4 Easy Tips To Help You Deal With Dog Poop

<p> Fotolia </p>

I often fantasize about taking home all of the poop I pick up while helping clean the 20-plus kennels at the East Bay SPCA on Wednesday mornings, molding my collection into ashtrays, and selling them to cigarette smokers on Etsy. I actually love this idea, but the fact is few people really enjoy dog poop, even cleverly repurposed dog poop.

People hate stepping in poop, watching their dogs roll around in poop or eat another dog's poop, and picking up the neighbor dog's poop from their lawns and sidewalks. Poop also smells bad, attracts flies, and can contain giardia, roundworms, salmonella, and E. coli. USA Today has reported on recent studies that blame dog poop as a top-four contributor to bacteria in contaminated waters.

40 percent of Americans leave their dog's poop on the ground.

One commonly cited study claims that 40 percent of Americans do not clean up after their dogs. As my foul-mouthed grandma used to say, "That's a bunch of shit!"

Communities around the world are trying to solve the poop problem creatively, with methods ranging from sponsoring a clean-up-your-dog's-poop sign contest to conducting mandatory dog DNA matching to hosting events like Scoop the Poop Day. Across the board, communities are making poop neglect expensive.

One community in New York now imposes fines of up to $1,000 for pet owners who don't clean up after their dogs.

The bottom line is, if you own or care for a dog, you have to embrace poop handling. To help you towards your goal, I have compiled the following list of tips for aspiring poop handlers.

Bring bags on walks

One thing I love considerably less than picking up dog poop with a plastic bag is picking up and carrying around poop in my bare hands, so I always take a roll of plastic bags with me on dog walks. I never take just one. One of my dogs always poops at least twice on walks, and the other leaves a trail of poop that can require multiple bags. Some people double bag to help insulate their hands, so they avoid getting weirded out by fresh poop's straight-out-of-the-dog warmth.

No bag?

It's happened to me. Ten minutes into a walk, my dog drops a deuce on a neighbor's lawn, I reach into my hip bag for my roll of poop bags and pull out an empty spool.

People, this is a test of creativity. A scavenger hunt! If someone offered to pay you a million dollars to pick up that poop, you would get creative. Pull a plastic bag off of someone's newspaper or scoop it up in a disposable cup lying in the curb (sadly, they are everywhere). If you can't find anything to pick it up, at least come back after the walk and pick it up.

Clean up poop daily

I once stepped on a big pile of poop when I stepped outside to pet my boss's pooch at her Christmas Party in Mill Valley. Fortunately, I didn't track it through her house, but it was still embarrassing for everyone. No one appreciates navigating a yard that is hiding "doggie land mines." I recommend picking up poop daily using an old flat shovel.

Poop disposal

If you aren't into selling crappy crafts on Etsy, there are many boring-yet-safe ways to dispose of dog poop. You can always shovel it into a plastic bag and throw it in the trash to preserve it for posterity in a landfill. Or you can flush it down the toilet and let the sanitation people deal with it, or hire a poop pick-up service and outsource the task. I recently saw an advertisement for underground pet-waste digesters, which are basically septic tanks for pet waste, so there are plenty of options available.

For more pet care advice, check out my blog at: http://caninecompanionandconcierge.com/blog/