What to Do with Poo - The Art and Science of Dog Poop Disposal

Oh, joy! Time to discuss everyone's least favorite topic in excruciating detail... let's talk POO, people! If you're a longtime dog person, you might find it hard to imagine that anyone would need a tutorial about what to do with poop, but you'd be surprised. These days, there's a dazzling array of supplies aimed at helping people conveniently dispose of dog feces, so it can be difficult to figure out what to buy and how to use it - and where the heck to put that poop once you've picked it up!

Poo Pickup and Removal in the Yard

Things can get pretty icky in your yard if you have a dog and don't have a good pickup plan. I'm a fan of either picking the poop up immediately each time the dog goes or getting on a schedule of some kind. You might want to get in the habit of picking up every evening before you go to bed, or first thing in the morning. If your yard is big enough (or your dog is small enough!), you might be able to scoop less frequently and have one or two designated cleanup days each week.

If you like to delegate responsibilities (especially the icky ones!) around the house, you can make this a chore for a kid (or the roommate who loses the coin toss). You'll find that things stay cleaner if there's a plan in place for who's going to do it and when it will be done.

Now what about HOW to do it? Pooper-scoopers and poo pickup bags are both good options for use in the yard. The scoops are nice, since they just stay in the yard at all times and you don't have to worry about replenishing your supply regularly, like you do with bags. Some people find scoops a little gross, since poo remnants can remain on the scoops and they can get icky and attract flies, but this won't be a problem if you hose them down or dunk them in a bucket of disinfectant regularly. There are many different kinds of scoops, but I find most people do best with the simpler models that come with a scoop and spade for pickup on flat surfaces like concrete or tile, or with a scoop and rake for pickup on grass. A sturdy "grabber" scoop that allows for one-handed use can also be a good choice, but you might want to skip any of the fancy contraptions that are marketed for poop removal... they can be flimsy and ineffective, so shop carefully if you decide to go that route. Even the good one-handed scoops can be ineffective if your dog has diarrhea; it's hard to grab diarrhea, which is more easily scooped (or scraped) up with a spade and scoop style scooper.

There are different kinds of poop bags and bag dispensers available, and most seem to work reasonably well. My favorites are scented bags with handles that tie; they really help keep the odor down and will allow you to enjoy a pleasant scent while you're handling an unpleasant task! If you're picking up individual poops, just turn the bag inside out, place your hand inside and grab the poo. Fold the sides of the bag up around the poo, turning it right side out, and tie the bag tightly. If you've allowed a more extensive poo collection to build up in the yard, you can pick up several piles using only two bags. Hold one bag open in one hand, and put the other bag over the opposite hand. With the bagged hand, pick up piles and drop them into the open bag. Once the bag is nearly full (don't overfill - you'll be in for a nasty surprise!), put the bag you've been using to pick up in the open bag and tie up the whole package to toss.

If your puppy's poo is a little mushy, you might have some remnants stuck in the grass or on the concrete. A good spray with a hose is usually sufficient to take care of this problem. If odor is an issue, use a yard odor neutralizer made for grass and outdoor surfaces to eliminate the problem.

Speaking of stink, in between trash pickups, your garbage can get really stinky if you just drop the dog's poops directly into the can. If you're using a poop scoop, you may want to have a separate poo can lined with a garbage bag in the yard. When it's trash pickup time, seal the bag and toss it into the trash shortly before trash removal time. If you're using individual poop pickup bags, it should be safe to drop them right into the main can, since they're sealed pretty well.

If you hate the thought of poop in your trash cans and just want it to magically disappear, you might want to consider installing a doggie dooley, which is an easy-to-install septic system for dog waste. It's an odor-free, sanitary solution that works really well. It works like a home septic system by using environment-friendly enzymes and bacteria to turn dog waste into a ground-absorbed liquid. All you need to do is drop in the poo and add water and digester. Problem solved!

If you're trying to avoid poop in your garbage cans and a doggie dooley isn't an option, you can use the indoor poop disposal solution... the toilet! Use a poop pickup bag, but instead of tying and tossing, leave it open, take it inside, dump the contents into the toilet and flush, then throw the bag away. Do this one poop at a time only (not a whole yard's worth of poo!) and be sure not to flush the bag! Unless you really like having your plumber come over to visit...

Poo Pickup and Removal on a Walk

The number one rule here (or maybe we should call it the #2 rule!) is: Remember to bring something with you on each and every walk to pick up your dog's poo! Exercise will often get things moving, so there's a pretty good chance he'll poop on his walks, and you don't want to be that creepy dog owner who slinks away hoping nobody notices the big mess you left behind. If you feel awkward or embarrassed to be out wrestling with a fresh pile of poop in front of the neighbors, don't! They'll be happy to see a responsible dog owner, and they won't suspect you and your poor dog the next time they step in a pile left behind by somebody who didn't do the right thing!

When it's time to pick up after your puppy, be sure you keep a good hold on his leash so he can't take off while you're distracted with poop-wrangling. Obedience training is your friend here, since it's awfully nice to be able to tell your dog to sit or lie down while you're picking up.

As with yard cleanup, you can use a poop bag or a scoop, depending on your preference. Most people prefer bags, but scoops are a good option for owners who have physical limitations that make it difficult to bend over. One-handed scoops are easier to carry, but may not be as effective at picking up mushy poops or diarrhea if your dog's having a bad digestion day. Disposal is more difficult if you're taking a long walk and using a scoop, since carrying a scoop of poop through the neighborhood isn't the most pleasant way to take a stroll.

Bags are an easy solution; you can shove them in a pocket, waistband or bra (!), tie them to your puppy's leash, collar or harness, or attach a bag dispenser to the dog's leash, keeping both hands free to control the beastie. Be sure you always take more than one, since some dogs like to surprise you with an extra poop or two along the way. I recommend scented pickup bags with handles that tie, since they're a little more pleasant to carry when full.

Now for the tricky part... disposing of the package. I know it can be tempting to put it in the trash can of the nearest house, but stinking up someone else's garbage can isn't very neighborly. I don't recommend doing this (especially if your neighbor is a gun owner), but if you must, be sneaky and run away fast. Public trash cans or your own trash can are the place for your dog's poo, so get used to marching through your neighborhood carrying a hot pink bag of warm poop. It's just one of the many pleasures of being a dog owner.

"Oh my God. I forgot to bring a bag!"
Commando Poo Removal Maneuvers

It happens to the best of us. Your puppy poops one more time than you planned for, or you forgot Rule #2 and didn't grab a bag on the way out the door. But you should still make your best effort to pick up his poo. First, try looking around on the ground or in a nearby trash can for a bag or a piece of plastic or paper that will do the trick. In a pinch, a discarded paper cup can make a handy poop scoop, too; if your incident occurs near a coffee shop, you're in good shape. You might also try knocking on a neighbor's door to ask for a bag... they may think you're nuts, but they'll probably appreciate the effort you made to avoid leaving a big blob of poo on their lawn! If you can't find a neighbor and live in a litter-free town where you can't find a useful piece of trash, you can use a big, thick leaf to grab the poop or, at the very least, to push it to an area that people are less likely to step in it. If all else fails, at least kick it out of the way so an unsuspecting jogger doesn't get a surprise. Do this with firm poops only, of course... kicking diarrhea is NOT a good idea.

Poo Pickup and Removal for Indoor Potty Training

If you're doing indoor potty training, you probably have a small dog, so the poo pickups aren't quite as daunting a project as they are with the big boys. If you're doing paper or wee wee pad training, you might just want to roll up the paper or pad around the poop and throw the whole thing away. But sometimes if it's a firm poo and the paper is otherwise clean, it makes sense to pick it up and leave the paper down for your dog to continue to use. You can pick it up with a plastic bag, seal it and throw it in the trash, or pick it up with a hunk of toilet paper and flush it down the toilet.

If You Just Can't Bring Yourself to Do It...

Or if you have money to burn, you can hire a poop pickup service to come out and take care of this stuff for you. You'll likely be able to find one online or get a referral from your vet or the local pet store. Of course, this takes care of poop in the yard or your indoor potty area only, not on your walks. Unless you have a manservant who follows you along and carries your scoop. Hey, that's not a bad idea...

Purchase Supplies Related to This Article

Spade Poop Scoop

This poop scoop with a spade picks up on both grass and hard surfaces. Go with the large size if you have a big dog or multiple dogs!

Rake Poop Scoop

This poop scoop with a rake is a good choice for picking up on grass. Go with the large size if you have a big dog or multiple dogs!

One-Handed Scoop

This lightweight, sturdy one-handed scoop is ideal if you carry a scoop on your walks or if you have physical issues that make using a two-handed scoop difficult.

Poo Pickup Bags

These are my favorite poop bags... they're scented and have handles that tie, so they can contain even the most offensive, stinky deposits! If you've gotta carry poo, this is the way to do it!

Yard Odor Eliminator

This yard odor neutralizer eliminates outdoor pet odors. It attaches to your hose and can be used on all your outdoor surfaces, including grass and plants!

Doggie Dooley Waste Disposal System

A septic tank for your dog! Just scoop in the poop, add some digester product and your pup's poo will turn into a liquid that absorbs into the ground.

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