How to Fix Dog Spots
Dogs love springy green lawns almost as much as humans do. Unfortunately, they can also become a destructive force on the health and appearance of lawns if they attempt to "mark their territory" through urination.
Dog spots are brownish deadened areas of the lawn caused by dog urine. The dead spots are primarily caused by the excess nitrogen concentrated in the urine, which ends up "burning" the grass, causing it to fade and die.
The easiest and most obvious way to prevent dog spots is to not have a dog or live in an area with a low dog population. However, if this isn't an option, there are plenty of other ways to go around fixing dog spots on your lawn.
Repairing Dog-Damaged Areas
Once you've verified that the dead spots on your lawn were caused by dog urine, you will need to dilute the excess nitrogen out of the grass and soil with water. Pour around 10 gallons of water over the affected area to flush it out. Make sure that the runoff flows away from the entire lawn so that the nitrogen has been flushed out entirely from the lawn area.
Then, cut the grass down as short as you can without completely exposing the soil. Rake about 1-2 inches of the topsoil and reseed or plant new sod. Water the area frequently to make sure it's constantly moisturized and able to flush out any remnants of the dog urine.
How to Prevent Dog Spots
Short of getting rid of the dog, there are various ways to prevent your lawn from becoming damaged by dog urine.
Try limiting where dogs can "go" and train them to go to these areas only. It'll keep it from affecting the entire lawn by concentrating it in a single area.
There are also some grass varieties that don't "burn" as easily from dog urine. Plants like fescue and perennial ryegrass have been shown to be more resistant to burning than others.
Some studies have suggested diluting the dog's urine to decrease the amount of nitrogen, but the results showed that the dogs ended up needing to "go" more often, ultimately causing more damage. Also, female dog urine has been shown to be more potent, so there is always the possibility of switching dogs to males.
Naturally, the only fool-proof way to avoid getting dog spots on your lawn is to keep it off limits to dogs at all times. Have your dog urinate in the backyard or take him elsewhere around the neighborhood or to a park (while being mindful that these are public areas). If other dogs frequently traffic your lawn, put up an electronic or wooden fence to keep them away.
Dogs can make a great addition to your home, but they can also be destructive in maintaining a healthy lawn. While dog spots are not irreversible, they can damage the appearance of your lawn and create more work in your landscaping duties. By training and monitoring where your dog urinates, you can make it easier to upkeep your lawn and perhaps better train your dog in its behavior.