Six Ways to Deal with Number Two
Poop happens. If you’ve got a trained puppy, it’s less likely that you’re dealing with in-house issues, but the smelly stuff can wreak havoc outdoors as well. Nothing takes the fun out of a backyard gathering faster than some unlucky guest stepping or sliding in to a pile of waste. Bonus fail points if you’ve got a kid rolling around in it (been there, done the disinfecting). Since I personally raise around 50 puppies per year, I’ve learned a thing or two about managing this unavoidable puppy side-effect.The upside is that if I can avoid doo-doo don’ts with that many puppies, doing it with your own little fecal factory can be a breeze with the following tips!
1: Follow a Schedule
This is a tip for you and your pup. Not only does having a schedule for your puppy take out a lot of the anxiety of pet ownership, but it also can help you appropriately time poop pick-up. If you let your pup run free a few times per day, you can set yourself a reminder once or twice a day to work on clean-up. Of course, you’re most likely to find business after your post meal play time, so consider doing a quick sweep after that. Even if you do it just once per day, you’ll be well on your way to keeping the mess down.
Don’t have a schedule? Check out our sample (many people follow it to the letter, but you can customize for your lifestyle).
2: Designate a Spot
Many of my clients like to designate a potty spot for their puppy, which makes it easier to find the scene of the crime. It does, however, require more upfront work. If you haven’t done so already, you can work on getting your pup to go in the same area when you take him/her outside. The key is to walk them immediately over to their spot when you let them out after any extended rest period (e.g., first morning outing, after a nap, and any post-meal romps). Don’t talk to or otherwise excite your pup when you are taking them out, simply throw their leash on and walk directly to their spot with no stops on the way. Be ready to wait them out for action. It’s not easy for some pups to go on leash if they’re more used to being off when nature calls. Once they relieve themselves, you will want to praise them (treat optional, but certainly an added reinforcement when you’re establishing a new routine).
Reality check: Having a spot is a huge help, but it doesn’t mean your pup won’t occasionally throw caution to the wind and let loose while elsewhere in the yard. Sometimes you’ve just gotta go and it’s not on schedule. Watch for this and still do a yard check every so often.
3: Keep it Boring
Variety may be the spice of life, but when it comes to your pup’s food, boring is best. Switching up the timing, amount, or type of food you’re giving your furry pal can wreak havoc on his/her tummy. I don’t think I have to explain that tummy trouble equals more challenging poop clean-up. Okay, maybe I do need to explain a little — you want your pup’s poop predictable in location, timing and consistency to ease clean-up. If you decide to go Gordon Ramsay on your puppy’s menu, there could be hell to pay.
4: Use the Right Tools
Make like a Boy Scout and be prepared. You want to have the right tool for the task at hand, which means you can’t go out in your backyard with a tissue and a dream. Purchase a good quality pooper scooper. We like the rake style scoopers for the grass and the two piece styles (akin to a dust pan and broom, but metal) for asphalt, gravel, or other hard surfaces. You’ll probably also want to invest in some work gloves. If you ever need to get closer to the poop, it’s nice to have a protective barrier for your hands. No, you don’t need to wear a full hazmat suit, but do whatever it takes to make you feel better.
5: Make it Disappear
If David Blaine had a magic trick for this, he’d be even more famous. Since that is not the case, we all have to dispose of our pup’s waste in some manner. If you’ve got one dog and a good sized outdoor space, you may be able to toss the poop in an unused portion of your property. Think wooded areas that aren’t traversed on foot and are set back from your house or any outdoor entertaining spaces. If you go this route, keep an eye on flies. If you notice an uptick in warmer months (i.e., your back yard is a fly version of “The Birds” while your neighbors are relatively pest free), you may want to seek an alternative. The next best DIY disposal method is the trash. If you’ve had kids, you have already thrown out your fair share of poopy trash bags. If you’re feeling guilty about loading the trash removal folks up with excrement, consider tipping generously this holiday season!
6: Outsource It
If all else fails and you simply cannot keep up with your adorable little friend’s waste, you may want to call in reinforcements. There are plenty of professional doggy doody clean-up services out there. Some of my clients go that route, especially if they have multiple dogs or one particularly prolific pooper. Downside is that unless you have them come every day, you’ll still need to be wary of the occasional landmine, but folks who go this route swear by it.
Well, if you’re still reading, you’re a hearty soul. That is probably more than you ever wanted to think about poop unless you are an eleven year old boy (or you just think like one). I hope these tips help you get a handle on your clean-up so you can enjoy the better parts of puppy ownership.