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Dogs and Lawns - Bitches and brown marks!


The main problem with dogs on lawns is that of the brown patches caused by bitches urinating. Male dogs are not such a problem in this respect, for they do it differently..

The brown patches tend to be a circular patch with bright green grass growing around the perimeter as the bitches urine eventually breaks down to Nitrogen, which then feeds the area outside the actual damage. The brown patch is basically scorching - similar to that caused by applying too much fertilizer - especially in dry conditions.

Treatment by soaking the area with water - immediately after the bitch has done the deed! Soaking the brown patches after they have formed will be absolutely essential if you are going to over-seed the patches.

As with many things, prevention is better than cure. You - the owner - have the remedy. Keep your bitch off the lawn!

There are several applications available at most garden centres to keep your dogs away from certain areas. However, if you allow your dog to use the lawn as a toilet, then these applications are of no use. If a dog has to go, a dog has to go!

Fouling of Lawns by Dogs

English springer spanielThe answer to this problem should be self-evident. However, we get several emails asking what can be done about this problem.

Bitches are the main culprit as far as brown spots of dying or dead grass are concerned. Not because their urine is markedly different from that of a male dog, but very simply, bitch dogs 'squat' to urinate. Therefore a larger concentration of Nitrogen is deposited in a smaller place than that of a male dog doing the same job. Some male dogs are happt to squat pee on their home ground, and the results are exactly the same regardless of sex if your male dog is a 'squatter'. Normally, males (dogs!) are vertical 'pee-ers' and prefer trees or lamposts, or anything else that stands still and upright in the garden.

The chemical make-up is near enough the same. It is simply the concentration of Nitrogen - in the dog's urine - deposited by the squatting bitch which is the problem. Larger dogs - rather than certain breed - release more urine and hence Nitrogen.

The only way to 'cure' after the event, is to soak the spotted area with water.

The only method of prevention that we can vouch for - and you the owner will need to become involved - is to provide a 'litter' spot - any mulching or loose material will do the job, and can be 'hidden' from view in the shrubbery or whatever. Then YOU have to train your dog to use that area. Easiest done on a lead every time the dog wants out to the garden. She will soon get the message if that is where you lead her.

  • Either arrange for your dog to be regularly exercised and or trained.
  • Clean up the mess as you would/should if taking the dog to public places.

Compaction of Lawns by Dogs

Another problem as a result of keeping dogs, is the severe compaction that can be caused - ultimately leading to the destruction of the lawn in many cases. The compaction and generally wearing of the turf, is when the lawn is used as an exercise area by the dog - or dogs. This is especially the case if you simply let your dog out onto the lawn in wet conditions - rather than taking it for a walk.

If you are going to use the lawn for this purpose, then you will need to have a maintenance regime for your lawn somewhat similar to that of a well used football pitch. Certainly coarser hard wearing grasses will  have to be used, and a more intense schedule of maintenance,  including spiking etc will be needed, if you wish to have what is normally classed as a garden lawn!

If you have read all this with an un-biased attitude, you will be aware that it is your dog ownership that needs to be adjusted - rather than blaming the dog. (I await the angry mails!)



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