What is the most responsible thing to do with your dog's poop?

We are often told that a responsible dog owner will pick up his or her dog's poop, put it in a plastic bag, and put it in a bin.

But is this what a dog owner who was both wise and responsible would and should do in all cases? No.

This page was written 2019/04/06, last edited 2023/06/18
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

Dog faeces in a plastic bag placed in a rubbish bin will go to landfill where the poop will ferment anaerobically (in the absence of air) and produce the strong greenhouse gas methane, some of which will then get into the atmosphere and make climate change worse – and the organic matter will be lost to the biosphere.

Give some thought to where you leave the stuff. It shouldn't be placed where it might wash into a stream for example.
Dog faeces, or any other faecal matter, that is left on the surface or buried (without being sealed in a plastic bag) will be decomposed aerobically by bacteria with the release of the less harmful carbon dioxide – and the organic matter will be returned to the biosphere.

I'm not advocating leaving your dog's shit for someone to step on, but I am advocating disposing of it with more thought.

In many parks or similar public places it will be easy to bury the poop beneath leaf litter or mulch off to the side of a walking path. There invertebrates and/or bacteria will break down the poop and convert the organic matter into humus – that is, plant food.

There are several ways you could responsibly dispose of your dog's droppings, most involve digging a little hole in leaf litter, mulch or soil near the path:
Every time you can responsibly avoid using and dumping a plastic bag you are doing the Earth a favour.

  • You could pick up the droppings with a piece of paper (such as newspaper) and drop the wrapped droppings in the hole;

  • You could carry a garden trowel, perhaps in a plastic bag, and use that to move and bury the dog's droppings;

  • If you could kick the poop into the hole, or push it with a stick, rather than wrapping it in newspaper so much the better, because paper will take a lot longer to decompose than will faeces.
Dog's droppings contain more pathogens that could infect humans than do the droppings of grazing animals, so consideration needs to be given to their disposal.

Gleeson Wetlands
I have done regular volunteer work at Gleeson Wetlands (photo above) from June 2014 to the time I left SA for WA (Early 2023). Many people walk their dogs on the wetlands paths. I encourage people to simply bury any dog poo in the mulch to the side of the paths.

Gleeson Wetlands is a must-see in Clare, Mid-North South Australia.

Bowman Park in Crystal Brook is also well worth a visit, and I hope that Crystal Brook's Central Park will be in the future too. I am heavily involved as a volunteer with both.

Of course kangaroos, ducks and other waterbirds poop around the Wetlands, and the resident peacock, many other birds and kangaroos poop at Bowman Park. "Shit happens", there is nothing more natural than poop.

Related pages

On the Internet...

The 7 ways to dispose of dog poop; veterinarian Dr Alex goes into a lot of useful detail on the pros and cons of how to dispose of dog poop.

On this site...

Cleaning up roadsides (and the atmosphere)

Climate change


Contribution to society