The title says it all: if you are a dog owner and take your dog anywhere, carry poop bags with you ready and willing to not only pick up your dog's poop but to also throw it away in an appropriate trash bin. There is no two ways about it, this is your responsibility. We will not be tackling this topic lightly. Be ready to be called out if you are one of the offenders of leaving your dog's defecation litter everywhere for other people to deal with.
You Are Not Exempt
"But my back/knees/head/make-believe body part hurts!"
Join the club. You should see some of the body contortions I need to put myself into to pick up my dog's poop. Between my bad neck, back, hips and knees, it is quite the sight. Stick this leg straight out, slowly lower my torso, reach with all of my might to pick up the pile without falling into it face first...it's oodles of fun. Still, if my dog poops somewhere, it is my responsibility to pick it up and throw it away properly. No one else.
"I forgot my poop bags."
Firstly, shame on you. Secondly, find something else to retrieve your dog's smelly gift. Anything else. Have your purse or travel bag with you? Do you have tissues or paper towels? Use a whole bunch of them and walk back to where there is a poop bag station, place the bundle in the bag, tie it up and throw it away. Truly have nothing with you that you can use? Then go back to wherever there are poop bags (your car, your house even) and return to pick up your dog's poop and throw it away. Yes, I'm being 100% serious.
"They pooped in the tall grass, it's fine!"
Funny thing about tall grass...it is oftentimes cut or will die away in the fall or winter. When that happens, what do you think is left behind? Why your dog's stinky offerings for all the world to see! Gross!
"They pooped in the snow, it's fine!"
Unless you live in the artic, snow melts. Funny truth about poop...it doesn't. It magically stays perserved all winter long. I don't know about you, but I do NOT want the first signs of spring to be piles upon piles of vile multi-colored dog poop!
"I don't have time, I'm in a rush!"
Sorry, not sorry, that is not my problem. Also, how long could it possibly take you to pick up some damn dog poop?! How could you be that late already? Another few seconds to pick up your dog's poop and throwing it away is not going to matter any. Now, you may want to work on your time management skills separately, but in the meantime, go pick up your dog's poop.
"Someone else will do it."
... Are you for real right now? I shouldn't even legitimize this excuse with a response...get off your high horse, your majesty, and go pick YOUR dog's poop.
"No one else does it!"
Hence the problem we are facing as a society. If you say that, than why can't I? Why not my neighbor, their sister and their brother and their friend who has 5 dogs? With just with this one example, you have at minimum 10 dogs out there pooping all willy nilly and NO ONE is picking it up! Most dogs poop twice a day...that is 20 piles of smelly steaming shit for the world to deal with...A DAY! Can you say utterly disgusting?!
Walkways are littered with it. There are piles in every park. Every hiking trail. Every single rest area. Anywhere dogs are welcome (even sometimes where they are NOT welcome), there is an overflowing amount of dog poop.
It is so disgusting. Vile. And a health hazard.
When I was traveling back to California from Idaho with my 15-week old puppy, trying to find somewhere to allow him to potty was a lot more challenging than it should have been. A 15-hour drive and one of the most stressful parts was, "Am I going to get him sick by stopping to try to let him potty somewhere?!" The first rest area we went to had dog poop literally everywhere. I'm not exaggerating. Every single square inch of dirt or what used to be grass, was littered with dog poop piles. This rest area had no less than 6 trash cans and dog poop bag dispensers along with them...why had no one picked up after their dog? You had to walk over dog poop piles on the pavement to get to the human restroom.
The poop adventures continued after having him for a few weeks. We traveled to one of my favorite hiking trails that oftentimes will have overgrown grass on either side of the trail. California has a serious wildfire problem, so the officials had come in to cut down the grass. My beautiful and calming walk was now one of stress and disgust...there was dog poop piles everywhere. We recently had rain, so the piles had been re-hydrated, which meant the flies and gnats were out in full force reveling in their excrement delicacies.
The latest foray into just how piggish the dog community apparently is happened when my husband and I had to stay at a hotel as there was asbestos remediation being done on our rental home. The puppy had to come with us. This meant we had to find a dog-friendly hotel. We were fortunate to find one directly across from a beach park with a giant walking area. As in several acres worth. Yet without fail, there were dog poop piles up and down the public sidewalk in front of the hotel parking lot. I cannot adequately express to you just how fun it was to dodge poop piles at 1AM as I am trying to responsibly potty my puppy. YAY!
None of this should be happening. None of it should be acceptable. None of this is okay.
If you saw someone out with their toddler and the child dropped their pants, pooped on the sidewalk, pulled their pants back up and the group went on their merry way, leaving the steaming pile of child excrement behind, you would lose your mind. The same SHOULD apply to dogs.
It is biological waste. It can carry disease. It can attract bugs and pests. It stinks. It is gross! It must be properly thrown away!
So for the love of all people, pick up after your dog! ... AND throw it away in a proper trash bin!
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen tied up poop bags, with poop in them, on the ground in a park or hiking trail. ... What are you doing?! You went through the trouble of taking the poop bag out, getting the bag open, bending down, picking the poop up and tying the bag close. Are you somehow telling me walking over to a garbage bin to throw it away was a bridge too far?! How can that be?!
I have carried poop with me for over an hour. I have turned around in a hike to go back to the entrance to throw out a poop bag and then restart our hike all over again. The point being, once the poop bag is full, throw it out in an acceptable trash bin. Do NOT just leave it on the ground for other people to deal with!
World Will Become Less Dog-Friendly
Sadly, the world is not becoming more dog-friendly, it is becoming less dog-friendly. Less businesses will welcome a dog into them. Trying to rent an apartment or a house with a dog? Lots of luck with that!
There are many reasons for this and they are all based on a simple fact: the dog-owning community, as a whole, are selfish, self-centered pigs. If we want to walk our dogs somewhere, so what if there is a sign that says dogs are not allowed? I need to walk my dog! If my dog is barking at everything and everyone who walks by us, so what! It is their fault! If my dog poops out in public, so what?! I don't need to worry about it, the rules do not apply to me!
The above may seem harsh. It may make you mad. You may want to argue with me that it doesn't apply to you.
The facts tell a different story.
We, as a community, desperately need to do better.
Adhere to ALL of the rules. Sign says dogs are not welcomed? Go somewhere else. Leash laws? Have your dog on-leash. Going out in public? Invest in training to help your dog not harass other people and dogs, and at the same time help them feel more comfortable (it is not fun for a dog to be that stressed all the time). Your dog poops somewhere in public? Please go pick it up and throw it out.
If we all do our part, the world will become more dog-friendly again. But if we all turn our noses up and assume this doesn't apply to us, then things will only get worse and then I will have to continue to scold you...who wants that?!
Author: Dianna L. Santos, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA, CNWI
Dianna has been training dogs professionally since 2011. She has done everything from teaching group training classes and private lessons, to specializing in working with fearful, reactive and aggressive dogs, to being a trial official and competition organization staff member.
Following a serious neck and back injury, Dianna was forced to retire from in-person dog training. But she was not ready to give up her passion! So, she created Pet Dog U, Dog Sport University and Scent Work University to provide outstanding online dog training to as many dog handlers, owners and trainers possible…regardless of where they live! Dianna is incredibly grateful to the amazingly talented group of instructors who have joined PDU, DSU and SWU and she looks forward to the continued growth of PDU, DSU and SWU and increased learning opportunities all of these online dog training platforms can provide.
In June 2021, Dianna and her business partner, Sean McMurray launched Cyber Scent Work, Inc., an organization that operates in the gray space between training and trialing in Scent Work. With Cyber Scent Work, Inc., handlers have the opportunity to earn Qs, titles and ribbons while also receiving helpful training advice regardless of whether they qualify or not! Be sure to check out Cyber Scent Work, Inc., you will be happy you did!