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That Trail Is So Pooped (On)

What to do with your dog's doodoo


German shepherd
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  • Last year I wrote about the joys of encountering human ...deposits, shall we say, along one of my favorite hiking trails. Of course most two-legged hikers are kind enough to avoid defecating on the trail (or if they must, they deal with the leavings properly). Four-legged hikers, though, don't really know any better -- and who can blame them? 

    Fortunately, dogs like bringing their people with them on hikes -- and we people are smart enough to either pack that dog poo out or bury it, just like we do with our own. (Right?)

    Here are some tips to help you cope with doggy deposits gracefully:

    • Carry plastic newspaper bags (or your other poop-scooping bag of choice) where they're easy to get to -- say, tied around your dog's leash or in your pack's hipbelt pocket.
    • Don't leave a doody-filled bag beside the trail or worse, hanging like a bizarre tree ornament, with plans to collect it on the way back. Almost nobody actually remembers, and seeing the poop-filled bags languishing there is almost as bag as just seeing the poop.
    • Let your dog carry his own filled poop bags in a doggy pack instead -- or store them in an odor-proof zip-close bag (the kind used to help deter bears) until the end of your trip. Worst-case scenario, carry one or two of those toy carabiners and clip the bag to the outside of your pack.

    Or, of course, you can bury dog poo just as you would do with your own leavings... but unless your dog is in the habit of producing turds that can be, uh, easily transported to the hole you've dug for them, this isn't the most practical (or fun, or leave-no-trace-friendly) solution.

    Protip: Dog poop deposited in winter does not magically disappear when it's covered in a layer of fresh snow. It just goes into hiding for a little while, becoming a nice, soggy landmine for hikers to discover when the snow melts or softens.

    It gets better: You know how a dark rock plopped on top of a snowbank will absorb heat from the sun and eventually melt its way down into the snow, right? Poo sometimes does the same, gradually sinking itself into a nice snowy nest.

    So... yeah. Please pick up dog poo in winter, too.

    Photo © Lisa Maloney: I was going to take a picture of dog poop on the trail, but that's gross. So I'm leaving you with a photo of one of my favorite hiking buddies instead.

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