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What To Do With What Your Dogs Do

You love your dog. You love your lawn. You don’t love dog poo on your lawn. What’s a homeowner to do?

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You love your dog. You love your lawn. You don't love dog poo on your lawn. What's a homeowner to do?

There are lots of reasons you don't want to leave dog waste in your yard. It looks bad, it smells bad and it's pretty unpleasant to step in. Whether your dog is pedigreed or a mutt, its poo contains lots of nasty bacteria that can make people sick. Canine feces also contain disease-transmitting parasites such as roundworms. When it rains, fecal waste from pets winds up in storm drains, creeks and other waterways.

In an effort to make your lawn a healthier, more enjoyable place to be, you must eradicate the excrement. Here are a few of the best ways to deal with the doo:

Bag it

The quickest, easiest way to get rid of dog poop is to put it in a plastic bag and drop the bag in the trash — just make sure the bag you're using is appropriately sized.

If you are on a municipal sewer system and you can stand the yuck-factor, it's fine to flush the bag's contents (never the bag) down the toilet. Flushing is not a viable option for those with septic systems.

Biodegradable bags are readily available, but experts say if they're heading to the landfill, it's likely they're not breaking down — at least not quickly or effectively. That's because most landfills are designed with layers of liners and covers in place to reduce leakage and protect the environment. Those covers make it difficult for air and liquids to circulate — and air and liquids are exactly what's needed to facilitate biodegradation. Even if something organic is able to biodegrade in the landfill, it creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Dog waste should not be dropped into your yard waste bin. Most commercial yard waste processors simply don't compost waste at temperatures high enough to kill the pathogens found in pet waste.

Scoop it

Don't like bending? Hate dangling bags of poo from your dog leash? You may want to consider using a pooper scooper.

These devices consist of various long-handled rakes or shovels that enable the owner to scoop dog waste without having to bend down and get close to it. It can be a hassle to carry a pooper scooper on a long walk, but if you're just cleaning up your own yard, it may be a good solution. Simply scoop and drop the waste into the trash can. Scoopers generally cost $15 to $25 and are available at most pet stores and online.

Doggie septic systems

A waste digester system works much like a septic system: It uses environmentally friendly enzymes to liquefy dog feces and then drains the liquid into the surrounding soil. A number of manufacturers produce digesters, including Doggie Dooley and PowerLoo. These and others are available at pet stores or through pet supply companies and websites.

To install a digester, you need to dig a hole in your yard in an out-of-the-way spot. Most devices simply sit in the hole with the lid a little bit above the ground. The PowerLoo is different in that it requires connection to the home sewer or septic line and a water source.

Dog waste must be dropped into the digester with digester mix — and then the magic occurs. Critics warn that many digesters don't function well if water tables are high or if temperatures dip too low. Manufacturers also caution that the systems don't always work well if your dog is eating food with a high ash level.

The devices typically cost $25 to $60 plus an extra $15 to $20 annually for the digesting enzyme mix.

Pay for pickup

If you're too busy or too grossed out to handle poop duty yourself, you may want to hire a service to regularly remove pet waste from your yard.

Many areas have independent contractors who offer these services. Additionally, national firms such as DoodyCalls and Poop911 will dispatch technicians to do the work for you. Fees vary greatly, depending upon the size of your yard and the number of dogs you own.