Best Practices for Pet Relief Areas

Making it easy for pet parents to find a comfortable place for dogs to relieve themselves helps avoid accidents and pet waste in unexpected places at your business. Here’s how to set up a successful pet relief area.

Pet relief area that includes grass, waste bag dispenser, garbage can

Basic Amenities and Resources

Be sure your relief area includes:

  • Pet-friendly turf, grass or another surface that’s gentle on paws in all types of weather.
  • Adequate separation from vehicular traffic areas, at minimum allowing a few feet between the relief area and a parking lot or street.
  • Effective drainage and a spray or sprinkler system that ensures the pet relief area is properly cleaned and helps to minimizes odors.
  • Adequate lighting for safe use by people and pets.
  • Easy access to the relief area and its amenities, including for pet parents using assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers or canes.
  • A waste bag dispenser with a trash receptacle attached or nearby.
  • Friendly signage that encourages responsible practices like keeping dogs on leash and cleaning up after them.
  • Clear rules that remind pet owners of their responsibilities.
  • Sanitizing or hand-washing options for pet parent hygiene.

In addition:

  • Make sure any plants in the area are pet-safe or non-poisonous plants.
  • For indoor relief areas, ensure adequate ventilation to maximize air flow and minimize odors.

Next-Level Offerings

If you have the space and budget, these features will make your relief area even more welcoming:

  • A pet-friendly water fountain with a refillable water bottle option for humans and a ground-based pet water fountain supports healthy hydration for all.
  • A pheromone-based prop, such as a scented doggy fire hydrant, can encourage dogs to complete their business in the area.
  • An awning or shade that protects users from heat and inclement weather makes it an even better experience.
  • Consider additional signage that can be seen from a distance to make your relief area easy to find – for example a sign mounted high enough to be seen from down the street.
  • If you have a larger space, include a play area as well, for example with agility equipment and a bench for waiting pet parents.
  • If your relief area is off-leash, make sure it is fully fenced in and includes double-containment gates so pet parents can enter safely before removing their dog’s leash.

Procedures and Training

To keep your relief area in welcoming condition for pets and pet parents:

  • Ensure standard operating procedures and a regular schedule for area maintenance, such as spraying down the surface, removing trash and refilling waste bags.
  • Display a resource number or QR code for questions or issues.
Rooftop pet relief area with rules sign, hydration station, pet waste bags, garbage can and hand sanitizer.

Don’t Go It Alone!

If your business is in an area with several other pet-friendly businesses, talk about working together to create a larger, shared pet relief space. You can share expenses for setup, maintenance and signage, making it more cost-effective for everyone.

Many neighborhoods and retail districts have a vested interest in making pets welcome. See how you can partner to make sure it’s a positive experience for pets, pet parents and non-pet owners alike.

Want more tips? Check out the Pets Welcome Toolkit for info about how to launch a pet-friendly business initiative that can benefit businesses, pet parents and pets.

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