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How to be Pet Owner of the Year

dog DNF Style

By Linda Foss

Compost: the Safest Dog Waste Disposal System

Dog waste disposal poses a dilemma to the environmentally friendly pet owner. Leaving the waste on the ground is hazardous, as it may carry E. coli, salmonella, or giardia, and the rain can wash it into rivers, streams, and oceans. Beaches and rivers have been closed to the public due to such contamination.

So we need to pick it up. However, instead of taking this organic matter that would eventually degrade on its own, encasing it in plastic bag, and throwing it into an airless landfill where nothing decomposes, you can compost it. This ensures that we are not putting off dog waste disposal for future generations to deal with, or risking contaminants leaching in the landfill.

While there are dog waste composting systems for sale, making a composter yourself is simple and inexpensive. All you need is a lidded trash can, a hole in the ground, and septic system enzymes (City recommends Septo-Bac). A five-gallon trash can should be adequate for one large dog or two small dogs. You do not even necessarily need a trash can. I used a plastic nursery growers pot I had lying around, and covered it with a clay plant saucer for my dog waste disposal system. If you have an out-of-the-way spot, you could even just use a hole in the ground. The can will keep the hole from caving in, and the lid will seal it off.

To prepare the can, cut out the bottom and drill holes in the sides. Then dig a hole that the can fits in snugly.  Add a few inches of gravel to the bottom to aid drainage. Then throw the dog waste in using compostable bags, newspaper, or a scoop. The newspaper will decompose and will absorb some odor as well. When I am out walking my dog, I use newspaper and a plastic bag.

Start off decomposition by adding a liter of water and some septic tank enzymes. After that, you will need to add water about once a week and enzymes once or twice a month. The frequency depends on how much pet waste you are dealing with. You can always upgrade to a bigger can if you need to.

Cautionary Notes on Dog Waste Disposal

Locate the composter away from your edible plants, and don’t use the composted waste on them. However, the compost can be used on ornamental plants.  Alternately, you can bury the compost and make a new hole elsewhere. Aside from the newspaper and anything else you might throw in, most of the waste will break down quickly and wash into the soil. It should be a long time before you have to worry about a full bin.

If you live in a cold climate or an area with high water tables or heavy clay soils, you may need to do additional research. Your soil needs good drainage, but you may still be able to make it work with extra efforts such as worm composting.  In cold climates, you can add additional material to keep the compost hot enough for the enzymes to work and organic matter to break down. And finally, city dwellers should make sure it isn’t prohibited by law where you live.

Then for your next trick, try to convince city parks and dog parks to provide a composter as well. It actually makes environmental sense in the long run, as one study from Alaska shows. Industrial-sized composters capable of managing 300 lbs of waste per week are available.

© 2012 SCGH, LLC.

14 Responses to “How to be Pet Owner of the Year”

  1. Akhona Says:

    I love, love this book. I just peckid it up last week to reread it. Ken Foster has another book too, called Dogs I Have Met and the People They Found. Both great books.

  2. Lore Says:

    What a pleasure to find smoeone who thinks through the issues

  3. Pet Waste Disposal Says:

    Dog waste composting is a very good idea. We must keep in mind that just leaving the pet waste lying on the ground is not good for our health or the health of our neighbors. There are a lot of people that don’t want to go thru the trouble of making their own system for this reason I have a very good solution for them. Pet waste disposal made easy at

  4. Anne Says:

    Thanks very much providing this information! I found it very helpful and the links you provided were very useful too! I am excited to try it out!

  5. waste disposal Says:

    This ensures that we have a tendency to don’t seem to be procrastinating dog waste disposal for future generations to upset, or risking contaminants natural process within the lowland.

    waste disposal

  6. Kathy Says:

    Saw a system like this just recently. Think it’s worth a try.

  7. jim Says:

    I made a pet waste composter from a 25 gallon trash can, and have been using it for about 6 weeks. I have two 70lb dogs. The composter is almost full and doesn’t seem to be breaking down. I am using Roebic brand digester for septic systems. I put water in the composter twice a week. I wonder if I have the wrong product as a digester. On the label it says soap grease and paper digester. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  8. Dick Says:

    Our company, Bio-buddy is also a source for compostable, Made USA, dog waste bags. under the product menu, compostable/biodegradable dog waste bags. We are starting to supply compostable bags to municipalities that wish to compost their dog waste. We always caution tht it must be done carefully, but we believe that composting may well be a big part of the solution.

    Also check out Their business is professional dog waste composting. They sell the final compost in the Denver area.

  9. Andi Says:

    I would be concerned about a small child finding their way to the can, lifting the lid and “hiding” in there, falling in there, and possibly becoming ill, drowning, getting overheated, or suffocating. If there is any danger of a small child accessing this, there should be a lock on the lid or it should be inside a locked area.

  10. Zoey Says:

    Theoretically this is a great ideea, esspecially for me since the municipal garbage system refuses to pick up the dog waste.
    But using these containers and chemicals(assuming its burried in the ground), wouldnt it affect the water (i have a water well at 20 meters away from the dogs area), and what happens to the gases eliminated during the waste decomposing process?

    If any of you may have an answer for my question, or even experience, i would really appreciate your help!


  11. susi Says:

    I am surprised that none of the sites about doing yourself dog waste composter mention danger of a child or a dog falling into the composter. While I was digging the hole for my 20 gal trash can my elderly dog fell in and couldn’t get out without my help. There should be a warning about the safe lids and possibly a fence.

  12. Caroline Says:

    I had a pet composter that I purchased and was really happy with it. The hardest part was digging the hole; everything else was wonderful. We used a scoop, so no bags. Lid had a foot pedal, so no bending or dealing with a trash lid with poop in one hand. I think we followed the directions to the letter, but after a couple of months I would sprinkle the composting enzymes over the new layer of waste. It was amazing! We used it for 2 years without incident until we sold the house.

  13. Pudtan Says:

    In case of having a large number of dogs like an adoption center, which system should I use? We might have around 500 dogs and we have limited budget, so we need the environmentally friendly and also self sustainable waste disposal system and we also concern about the water treatment too. Please give me suggestion and or give me a place for me to research for. Thank you.

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