Dog Bathroom Solution for Flying!

Update 2016: Video below!

Original Post from 2012.

“What about … bathroom breaks?” This is the #1 question we get from those unfamiliar with traveling with a small dog. It is a logical query since unlike a road trip you can’t exactly land a plane or stop a train while on route so that your dog can relieve him/herself.  For most, canine diapers are not a solution either. So what do you do? For us it meant adopting an indoor potty solution that was also portable.   For this we chose the Pup Head from Pup Gear.

Why the “Turf” system?

We chose a synthetic grass or “turf” system over pee pads for many reasons including the following:

  1. Environmentally friendlier: Will last for 5 years!  Unlike pee pads that you toss after a few uses and adds to landfills.
  2. It ends up costing less than all those pee pads in the long term.
  3. Feels like grass under paws – so dogs will also instinctively “go” on grass when outside.
  4. Less likely to confuse “turf” with carpet or bathroom mats (warning: careful with shag rugs!).
  5. Came in the small size we needed (20”x20”),
  6. The “turf” has enzymes in it to keep it from getting stinky and is antimicrobial.
  7. Came pre “scented” so dogs are right away drawn to do their business on it making training easy.
  8. The base is plastic so easy to clean and light weight.


There are other models besides the Pup Head out there. Some will show you a system with gravel but that can be difficult to clean if your dog has an upset stomach.  Some models suggest putting scent absorbing cat litter between the pad and the bottom tray.  We did not want to deal with cat litter.  We do recommend you look around; see what works best for you. Just think it through so you will not be disappointed.  Read all the independent reviews before settling on a product.  For the Pup Head specifically, all the scientific data is available to you if you want it.  This includes the “no lead” testing data not available with other brands.  In addition the bottom tray is easy to maintain unlike many of the wood casings of other brands that absorb scent and humidity.  Those may be prettier but they are not as hygienic.

Dog Bathroom Solution for Flying!

Dog Bathroom Solution for Flying!

Using the Pup Head with a Pee Pad rather than the hard tray at the airport!

We have no regrets at all with the Pup Head and our decision to go with an indoor potty training approach.  For starters I was house trained in about 3 days with very few “accidents” in my first year (about 5).

When we travel my bipeds leave the hard plastic base at home and use environmentally friendly pee pads to put under the turf to collect any liquids. This makes it totally transportable! Rolled up with the peed pad around it – inside a plastic bag – it looks like a small yoga mat. It fits in the pouch of my travel pop-up-den or a carry on bag thus storing easily in the overhead bin of any aircraft.  Pup Gear has come out with a new product the Roll-Up Pup Head! We look forward to updating you with a new post when we try it out!

The Pup Head has proven to be the best solution for me to “go” when there simply isn’t enough time to make it to a pet relief area at an airport.  These relief areas (if they exist at all) are almost always outside the security zones and thus require having to go through the security check to re-enter in order to make a connecting flight.  In addition I can also use the bathroom on the plane itself.  The bipeds simply take me in my carrier to the toilet, close the door, put the Pup Head on the ground and give me a few moments.  On a 7 hour Trans -Atlantic flight – this is vital for everyone’s peace of mind.

Note: It is a good idea to make sure you have an aisle seat for easy access to the bathroom without disturbing your neighbor with moving not just yourself, but the carrier and the rolled up Pup Head.

We also sail and the Pup Head was in fact designed by and for sailors.  “Head” on a ship is the old term for where humans would go to relieve themselves! Hence the name Pup Head.   If we are on the sail boat for a full day, a weekend or more … where do you suppose I am to “go”? You can’t dock just anywhere and winds are unpredictable so timing isn’t always easy to gage.  This is especially true for large sail boats that cross the Atlantic for example with no land in sight for 3 or more weeks.

The great thing is that any dog – even one not use to the Pup Head can be trained to use it.  Lucky for me, my bipeds had thought about this before I even came into their lives; so they were ready and I was trained to use this “turf” indoor potty solution immediately.

What about Cleaning?

This is a common question regarding the product yet it really is very simple.

  • For a quick fix – spray an enzyme product (we like Natures Miracle) to reduce urine smells
  • For poops – just grab a Kleenex, pick-up/scoop and flush down the toilet
  • Give a cold water rinse in the shower/tub once a week
  • Clean the plastic base with warm soapy water and pat dry once a week
  • Soak the “turf” with an enzyme product once a month for a more deep clean
  • Hang to dry – never ever use a heat source to “blow dry”
  • If smell is still present after a full wash use a product normally used on dive gear (we like “sink the stink”) for a good soaking

The turf use to loose its “blades of grass” in time, especially if you had made the mistake of using very hot water to rinse or a heat source to dry the “turf.”  Washing was therefore a gentle process.  They have seriously improved the product in the last year and that does not seem to be an issue any longer.  Cleaning is very easy, not labor intensive and frankly convenient.   We do recommend having two “turf” mats allowing you to put the dry one down for use while you clean and let air dry the other.  In addition, you can dedicate one to “travel” and leave the other more frequently used one behind at home.  As a canine with a busy schedule and full social calendar, I have one always at the ready.  I take it to go to rehearsal (theater), a friend’s house (if no backyard or apartment), a play dates.

Dog Bathroom Solution for Flying!

Front of the box!! This way you have ALL the info!

There are many benefits to an indoor potty that go beyond travel:

  • Many live on the upper floors of apartment buildings and have perhaps a balcony but no garden.
  • Like me, many live in extreme weather conditions including winter temperatures that drop to -30 Celsius – no toy dog should have to brave that just to go pee.
  • Senior or ill dogs with little mobility now have a solution
  • My bipeds (on very rare occasion) can work a 10+ hour day and the nannies are not always available without advance notice so I am flying solo for the entire time.  That is a LONG time for a dog to have to hold it in at any age.  This gives everyone peace of mind and eliminates the need to rush home. This does not replace a walk and we do not encourage people to leave their pet unattended for so long.  But we also know that sometimes “life” happens.
  • It is not healthy for toy dogs to hold “it” for 6 or more hours – just ask your vet.
  • Being able to go potty when the urge occurs encourages dogs to drink more water and be better hydrated reducing long term kidney and bladder ailments.

Now … what my bipeds are really looking for is a 6” fire hydrant making the green grass and red hydrant a sort of …“sculpture” in our space … you laugh but the green grass is a nice splash of color over the long winter months!

And a dog bathroom solution for flying? Check! You are welcome!

18 Comments on “Dog Bathroom Solution for Flying!

  1. I worked for a turf company, and many of our customers were doggie daycares, who would install the turf in the play area (indoor and outdoor); they found it easier to clean and maintain than real grass.

    We live on the 14th floor of an apartment building, and while we prefer to take our dog outside for his business, if ever he’s ill, or when he becomes a senior dog, this is something we might consider using. It’s a difficult idea to get used to, a dog doing his business inside, but then, cats do it all the time in their indoor litters, so why not?

    • Have been doing it for the 17 months I have lived with my bipeds – with never a problem. Less smelly than cat litter a thousand times over. Dog urine does not stink the same way. The bipeds know I poop in the a.m. after my meal so that is a quick pick up and … then again after dinner. Again … quick and easy. No smell. I do prefer to go out – but when the snow is higher than I am … that is tough!

  2. Wonderful in formation!! I was going to ask you what Monte did during long flights!! I wonder if my 2 die hard outsidepee/poo pups would use one? How expensive are they? Thanks for the info. Always informative!!

    • You can sometimes find them on sale …. anywhere from $40. I bought my two extra ones from GW Little – when they were on sale. I know of many dogs that go outside and adopted the Pup Head easily. I go outside when i am on my walks etc. unlike pee pad training – using the Pup Head does not seem to be an issue for learning both indoor and outdoor potty training. So far i have never heard of that happening.

  3. That is such a brilliant product I so will invest in a load of them . Having a “herd” of hooligans as I do puppy pad is synonymous of confetti , any sort of shredable material is reason for a party so I settled for mats just plain ones and a heavy load washing machine every night. Also the mop and bucket seem to be the extention of my arm. But I totally like this idea!
    The traveling fur people are more civilized they go for the paper train which again your product would be a very good option!
    Thank you so much I shall look into it definitely !!

  4. I laughed at the “less likely to confuse turf with bathroom mat”, Pepi used to confuse the bathroom mat with his pee pad all the time! Not anymore but I am really interested in this. I had looked at these turfs before but wasn’t sure how well they worked. I was wondering about the smell since the urine is collected in the base. Also, if poop is a little “soft”, how easy is it to pick up from the turf? So if you clean it only once a week, that means there is one week’s worth of urine in the base? Or is there something (like a pad) that you remove more frequently? Very interested in knowing more about it. We presently use the pee pads, but this would be nice to have and like you said, cheaper in the long run(and more environmentally friendly). Pepi does not “hold it in” too long! He can do 2-3 trips during the night.
    thanks for the info Monte!

    • I recommend you look at the video (the link at Pup Head above). The base can be washed as frequently as you like. You could also put a pee pad under if you wanted. Pup Gear does sell a sort of scent absorbing sand you can use – OR even better the washable pad. The grass is amazingly easy to clean. I have had an upset stomach more than once and a quick rinse under the shower … gone. No problem.

      • Thanks! I will definitely look into this. It’s so much prettier than a urine soiled pee pad sitting around! :-)

  5. I am the happy owner of two of those. I bought them through Amazon.com. I am very happy that i have them. Also I roll a piece of newspaper and live it on top of the”grass” so Firulete can lift his leg. I am so happy with that buy!

  6. Great post Monte! I thought my dog would never take to peeing on fake grass but when we were dog sitting for a neighbor last week, within minutes of being inside the house, my pup had found the indoor grass pad and was going to the bathroom on it! She had never even seen one before and has a great aversion to going potty indoors but she knew what to do. Looking back more carefully now, I think it was actually a pup head, the kind you have–great product!

    • Aemelia! Thank you so much for sharing that with everyone – it just proves how instinctive the system is. I know of senior dogs, ill dogs and puppies that have all converted with great ease. This product really is a gem.

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  10. Thanks for sharing such great post about dogs. The social adaptations of pets and humans are same enough that pets can live perfectly happy lives surrounded by humans and vice versa. Cats are pampered with the best of treat and medical care, frequently sleeping in their owners’ comfortable sofa.Do you have any other articles about dogs?

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