What should I do with my dog's poo?
When exactly did dog poo become such a problem?
Maybe it's always been this way, but I don't think so. It's the modern fashion for disregarding rules, exercised by a minority of the population, that causes grief for the genuine dog-loving, law-abiding citizens.
So what can we do about it?
Picking up after your dog needn't be an expensive affair. There are some super-expensive gadgets on the market that keep mess away from hands, but do you really need to carry cumbersome items around with you? Hands should be free to hold a lead and throw a ball. Pockets in dog-walking jackets are there for a phone (in case of emergency), coins for a cup of coffee in the park, a bag of enticing training treats, and some plastic bags to pick up deposits during the walk.
There are many biodegradable bags on the market for picking up after dogs. Every supermarket stocks them, as do pet stores and online shops. But I'm not keen on the antiseptic odour most of them give off; it reminds me of public toilets and drains. I favour something slightly perfumed so that when the bags sit in my handbag or pocket for weeks on end I'm not reminded of municipal buildings. A supermarket's own brand of disposable nappy sacks are my favoured dog poo carrier. For less than one pound I have a stock that takes me through several weeks of picking up. Half a dozen in my pocket and a recyclable carrier bag is enough to see me through any long walk.
Bag it up
Once you've picked up after your dog what do you do with the bag? Certainly don't leave it by the pathway to slowly decompose and create another mess. A strange phenomenon has appeared recently - trees that seem to be sprouting ready filled dog poo bags. I've spotted them in country lanes, in hedges that border homes, and also on TV when presenters have been asking why dog owners do such crazy and disgusting things?
Surely it's much easier to walk to a bin or to carry the bag home where it can be deposited safely? "But I can never find a dog waste bin," I hear you cry. Sadly this is very true, as dog waste bins in some areas are very few and far between. But this is where a carrier bag comes into its own. Simply place the dog poo bag into the larger carrier bag and it's easily transported until you spot a suitable bin. The carrier bag is less obvious as a transporter of waste material and can hold quite a few deposits during a walk.
Disposal at home
Most dog waste will be deposited at home, most likely in the garden. Then it's a question of how to dispose of it.
For owners of small dogs it's no hardship to flush the deposit down the toilet, as long as it hasn't attached itself to small pebbles and garden waste as it's likely to block the drain, which can be a costly affair. This is a similar consideration if you tend to flush your dog waste down an outside drain. Check that the drain runs into the sewer system and isn't simply a soakaway into your garden or it will soon block.
Putting the waste out for the dustman to collect is a possibility but what if the bag splits? Yuck! Not a pleasant job for the person collecting the waste. If this is your chosen route for disposing of your dog's waste, collect the bags and store them in another strong plastic sack, then place this inside your usual waste bag so it's well protected and not liable to burst open. A bag inside a bag inside a bag will remain relatively odour free and won't split.
Charles Nouhan, recycling manager at Sevenoaks County Council in Kent advised that waste collected from gardens should be double bagged and left with the usual household waste for collection. Double bagging ensured that the collection team wasn't contaminated by the waste. All household non-hazardous waste in my area is delivered to Allington, Kent, where it's turned into energy, while the waste from all the dog bins is treated as hazardous waste, and handed over to Kent County Council where it goes into a deep landfill site.
There is a home dog waste disposer that you bury in the garden. You simply lift the lid, pop in the dog waste, follow a few simple instructions, and the waste disintegrates into the garden. But as many dog owners have more than one dog, or a large dog who creates large deposits, you may need something larger and more substantial if you wish to dispose of all the poo, so why not try to make your own waste disposer or composter?
- Purchase a large plastic dustbin with a secure lid. Carefully cut four large holes in the bottom of the bin. Puncture smaller holes around the sides and halfway up the height of the bin.
- Dig a hole in your garden which is one foot deeper than the bin.
- Fill the hole with six inches of pea shingle.
- Top this up with larger pebbles and sit the dustbin on top so that when the lid is on it sits just above the level of the ground.
- Sit the bin into the hole and fill around the outside with more pea shingle to secure it in place.
- Use a bio-activator or septic tank starter as per the instructions as you gradually add your dog waste. Flush with water occasionally to help solids disintegrate. Remember this should not be sited in close proximity to where children and pets play or near to a vegetable plot.
It's possible to recycle your dog waste in a ready made wormery. The compost from the wormery shouldn't be used on vegetables in the garden but is suitable for flower beds. The boxes come with all ingredients (apart from dog waste), and by following easy steps the worms will soon be processing your dog's waste and making suitable fertiliser for the garden.
A word of advice is not to put the dog waste into the wormery if your dog has been wormed within the last week, as it will kill the worms working there.