The most common complaint from dog owners is brown urine spots on the lawn; however, there are also other problems including chewing, digging, running paths, and possibly wild or stray dogs.

Dogs like to mark their territory and in doing so, urinate on the base of trees. This acid eats through the bark and cambium zone to the wood zone, destroying the tree’s defense system. Be aware of this problem and train your dog accordingly.

Dogs are domesticated predators and this should be remembered when selecting a pet or approaching a stray. Some breeds are natural hunters and if left to their wiles, can have a potential impact on local wildlife populations. Free-ranging pets can cause other problems like transferring diseases or being injured in fights.

Cleaning up dog droppings isn’t pleasant, but at least it is possible. Urine poses another problem altogether. Its volume and high concentration of nitrogen cause the grass to burn and die. This is particularly evident with female who squat to urinate, concentrating their urine in a small area. Although the urine of males is equally caustic, they distribute it over a wider area. It is not practical to follow the dog with a hose and dilute the urine.

Repellents seem promising; however, they may actually encourage more urination as the dog tries to overmark the unfamiliar smell.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Brown spots in the lawn surrounded by a green ring are an indication that have been using your lawn for a bathroom. Since their urine is high in nitrogen, it burns the grass in areas where concentrated and fertilizes it where it is diluted to the correct concentration, therefore, the green ring. This is not true with fungi or other diseases.

Integrated Pest Management Strategies

1. Control agencies. Control agencies can best handle problem dogs. This approach might help settle a problem of someone else’s pet or a wild animal that uses your yard as a bathroom or digs up your flowerbeds.

2. Repellents. These are not cure-alls. Hot and bitter-tasting products are more likely to be effective than odor repellents, which could encourage overmarking.

3. Planting time. Select acid-resistant grasses. Though not immune to the problem, tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass are less likely to be burned than bluegrass and Bermudagrass.

4. Sprinkler. A motion-activated sprinkler, primarily designed to keep cats and rabbits out of gardens, may have benefits for some small yards.

5. Responsibility. Responsible pet ownership is the best solution including spaying and neutering and confining. The pet will also be protected from death by vehicles; diseases transmitted by wildlife and other pets; death by wildlife predators; injury from fights with other dogs; and various animal control practices used by unhappy neighbors.

6. Training. Training the dog to urinate on command in a selected location may be a tedious training progress but once accomplished, the results are rewarding.

7. Fences. If allowed by ordinances, a fence can be built to protect a portion of your yard from casual animal use.