How I Retrained My Housetrained Dog to Pee on Fake Grass

Housetraining a puppy is hard work. But what about retraining an older dog (mine is 7 y.o.) to go on fake grass you’ve set up indoors or on your balcony? I’d say it can be harder, but it’s doable! Here’s what I did to train my girl to pee on a patch of fake grass I placed on my balcony. I wanted her to have the option of going potty if I’m out at work all day, plus I wanted the convenience of not having to travel down 17 floors for a quickie before bed.

Pick a Spot

I introduced the patch of fake grass to Maddie in the exact location I wanted it to be at on my balcony. Moving it around everywhere can confuse dogs, as they remember location just as much as scent.

Stick to Routines

I typically take my dog out on longer walks twice a day, before breakfast and dinner. Then once again at night before bedtime on weekdays where I’m at work all day. On the weekends, she gets to go potty throughout the day as well. During the first week of training, I consistently took her out to the fake grass whenever it was time for her walks. I even put her collar and leash on to take her out onto the balcony.

Use a Command

Dogs listen for words. Using a specific command to encourage your desired action can make this retraining easier. My dog has always associated “do you want to go outside?” or “do you need to pee?” as indicators that I’m about to let her out to go potty. So whenever she went potty on walks, I constantly said “go pee.” That was the command I used to get her to associate potty with that fake grass.

Add Real Grass and Sticks

There are these wood chips and sticks on the lawn in front of my building that she always peed on. I grabbed a handful as well as some real grass to sprinkle over the fake patch. Gives it an au naturale feel.

Utilize a Pee Pad

Beneath the patch of fake grass I lined a sheet of pee pad. I took the pad out with me on a walk and made sure to catch some of Maddie’s pee on it and placed the pad under the fake grass so that she can smell her own scent there. It might help to use other dogs’ pee too.

Encircle the Patch of Fake Grass with Kibble

When dogs are looking for their spot to mark, they do a ton of sniffing and usually round in circles. (This is especially the case when they want to poop.) Placing kibble around the patch of fake grass and some on top makes your pup do that familiar encircling and gets them sniffing on the fake grass. Eventually she’ll sniff her own scent there just by looking for her kibble.

Praise Praise Praise!

This is an obvious one – Praise your pup like you’ve never done before! Even after the first time using the fake grass, your dog might not exactly catch on immediately. So keep praising whenever she does and have patience.

Have Patience!

It took Maddie until the 4th morning of using the steps above to finally go potty on the fake grass. Granted, she had been holding in her pee for nearly 12 hours from the previous night. I wouldn’t recommend forcing your dog to wait much longer than what she’s used to but I do think that helped push her to potty. That evening, Maddie refused to pee on the fake grass. She would sit there politely and confused at what I want, so I took her out for her normal walk. But that night before bedtime, she went again for the second time!


Maddie is now nearing 11 years old. We’ve long since switched from fake grass directly to pee pads, but still placed within the plastic tray. While she still prefers to go outdoors, Maddie will go through the doggy flap and go on the pee pad, all by command. She’s sat by the door once or twice and whined to me know she needed to go. I’m confident that if I had to be out all day and I left the balcony door open for her to pop through the doggy flap, she’d willingly go outside if needed.

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