Tag Archives: poo

Canine companions and the lure of inattentively pooping in public

The title of this post is unashamedly taken from an article in the journal Environmental Sociology.

Dog poop flagged for research

Photo by Matthias Gross

This article is a study, primarily focused on European nations, and the patterns of owners who do/do not clean up after their dog poops.

The author observed that people are more likely to clean up after their dog when there are people around to watch.

I’ll let you read it for yourself…

The study’s (published) conclusion is:

This exploratory study thus suggests that observing activities and strategies of defecating may provide new insight into human–animal relationships by exploring the role of droppings. An important prerequisite for successfully displaying poop and for diverting attention away from the fact that dog poop is increasingly to be seen in public is that the actors involved are skillful enough to attest to nonknowledge about the production of excrements by their best friends.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Other blog posts about dog poop include:

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A different way to encourage owners to scoop

Let’s make the world less crap…

That’s the opening line of a current Kickstarter campaign to obtain funding for Poopins, a biodegradable marker for piles of dog poo that haven’t been removed by unthinking dog walkers.

Scoop Ya Poop

Motivated by walks on Sumner Beach here in Christchurch, where numerous piles of dog poo have been observed, local man Stephen McCarthy came up with the idea of Poopins  (think ‘poo’ and ‘pins’ combined).

I’m not sure if this product will ultimately get funded.  But, the fact that someone is thinking of this type of open reminder to dog owners, points to the fact that we have too many irresponsible dog owners in this city.

Picking up your dog’s feces should be non-negotiable.  Today, as part of my weekly shopping, I bought a package of nappy bags (diaper bags for Northern Hemisphere readers) for picking up poop.  Bags are probably the easiest thing to get hold of; I re-use bags when I have them available, and then the nappy bags the rest of the time.

Some of the options that could be available if Poopins are able to launch onto the market

Some of the options that could be available if Poopins are able to launch onto the market

I personally would like to see the City of Christchurch become more dog-friendly with urban design that makes responsible dog ownership the norm – and apply peer pressure to those dog owners who are not responsible.  When dog owners don’t clean up, they make it harder for the rest of us to enjoy our dogs openly and with a variety of locations to choose from.

My other posts on this subject include:

Please – no matter where you live in this world – clean up after your dog.  It’s the responsible thing to do!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

If you’re lost…let’s hope your dog is with you

As readers of the blog know, I love to profile new research into topics such as dog health and behaviour.  This story, however, is truly astounding – not only because of the results but because someone chose to research the topic!

It seems that our dogs are sensitive to the Earth’s magnetic field and so they will align themselves in a north/south direction when urinating or defecating – particularly when they are off-leash and allowed freedom.

Photo by Brock Daves

Photo by Brock Daves

A research team of Czech and German scientists studied 70 dogs during 1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations over the course of two years.  When the Earth’s magnetic field was stable, the dog would align themselves to it when answering the call of nature.  If there was an unstable magnetic field, such as during a solar flare, the dogs seemed to become confused.

So the next time you are lost in the woods (bush for those in the Southern Hemisphere), pray that your dog needs to take a toilet break and watch carefully!  (Or, you could simply help to validate the researchers’ findings by paying more attention to the direction your dog faces when needing to pee or poo – remember your compass!)

The results of this research have been published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology.

The public relations nightmare of unscooped poop

Every sector has an issue that, if not managed, becomes its downfall.  In the dog world, I think this issue is poo.  More specifically, it is poo that is not cleaned up.

A woman complained in our newspaper recently about the amount of dog poo that had not been picked up at a local dog park. I have been at our dog park and watched as dog owners conveniently ‘don’t see’ their dog do a poop.  Even less common (and perhaps something to do with kiwi culture?), are the other dog owners who see it but do not bring it to the dog owner’s attention.   I have found that most dog owners are embarrassed and very willing to clean up when the fact of the dog’s neglected poo is mentioned.

In Poole (UK), the local council has resorted to more overt tactics to get dog owners to recognise the errors of their ways.  They spray paint piles of poo green to highlight the scale of the problem.  It was reported that 200 piles of poo were found in one street alone.[1]  The painting campaign augmented other initiatives such as a crackdown by council officers in issuing fines.

In New Zealand, we have the benefit of a lower population density but that should not make us complacent about this problem.  Cities such as Auckland and Christchurch are actively encouraging infill housing and more urban development to stop urban sprawl.  Over time, people and dogs will be living much closer together.

We need to find ways to peacefully co-exist with one another; and leaving faeces for people to step in is not one of them.  There are also indications that dog waste contributes to water pollution through runoff.

Since August 2009 (when most supermarkets began charging for carry bags) free bags are harder to come by.  Our dog park has posted at least one plea for urgent bag donations.  However, is the lack of a plastic bag an adequate excuse for not cleaning up after your dog? 

There are plenty of other sources of bags and responsible dog owners always have a supply, even in the glove box of the car. Ask your non-dog-owning friends and co-workers to save bags for you.  Bread bags and produce bags work just as well as carry bags.  As a last resort, a roll of freezer bags will set you back a couple of dollars at the supermarket.  The last roll I purchased allowed me to pick up no less than 60 piles of poo!

It is very concerning to see the evidence of dog owners who are not cleaning up after their dog.  It gives all of us a bad name.  If your dog could talk, I wonder if they would say, “I poop.  You pick it up.  Any questions?”[2]


[1] BBC News, August 2010

[2] Puget Sound Starts Here campaign poster (Washington, USA)

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

CSI – dog style?

Pooprints, based in Tennessee (USA), is offering DNA testing of a different kind.  It is not about testing your mixed breed dog to find out their lineage, it’s about DNA testing of dog poo!

The number of subdivisions, condominium-style accommodation developments, and apartment complexes is on the rise in the US.  This is a result of a ‘downsizing’ of accommodation because of the economic recession as well as growth in population centres where work is available, but cost of living and commuting times are also an issue.  In these types of developments, there are dog owners living alongside non-dog owners.  And poop is  a problem.

(For my New Zealand readers, read my Last Word column in the March 2011 issue of NZ Dog World magazine.  In that column, I discussed the looming liability of infill housing, population growth,  and the growing problem of dog owners who do not clean up after their dog.)

The company’s service is rather straightforward.  First, a residential community decides to start a dog DNA testing programme.  Usually, this test is mandatory as part of signing up to live there. A mouth swab is taken of your dog and sent for  DNA testing and the results are entered into that site’s database.

Then, a site manager is probably responsible for poop patrol in your community.  They take samples of poop that has not been cleaned up and send the samples for DNA testing (because epithelial cells in the wall of the intestine are excreted every time a dog defecates).   The site manager will be given a report about the dog/owner match in order for followup to occur.

Communities will have rules about the number of infringements required for that person to be fined, or worse, kicked out of their residence.

It may sound ‘over the top’ but it is a symptom of how strongly some people feel about poop that is not cleaned up.

CNN covered the story of one residential development in New Hampshire that has signed up to use the Pooprints system.  Read about it here.