The Ettiquette of Excrement

1st November 2012   admin   2 Comments

It has always been good form to pick up your dog’s droppings, but since councils introduced laws making it compulsory vets have been trying to answer all the hard (and soft) questions about poo.

Most of the questions we face are in relation to faecal firmness.  Consistency is not so important if you never have to look or touch, but is of paramount importance if you have to pick the stuff up.

We have also been asked for advice regarding the legal and philosophical aspects of pet poo. All examples below are pure fiction and any resemblance to any person is purely coincidental.

Do you ever not pick up after your dog?

Does life always go according to plan? Picture yourself out walking and your perfect pet  poops in the middle of the nature strip. You smile at the passers by and reach into your zipped bag of ‘poo bags’. Oh no, it is empty. What do you do now? Is anyone watching? Can you quietly walk away? Do you attempt to pick it up with a large leaf – yuck! Do you run home to get some supplies, but what if someone sees you leaving? Do you say, “just going to dash home and get a bag.” Sure you are.

It is a dark night and you are walking in the park. Your dog goes into the bushes and deposits a bit of fertilizer in amongst the plants. No one can see. No one can step in it. It is ok to leave it there, isn’t it? You couldn’t really find it anyway.

And how on earth do you manage a puddle of diarrhoea – double yuck!

What do you do when you see someone else not pick up their dog’s poo?

Sally is taking Sarah (Sally is the dog) for a walk and Sally is running off lead. Sarah is chatting to her friends and doesn’t notice Sally deposit a huge pile of poo next to the children’s playground. But you do…. Sarah is a friend so she won’t mind you pointing out Sally’s left-overs, but how easy is it to do the same with a stranger? A big stranger. A big stranger who’s dog is a Rottweiler. Who is sitting on her Harley next to 4 other bikers. It’s only a bit of poo, right?

Is it alright to put the poo in someone else’s rubbish bin?

I recently saw a teenage boy pick up after his dog while walking down our street. I looked at my partner and commented on the wonderful ‘Responsible Pet Ownership’ happening in our neighborhood.  It was rubbish day and the empty bins were still out on the street. The boy lifted the lid of a stranger’s rubbish bin and dropped the poo into it. I was horrified, my partner ambivalent. Surely it is wrong to put your dog’s poo into someone else’s bin? It had just been emptied, the poo was going to ferment for a whole week.

Would you pick up another dog’s poo?

Apart from the Bikers above, would you ever pick up another dog’s droppings? I have witnessed this several times and was astounded each time I saw it. Why would anyone pick up someone else’s dog’s cold droppings?  Yuck. Perhaps if it was somewhere where you might step in it the next day. Perhaps if it was on your front garden. But in the park?  There are truly good people in the world aren’t there?

Coming back to the question on consistency

Well formed, firm poo is a pleasure to collect, drippy blobs difficult and liquid diarrhoea impossible. The answer generally is to keep the diet simple and consistent.  It doesn’t do your dog much good to finish off the left-over butter chicken and you will both regret it when walking tomorrow. The difference between the faeces of a dog fed cheap cans to one fed a premium food diet is often remarkable, the difference is in the quality of the ingredients. Experiment a bit and find out what works best your you.

One last piece of advice

Reusing supermarket bags is good from an environmental point of view, but do watch out for holes in the bag.



Personally, I think it’s fine to place a bag of poop in any bin. There’s no difference between one bin to the next. It’s still going to be fermenting no matter what bin you place it in. Overall, I can’t imagine the owner be fussed. Better in a bin than left on the ground.


Melbourne and surrounding suburbs are pretty dog friendly, and providing off-leash areas and dog-friendly facilities contribute greatly to responsible dog ownership. Dog poo is a big threat to council and local community support of dog-friendly spaces and facilities. Therefore, community-minded dog owners police each other, and in these locations, someone always has an extra bag to share. Many councils provide biodegradable poo bags in parks, and this encourages a more sanitary shared park space.
Do I ever not pick up after my dog? Never say never, but Never. I’ve stood in the middle of the footpath in the CBD guarding a pile of poo til I could convince someone to donate their takeaway bag.
Is it alright to put dog poo in someone else’s rubbish bin? Why not? Properly contained in a bag tied at the top? As if their rubbish doesn’t stink? I find strange beer bottles and cans in my recycle bin all the time, and I’m glad to see it made it in. I don’t care who put it there. Who is that precious about their bin? Now, throwing it onto their doorstep??? Another matter entirely.
Would you pick up another dog’s poo? Yes, of course. Because even though it shouldn’t, it can and sometimes does happen that poo is left out. Why jump to the conclusion that CLEARLY that was an irresponsible person who left it there? If you have an extra bag, pick it up… it’s karma, bitches. 🙂 Lead-free dog space is always under attack and shrinking – abandoned dog poo is a regularly cited reason. So yes, my family’s enjoyment will suffer when dog poo is left out, especially if near a play area or footpath. I don’t go on poo-clearing missions, but I’ll pick up one or two obvious ones when I see them in my local park. Clean that sh*t up.


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