What Do You Do AFTER You Scoop the Poop?

Note: This post was updated July 2014.

I understand loving your dog so much you want to have a keepsake when they’re gone. But does it really have to be their poop?

If you don’t want dog poop as a keepsake, what is the most convenient, affordable, and environmentally responsible way to deal with it?

Golden Retriever on a walk

Look, Mom, I made it myself!

Dog Poop 101

Okay, let’s go back a step to make sure we’re all in the same place.

Everyone has a poop management system so they’re not leaving their dog’s waste on the sidewalks or trails on a walk and a way to clean up your backyard if you have one. Right?

Because if you don’t, I don’t want to be your friend anymore.

No, that’s not true. I’ll still be your friend. But friends don’t let friends be a poop punk. And I will nag, beg, even click and treat to make you scoop and dispose of your dog’s poop responsibly.

If you don’t know why you should scoop, check out Sugar the Golden Retriever’s 5 Reasons Why You Should Scoop Your Dog’s Poop. She’s  more concise than I am.

But you’re a smart bunch. So let’s go onto the advanced material.

Get Rid of the Poop After You Scoop

I’m the eco-Nazi Fox News warns you about.

So besides getting rid of my car, buying nearly everything used, and questioning American food production, I’ve spent many years pondering dog poop. Specifically, what is the best way to get rid of it without damaging the environment?

I know several ways to get rid of dog poop and they all have pros and cons.

Revenge Poop Disposal

My aunt became so frustrated with a neighbor who let his dog poop on her lawn that she picked it up in a plastic bag and smeared it all over the neighbor’s door knob. I hear that setting dog poop on fire is another popular revenge technique but I have no family members (that I know of) with firsthand knowledge.

Pros – You only need to do this once to eliminate dog poop from your neighbor’s dog.

Cons – It doesn’t help you get rid of your own dog’s poop. At least not if you don’t want to end up in jail.

Picking Up Poop in Reused Plastic Bags

This method is where most of us start—reusing plastic grocery bags. Just pick up poop and transport it to the nearest garbage can.

Pros – It’s the easiest way to pick up and get rid of dog poop. In some places, plastic bags are plentiful and you can often borrow one from someone else if you forget yours.

Cons – As I noted above, you’re preserving poop forever in layers of conventional plastic buried in a landfill. And some communities are banning plastic bags which will make them harder to find in the future. Finally, we only put out garbage once every month or two. You don’t want to know what two months of dog poop smells like in the summer.

Honey the Golden Retriever rolls in the grass.

I sure hope no one left anything behind in my favorite rolling spot. Because that will mean a B – A – T – H.

 Picking Up Poop in Biodegradable Bags

Many municipalities suggest biodegradable dog waste bags(affiliate) are the best way to get rid of dog poop while still not being perfect. It gets the poop (and its bacteria) off the ground and away from the water supply and will, hopefully, break down in a million years instead of the billion years it will take a conventional bag.

Pros – It’s as easy as using conventional bags. Perhaps easier, since some  pet supply companies are packaging them in convenient carrying cases. And if you pair your poop bags with biodegradable trash bags, you’re increasing the likelihood of it breaking down in the landfill. Someday.

Cons – You have to pay for them, unlike grocery bags (although you pay for them too in the cost of your groceries). And in terms of breaking down in a landfill, they probably don’t make a huge difference.

Honey the Golden Retriever poses on some tree roots.

I’d rather think of the woods as the place to chase squirrels not the place to chase poop.

Throwing Poop Into the Woods

When I was a child, my mother taught the dog to only poop in the woods. Clever, huh?

Some people with rural acreage will fling poop into the woods so they can enjoy their yard. But is that a good idea?

The Greenville County South Carolina Soil and Water Conservation District claims that the natural ecosystem can break down the waste of two canines per square mile. So if you and your rural neighbors all do the same thing, you may be overwhelming nature’s ability to break down the waste.

Oh, and if the nearest woods is across Central Park West in Manhattan, it might be a bit antisocial to fling poop across  lanes of moving traffic.

Pros – It sounds kinda fun to fling poop over the fence. And if you’re a hockey fan, you could even use the turd burglar to increase your scoring skills.

Cons – If you’re located near water, you may still be contributing to bacterial pollution in local drinking water. Nature is  unprepared to deal with the amount of waste your dog generates. And it doesn’t score you many points to tell your admirers you got those awesome guns from flinging heavy shovels full of poop over the fence.

Composting Dog Poop

Our local dog park composts dog waste at a commercial facility. The resulting compost comes back to the dog park to cover the ground around newly planted trees.

Our multi-stream recycling program allows us to recycle nearly everything. Food waste is picked up from local restaurants and the farmer’s market for composting. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before we can buy compostable dog waste bags and have them picked up curbside.

But in the meantime, some people choose to compost their dog poop at home. The folks at LowCarbonHome posted a video of how they created a home composting system.

You can also buy a kit such as the Doggie Dooley 3000 Septic-Tank-Style Pet-Waste Disposal System (affiliate link). I bought a Doggie Dooley when I lived in Philadelphia but was not able to use it since the instructions (not found on the outside of the box) said it had to be installed in a four-foot hole surrounded by well amended soil. I didn’t want to risk it in our small yard with clay soil so we returned the product.

Pros – Composting at a commercial facility is ideal. If your dogs poop mainly in your yard, a home composting system takes only a little more work than tossing poop in the trash while keeping the smell down.

Cons – If you don’t have commercial composting facilities in your community, it will probably take hundreds of thousands of dollars to build one. And even a home system isn’t ideal if you still have to bring poop home from a walk in plastic bags that then have to be thrown away anyway.

Honey the Golden Retriever poses in front of Ithaca Falls.

No one would find the Ithaca Falls nearly as beautiful if it was filled with bacteria from dog poop.

 Flushing Your Dog’s Poop

I knew this was the best method of getting rid of my dog’s poop for years before I actually did it.

I live in town and have city water and sewer. The city water system is set up to deal with bacteria in poop. They are accountable to the health department who publishes tests of local water quality.

But if your dog does most of her pooping on a walk, how do you get it home to your toilet? A plastic pail and shovel work when your dog has no trace of diarrhea. You just dump the poop and disinfect the bucket.

But carrying a leash, treats, a bucket, and a shovel is a bit much. If your dog ate a bit of rubbish, you have a big mess on your hands. And that’s before adding in a foster dog or two.

I’ve been happily using Flush Doggy waste bags for the past year and reviewed them in How to Make Dog Poop Green.

Flush Doggy bags are made from polyvinyl alcohol, the material used to make the kid’s toy, Slime. It breaks down in water, but not before you get your dog’s poop home from even a long walk.

I love them. They’re convenient, cheaper than paying for trash (Ithaca charges $3.50 to dispose of a bag of trash), and they work great with my toilet and septic system (I don’t even own a plunger, so that let’s you know how well they work for me).

Pros – As convenient as any plastic bags and cost-effective if you pay for trash removal. You can order samples to try before you buy (click the affiliate link in the sidebar to visit Flush Doggy).

Cons – Only recommended for use with city sewer systems, not private septic. Can cause plumbing problems if you have tree roots clogging your pipes (but if you do, get it fixed!) or if your toilet trap has an awkward shape.

Getting rid of dog poop with Flush Doggy flushable dog waste bags.

The ugliest collage you’ll ever see. Don’t expect to find this on my Facebook page.

The Best Way for YOU to Get Rid of Dog Poop

Who’d have thought something so soft, squishy, and smelly could cause so many problems?

I’ve outlined the most common options above along with the pros and cons as I see them. But you’ll make your choice based on convenience, cost, whether your dog is large or small, whether you live in a city or rural area, or dozens of other considerations.

But make a smart and careful decision about how to get rid of your dog’s poop.

Because when we reach our goal of becoming a no-kill nation where every dog has a home of his own, we could find ourselves drowning in dog poop.

Degradable and flushable dog poop prize giveaway.

Note: Some of the links are affiliate links which means I’ll earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking the link. I only recommend products I have or would be willing to use myself. Thank you for your support.

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Comments

  1. Vlad & Barkly's Dee says:

    BOL at the “Revenge Poop” idea of your aunt! It’s tempting. It’s VERY tempting. We have to take care of our own dogs’ poop. Why should we have to take care of it for the neighbor’s big, black Lab too–in an area where there’s a county-wide leash law? Oh yeah. A policeman owns that dog that runs loose.

  2. Put the poop bags in the trash. Happy with it???? It’s the only method available here.

  3. We have been buying bags for sometime (even before Seattle banned plastic bags, most stores we frequent stopped using them.) I have never seem those flushable bags before and am excited to try them out!

  4. We deal with a heck of a lot of poop in our yard. Dogs, chickens, duck, goose. It gets composted. This mama has a big bucket with a handle and a flat head shovel. It’s not the only thing to be composted. All the grass clippings when we mow, yard waste, kitchen scraps, egg shells (though the chickens eat half of the egg shells). Twice a week I dump the water from the duck pool into the compost, help break everything down. We have great dirt every spring.

  5. I use specialized poopy bags. I live in an apartment, and this system is the most convenient, and most plausible solution.

  6. Thanks so much for outlining the alternative for pet waste disposal. Unfortunately, the “best way” does not apply all over the country. I was happy you informed me that your commercial composing facility does process pet waste. Our local facility does not. Our local sewer treatment plant does not want people flushing pet waste down the toilet. The facility is almost at capacity handling just human waste and human-waste treatment plants are not set up to handle the bacteria level in pet waste. To complicate things, in our City (and several large coastal cities in the US) we have what are called combined sewer systems. In a nutshell, human (and pet waste if you flush it) flows through the same pipe as the rainwater. When it rains enough to fill up that pipe (which it does several times a year in Seattle), everything spills out of a drain and goes into the water – rainwater and untreated waste alike – so it could end up in the water anyway. Placing it in the trash is the best option here…although “biodegradable” bags do not break down in landfills because they need air and light to do so (both of which are purposely removed from landfills…which I have written about before).

  7. I couldn’t get the rafflecopter to work for me! Darn that Javascript!

    This is neither here nor there on which choice is best but just a related comment. In my neighborhood, the HOA provides nice, high quality poop bags throughout the subdivision. It does help to get some people to pick up the poop. But what gets me is this….someone picks up the poop, keeps walking and then in the next set of bushes or wooded section of the trail, they toss the now full bag to the ground. If you go to the bother of scooping the poop, why, oh, why turn around and litter with it?!

  8. LOL love the revenge poop! I currently use bio degradable bags when on walks, since our septic isn’t public.
    Nola’s Mom

  9. Great post! Isn’t it crazy how much goes into proper dog waste disposal? The most important and eco-conscious thing we as dog owners is just to PICK IT UP!

    On a related note–check out our post about what happens when you do just leave it.
    http://poopbuddy.com/blogs/news/8428259-who-knew-we-swim-in-poo

    Sharing your post! :)

    -Carina and The PoopBuddies

  10. We have a Doggy Dooley composter dug into a hole in our backyard. Works fine except in winter where the “doggy deposits” just sit there until it warms up again. And we live in the Northwest where winters are not that severe.
    When we are out walking I use biodegradable bags. I feel like I am in the minority at times, as our favorite parks are full of left behind dog droppings. Grrrrrrrrrr……

  11. I’ve been wanting to try the flushable bags! We got some biodegradable bags, but they’re lavender scented — flowery poop is actually worse than just plain poop. :p

  12. Our two do most of their business in the backyard, and I pick it up at least once a day, sometimes twice.
    I am guilty of reusing shopping bags, bread bags, etc. to pick it up… but it doesn’t go to the landfill. We have a trash-to-energy plant here and that’s where all the regular/non-recyclable trash goes. So I like to pretend that my dogs’ poo is helping to power the city, lol. Still, using the bags that I use causes more plastic to be incinerated at the trash-to-energy plant, which is probably not good, even if they do filter the emissions. So maybe I should switch to bags made of natural materials… might be at least a LITTLE better.
    We don’t have a commercial composting facility here… I wish.

  13. We live in the country with a septic system, and there are 4 big dogs at our house – so LOTS of poop! We put it all in the trash and the Humans here are not real happy with that option. But have not found a workable alternate solution. Still looking —

  14. Right now I am LMBO about that turd burglar…I used to use grocery bags back when I had big dogs…These days, with Gizmo and his grain free diet, the typical plastic grocery bag would hold a week’s worth of poo…I use biodegradeable bags and dispose of them in trash cans…kind of low tech i guess, but it’s the easiest solution for me…I would like to try the flushable bags…I’m curious about their strength

  15. I wish we had a composter. With my spouse, it will never happen, but it’s my dream! lol

  16. Sadie’s poop plugs up the toilet. I know this because she leaves us a midnight present in the bathroom occasionally and I learned long ago not to flush it. Plus our city water treatment system is overloaded and says no to flushing pet waste. With 215 lbs of dawg in the house, home composting is not an option (we would fill up a Dooley in a week or so). So we use a product called DooKashi in our poop can (the small trash can in our backyard devoted to pet waste). DooKashi starts the compost process, reduces bacteria and eliminates the odor. Once our poop can fills up, it goes to the curb with our trash. At least since we started using DooKashi, our trash guys don’t hate us as much. And I feel better that the waste is at least partially composted before going into the landfill. That should take it only like a hundred thousand years to decompose then, right?

  17. Judith Gouveia says:

    As someone with three dogs (two small and one medium in size) it is all about the poop! On our early morning walks, each dog will poop at least once and sometimes twice. in the evening, at least two dogs will poop on the walk. Figure out the math on that for plastic bags!
    I usually use the plastic shopping bags and have become the expert at double bagging and having friends save me their bags. Also will use the two daily newspaper bags if they did not get holes when the papers were delivered. My little happy moments are when I can manage to use one bag for all three dog poops in one walk. Only one dog will poop in the yard and that does get flushed.
    It always amazes me how much information I can get when picking up my dogs poop. It is like a mini medical report twice a day!

  18. I use plastic poop bags.

  19. Very informative post. I currently use disposable diaper bags from the dollar store (75ct for a dollar). I’ve been wanting to try biodegradable bags, but after reading your post, I would not really making as much of a difference as I thought. The flushable poop bags sound great.

  20. This is such an informative post! I’ve always used biodegradable poop bags because I’m afraid of flushing the quantity of poop we have… 3 big dogs x 3 poops/day each… I just have this mental image of all those flushable bags clogging up our pipes. Maybe that’s not a legitimate concern? I don’t know? As for your revenge idea, the guy across the street from us lets his dog run around anywhere he pleases, so the dog poops in our yard and on the median (we have no sidewalks) a couple times a day. I’d sorta like hubby to go collect it all and dump it in the bed of the guy’s pickup truck.

  21. We currently have a trash bin outside on our porch just for dog waste. If an accident occurs inside (we have a puppy still training) then it gets picked up with TP and flushed. We prefer, of course, when he goes outside and using grocery bags to pick it up OR doggie bags. The flushable bags sound great though! We would flush every time instead of using the trash bin.

  22. We tried to have a composter type thing, its supposed to break down the poop and turn it into fertilizer with a special solution, but sadly our ground is too hard and we just ended up with a big smelly pile BOL
    Great post and great idea.

  23. I use regular dog poopy bags. I like the idea of the flushable ones though.

  24. We have contemplated purchasing a doggie septic system at a local hardware store. One digs a hole, fits the cover over it, and purchases enzymes that break down the poop. This of course would only work for poop at home.

    This is kinda gross, but…my dogs are raw fed. Sometimes the day after a very bony meal, their poop can be very dry and crumbly/dusty. On one occasion while at a park, and I was a bad owner who forgot bags, Neeko had one of these poops. I used a stick and crumbled it into poop dust.

  25. Interesting for us is poop composing, been reading about it. Another on is the flush able bags. Lately, there are lots of ways disposing dog poops … we sure want to know the proper/safe BEST way to do it. Golden Thanks for sharing your thoughts n joining our hop. Lots of Golden Woof,s Sugar

  26. Oh, I love this post. Hilarious, and right on! GREAT job.

  27. We bag the poo and trash it, currently. I’ve been thinking about trying flushable bags, but haven’t decided whether or not I want to start paying for them when I can use old grocery bags for free.

  28. Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says:

    Just now in process of getting caught up with my blog reading, so please pardon my tardiness.
    First off, Fox News doesn’t warn ME about anything or anyone. Secondly, having lived in Greenville County, SC, for the past (nearly) 20 years, I can tell you that it is run by the same type of individuals as those who own/run Fox News. Need I say more? So, if you are an “eco-Nazi” so be it. It’s your prerogative and doesn’t bother me in the least. :-)
    As for scooping poop? With two Goldens and a Corgi/Lab mix, it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it…me. I’ve gotten to the point where it doesn’t bother me any more, unless one of the dogs has an upset tummy. In the summer, especially, I clean it up at least once a day — every time they poop if it’s raining. My neighbor, on the other hand, just runs over his dogs’ poop with the lawn mower (which means it just sits there all winter). So thankful we have a filtration system built into our fridge! Oh, and this is the same neighbor who now keeps his chickens in the same pen where he used to imprison his Bassett Hound that had to sleep, eat, and drink around its own poop because it only got cleaned up twice a year. I wouldn’t touch the eggs those chickens lay with a 10-foot pole never mind eat them!

  29. Thanks for pawticipating in the Scoop That Poop blog hop!

    Mom talked to the guys who run our local wastewater treatment plant about flushable poop bags, and they said they had the potential to cause problems at the treatment plant, so you may want to ask your local wastewater treatment plant if it’s okay to use them.

    Garth

  30. MysticsMama says:

    My housemate used to tie her Lab to a tree with a 10 foot chain that reached the back door, so she didn’t even need to set her precious feet outside. Every time I visited, I’d gag, go out and clean up Honey’s 10-12 inch-deep circle o’ $#it into 10-12 plastic shopping bags. Housemate said, “Leave it, it’s feeding the tree.” No, it’s attracting flies, it stinks and your scentsitive dog is miserable because of your sheer laziness. Now I live there, so poop from 4 dogs gets cleaned up daily-weekly from the 1/2 acre yard. No more chains. I use a neat little tool I bought a few years ago and haven’t seen since: it’s an extendable rake/claw, about 30″ long when extended, with 5 close-spaced tines at 90 degrees from the handle. Just set tips of ‘fingers’ next to far side of poop, rock handle away from self to flatten tines along ground and pull towards self. Poop on tines gets ride to tilted, ready 5-gal bucket that doesn’t hold water. When enough poop is collected, I deliver smelly surprise to latest pocket gopher hole. Gopher gags, makes new tunnels…and the cycle continues. Kind of meditative, actually.

  31. I think the revenge poop disposal is the best suggestion.