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Why Worry About Dog Poop?
Dog poop, like human poop, can contain harmful pathogens that can hurt you or other dogs. It’s important to dispose of dog waste properly so no other dog (or person) get’s infected or hurt.
Just how big is the risk and the problem? Imagine that there’s one dog for every 10 people or about 10% of households have a dog. In a medium sized college town of 100,000 people that’s 10,000 dogs.
Now imagine if NONE of those people picked up their dog’s waste. That’s 10,000 to 20,000 poops on the ground every day.
Next imagine that all those dogs were people. How safe would you feel in a town of 10,000 people where everyone pooped on the yard and just let it sit? How long till a pandemic breaks out? How many people in that town don’t have worms?
Still, perhaps you feel dog waste isn’t harmful to people. This study done in Southern Italy found several antibiotic resistant pathogens in dog feces sampled.
7 Ways to Dispose of Dog Poop
1. Bag and Trash
The most common way to get rid of dog poop is to bag it up and throw it in the trash. Not much else to say here. The only downside is that it just fills up landfills and uses plastic bags.
There are a ton of other greener options for those that have the space. This is the main option we recommend in cities though. It’s safer than using a toilet.
2. Garden Compost
Next up we have composting. Various forms of composting take up most of this list. Instead of just pulling them all under “compost” we’re splitting the methods out.
Why? It’s important to compost dog poop in a way that kills the worms and pathogens in it.
Standard garden composting won’t work. You’ll overwhelm your compost bin and it won’t kill all the pathogens.
The only way to safely compost dog poop in the garden is to use the same methods to compost humanure. To do that at a minimum you need a 4′ x 4′ x 4′ compost bin. You can build one of those easily with 4 pallets.
Full instructions on building and using one of these can be found here. The trick is to build them slowly, have a large enough mass that they go thermophilic and kill all pathogens, then let them sit for an additional year to kill any remaining eggs and bacteria.
The entire process takes about 2 years from start to finish. The best way to do this is to build a 3 bin setup. That way when the first bin is ready you’ll have another one aging and another one growing.
That’ll give you a consistent annual supply of fresh compost (and lots of it!) without having to wait 2 years for it to finish.
Another option is to through the poop in a toilet. This saves landfill space but requires more care. You want to make sure you don’t accidentally come in contact with anything while tossing it out or using the toilet later.
Due to the inconvenience this is not a method we recommend highly.
If you have the space and the time, burying each poop can be a great way of getting rid of pet waste. Just like when camping you want to bury it 6 inches deep. Why? so it doesn’t wash away in the rain and get into your local creek or stream.
Beware of other dogs with this method. If you have other dogs (or your own dogs) that like to dig up buried waste go with another method.
5. Buried Trash Bin (Compost #2)
This is the standard dog waste composting method. Essentially you remove the bottom from a trash bin then bury it underground leaving a hole in the top exposed. New waste is deposited in the hole.
The hole is kept covered to keep in the smell.
Waste in the bin builds up and is slowly broken down by worms, bacteria, and fungus. It should take a good amount of time to fill as the composting process will shrink the waste.
Once it does fill then be sure to let it sit for a season to kill off any remaining pathogens before using. Since this is concentrated waste compost we recommend using it as fertilizer for ornamental plants only.
6. Worm Compost
You can use compost worms to break down pet waste as well. Use any style worm bin to do this. See this quick video on how to build one DIY.
7. Anaerobic (Biogas) Compost
Last up you have biogas as an option to compost pet waste. This method uses a water based approach. It’s devoid of oxygen, hence anaerobic. That allows methane producing bacteria to thrive.
If setup properly you can capture the methane and use it as a fuel. You can do this at home with simple 55 gallon drums. Again, see this video for a demo.
Dog Waste FAQ
How Often Should You Pick Up Dog Poop In Your Yard?
You should pickup dog waste and immediately dispose of it. Leaving it in your yard creates a huge risk. Any rain event can carry pathogens from your dog waste to your local stream.
Can I Put Dog Poop In The Garbage?
Absolutely. Simply bag it up, tie the bag, and throw it in the garbage. This is a great option for urban dwellers.
Where Does Dog Waste Go?
Dog waste left in the yard will dissolve in the rain and get carried to local streams contaminated your water source.
Dog waste that’s buried or composted is broken down by worms, bacteria, fungus, and insects into a safe pathogen free source of fertilizer.
How Long Does It Take For Dog Poop To Decompose When Buried?
This depends on your area. It’ll take longer to break down in drier areas like Utah or Colorado. In wetter areas like Virginia or Florida it will break down faster.
This also depends on how much you bury. Individual poops will break down faster than a large collection of poops buried in one spot.
Is Dog Feces A Good Fertilizer?
Yes but it must be composted in a way that kills the pathogens and makes it safe to handle and use in the garden.