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Jack + CC’s Pee Pit

This post is a sort of last hurruh! from the entire archive of summer outdoor updates – from our decision to rebuild our front steps, which led to the replacement of our concrete pad, to planning our garden and the ultimate decision to nix a front path and go for the grass. After all that, Jack and CC now have a pee pit!

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From the first time we mentioned the outdoor pit, we received a handful of puzzled comments and emails: A what? In short, it’s simply a designated outdoor area for our pups to do their business. It saves the grass and our newly planted boxwoods, but most importantly? It’s so simple and upped the curb appeal one more notch. (And it will further keep the appeal going strong as our grass, hopefully, stays green!)

With every decision that was made along this summer’s journey, we kept the pee pit in mind. (Weird? Maybe.) At the start of the season, we knew this would be the year we’d have a privacy fence installed, so when fresh concrete was poured, we asked our contractor to keep about a foot-and-half-distance between the edge of the pad to the start of our soon-to-be fence. This would be the home of the future pit:

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All the supplies can be found at any big box hardware store, and while the materials and tools list is short, you’ll likely need a lot of it to fill the pit properly. We wanted our pit to run from the front fence to the front edge of our house, which was less than 30 square feet.

MATERIALS NEEDED:
Weed block cloth
Pond pebbles / larger rocks
Pea gravel / smaller rocks

TOOLS USED:
Measuring tape
Scissors
Shovel
Muscles!

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WHAT WE DID. Our fence and slightly raised concrete acted as the outside edges of our pit, so if you’re building from scratch, you could always dig out an area of your lawn and use edging to keep the stones in, or you could pick up 2x4s to create any shape you like and have a raised pit! In our case, we planned on a 4″ deep bed for Jack and CC’s outdoor potty. This would allow for a 2″ base layer and 2″ top layer, which had up picking up 9 bags each of pond pebbles and pea gravel. It turned out to be a little too much, so we were actually able to extend the pit a little further beyond the front of our house.

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After scooping out any remaining weeds and dead leaves, we used scissors to cut the block cloth to the width and length of our pit, which will prevent unwanted plants from pushing their way up. Starting with the pond pebbles, we poured them in, bag by bag. Any larger, rockier stone will do, as this acts as a drainage layer. While Scott poured, I used a shovel to smooth everything out.  Side note: There were a few small areas where the fence was slightly higher than the ground, so we stapled the cloth to the bottom of the fence to prevent spillage into the neighbor’s yard.

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Once our drainage level was filled out, we laid down another sheet of weed blocking cloth. This time, the cloth is used to prevent your top layer from seeping into the cracks of the base level. From there, we poured our bags of pea gravel on top, and I smoothed them with my hands. (Um, does anyone else find it ironic that we used pea gravel for our pee pit?) Just like any type of larger stone would work for the drainage layer, any smaller, fine stone would work for the top!

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And done! It took us all of an hour to complete the project (two and a half hours, if you count the trip to pick up supplies), and we’d say the hardest part is the heavy lifting; those bags of rocks are heavy.

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You can see below that the gravel stops a few feet beyond our house, and eventually, we’d like to put a little fence or guard that’ll separate the front of the home from the back. Alongside the length of the house, we’ll be laying more gravel – mostly for peace of mind, as the garden unit windows can see out. Decorative pebbles are nicer than dirt, right? That’s a project that we’ll likely tackle next summer, once we get going on the back yard! (We’re already excited and nervous just thinking about that mountain.)

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Of course the trickiest part is getting Jack and CC to actually use their designated area, and to do so, we’ve been clicker training them!

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The idea is to use positive reinforcement – we give a nice big hooray! and toss them a treat while sounding the ‘click!’ – to let them know that peeing along the fence is good! (So good!) CC has been our stubborn little lady since the day we brought her home, but Jack has been a clicking success, so to speak, for years. He’s already shown CC how to, uh, use the pit properly (Hooray, Jackie!), and we know it’s only a matter of time before our little Chunk catches on, too.

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As for maintaining the pit, rain will keep things odor free, however, a rinse with the hose every now and then helps. If they choose to forgo the ‘pee’ in ‘pit’ and opt for something else, it can be picked up and discarded as usual!

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We have a good handful of months ahead of us before cooler weather settles into Chicago (oh, please!), so here’s hoping that grass stays green, the clicker clicks and the pups get a big round of applause with every potty break.

Can any other pee-pit-users chime in with tips? Successes? A funny story or two?

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  • Valerie8.12.14 - 8:07 AM

    Your wonderful pups inspired my fiance and I to adopt a rescue this past week. Lola is a schnauzer mix (I think the other half is pittie based on her build/brindle color). She is 9-12 mos old and a little loveable ham dispite her tragic first few months. Do you have any tips to share on how you got your pups acclimated to you/your home? Is there anything specific you found worked well for you?

    Thanks for having such a wonderful blog- we are DIY-ers as well and this pup is our next big project!ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.12.14 - 10:12 AM

      Congrats on your newest addition! You have no idea how happy this made me. Is Lola your first pet? We’re big proponents of clicker training (which is really fairly simple to master), and we correct issues as we see them happening – not after we’ve stepped into a puddle and the dog has no idea why he/she might be in trouble (that’s just confusing). Our friends have a great dog blog that delves into a lot of useful information: Two Pitties in the City, and we also enjoy Love and a Leash (dig into her archives for tips and also heartwarming foster and adoption stories). So happy for you!ReplyCancel

      • Valerie8.13.14 - 7:54 AM

        No- but she is my first rescue that I didn’t get as an 8 week old puppy and my first dog that I am raising in a city (or a 2 bed condo for that matter!). Fortunately we have plenty of parks to take her to but she’s not quite ready for off-leash play at the dog run. We definitely have work to do on not jumping on furniture- so we will have to give clicker training a try!

        Thanks for everything you do :-)ReplyCancel

  • caroline [the diy nurse]8.12.14 - 8:43 AM

    You are my hero! This is brilliant. So pinning this for when we settle down :)ReplyCancel

  • Kelley8.12.14 - 9:11 AM

    Love this idea! Just curious though – does the weed blocker impede drainage?ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.12.14 - 10:08 AM

      Nope! The weed blocker is something that is used for a lot of landscaping, so it allows water to pass through, but it prevent weeds and unwanted grass/plants from popping up.ReplyCancel

  • This is a great idea!ReplyCancel

  • Liz8.12.14 - 10:47 AM

    I really like the pee pit idea, especially cause it will save your lawn and gives your pups a designated place to go even when it is cold (just a few stairs down from the front door is so convenient!)

    We dont have any dogs (one day!) but we have three kitties who have a “catio” off the side of our house that they access from a door in the basement. Because apparently my cats are lazy they quickly turned their catio floor into an impromptu pee pit (amongst other things) and we had a gross mess on our hands. We ended up putting down 12X12 concrete step stones in alternating colors or terracotta and gray to cover the bottom, preventing them from continuing to be lazy when their (very clean) litter boxes are mere feet from the basement entrance into the catio.

    Congrats on the yard- it looks amazing, and along with your gorgeous porch updates. Your house is really coming along! Thanks for sharing the journey with all of us!ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.12.14 - 11:34 AM

      First, I LOVE the idea of a “catio,” but that’s terrible about the impromptu kitty pee pit! There are little worse messes in the world than kitty pee. No bueno.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica@CapeofDreams8.12.14 - 11:29 AM

    Are either of your dogs kickers? Kahlua likes to kick up the grass with her back legs after she does her business and my former dog did that as well. I love this idea but am wondering if she would kick all of the gravel out of the pit.ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.12.14 - 3:52 PM

      Sometimes – not always! – Jack will kick. I suppose I’ve seen CC do it once or twice, too. We haven’t experienced yet on the pit, but I imagine it would absolutely kick up a mess! I guess it’s not so bad if that does happen though, as we can just sweep the pebbles back into the pit. If you have an all-the-time kicker, building a taller “fence” around the gravel could help!ReplyCancel

  • Kathy8.12.14 - 11:46 AM

    I’m kind of embarrassed to say I always knew what you meant with the peepit! lol I have three about the size of yours. I have two that use the gravel, but one always always goes on grass. It’s just her preference, I guess, no matter how many treats she gets in the gravel! Oh well. I might break out that clicker again, you are right, it’s kinda weird but it does seem to get their attention. I had a rescue about 6 months one time, couldn’t get him to do much of anything. A trainer said start with the clicker, his name, and treat. Turned out the poor fella didn’t even know his own name! Once he connected his name with himself, he was much more willing to listen. Yay clicker!ReplyCancel

  • Jackie8.12.14 - 12:01 PM

    I guess our entire yard is a pee pit for our Ridgeback, since we only have rock (no grass anyway) here in Az. My son’s pittie stayed with us for a while and really had to be coaxed off the patio and into the rock. (Of course he’s a little goofball anyway, and convinced that random things like muffin pans are out to get us, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.) I’m glad yours seem happier with the idea :)ReplyCancel

  • Julia at Home on 129 Acres8.12.14 - 3:40 PM

    We live in the country, so the whole world is a pee pit for our pooch. I had a bit of a freakout on the weekend because I thought he was taking himself for a walk while I was gardening, but nope. He was just wandering into the soybean field so that he could do his business. Such a conscientious fellow. His weird hang-up is that he likes to pee and poop up high. So if he was at your place, you can bet he’d be aiming for the fence itself, not your beautiful gravel.ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.12.14 - 3:43 PM

      Eh, it’s not so bad if it gets on the fence. Just not the grass! ;)

      I grew up in an area where we had a huge corn field behind our house. Our pup was free to do whatever he wished! In the city though? We find strange things to obsess over.ReplyCancel

  • Monika & Sam8.14.14 - 10:22 PM

    Brilliant! Now…care to come out to a Colorado and show Sam how that whole pee pit thing works? Gold star for you guys for getting the fur kids to do their thing where you want them to.ReplyCancel

  • Maggie8.21.14 - 10:49 PM

    I love your puppy posts. Your dogs are so darling! I can’t get enough CC; she is so precious! <3ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.21.14 - 11:34 PM

      Thank you! She stole our hearts from the first meeting. Love that girl SO MUCH.ReplyCancel

  • Jerica11.25.14 - 5:24 PM

    I know this is late but I just saw your post and I’m curious how well your dogs pee in their “pit”? My two are very picky when searching for the perfect spot to do their business. I’ve always dreamed about putting a dog run along the side of the house for them to do their business in but I didn’t want to waste the money without knowing first hand from someone how well it actually works. And by the way your pups are too cute!ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.25.14 - 7:30 PM

      Thanks, Jerica! Jack and CC appreciate the love.

      Jack has caught on completely. Pretty much since Day 1. CC is our stubborn girl, and she’s taking a little longer to catch on, but she’ll do anything for treats!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle2.9.16 - 1:35 PM

    This is such a great idea. I have been trying desperately to figure out what to do with our yard for the dogs. We do have a rock border in a couple of areas, but it’s not quite big enough.

    When I was growing up, the dogs had a special fenced area that my dad made. It was great for not stepping in any surprises, although I didn’t like that the dogs couldn’t play freely with us in the yard. Training them to use a certain spot is a great idea.ReplyCancel

  • Beth4.7.19 - 4:31 PM

    I’m not a fan of the weed cloth, so I’m curious how it’s held up over the years. Do you see it poking thru over the years? Do you need to top off the pebbles occasionally? The area I’m considering will be pretty active, it’s along the fence and my dogs run back and forth. I can’t grow grass so that’s why I was considering the pebbles.ReplyCancel

  • Kayla7.9.19 - 11:29 AM

    Hi! I’m just curious about the odor- if any?! Thanks!!!ReplyCancel

  • Marina8.4.19 - 8:09 AM

    We have a similar pee pit and much larger. After years of use, weed eventually comes through the weed blocker  and because you have to scoop the poop, lots of gravel got removed with the poop and it just looks ugly. However pouring cement over that area will cost a lot of money so we probably will re-do with brick/cement blocks or replenish with more gravel.  Another sidenote is I read that you can use pizza boxes  or other carton as weed blocker and it works great. ReplyCancel

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