There are many wonderful things about owning a dog but, I think most of us would agree, picking up their waste isn’t one of them. Unfortunately, it’s only natural for a dog to relieve themselves in your garden or on walks and nobody likes dealing with it. Though it may not be pleasant, it is necessary, and failure to do so can result in a maximum fine of £1000. There are a number of methods you can employ to make it as tolerable as possible.
What is it?
This method involves placing a bag over your hand like a glove, grabbing the dog waste and turning the bag inside out to contain it. You then knot the bag and dispose of it.
The basic bagging method is very simple and very cheap. You don’t need any special equipment and small plastic bags are very portable and convenient. The bags are available in a range of colours, materials and sizes, and you can even buy scented ones to keep nasty smells at bay. Once knotted, the bags effectively retain their contents until you are able to dispose of them, either in a litter bin, designated to poo bin or, if neither of these is available, in your own black bin at home. The bags are available in rolls or pouches and you can buy various dispensers for easy access. Some are even biodegradable!
This approach is rather “hands-on”, and will require you to get close enough to the poo to pick it up which can be problematic for two reasons. Firstly, if you are squeamish you may not relish getting so close to the dog mess. Secondly, if you have mobility issues it may be difficult, or even impossible, for you to bend down to ground level. Also, if you have multiple dogs, it can be rather time-consuming to use small, single bags when you have numerous messes to attend to. While some bags are biodegradable others are not, and are therefore not ecologically friendly. This method works well when stools are completely solid but might prove tricky (not to mention pretty horrible) if your dog has diarrhoea.
There’s a variety of products on the market that comprise a cardboard scoop and an attached bag made of paper or biodegradable plastic. Functionally they are used in much the same way as a bag alone.
These are cheap to buy and are biodegradable, so they are a good option for owners who are conscious of their impact on the environment. They are compact and easy to carry around with you, and many of them have practical sealing components which makes them easy to use.
If you’ve ever seen a cardboard box after heavy rain you’ll know that it’s not practical to use something like this in very wet weather or on particularly soggy ground. It’s also not practical for people with mobility issues as users have to bend down to reach the waste.
Bag and clasp
This is another simple method which allows you to pick up the poo with the aid of a small plastic clasp. You place the clasp inside a bag, grab the poo with it and then bag and knot as usual. You use the same bags as mentioned above.
Plastic clasps are relatively cheap and readily available. They are lightweight, pocket-sized and very easy to operate. In terms of close proximity to waste, it’s slightly better than picking it up with just a bag and your hand, so the sensation is slightly less gruesome. The clasp and pincer action of the scoop also helps scrape off any residue to allow for more effective pick-up.
While it’s slightly less up-close-and-personal than the basic bag method, you still need to be able to get down to ground level to collect the dog mess, which is impractical for many people. And it’s a single-use plastic, which is never desirable from an environmental perspective.
There are various versions of this scoop on the market, but they are all similar in the way that they function. They have a jaw-like mechanism at the bottom which can be operated by a trigger or pulley. They can be long or short and some allow you to place a bag over the jaws in order to contain the waste more effectively and hygienically.
These allow you to deal with dog mess from a slightly greater distance, which is great for anyone who is queasy, physically limited or simply prefers to keep such matters at arm’s length. They are generally pretty easy to operate and the ones that are compatible with plastic bagging are relatively hygienic. The jaw action and rigid construction also make it easier to pick up fresh or very soft/semi-liquid waste.
They can be lightweight but they are a little awkward to carry around, so might not be the most practical solution for pooper scooping while you’re out for a walk. Those that are not suitable for use with a bag need to be cleaned and disinfected after each use which might prove wearisome. They are also slightly more expensive in the first instance than plastic bags or clasp-style scoops.
Rake and pan
These work rather like a dustpan and brush. You simply rake the dog mess into a pan or tray. Some of these can be lined with a bag.
Many of these are available with long handles for ease of use, which makes them a good choice for anyone who is unable to stoop. The raking action can make it easier to remove the poo from a variety of surfaces such as sand, gravel and grass.
The rake will need to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected following each use, and will not be practical for very fresh or wet dog mess.
There are a few scoops on the market which are designed to retain a large amount of waste and also sanitise the surface. These scoops can also be self-cleaning and the mechanisms fling the dog mess into a lined reservoir for easy disposal.
These devices really take a lot of work out of cleaning up after your dog. They can hold up to a week’s worth of dog mess and don’t require any bending or hard graft to use. The sanitiser makes sure your lawn, decking or patio is as clean as possible which can help to prevent the spread of intestinal parasites or faecal bacteria. If you have a large dog or numerous dogs, it is a practical and handy solution for garden clean-up. It also minimises the number of bags you need to use, making it more eco-friendly than using multiple smaller bags.
While in many ways these are the king of waste disposal tools they are both pricey and bulky, which means they’re only really sensible for home use. The cleaning fluid will also need replacing over time, and if you have children who play in the garden it might not be a good idea to pooper scoop so sporadically.
If you have a lot of dogs, limited time or simply don’t like dealing with dog mess you can employ a poo-picking company to do it for you. You can contract them to visit your home at set times to clear up your garden, and some will even dispose of the waste themselves so you don’t have to lift a finger. This only works for your garden, you will still need some kind of pooper-scooper for walking elsewhere.
Hints and tips
- Remember that you don’t need to have the same system at home as you do for travelling and walks. You can have a more sophisticated home method and a more portable, basic one out and about.
- When planning walks, consider where the bins are along the route so you can be sure to find somewhere to discard dog waste.
- If you are planning a walk somewhere too remote to guarantee a convenient disposal point, consider a product like the Dickie bag. It’s a clip-on neoprene capsule that holds your safely-knotted poo bag until you are ready to throw it away in an appropriate receptacle. The design helps to keep bad smells in and is convenient for walking with.
- Not having a pooper scooper on your person is not an excuse for failing to pick up after your dog, and you can still be prosecuted if you fail to do so. To make sure you don’t forget yours, get a bag dispenser and clip it onto something you always take with you, such as your house keys, the dog’s lead or even your dog’s collar.
Nobody likes dealing with dog mess, but hopefully, this guide has helped you find a method to suit you!