Go ahead and guess: How much dog poop do our pets produce each year? The answer is that in the United States, 83 million pet dogs create 10.6 million tons of poop. That's. A. Lot. Of. Poop. As a responsible dog owner you know that you need to pick up that poop and dispose of it properly. But you and your dog can go one step further and turn that waste into something beneficial for your garden. Learn how to make dog poop compost in four simple steps.
Step 1: Collect supplies
You'll need a plastic garbage can with a removable lid. The size you use depends on how much poop you have to compost. If you have multiple German Shepherds then choose a large 32 gallon can, but if you have one Yorkshire terrier then opt for something smaller like a 13 gallon can. Also bear in mind that if you're planning to harvest the dog poop compost then you to need to be able to reach the bottom of the can once it is buried. So, a 32 gallon can may be too large; consider a 23 gallon can.
You'll also need:
-either a manual or electric drill
-digging spade (or an especially well-trained dog who will dig exactly when and where you want)
-rocks of various sizes--How many you need depends on the size of the garbage can you're using. Plan on a good wheelbarrow full of rocks for multiple large breed dogs and an apple basket full for one smaller sized dog.
-septic starter which can be purchased at any home supply store--You can also make your own.
-large stone or brick
-dog poop without plastic pick-up bag
Step 2: Cut and drill
Use the keyhole saw to cut the bottom out of the garbage can. Then use the drill to drill holes in the side of the can. Drill enough holes for plenty of drainage to escape, but not so many that your can collapses.
Step 3: Dig, and bury
Dig a hole large enough to accommodate your garbage can and pile of rocks. The can will be buried completely leaving only the top visible. Place the rocks at the bottom of the hole and put your bottom-less garbage can on top. Back fill around the sides of the can. The removable lid should be exposed above ground so that you can easily add to the can and cover it again. Placing a large stone or brick on top of the lid is useful for keeping unwanted critters out of the compost.
Step 4: Add poop and septic starter
Add dog poop to the buried garbage can (don't include the plastic pick-up bag) and then cover with a layer of septic starter. After the first addition of poop wait 48 hours to give the septic starter time to work. After this initial deposit the poop can be added each day. Each addition should be covered with septic starter.
Where Can You Use the Dog Poop Compost?
You'll know it is time to harvest the compost when it looks like coffee grounds. The verdict is still out on whether or not you can use dog poop compost on your vegetable garden. Dogs are subject to roundworms (Toxicara canis), and these worms can infect your dog poop compost. Roundworms are not safe for humans to ingest so it is probably best to only use the compost on non-food gardens (i.e. flower garden, non-fruit trees, shrubs).
If you know your dog is infected with roundworms or any other type of parasite do not compost their poop until the infection has been successfully treated.
If you don't want to harvest your dog poop compost then just leave it in the ground and it will biodegrade and become part of the subsoil.
There are other ways of doing things
Some folks make their dog poop compost differently. They have an above ground compost pile and use a recipe of two parts dog poop and one part sawdust for their dog poop compost pile. Others use a slightly different recipe: one part dog poop, plus one part green matter (lawn clippings, leaves), plus three parts soil.
Sorry, cat owners
Cat poop can not be composted. Your feline friends can carry toxoplasmosis which is very toxic to humans so it should be kept out of compost.
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photo of two dogs in leaves via Shutterstock