How to Pick Up Dog Poop

Three Parts:Using a Plastic Bag to Pick Up Your Dog’s PoopUsing a Pooper ScooperThrowing Away Your Dog’s Poop

No matter how you look at it, picking up dog poop is not a pleasant task. Many dog owners probably think that picking up their dog’s poop is a necessary evil. Despite the mess and stink of picking up your dog's waste, cleaning up after him is an important component of keeping the whole environment clean—not just your backyard. To continue being a responsible pet owner, you should take some time to learn how to properly pick up and dispose of your dog’s poop.

Part 1
Using a Plastic Bag to Pick Up Your Dog’s Poop

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    Purchase plastic doggie bags. Although plastic grocery bags are an option if you have no other bags available, it is recommended to use small doggie bags to pick up your dog’s poop. Different types of doggie bags are available at your local pet store. Since picking up poop can be a smelly process, consider purchasing scented doggie bags. Many bags also come with ties that make it easier to close the bag after picking up your dog’s poop.[1]
    • Bring several doggie bags with you each time that you take your dog out for a walk. By doing this, you will be prepared if your dog needs to defecate during the walk.[2]
    • Bio-degradable doggie bags are also available, which are more eco-friendly than regular plastic doggie bags.[3]
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    Turn the bag inside out. When you stoop down to pick up your dog’s poop, whether you are walking your dog or picking up after him in your yard, turning the bag inside out will help keep your hand clean. Place your hand on the inside of the inverted bag as if you were putting on a glove.[4]
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    Pick up your dog’s poop. With your hand safely on the inside of the inverted bag, firmly grab the poop on the ground and pick it up.[5] If you are picking up poop that is on concrete, try to pick it up as cleanly as possible (e.g., not scraping your hand along the concrete as you’re picking up the poop). If the poop is in the grass, make a claw-like circle with your fingers and then get as far under the pile as possible before lifting up the poop.
    • Keep in mind that picking up the poop will be easier if it is solid rather than mushy or diarrhea-like.
    • If you are cleaning up dog poop in your yard, you may need multiple bags, depending on how long it has been since you’ve cleaned up after your dog.
    • If you are out on a walk and either forget or run out of bags, consider going to a nearby store to ask for a bag or disposable cup to pick up your dog’s poop. If you are not near a store, try to find something on the ground that could work, such as a large and sturdy leaf.[6]
    • Make sure that you have a firm grip on your dog’s leash if you are picking up his poop while you are walking him.[7]
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    Turn the bag right side out. Use your free hand to fold the sides of the bag up and around the poop.[8] It may be helpful to grab the sides of the bag using just the tips of your fingers. This may reduce the chances of your free hand touching poop that may be near the edges of the bag.
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    Tie up the bag. With the bag right side out, use both hands to tie up the bag. Make sure to tie the bag tightly so that it does not open when you go to throw it away. It may be helpful to hold your breath while you are tying up the bag.[9]

Part 2
Using a Pooper Scooper

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    Purchase a pooper scooper. If the thought of picking up poop with your hand makes you squeamish, or if you have trouble bending over or stooping, a pooper scooper is a good alternative for picking up your dog’s poop.[10] There are many types of pooper scoopers available at your local pet store or home gardening store. Scoopers often come with spades (for use on a solid surface), rakes (for use on grass), or grabbers (grasping poop).[11]
    • Try to find a pooper scooper that is sturdy enough to use with one hand.[12] If you are walking with your dog, having a scooper that you can use with one hand would be useful.
    • You can also purchase a pooper scooper that is designed to have a plastic bag attached onto the scooper end.[13]
    • By nature of their design, pooper scoopers are not effective for picking up poop that is mushy or diarrhea-like.[14]
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    Pick up your dog’s poop. If your dog has defecated on the concrete, use your pooper scooper with a spade to scoop up under the poop.[15] After scooping up the poop, carefully dump it into a doggie bag. Alternatively, you could your “grabber” pooper scooper to grab the poop and drop it into the doggie bag.
    • If you are cleaning up poop in the grass, use your pooper scooper with a rake to gather the poop into a neat pile (if necessary) before you scoop it up to drop it into a doggie bag.
    • The mechanism for using the scooper will depend on what types of attachments it has. The staff at your local pet store or home gardening store can assist you with how to use the specific scooper that you want to purchase.
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    Clean your pooper scooper. It is necessary to clean your pooper scooper so that the remnants of your dog’s poop do not begin to accumulate on the scooper. These remnants could attract flies and make it more difficult to pick up your dog’s poop. To keep it clean, you can either hose it down with water or let it soak in a bucket of disinfectant.[16]
    • If you choose to use a bucket with disinfectant, make sure to use this bucket only for cleaning your pooper scooper and not for any other household purposes.
    • Talk with your local waste department for advice on throwing away the water that you used to disinfect your pooper scooper. Do not pour the dirty water into storm drains, since your dog’s feces could contain harmful pathogens (e.g., bacteria, intestinal worms).

Part 3
Throwing Away Your Dog’s Poop

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    Learn your city’s rules for throwing away dog poop. Dispensing of your dog’s poop may not be as easy as just throwing it in your trash can or flushing it down a toilet. If you are unsure, check with your local waste department to learn the acceptable methods of throwing away your dog’s poop.[17]
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    Throw your dog’s poop in a trashcan. If you are at home, you can use your own trashcan to dispense of your dog’s poop. Keep in mind that your main trashcan could get quite stinky, especially if you keep your trashcan inside or enclosed in your garage. To address this potential problem, you could keep a smaller, separate trashcan outside to collect your dog’s poop. When it is time to take your trash out, could transfer the dog poop to the larger trash can and set everything outside.[18]
    • If you are at a dog park or in another public area, you can find the nearest outdoor trashcan to throw away the poop. Dog parks usually have dedicated trashcans for collecting dog poop.
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    Flush your dog’s poop down your toilet. Although the imagery may be quite unpleasant, it usually okay to flush your dog’s poop down the toilet. If you do this, make sure that you dump the poop out of the bag first. If you have a flushable doggie bag, you could put the entire bag and its contents in the toilet and flush.[19]
    • Flushing may not be acceptable in your city, so check with your local waste department before using this method of pet waste disposal.
    • If you have a lot of poop to get rid of, do not flush it all at one time. This could clog your septic system.[20]
    • Be aware that flushable doggie bags may be expensive.[21]
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    Install a pet waste septic system. This is an underground septic system, called a doggie dooley, that is specific for breaking down your dog’s waste.[22][23] This could be helpful if you have your own yard. A doggie dooley is relatively easy to install, but you should consult with someone at your local pet store before installing and using one in your yard.
    • Once you have installed the doggie dooley, you would follow the machine’s instructions to add water and a digestive powder to your dog’s waste. The waste would break down into an environmentally safe liquid that would be absorbed into the ground.
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    Call a pet waste disposal service. If you are genuinely uncomfortable with picking up your dog’s waste in your yard, or are unable to do so, you can contact a pet waste disposal service that can remove it for you.[24] Your veterinarian may be able to recommend reputable services. You could also talk to other dog owners for recommendations. Keep in mind that these services may be expensive.[25]
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    Learn which methods are inappropriate for waste disposal. Several potential methods of disposal are not appropriate due to public health and environmental concerns. For example, you should not leave simply your dog’s poop in your yard to break down on its own. Not only would the poop begin to smell and attract flies (especially in the warmer months), it could contain bacteria and parasites that would be harmful to dogs as well as people.[26][27]
    • In addition, your dog’s waste could get swept into storm drains and eventually end up in local water sources if you leave the poop in your yard.
    • Composting your dog’s waste is also not advisable because the compost pile would not get hot enough to break down the bacteria and parasites that may be in the poop.[28]
    • Burying your dog’s poop could also expose the local groundwater to pathogens, making this an undesirable method to dispose of your dog’s poop.
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    Wash your hands. Even with proper precaution with keeping your hands clean, you may still get bacteria on your hands when picking up your dog’s waste. Frequent hand washing is an effective way to avoid spreading these germs.[29]


  • You may prefer to use newspaper to pick up your dog’s poop, since newspaper is more environmentally friendly than plastic bags. Keep in mind that using newspaper to pick up the poop could be messier because you cannot wrap up newspaper as neatly as you could tie a plastic bag.[30]
  • To keep your yard smelling clean, you can spray an odor neutralizer on your grass.[31] This product is available at your local pet store.
  • If your dog poops inside your home, put on a pair of disposable gloves and pick up the poop with generous amount toilet paper. You can flush the poop down the toilet, provided that your city allows dog poop to be flushed.
  • Keeping doggie bags where you keep your dog’s leash will help you remember to take bags with you each time that you walk your dog.


  • Pathogens that could be found in your dog’s poop can cause illnesses in people and dogs that would require immediate medical attention. Picking up the poop soon after your dog defecates and washing your hands after picking it up will help reduce the likelihood of disease transmission.

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