Tips for Cleaning Dog Poop Out of Your Yard

Whether you have one dog or three and whether they are five pounds or a hundred, cleaning up their leftovers is not a fun prospect. It needs to be done, though, to protect your yard, your dogs, your children and yourself from the mess and disease that can go with it.

Besides, it looks and smells bad.

Dog Poop Cleaning Ideas

There are a lot of options for cleaning up dog poop. You can use the traditional doggie bags and throw them away – or get the flushable kind and go that way. Various types of poop scoopers and composters are out there, as are specialty items and even ways to train your dog to go in a specific spot every time so you don’t have to wander the yard looking for leftovers.

Many people care for the poop problem by taking their dog on a walk at least twice daily, training their dog to go then. This method is good for those who prefer doggie bags and getting out with their dogs. Of course, not cleaning up after your dog on a walk can get you in trouble.

Children are a good source of dog poop cleaning up labor. If you do the job regularly, though, it’s not really a lot of work – like anything else, keeping up with the job is the key to keeping it easy to do.

Dog Poop Cleaning Service

There are services that you can hire to come clean up – usually paying by the hour or by the dog, if it’s a regular (daily, weekly) service. Kids in your neighborhood might be willing to do this for a few dollars and many lawn care services include dog pooper scooping as part of the hourly or yard rate.

If you’re busy, physically unable to do the cleaning yourself, or just tired of doing it and willing to pay someone; a paid service can be the way to go.

Types of Pooper Scoopers and Rakes

There are several tools for doing the poop cleanup job. Dog Poop Rakes that scoop up the litter and allow you to shovel it into a container, trash bag, or whatever are out there. There are contraptions that have jaws that open and close like an excavator to grab the poop so you can throw it out. This jaw poop scoop works well in the grass. There are also shovel-like scoops and litter pans for catching the poop as you scoop it. Most of these tools are all designed to minimize the amount of bending you’ll have to do in order to clean up after your dog.

There are also some high-tech ways to dispose of that poop too. Garbage is one thing, but what about a built-in septic system especially for dogs, like the Doggie Dooley Septic Tank Style System? These work in the same way a home septic system works, giving you a central location in the yard to “flush” the poop into an underground chamber that uses enzymes or natural processes to break the poop down (compost it) and let it run out into the soil around the system.

Homemade versions of the same thing can be made fairly easily out of a 5-gallon bucket, some enzymes made for campers or porta-potties, and a hole in the ground filled with gravel. The bucket is in the center of the gravel pit and the dog poop is put inside. The enzymes do their work and when the bucket begins to fill (or it rains), the water washes everything away into the gravel to end up, eventually, in the soil around the whole setup.

Dog Poop Cleaning Tips

When cleaning up after your dog, whether it’s on a walk or out in the yard, be sure to bend at the knees and keep your back straight. Avoid over-stretching or putting too much repeated strain on your back while getting the job done.

If you encourage your dog to go in a specific spot or area of the yard, this can make cleanup a lot faster as it eliminates the hunting to find every last doggie dropping left behind.

Preventing Dogs From Pooping in Your Yard

If the dog doing the pooping is not your own, one approach may be to try to prevent people from allowing their dogs in your yard. You can purchase something like the No Poop Sign that might encourage neighbors to move a little further down the path.

Common Questions and Answers About Cleaning Dog Poop Out of Your Yard

by Erin Marissa Russell

Are there any biodegradable dog poop bags?

Yes, there are biodegradable dog poop bags available that are more eco-friendly than plastic bags that do not break down over time. Bags that are oxo-biodegradable will break down into smaller pieces, but it is not yet proven whether these smaller pieces will break down completely over time. Bags that are completely biodegradable tend to be made from maize flour and vegetable oil. Paper bags are also biodegradable and can be used for dog poop. Some pet owners suggest using other biodegradable materials—paper that would otherwise be thrown away, such as junk mail and tissue paper, or other materials, like leaves.

What’s the best dog poop bag?

We discovered the outstanding Mutt Mitt dog poop bags when we were on a trip to California. They are the best we have found, period. Made in USA. Easy to use. Double thick plastic on the bottom, so you’ll never accidentally get poop on your hands. You’ll never find another poop bag as well thought out as this one. The Mutt Mitt is the best. (Think you know of one better? Leave a comment and share it with us.)

Can I add dog poop to compost?

Most of the time, it is best not to add dog poop to compost. In fact, you’ll often see pet waste on lists of materials that aren’t suitable for composting just because there are so many conditions that must be met for it to be safe. In order to kill any pathogens present in the dog poop, the compost needs to reach high temperatures. If you want to compost your dog’s poop, however, you can purchase special composters designed to break down pet waste. Even with that equipment, though, you should only use compost containing pet waste on flowers and ornamental plants—never on vegetable plants, fruit trees, herbs, or any other plant that produces an edible crop. For details on safely composting dog poop, refer to this pamphlet from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Can you bury dog poop?

No, you shouldn’t bury dog poop. Burying dog poop creates pollution that can impact the soil and water. Burying dog poop can also expose humans to contagious pathogens the poop can contain, such as Ancylostoma, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Giardia, Salmonella, and Toxocara canis. If buried near bodies of water, dog poop can encourage the proliferation of algae that can suffocate fish. Instead of burying dog poop, pet owners should pick it up with a glove or biodegradable bag and discard it in the trash or flush it down the toilet.

Can you get sick from touching dog poop?

Yes, you can get sick from touching dog poop. Dog poop can contain pathogens contagious to humans, including Ancylostoma, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Giardia, Salmonella, and Toxocara canis.

Can you put dog poop down the sewer?

It is safe to put down the sewer or flush it down the toilet, unless your city has an ordinance prohibiting this behavior. However, you should not put dog poop into a toilet or sewer that is connected to a septic-tank system unless you have verified that it is safe with the installer and manufacturer.

Can you put dog poop in a compost bin?

It is often recommended not to use pet waste in compost, but under certain conditions, dog poop is compostable—as long as the compost will not be used on plants that produce anything that humans will eat (like fruits, vegetables, and herbs). Compost that includes pet waste must reach very high temperatures in order to kill any pathogens that are contagious to humans. You can purchase composters meant specifically for pet waste if you wish. If you want to find out more about how to safely compost dog poop, you can read this pamphlet from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Does dog poop go away?

While time and the weather will eventually cause dog poop to break down and decompose, there are a multitude of reasons not to leave dog poop laying around until it undergoes this process. Dog poop contains pathogens that are contagious to humans, such as Ancylostoma, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Giardia, Salmonella, and Toxocara canis. Pet waste can also spread parasites, like hookworms, ringworms, and tapeworms. These pathogens and parasites do not decompose or wash away like the waste material itself will over time. Dog poop is also toxic to lawns and other plant life due to the meat in a dog’s diet, which makes their waste highly acidic. Plants that come into contact with dog poop will become discolored or burned.

Does dog poop have methane?

Dog poop does produce methane. According to the L.A. Times, “The city of Chicago’s 68 million pounds of annual dog poop creates 102 million cubic feet of unburned methane.” Methane is an odorless gas that is produced as the microbes present in the dog poop consume and digest the poop as it decomposes.

Does dog poop kill grass?

While a single piece of dog poop won’t kill your grass, the accumulated nitrogen from concentrated amounts of dog poop in one place certainly will. When a lawn dies due to nitrogen buildup from lots of dog poop or urine, it’s commonly called “urine burn.” Applying too much fertilizer to your lawn or plants in your garden has the same burning effect, which intensifies when the weather is dry and plants are already stressed. Once your grass has burned, it will need to be reseeded or have sod replaced as well as having the soil replaced in that area.

To prevent dog poop from killing your grass, there are a few strategies you can use. Picking up pet waste right after it occurs instead of leaving it on your lawn to break down and kill grass also helps. Don’t add fertilizer to your lawn in areas that are already getting lots of nitrogen from pet waste. You can choose a type of grass for your lawn that’s resistant to damage from dog poop. You can also reduce the damage to your grass by limiting the area where the pet poops to one spot. Dilute the nitrogen in pet waste with water both by spraying areas where your dog has pooped (or the entire lawn) with water or by mixing your dog’s dry food with water before the dog eats. Picking pet waste up immediately and watering the lawn right after your dog has pooped can prevent urine burn, instead allowing the nitrogen to have a fertilizing effect.

Does vinegar dissolve dog poop?

Although vinegar does not dissolve dog poop completely, it can be used to help clean up dog poop. Vinegar is antiseptic, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and kills mold as well as reducing stains and odors associated with pet waste. Always perform a spot test to make sure the mild acidity inherent in vinegar won’t damage the surface you are about to clean. You can make a mixture that is half water and half white vinegar to treat an area with after cleaning up the dog poop to make sure the pH is neutralized and the poop does not leave a stain. Particularly persistent stains can be treated with a stronger mixture of 16 ounces of water, three ounces of white vinegar, and two or three drops of dish soap poured directly onto the stained area. Let this mixture soak into the carpet, then cover with a folded towel and blot to clean.

How dangerous is dog poop?

It is dangerous to leave dog poop laying around your lawn or any other area because, although the poop itself will break down and decompose with time, the pathogens it contains can stick around for much longer. Some of the pathogens dog poop can contain that are contagious to humans include Ancylostoma, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Giardia, Salmonella, and Toxocara canis. Dog poop can also spread parasites, such as hookworms, ringworms, and tapeworms.

How do you dispose of dog poop?

Dog poop should be picked up either with gloves or using a biodegradable bag, then it should be thrown away in the trash or flushed down the toilet. Before flushing dog poop down the toilet, confirm that your area does not have any ordinances prohibiting doing so.

How long do biodegradable dog poop bags take to decompose?

Biodegradable poop bags made of plastic can take between three and six months to decompose, as compared to plastic bags that are not biodegradable, which take several hundred years to break down completely. Be aware that oxo-biodegradable bags may never totally decompose and instead simply break down into very small pieces.

Is dog poop good for composting?

You’ll often see dog poop mentioned in lists of items that should not be composted. That’s because in order to compost pet waste safely, you must meet several conditions. Even when these conditions are met, dog poop should not be used in gardening when you’re growing plants that will produce anything edible (like fruit, vegetables, or herbs). To kill the pathogens dog poop can contain that are capable of infecting humans, compost must reach high temperatures. Get the details on safely composting dog poop in this pamphlet from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Is dog poop good for plants?

It’s easy to see why gardeners may assume that dog poop is good for plants, since cow manure and other animal manure is sometimes used as fertilizer. However, dog poop is not good for plants and can actually harm or kill them. That’s because the high protein content of a dog’s diet makes their poop highly acidic and heavy in nitrogen. If plants are exposed to a lot of dog poop, they can be burned and eventually die just as they would if they were overfertilized with a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer.

Is it bad to leave dog poop in the yard?

Picking up dog poop in the yard is important, not just for the health of your yard, but for the health of everyone who uses the yard. As dog poop decomposes, it releases excess nitrogen into the soil and onto the plants around it. When plants become overloaded with too much nitrogen, they’re unable to take in the water they need and suffer from “urine burn.” It’s the same thing that happens to plants when they get too much fertilizer. Leaving dog poop in the yard also exposes humans to the pathogens pet waste can contain, such as Ancylostoma, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Giardia, Salmonella, and Toxocara canis, as well as parasites like hookworms, ringworms, and tapeworms.

Is not picking up dog poop bad for the environment?

It can take up to a year for dog poop to decompose naturally if it’s not cleaned up, and in the meantime, it has harmful effects on the environment. Dog poop that’s left out in your yard comes along with pathogens like Ancylostoma, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Giardia, Salmonella, and Toxocara canis as well as hookworms, ringworms, and tapeworms. Dog poop that isn’t cleaned up is also harmful to watersheds and is ultimately responsible for 20 to 30 percent of the bacteria samples from watersheds contains. The effects of dog poop on the environment don’t end there; dog poop is to blame for 10 to 50 percent of airborne bacteria as well.

What diseases can you catch from dog poop?

Dog poop is a carrier for lots of diseases and parasites that are contagious to humans. The parasites in dog poop can include hookworms, ringworms, and tapeworms. Dog poop also contains the pathogens Ancylostoma, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Giardia, Salmonella, Toxocara canis, and Yersiniosis.

What happens to dog poop in grass?

When it’s left in grass, dog poop can take up to a year to break down completely. While it decomposes, pet waste releases lots of nitrogen into the surrounding grass and soil, which can result in “urine burn” and eventually death of nearby plants. The poop is also a carrier for parasites like hookworms, ringworms, and tapeworms, as well as diseases that can affect humans, such as Ancylostoma, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Giardia, Salmonella, Toxocara canis, and Yersiniosis.

What is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of dog poop?

Pet owners looking to dispose of their dog’s poop in an environmentally friendly way have three choices: throw it away using biodegradable bags, compost it, or flush it. If you choose to throw away your dog poop, be sure the bag you use to collect it is biodegradable. Avoid bags that are oxo-biodegradable, as these are not guaranteed to break down completely but instead simply break down into smaller bits. Paper bags are, of course, a biodegradable option as well as the biodegradable plastic bags on the market. If you choose to flush your dog’s poop, first contact your local water treatment facility or otherwise check to be sure this is allowed in your area. Some water treatment locations are not prepared to deal with handling pet waste. Finally, although you’ll often see pet waste on lists of materials that should not be composted, composting is an option—but only when compost won’t be used on plants that produce anything edible (like fruit, vegetables, or herbs). Compost including dog poop must reach high temperatures in order to kill the pathogens dog poop can contain. You can learn all about how to safely compost dog poop in this pamphlet from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Why do most composting resources discourage composting of pet waste?

You’ll often see pet waste on lists of materials that should not be included in compost because there are lots of special conditions that must be met for dog poop to be composted safely. For one thing, even with the safest possible process, compost that contains dog poop should never be used on plants that produce anything humans will eat (like vegetable plants, herbs, or fruit trees). Compost that includes pet waste must also reach high temperatures in order to kill the pathogens present in dog poop. You can read all about the conditions required to compost dog poop and learn how to compost it yourself in this pamphlet from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Want to learn more about cleaning dog poop?

Resources:
Diseases from Dogs from the CDC.
Dog Waste Composting: A PDF on composting dog waste from the USDA.

ABC News covers Don’t Waste Your Dog’s Poo, Compost It

Sierra Club covers What Do I Do With Dog Doo?

Rhode Island Stormwater Solutions covers Do You Scoop The Poop?

Canadian Public Health Association covers Human Diseases Transmitted By Dog Poop

David Suzuki Foundation covers Disposing of Dog Poop The Green Way

Doody Calls covers Waste Not, Want Not

GSPCA covers Dog Feces

Havahart covers How to Keep Stray Dogs Off Your Lawn

Huffpost covers Why Do We Still Pick Up Dog Poop With Plastic Bags

Los Angeles Times covers Just How Bad is Your Dog for the Environment?

Live Science covers The Poop Problem

National Resources Conservation Service covers Composting Dog Waste

One Green Planet covers Environmentally Friendly Way to Dispose of Dog Poop

Paws Pet Care covers Dog Poop is Bad For You

Pet MD covers How to Clean Up Dog Poop

Poop 911 covers Dog Waste Facts

Practica covers 4 Reasons Picking Up After Your Dog is More Important Than You Think

Psychology Today covers Dog Poop and the Environment

Science Focus covers How Long do Biodegradable Bags Take to Decompose

Tex Vet Pets covers The Importance of Scooping Poop

The Conversation covers Don’t Waste Your Dog’s Poo, Compost It

Vet Street covers Prevent Pet Waste from Killing Your Lawn

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