OK, I'd heard this so many times that I believed it: Female dog urine kills the grass and male dog urine does not. I actually thought about this today and realized this is absolutely ridiculous. So I decided to do some research and see whether this is true or not. Someone has to stand up for the lady dogs.
All I knew before looking into this further is I grew up with female dogs, and they turned our grass yellow wherever they went to the bathroom. I don't know about Ace, who is a male, because I live in an apartment and walk him in areas where 20 other dogs go to the bathroom. Yeah, that grass takes a beating.
So, I know dog urine can turn grass yellow, but is it really only the female dogs at fault?
Do male dogs kill the grass or just females?
I came across the research of Dr. Steve Thompson, DVM, of Purdue University. Thompson said it is the high amounts of nitrogen in a dog's urine that cause the grass to turn yellow. Because of dogs' high-protein diets, their bodies naturally use a lot of nitrogen to digest their food. So much nitrogen on the lawn in one spot is what kills the grass, he said.
I'd often heard that a female dog's pH level is different than a male's, and that is what kills the grass. Not true. The nitrogen levels have nothing to do with a dog's pH level, Thompson said.
According to Thompson, female dogs often kill more grass than the males because male dogs usually urinate a little in many areas. Females tend to squat in one place (unless you are a male mutt named Ace who squats like a girl). All of that nitrogen in a small area is what kills the grass. The males, on the other hand, are more likely to kill off bushes because they will continually “mark” certain spots again and again over several weeks.
One way to stop a dog from killing off your grass is to train her to go to the bathroom in one small area of your yard, maybe a corner in the backyard. A lot of dogs choose to go to the bathroom in one area on their own, but it might not be an area you want them to use. Others will just go anywhere and everywhere.
You can train a dog to go in one area by using a similar concept to housetraining a dog. Walk her on a leash to that designated area every time she goes outside. Then reward her when she goes to the bathroom in the right area. This will take a lot of time and consistency for a few weeks, but the dog will eventually get into the habit of going in that corner.
I have also heard of people actually pouring water over the patches of grass right after their dogs pee. This probably works, but seems a little crazy and obsessive to me. I don't know about you, but I am not going to follow my dog around with a bucket and pour water over the grass after he pees. If I actually had a yard of my own, I think I could deal with a few yellow spots.
What about you? Has dog urine destroyed your lawn?