9 Best Materials for a Dog Potty Area

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Published: Last Updated on
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Building a DIY dog potty can be useful for keeping your pet’s business contained in a small area. Whether you’ve got a backyard, a balcony, or any other kind of outdoor space, a designated potty space can help keep things a bit cleaner.

In this article, we’ll look at the 9 best materials for a dog potty area. By the end, you should have a decent idea of what’ll work best in your dog’s potty.

1. Real grass

real grass dog potty

Let’s start with an obvious choice: grass. It’s completely dog safe, has good drainage, and can be customized to whatever size you want. We even have a guide for building a doggy potty with real grass, so check that out.

In summary, however, you can either:

  • Grow your own balcony grass
  • Get a real grass subscription with Doggie Lawn


  • Lower surface temperature than artificial grass
  • Good drainage (no cleaning required)
  • Inexpensive


  • Dog pee bleaches grass, so it might die off fairly quickly

2. Artificial grass

artificial grass dog potty

Artificial grass has the advantage of not bleaching from dog pee, and the drainage is still good. However, the surface temperature can be 20 degrees F higher than real grass in full sun, which isn’t pleasant for your dog. Also, picking up poop off artificial grass isn’t the easiest thing in the world, so bear this in mind!


  • Simulates real grass if you don’t have any in your outdoor space
  • Much easier to clean
  • Doesn’t bleach from dog pee


  • Can get smelly
  • Surface temperature can be really high

3. Pea gravel

pea gravel dog potty

Arguably the best material for a dog potty area is pea gravel. It’s got good drainage, it’s easy to clean, and won’t hold smells like artificial grass. You could use it in any outdoor space, providing you’ve got somewhere to hose the water. Again, we’ve got a guide on a DIY pea gravel dog potty.


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to clean
  • Suits all outdoor spaces


  • Some pea gravel can be sharp – make sure you buy smooth stones

4. Mulch

dog potty with mulch

Mulch can be a good option for a dog potty because it’s super absorbent, meaning it’s easy to dispose of the soiled material. However, a lot of the organic products used to make mulch can be toxic to dogs, so only buy mulch made from the following:

If you’re concerned about the origin of the mulch or your dog’s desire to eat it, be safe and just avoid it completely.


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to replace
  • Very absorbent


  • A lot of mulch materials are toxic to dogs

5. Sand

dog potty with sand

Sand is a good option for a dog potty if it’s built in a covered area. Plenty of dogs like digging in sand, so it can give them a bit more enjoyment than other materials. Also, it can trap liquids pretty well. On the flip side, though, rain will wash it away, hence why it should only be used in a covered area.


  • Inexpensive
  • Lots of dogs enjoy sand
  • Works well for trapping both solids and liquids


  • Rain will wash it away easily

6. Cat litter

dog litter box

Cat litter is another contender for the best material for a doggy potty area for one simple reason: this is what it’s designed for. It’ll give you the best results for clumping and odor-eliminating products, so might be a good idea if your dog potty is near a door or window.

However, cat litter is probably only recommended for smaller dogs. This is simply because you’ll need to replace it at least daily, so it could rack up a hefty bill if you’re filling a potty for something like a German Shepherd!


  • It’s designed for this kind of job
  • Odor-eliminating
  • Great for small dogs


  • Shouldn’t be used in uncovered areas
  • Will be expensive to use for larger dogs

7. Rocks

dog potty with rocks

Rocks might not be your first thought for a dog potty, but it’s fairly easy to make something work. Essentially, you’ll want to build something like a patio over the potty. The surface should be flat, have good drainage, and be free from sharp stones.

That said, although it’s quite attractive, it might not be the most practical material to use. All the benefits of using rocks are more obvious in pea gravel, so perhaps just use that instead.


  • Easy to clean
  • Inexpensive if you have a ready supply of rocks
  • Customization options


  • Not as practical as pea gravel

8. Soil

Although soil isn’t the best material for a dog potty area, it’s viable in a pinch. It’s absorbent and is easy to replace, although you can’t wash it clean in the same way as gravel.

Unsurprisingly, most of the cons for sand also apply to soil. If you want to simulate natural ground for your dog, aim to use grass rather than just soil. But if you’re not concerned about natural appearance, choose pea gravel instead because it’s more practical.


  • Easy to get hold of
  • Simple to replace when soiled
  • Temporary solution


  • Not super practical

9. Puppy pads

Puppy pads are basically large sheets made from the same materials as diapers. While they won’t form a dog potty in the same way as the other things on this list, they can be a good temporary solution.

Much like cat litter, they’re designed for this job, meaning they’re absorbent and should control odor. However, they produce a lot of waste because you throw soiled ones away, whereas at least most of the other items above can be washed clean.


  • Fairly good value for money
  • Easy to use
  • Temporary solution


  • They generate a lot of waste

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you should now have an idea of the best material for a dog potty area. Generally, the most practical option is pea gravel because it’s absorbent and easy to work with.

Of course, if you just need a short-term solution, puppy pads are worth looking into.

Regardless of what you use, be prepared to spend some time getting your dog used to its new potty area!