Metro Pets

By Sharon Gomes Thomas

I’ve seen lots of home potty systems in the stores and online. They seem like a good idea – the pee pads and potty trays. But I had my doubts that it would work for my dog Darby. She’s an Irish Setter who is used to going outside, and is more than twice the size of the dogs seen in the ads for these products. But there are days when I have to leave her alone at home for a little longer than I would like, and I’m sure she doesn’t like it either.

One of these products is the Potty Patch (www.pottypatch.com), available online and in most pet stores, and is endorsed by the American Kennel Club. The manufacturer boasts that it’s easy to clean, great for when your pet can’t go outside, and is a great tool for puppy training.

So when we had a chance to give the Potty Patch a try, I thought “Why not?” I’d give us a week to see what happened. Here’s the diary:

Day 1
The box arrives in the mail. Darby sniffs at the box, interested. I’m hopeful she’ll take to it. I unpack the two trays, two grates and the artificial grass. The Potty Patch is made up of three main parts:
Tier 1: made of a soft artificial grass specifically designed to let liquid flow through
Tier 2: grate keeps the grass dry and above any liquid
Tier 3: collection tray holds up to a gallon of liquid allowing multiple uses

I set up the Potty Patch and test with a gallon of water, the volume it claims to hold in the tray. Because Darby is a bigger dog, I have to set up two trays side by side. The artificial grass does stay dry and the tray does hold that amount of liquid. Here’s the first problem I encounter – how do I get rid of the liquid?

I carefully carry the very large tray over to the bathroom and empty the water into my bathtub. Do I want to be doing this with dog pee? What if it spills? I decide I have to set up the trays in the bathroom. But emptying it in the tub? Perhaps the toilet would be better.

Day 3
I have spent two days trying to get Darby near the Potty Patch, never mind that she’s not even remotely interested in using it. First I tried to get her to sit on it – no luck. When I was training her years ago, I used a trigger word to encourage her to do her “business”. So I tried to get her to just stand on it and said the trigger word repeatedly. She just ran to her dogbed and started barking at me in bewilderment. This was much harder than I thought it would be. I take the grate off the tray. Maybe it hurts her paws through the grass. So I leave just the turf on top of the tray.

Day 4
Darby just refuses to go near the Potty Patch. I put the leash on her and try to lead her to it when I think it’s time for her to go. Still no luck, it’s absolutely not working. Now she just growls softly when I bring her close to the bathroom. She was house trained in a remarkably short time when she was a puppy. Why is she so stubborn this time?

Day 6
I decided to not force her, so that she doesn’t get hostile towards the Potty Patch. I was hoping that she will figure out on her own. Instead, I come home on Day 6 to find that she has dragged the artificial grass turf to the living room and it’s sitting in a crumpled pile under the dining table. When I look for her, she’s hiding from me.

Day 7
Maybe Darby is just an outdoor dog. Perhaps I really can’t teach my old dog new tricks. I’m sure potty systems will work on most dogs. Just not on mine. I pack the still unsoiled Potty Patch back into the box. I grab the leash, put on my sneakers and take Darby outside for the call on nature.

Originally published May 2010
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