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Composting Dog Poop: Finally, There’s Meaning to Monotony

Seriously, sh** happens! Pounds and ponds of it actually are deposited by our dogs per year. We are constantly picking it up and throwing it away. If you have multiple dogs you have more shi** and more cleanup. It’s endless work, for what? Nothing to show for it! As much as I love my dogs, I hate meaningless work. Well, picking up the dog poop doesn’t have to be meaningless anymore! You can absolutely compost dog poop.

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Labrador retriever dog poops in the green park

My mother has always composted and has had these rules: no meat, no bones, and NO DOG POOP! Dogs digested meat therefore it wasn’t good to compost. I grew up following these rules blindly, until I couldn’t stand it anymore. My three goldens create a bunch of poop, all in my yard, a yard my kids play in, a yard I entertain in. We keep it reasonably clean, but it still stinks to high heavens. One cleanup will fill a whole large garbage can! I would have unhappily continued the ritual of cleanup and discard, but our town so graciously switched trash collectors.

We were no longer allowed more than one can at the road, well, I fill up one can with just dog poop, so this was NOT going to work for me. I had to figure out another way and quick. I started looking up other options. The dump had a minimum pound limit that I couldn’t even come close to so that was out, so I had to start looking closer to home.

My Solution

We live on a small farm where we have numerous animals and gardens so I am no stranger to composting. I started questioning my mother’s rigid compost rules: why could I compost poop from my horses and other animals but not my dogs? What I found honestly made me giddy. You most certainly CAN compost dog poop!

Problems Created by Dog Poop

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Please Pick Up After Your Pet sign.

One dog creates, on average, 275 pounds of poop per year. Just leaving it where it lies is unsanitary. Dog poop can transmit parasites and other infectious illnesses to people and other dogs. Matter of fact, the EPA has classified as hazardous waste. Whether your dog relieves himself in your backyard or on the road you have to clean it up!

Benefits of Composting Dog Poop

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Composting your dog poop removes the pathogens that could be transmitted to other dogs and you as well. Not only does composting give you something to do with the overabundance of dog poop accumulating but, in the end, you’ll have a wonderfully rich soil additive that will improve the condition and the fertility of your soil.

Dangers Of Composting Dog Poop

Again, dog poop does contain pathogens and parasites. The process of composting will kill off any infectious pathogens that are carried in your dog’s poop, however, parasites larva are a bit harder to kill. The safety of the compost is all contingent on how well the pile’s heat was maintained. Keeping and maintaining an internal temperature of above 150°F should kill off parasite eggs, but there is of course no guarantee.

Where to Use Your Composted Dog Poop

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Garden – elevated view

You definitely can use your composted dog poop on flower and other ornamental plants with no concern. It is not recommended to use dog poop compost on plants for human consumption, but if your confident that your compost pile has reached and maintained the minimal temperature required to kill off parasites, you could use it on your garden as well. I personally don’t like to use it on leafy greens or anything where food will come in direct contact. I tend to grow my vines on trellises and tie up my tomatoes, so I use it freely on them as well.

How To Compost Dog Poop

The process of composting breaks down organic matter, such as dog poop, by creating ideal conditions for microbes that “eat” the material to multiply. Air, water, wet organic material, and dry organic materials are all required to create these optimum conditions. Materials such as dog poop, grass clippings, and vegetable wastes are considered “wet” organic material where materials such as hay, newspaper, and fallen leaves are your “dry” materials.  As the microbes digest your organic material heat is created. Adding “wet” and “dry” ingredients should be done in a 2 to 1 ratio, for every 2 parts “wet”, you add 1 part “dry”. Mix your pile thoroughly after each addition and water until your pile is the consistency of a damp sponge. Then cover your pile to let it cook. Check your pile daily and keep a record of the temperatures.

Once the temperature falls, it’s time to flip. Make sure you turn the ENTIRE pile and mix up the stuff all the way on the bottom. Rinse and repeat. Replace the cover and start cooking again while documenting temperatures.

Picking A Perfect Compost Site

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compost in the garden background
  • Choosing a location for your compost pile isn’t hard, but there are some considerations. Here are some tips for choosing the perfect spot.
  • First thought should be about an area that can accommodate the size of your compost pile and working with it. Your pile should be at least 3 foot by 3 foot, but residential piles can be up to 5’x5’ plus you will be regularly flipping your pile. Make sure you have enough room to maneuver comfortably.
  • You will need to water your pile periodically so keeping it in reach of a hose is important.
  • Do not place in a shady location like under a tree or next to the house. You need your compost pile to keep warm and not cool down in the shade.
  • Also, Compost piles can create runoff polluting surrounding water ways and wells so, keep them at least 100 feet away.

Tools You Need to Compost Dog Poop

  • Raw materials
  • Compost container
  • Hose
  • Compost thermometer
  • Pitchfork or compost fork
  • Wheelbarrow
  • dark tarp

Methods of Collecting Dog Poop for Compost

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Closeup of the hand of a man picking up some dog poop with a bag while his dog sniffs it

There are really only two methods of collecting your dog poop.

Over Time Method

With this method you save up your dog’s poop until you have enough to create your pile. Simply, get a garbage can and collect excrement until it’s full. Once you are at capacity create or add to your pile and begin collect again. However, there are some drawbacks to this method, such as the smell, but the flip side is your pile will cook much quicker.

A Day At A Time Method

This method does take a little more time to get to the end result but it does cut out the middle man so to say. You add to your poop to your pile as you collect it so there is no storing.

Dog poop is a smelly gross reality of dog ownership. We can make our dogs just stop going, but now we don’t have to waste our time cleaning up their waste. Composting your dog poop is actually pretty easy and it is a great productive way to deal with an unsightly, smelly mess in the yard.

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