I don’t know who the people are who don’t pick up their dog’s poop but I know they exist because of the abandoned dog poop piles I see everywhere.
I find abandoned dog poop piles more often in the City than I do in the woods… and a lot of times sitting in the middle of the sidewalk.
What do some people tell themselves to make leaving dog poop on the ground ok?
- Do they live in a vacuum so they don’t know leaving dog poop on the ground is rude and people can accidentally step in it?
- Do they not know pet waste contaminates stream and lake water and can make people sick?
- Do they know and just not care?
- What about the person who lets their dog poop in someone else’s yard and leaves it? What are they thinking?
Reasons People Don’t Pick Up Their Dog Poop
I haven’t seen the people that just walk away from their dog’s poop so that also means I haven’t talked with them.
However, I worked in the field of water quality protection for 10 years so I’ve done a lot of research and guessing about what the issue is.
I think these are the reasons people don’t pick up their dog poop:
- They think dog poop is natural. (It’s not, especially in the quantities that are generated by our pets, and harms the environment and threatens public health.)
- They think that picking up dog poop is gross
- They forgot a poop bag
- They don’t want to carry the poop bag with them on their walk, hike, or run
- It’s not a law to pick up their dog’s poop where they live (or they don’t know it is a law so they think they don’t have to or it’s not that important).
- They are completely self-absorbed and think they are the only people on the planet (kidding…kind of. Ha, ha)
How Can We Encourage People to Pick Up Their Dog’s Poop?
So how do we encourage these people to change their habits and start picking up their dog’s poop?
Let’s think through some ideas.
Confronting the person
Let’s say you did see the person start to walk away from their dog’s poop.
Albeit a bit passive-aggressive, I have found it effective to suddenly appear with a poop bag and state something like,
“Man, I know what is is like to forget my poop bags at home. I had someone save me once so I want to pay it forward.”
One could also take a more confrontational, educational approach.
No one likes to be told they are wrong so this is a touchy one.
You could approach them and “nicely” let them know that they are making a bad name for other dog owners or educate them on the law or the health/environmental impact.
Put up signs
If the offender is someone who is letting their dog poop in your yard and leaving it, there are several ways I have seen people deal with this.
On the more subtle end of the scale, I have seen people post signs in their yard that say “no pooping” or “Please pick up after your pet”.
If you see the person doing it, you can ask them to please pick up the dog poop.
There are a couple off little more obvious things you could do too.
You could place flags on each pile of poop with a message on them like, “my neighbor left this in my yard” it hopes of shaming the person when they walk by your yard and see it.
Send them some dog poop bags
I also think it is a great idea to get their address (say, if you know which house they live it…and, yes, I think it is ok to subtly stalk them to find this out) and mail them a box of poop bags.
Give their dog poop back
I don’t condone this one but I have heard of people scooping up a bunch of dog poop and placing it in the middle the offender’s porch.
Use peer pressure
What about all of those people who you don’t see leave dog poop on the ground? How do we reach these people?
I have worked for many years in water quality and spent much effort trying to educate people about the dangers that pet waste pose to human health and the environment.
I have also spent some time trying to make people understand that picking up your pet waste is a law (it is where I live).
I like to think that my efforts had some impact on the problem but I am sure it was pretty limited.
Really, no one likes people telling them what to do.
Helping people to understand the dangers of leaving on the ground is a limited message.
In the environmental education world, it is understood that those kinds of messages only touch people who:
- Care about the environment and already pick up their pet waste (enforcing that they should do it ALL of the time)
- Thinking about it but need a few more messages to push them over the edge….called “brownies” ironically).
According to a survey completed by Snohomish County Public Works and The Washington State Department of Ecology, dog owners are more likely to pick up pet waste in public if they feel peer pressure or embarrassment.
Because of that study, I started to think of other ways that the “pick up the poo” message could be presented.
I once convinced my boss to let me create a “I pick up my dog poop” sticker that we could give away at a local doggy festival.
People could post these stickers on their trash can for public display so others lving in or passing through their neighborhood might feel some peer pressure.
I also though of starting a website or Facebook page where people could post photos of pet waste that had not been picked up with the location listed so people might fear being embarrassed for leaving a pile.
I didn’t go down the second road because I thought, who wants to look at lots of photos of dog poop? I am not sure even I want to do that 🙂
Well, it’s been almost 2 years since I had that idea and looky what I found last week – A website called Pictures of Dog Doo Doo!
The blog’s tagline says “PoDDD is an international community to share, discuss, and sometimes laugh at pictures of dog doo-doo”.
It takes a funny look at the business of dog business in the news and around the web. It also highlights videos, the best poop signs seen and Tweets about dog poop.
I hope this new site (looks like it was started in March 2013) gains some traction and popularity because I think it’s a fun way to get the scoop the poop message and might impart an element of peer pressure in those that stumble across it.
Whether it be in your yard, where you can step in it, where it can transfer bacteria to humans and make them sick, or where it can contaminate water and close beaches, it’s frustrating when dog owners leave poop on the ground.
Unfortunately, there is no proven solution that will convince everyone to start cleaning up after their dog.
There is hope that a few people can be reached though through various methods that range from being helpful to being confrontational.
Studies have shown that the easiest people to reach are those that are aware of the issues with not picking up pet waste, and have thought about it, but are not doing it yet.
The things that might be the tipping point for these people is peer pressure.
If a person believes other people think that picking up their dog poop is the right thing do do, and may be watching, they are more likely to do it.
Sure, maybe the motivation is out of guilt or embarrassment rather than simply wanting to do the right thing but I don’t care.
The thing that matters to me is that dog waste is disposed of properly so it doesn’t get on my shoe or contaminate our waterways.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.