Are you struggling to house train your puppy in an apartment? Or are you tired of going up and down stairs multiple times each day? A balcony dog potty could be a convenient solution.
A balcony potty pad could be the perfect solution. These potties are made with real or artificial grass, providing a comfortable place for your dog to “go.”
Of course, all dogs need outdoor time – and potty breaks aren’t just for toileting. Apartment dogs are cooped up for long periods, so trips outside are essential for fresh air and new smells.
Balcony potties can be great for reducing the number of times you need to make the trip downstairs though. Here are five of the best – along with tips for choosing the right option for your pet.
Real grass potty that's biodegradable and low maintenance
If you want a real grass potty, the DoggieLawn is my top pick. It’s a biodegradable pad that’s perfect for apartment balconies. The DoggieLawn is also available in two sizes.
As the name suggests, balcony dog potties provide a comfortable place for your dog to go to the toilet.
The two most common types of balcony potties are artificial grass and real grass. Aside from being more attractive than a plastic tray, most dogs prefer the feel of grass for toileting.
While it’s possible to buy a patch of artificial grass on its own, the best synthetic toilets sit inside a tray. This catches urine, so it doesn’t sit on your balcony’s floor (or drain over the edge!) Trays also make a potty easier to clean.
Potties aren’t a replacement for walks, but can be convenient at night, during bad weather, or just to reduce the number of walks downstairs. Older dogs with incontinence problems can also benefit from having a patch of grass nearby.
They can also be handy for potty training a young puppy. House training requires frequent trips outside to prevent accidents – but no-one wants to go down several flights of stairs at 3am! In fact, if you live on a high-level floor, the time taken to get downstairs may be too long for a new puppy to wait. A balcony puppy potty solves this problem.
Synthetic grass is durable, can’t be killed by your dog’s urine, and is relatively easy to clean. So, at first glance, it seems like the obvious choice.
There are advantages to real dog grass pads though – especially those grown hydroponically without soil. Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of each type.
Tip: Avoid artificial dog grass patches without a tray. Liquid will pass straight through onto the floor.
Synthetic or artificial grass is the more cost-effective option for an apartment dog potty, as the grass never dies. These pads still need to be replaced before they start to smell – especially during hot summers – but are more durable and long-lasting.
The best synthetic potties come with a tray to catch liquid. Fluid passes through the “grass,” so your pet doesn’t come inside with wet paws. Some also have an additional middle layer so the grass pad isn’t sitting in urine.
All synthetic dog potties need to be regularly cleaned to avoid smells. This usually involves rinsing with soapy water and hosing down. You’ll also need to empty the tray each day.
The main downside to synthetic pads is that some dogs are reluctant to toilet on synthetic grass. If your dog is fussy about where he toilets, a real grass pad might be the better option.
As you can imagine, synthetic potty mats also start to smell. You can delay this with regular and thorough cleaning, but at some point you’ll need to purchase a replacement mat.
There are an increasing number of real grass potties on the market. Examples include the DoggieLawn, Porch Potty and Fresh Patch.
An obvious drawback is that dog urine contains toxins that kill grass. You’ll need to replace real grass pads every 1-3 weeks, which can quickly add up to a lot of money.
They also tend to be smaller than artificial potties. If you have a large dog, you’ll probably need to combine multiple pads.
On the plus side, fresh grass pads are environmentally-friendly and completely disposable. They usually come in cardboard holders, so the entire pad can be thrown away.
Real grass also absorbs more liquid, so these pads don’t require much maintenance and are less likely to smell.
If you’re worried about dirt, most grass potties are grown hydroponically. This means there isn’t a thick layer of mud for your dog to bring into the house. Many dogs also prefer the feel of real grass.
Tip: You can often buy replacement pads via a subscription service. Just sign up and get a fresh dog grass patch delivered every 2-3 weeks.
Grass pee pads aren’t the only option for a balcony potty.
You could, for example, use a regular potty pee pad. These are cheap and easy to dispose of, but are likely to blow away if left outside. They also won’t stop some urine leaking onto your balcony’s floor.
Another option is a plastic mesh over a tray (see the Blyss Pets Clean Paws below). These can be easier to clean, as there are no blades of grass, and are the most durable type of potty.
Unfortunately, many dogs need that “grass feel” to go for a wee or poop. For most dog owners, an artificial or real grass patch is the best option for a balcony.
Balcony toilet stations come in many sizes. As you would expect, bigger dogs need larger pads, while puppies or small breeds can make do with smaller patches. But how do you choose the right size?
The best size partly depends on your dog’s size, but also on his toilet preferences.
Some dogs, for example, need a long runway to go to the toilet. If this sounds like your pup, choosing a larger size could encourage him to go on the mat.
Male “leg lifters” may also find it more challenging to use a potty patch. Females or males who squat are often more willing to use a potty.
There’s always the option of buying two pads and placing them together. This is especially useful when buying real grass potties, which are typically smaller.
Even if you get the right size, expect some “misses” from time to time. No dog is completely accurate!
Check whether grass toilet pads are allowed in your apartment building before buying one.
In the US, some management companies ban dogs from going to the toilet on a balcony, regardless of whether you’re using a potty pad.
If you’re planning to install a sliding dog door to the balcony, you should also check that this is allowed in your building.
There are plenty of dog potty stations on the market – but which are the best for balconies? Here are my five top picks, including real grass, synthetic grass, and plastic grate options.
As its shipped in a recyclable cardboard container, replacing the DoggieLawn is as simple as throwing away the box and buying a new one. The grass also has a soft and lush green appearance, so it looks great on a balcony.
As with all grass potties, the DoggieLawn needs to be replaced every few weeks. This keeps it fresh and green, but the cost can be significant over time.
The Tinkle Turf is a simple synthetic grass potty with a pan to protect the floor. Fluid drains through the grass surface into the pan, so it needs to be emptied regularly. The Tinkle Turf is also durable, easy to clean, and available in three sizes.
It’s not perfect though. Like all synthetic grass pads, it needs to be cleaned and emptied regularly to avoid smells.
There’s also no separation between the tray and synthetic turf, so the grass sits in fluid if the tray isn’t frequently emptied. To counteract this, you may want to purchase potty pads to sit between the tray and grass.
One of the best features of this potty pad is the three-layer design. Instead of the grass mat sitting directly in the tray, there is a middle plastic insert to allow fluid to drain into the tray.
This ensures your dog isn’t standing in urine when he goes to the toilet – although it works even better when you add an extra puppy pad to soak up liquid.
A downside is that the grass mat will start to smell after a while – even if you clean it regularly. Petmaker sells replacement pads, however, so you won’t need to replace the tray or plastic insert. It’s also too small for large breeds.
Of course, the main downside to a real grass pee pad is that they need to be replaced every 2-3 weeks. Make sure you factor in this ongoing cost when deciding between real or synthetic pads.
The standard Fresh Patch is also only 16×24 inches in size, which isn’t suitable for large breeds. There are bigger options available on the company’s website though – and you can save money by subscribing for regular deliveries via FreshPatch.com.
Note: If you don’t like the cardboard holder, you can buy a separate wooden sleeve. There’s also the option of purchasing a plastic tray.
It’s built with two layers – a grate and a tray – and it’s recommended that you add a potty pad too. This allows the pad to soak up urine while keeping your dog’s paws dry.
While the Clean Paws is brilliant for small breeds and puppies, it’s too small for large dogs. The design also makes it difficult to combine multiple potties.
Another issue is that soft poo can get caught in the grid. Aside from being unpleasant, this can be difficult to clean once dried.
On the upside, the Clean Paws is strong and should last a long time. It’s also easier to wash down, as it doesn’t have hundreds of blades of grass to clean.
A balcony dog potty can be a convenient addition to your apartment. They shouldn’t substitute walks, but can save you making multiple trips downstairs – especially during house training or if your dog has incontinence problems.
My top pick for a real grass potty is the DoggieLawn. It’s an environmentally-friendly option that’s easily disposable and available in three sizes. If you prefer synthetic potties, the Prevue Tinkle Turf is a great choice.
I hope this article has helped you choose the best balcony dog potty for your dog. If you have any questions, please use the comments form below.