Dog poop disposal methods include flushing, trashing, and composting the waste.
Most places have dog poop disposal laws and penalties for improper disposal. But, these laws vary depending on where you are.
Proper disposal is important, as humans and even other dogs can pick up parasites and diseases from dog poop.
So, every owner should learn how to dispose of dog poop properly.
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Dog Poop Disposal Quick Links
- A history of dog poop disposal
- Why pick up dog poop?
- Diseases in dog poop
- Laws and regulations
- Dog poop pick up methods
- Dog poop disposal methods
- Composting dog poop
- Dog poop pick up services
It’s the least pleasant part of walking our dogs, but something that every owner has to deal with.
A History of Dog Poop Disposal
It’s estimated that there were over 89 million pet dogs living in the USA in 2017.
With every dog pooping two or three times a day, that is a whole lot of dog poop. And it has to go somewhere!
When I was a kid, in the 1960s, dog poop on sidewalks and pavements was a common sight.
Traffic volumes were lower. Dogs were allowed to roam freely around towns and villages. They were everywhere!
And they pooped wherever they felt like it.
Why Didn’t People Pick it Up?
Pretty much no-one would have dreamt of picking up a piece of dog poop in 1960.
Touching dog poop was considered disgusting. Anyone doing so would have been widely regarded as mad or depraved.
So, many family outings were punctuated by angry parents scraping dog mess from their childrens’ shoes.
Over the next two decades, the slow trend towards taking responsibility for what comes out of our dog’s behinds began.
It started with a campaign to encourage people to step off the sidewalk and ensure that their dogs pooped in the street, not on the pavement where people tread.
But, that campaign was not very successful.
And nowadays the advice has moved on. We are all asked to pick up after our dogs and take their poop to a convenient waste disposal point.
The problem isn’t completely solved. But with fewer dogs allowed to roam the streets, and many people now picking up after their dogs, most older folk would agree that modern sidewalks are cleaner than those of their youth.
Making Things Easier
Collecting poop isn’t a great job though is it? There was huge resistance from dog owners when they were first asked to do this.
No-one enjoys it. And a great many devices have been invented to try to make the job easier.
We are often unsure of where to put that poop bag once it contains its aromatic parcel. Some locations offer dog poop bins. But they tend to be few and far between.
Sometimes we may be tempted to drop it in the nearest trash can.
Living at the entrance to a popular dog walking area, my own trash bin is often used this way by passing strangers.
Why Pick Up Dog Poop
Most of us can see the sense in picking up dog poop on pavements. After all, no-one likes to tread in it.
But what about large open spaces? Surely this is a natural substance and will just ‘rot down’ without causing anyone a problem. Won’t it?
Well it seems that dog poop is a much bigger problem than many of us might think. And not just in our streets.
Unfortunately, there are several diseases and parasites that can be found in dog poop. Leaving dog poop in fields or on paths poses a risk to other people, and to other dogs.
Diseases in Dog Poop
Dogs are known to be associated with up to sixty diseases that can be passed on to human beings.
And apparently we are not making a very good job of reducing the risk of infection.
A study published in 2009 suggests that dogs are the largest contributors of enterococci on the beach.
Enterococci are bacteria that cause a range of diseases from minor urinary infections to major illnesses like meningitis.
Dog poop is a major source of waterborne pathogens such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. So allowing dogs to poop in or near streams, or rivers (often popular dog walking areas) is a really bad plan.
Dog feces also carry parasites such as intestinal worms that can infect people.
Who is at Risk?
All people can be at risk of picking up diseases or parasites from dog poop. But, children are especially vulnerable because they play in the dirt and have poor hand hygiene.
Of course, it isn’t just humans that are at risk from dog poop. Other dogs are too. And the chances of your dog picking up parasites or other nasty infections from the dog park are significant.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the park – we have to find a balance that takes into account a dog’s need for social interaction and exercise.
Dog Poop Disposal Laws and Regulations
Laws on disposing of dog poop have become increasingly strict over the last few decades.
In the UK, the dog fouling act of 1996 was created, which made it a criminal offence to fail to pick up after your dog.
But the campaign to clean up the city sidewalks, and make poop illegal began long before then. New York City is credited with being the first city to implement a poop scoop Law in 1978.
The regulations are part of health code article 161.
Laws Weren’t Always Followed
Long before 1978 there was already a law against leaving offensive animal matter in public places. But it wasn’t specifically aimed at dog owners, and was largely ignored.
There was substantial opposition to the new pooper scooper laws and great resistance among dog owners.
But gradually other big cities soon followed NYC’s lead and pooper scooper laws are now in force in many modern towns and cities around the world.
Variation Between Regions
Current dog poop disposal laws vary from region to region, but in most areas they are quite strict and breach of the rules carries a financial penalty.
Fines in the USA vary but can be in the region of hundreds of dollars.
Failure to pay an ‘on-the-spot’ fine in the UK can lead to court prosecution and a much heavier fine of £1000 – that’s about $1300.
Enforcing Dog Poop Disposal Laws
Making laws is one thing. Enforcing them is another. And local authorities have always found it challenging to catch those invading the poop scoop regulations.
Video surveillance can help, and in some locations, authorities are even using DNA to track down the culprits!
Enforcement is expensive though, as well as challenging.
Perhaps the greatest weapon we now have in the war against poop is a change in public attitudes. Those who don’t pick up are now often shamed into doing so by other dog owners.
After all, we all stand to benefit from cleaner beaches, parks and waterways
Dog Poop Pick Up Methods
Before you dispose of your dog’s poop, you need to get it into that dog waste bag. And many people have looked at ways to make this a less repugnant task.
In the US patent office you can find dozens of fascinating inventions for collecting and disposing of dog poop.
A few of them have been successful and are now available to dog owners. But they do tend to be quite bulky and not the sort of thing you are likely to want to carry around with you on a walk.
When you are out in public with your dog, the simplest approach really, is to grit your teeth, put your hand inside the poop bag, pick up the offending object and turn the bag inside out.
You shouldn’t ever have to touch dog waste with your bare hand.
Double bagging might make you feel a bit happier about putting the parcel in your pocket for the journey home!
Hands Free Poop Bags
Urban Pets make a popular one that you can order from Amazon*
Once that poop is safely in the bag, we need to think about how to dispose of dog poop.
Dog Poop Disposal Methods
You wouldn’t be the first to wonder what to do with dog poop.
The three main methods of dog poop disposal are:
But many of us feel a bit uncomfortable with the first two options. Why is that?
Flushing and Trashing Dog Poop
In the USA government departments often recommend flushing pet waste down the toilet. Or placing it in a plastic bag and putting in the garbage.
So these are reasonable options. Especially if you don’t have room in your yard for a composter.
If you intend to flush your dog’s poop, make sure that there is no debris (leaves, sticks, stones) stuck to them!
Your sanitary system won’t be able to cope.
And never put standard poop bags down the toilet. Unless you really enjoy your plumber’s company.
Flushable Poop Bags
It is now possible to buy flushable poop bags*. They are called Flush Puppies.
Flush Puppies can be flushed down the toilet or placed in a composter.
Dog Poop Disposal in Public Places
When you are out and about with your dog you have a couple of options.
You can either dispose of your dog’s poop in a trash can, or take it home with you and flush it down your toilet when you get back.
You’ll need to get it into a bag first! (See Dog poop pick up above) We have a review of dog poop bags here: The Best Dog Poop Bags.
Dog waste bags can be quite strongly scented and some people prefer to use baby diaper sacks*
Getting Rid of the Bag
Once it’s in the bag, you need to get rid of the bag itself
Designated dog waste trash cans can be found in some areas, but are often few and far between.
So, many people resort to throwing their poop bag in someone else’s trash (more of that below). Or resign themselves to taking it home
Dog Poop Disposal at Home
It’s a good idea to collect up your dog’s poop from your yard or garden on a daily basis. Even if you have a really large yard.
Regular collection helps to reduce the risk of visiting dogs or children picking up infections, and also helps to reduce the risk of your dog becoming a poop eater!
A much more common problem than most folks realise
Poop scooping devices are useful for picking up poop at home. At the bare minimum you need a receptacle and something to push the poop with.
You can use gardening tools such as a shovel (in one hand) and a hoe or something similar with a long handle (in the other) but a commercial pooper scooper can be really helpful
Jaw clamp scoopers like this one* are ideal.
Composting Dog Poop
Turning dog poop into compost has great appeal. You can build your own composter or buy a commercially made one. The principle is the same.
You need a large waterproof container with sturdy sides, a lid, and plenty of holes in the bottom (or no bottom at all).
Dig a big hole, bigger than the container, and place some stones in the bottom of the hole to help drainage.
Put the container into the hole, fill in the gaps, and put your dog poop in there when you have picked it up. Add some water and digester enzymes from time to time.
Buying a Composter
One of the most popular commercial dog poop composters is the Doggie Dooley Large Pyramid Dog Toilet
The name can be a bit misleading – you don’t teach your dog to poop in the Doggie Dooley*, but you do collect up the poops and tip them in there
Dog Poop and Wormeries
Some people like to put dog poop in a wormery. If you do this, don’t include dog poop from dogs that have been wormed recently.
Dog Poop Pick Up Services
All of the options we’ve looked at so far involve you picking up your dog’s poop. But, are you wondering how to dispose of dog poop without having to pick it up? A dog poop service might be for you!
This is a relatively new thing, so it isn’t available everywhere. But, new businesses are cropping up that offer a dog poop pick up and disposal service.
This ranges from cleaning all dog poop from your garden, to providing dog poop bins, and even cleaning whole estates and parks.
Many offer subscription services, and will visit as often as you need them. This is a great option if you hate picking up your dog’s poop, or live in an area where no one seems to clean after their dog.
It also means you won’t have to worry about the best disposal method. They do all of this for you.
Research online for dog poop pick up services in your local area if this interests you.
Dog Poop Disposal Summary
Attitudes to dog poop disposal have changed dramatically in the last few decades. This is a good thing because dogs are more than ever part of our families and our communities.
And we need to make sure that association is beneficial to all concerned.
That means minimizing any health risks that may arise from bringing dogs into our lives.
Picking up poop isn’t fun, but it is an important and necessary job. Scented poop bags and poop bag holders can help make it a more pleasant task. At home you can get some handy gadgets to make your yard depooping easier, and keep your surroundings smelling sweet.
Why not let other readers know which tools and methods you have found helpful?
Before we go – back to that debate I mentioned earlier. Should you ever throw your dog’s poop bag in someone else’s trash can? What do you think?
Affiliate link disclosure: Links in this article marked with an * are affiliate links, and we may receive a small commission if you purchase these products. However, we selected them for inclusion independently, and all of the views expressed in this article are our own.
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References and Resources
- Curtis, V. & Biram, A. ‘Dirt, Disgust, and Disease is Hygiene in our Genes’, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine (2001)
- Mateus, T. ‘Multiple Zoonotic Parasites Identified in Dog Feces Collected in Ponte de Lima, Portugal — A Potential Threat to Human Health’, International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health (2014)
- Pereira, A. (et al.) ‘Prevalence of Parasites in Soil and Dog Feces According to Diagnostic Tests’, Veterinary Parasitology (2010)
- Wang (et al.) ‘Prevalence of Giardia and Cryptosporidium Species in Dog Park Attending Dogs Compared to Non-Dog Park Attending Dogs in One Region of Colorado’, Veterinary Parasitology (2012)
- Shukla, R. (et al.) ‘Cryptosporidium spp. and Other Zoonotic Enteric Parasites in a Sample of Domestic Dogs and Cats in the Niagara Region of Ontario’, Canadian Veterinary Journal (2006)
- Batchelor, D. (et al.) ‘Detection of Endoparasites with Zoonotic Potential in Dogs with Gastrointestinal Disease in the UK’, Transboundary and Emerging Diseases (2008)
- Katagiri, S. Oliviera-Sequeira, T. ‘Prevalence of Dog Intestinal Parasites and Risk Perception of Zoonotic Infection by Dog Owners in São Paulo State, Brazil’, Zoonoses and Public Health (2008)
- Rinaldi, (et al.) Canine Faecal Contamination and Parasitic Risk in the City of Naples’, BMC Veterinary Research (2006)
- Papini, (et al.) ‘Occurrence and Cyst Burden of Giardia Duodenalis in Dog Faecal Deposits from Urban Green Areas’, Preventative Veterinary Medicine (2009)
- Rubel & Wisnivesky ‘Magnitude and Distribution of Canine Fecal Contamination and Helminth Eggs in Two Areas of Different Urban Structure, Greater Buenos Aires, Argentina’, Veterinary Parasitology (2005)
- Tudor, P. ‘Soil Contamination with Canine Intestinal Parasites Eggs in the Parks and Shelter Dogs from Bucharest Area’, Agriculture and Agricultural Science Procedia (2015)
- Wright, M. (et al) ‘Microbial Load from Animal Feces at a Recreational Beach’, Marine Pollution Bulletin (2009)
- Conboy, G. ‘Canine angiostrongylosis: The French Heartworm: An Emerging Threat in North America’, Veterinary Parasitology (2011)
- Himsworth, (et al.) ‘Multiple Zoonotic Pathogens Identified in Canine Feces Collected from a Remote Canadian Indigenous Community’, American Journal of Tropical Medicine And Hygiene
- Schets, (et al.) ‘Monitoring of Waterborne Pathogens in Surface Waters in Amsterdam’, Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2008)
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
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