny box)
Artificial grass or sod + topsoil
The idea is to place the containers on top of each other, so that the top one is the potty area and the bottom one collects liquids.
Here is what you need to do:
Take one container and drill holes in it to make the drainage system. The holes should be about an inch apart.
Place drainage material (cat litter for artificial grass variant or sand for real grass) in the bottom container and top it with the other container.
If you’re using artificial grass, just put it on the top, and you’re done!
If you’re using real grass, cover the bottom of the top container with topsoil and place the sod on top. You’ll need to water it regularly.
When it comes to cleaning, everything we said in the previous method stands. You can also easily clean both boxes whenever you want, which makes it very convenient. Pro tip: polyethylene plastic is cheap and easily replaceable, although it absorbs odors easily, so make sure to clean the bottom tray every day.
When all of this is done, it’s time to introduce your puppy to his new litter box. If you are just starting with a litter of puppies, this shouldn’t be a big problem. Watch them carefully (puppies usually go potty within half an hour after eating), and as soon as you see that they are about to do their business, take them to the grass box.
Repeat a couple of times until they understand what you want from them. Make sure that the grass box is easily reachable and accessible.
If you’re introducing an older dog to the grass box, you might have to invest a bit more of your time. Use the leash, treats, and praises to make them understand what you want. It might take more effort, but it’s definitely worth it.
Making a DIY grass container isn’t time-consuming and is definitely worth the effort. Having a dedicated litter box for your pooch gives you peace of mind and makes your dog much more comfortable in emergency situations.
Furthermore, it’s a fantastic strategy for new puppy owners from the get-go. Everything is easily replaceable, cheap, and makes potty training so much more natural.
Have you decided which method you will be going with to make your DIY dog grass box? Or perhaps you’ve come up with a new method yourself? Do share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! Next, check out our article on best indoor dog potty in case you decide that DIY is not working for you and you’d like to buy one instead.