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Karen B. London
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Carrying Bags of Poop Makes People Friendly
It identifies those who follow the rules
Carrying proof of my good behavior.

Recently, I noticed that the people I see when I am running or walking with a dog are paying attention to something unexpected. They REALLY notice whether I am carrying a bag of poop or not. When the dog has yet to make a deposit, my bags are tucked out of sight in a pocket or elsewhere, but once I’ve had the joy of cleaning up after a dog, I have my bright blue newspaper bag in hand. Without the bag, people smile a little or nod, or say a brief “Hello.”

 
Yet once I have a full bag in hand, the friendliness of people reaches a new level. I am greeted heartily with cries of “Good morning!” “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” and “What a lovely dog!” It seems that carrying a bag of poop tells people what a good person I am, or at least a solid citizen and a good neighbor. It’s very interesting that I can see such a big difference in the behavior of strangers based on whether or not they can verify that I’m a picker-upper or a leaver-behinder.
 
This suggests to me that as a community, people with dogs are not perceived as being reliable about cleaning up after their dogs. And it’s little wonder. I know that in my neighborhood, almost everybody cleans up after their own dogs, but there is still a lot of poop left lying around. A few slackers really do ruin it for the rest of us, which is perhaps why when you have proof that you’re one of the good guys, people respond so positively.
 
Have you noticed an increase in friendliness when you are carrying a full poop bag?

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Maura | February 24 2011 |

I notice the same thing! And it's rare that I see other dog owners carrying bags of poops which makes sense because there is SO much poop on the trails around us! It sux because I'm sure one day it's going to ruin it for everyone when they take away dog rights on a lot of the trails. Makes me mad!!!

Submitted by Courtney | February 24 2011 |

I definitely agree that people act differently around dog owners that show a respect for their community. My neighborhood is PLAGUED with people that do not clean up after their pet, so maybe subconsciously I feel slightly more respected when my neighbors see my clean up after my dog. I also make a point to do so at the dog park!

Submitted by Linda | February 25 2011 |

I haven't noticed so far, but I'll pay more attention and see if I can make a connection.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 25 2011 |

Think how big their smile would be if you were using a biodegradable bag instead of a plastic newspaper bag! ;o)

Submitted by Tinalovesdogs | March 2 2011 |

I agree! I buy my biodegradable poop bags from the Best Friends online store. They are SUPER-INEXPENSIVE, and the profit goes to a great cause (Best Friends Sanctuary)!

http://www.bestfriendsstore.com/Dogs/Best-Friends-Dog-Accessories/Best-F...

Our dog poops three times a day, and almost never in the backyard, so I carry a lot of poop around the neighborhood in those bio-bags. :)

Submitted by Lois | February 25 2011 |

I carry my poop with pride! I want people to see that I pick up after my dogs. There is a great poem called "Cleaning Up After the Dog" by Jason Tandon.

http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2010/02/17

Submitted by Pamela | February 26 2011 |

The corollary is the angry, interested glare you get as your dog poops and they wait to see if you're going to whip out a bag or not.

Submitted by Rae | November 4 2011 |

We all want to take our dogs with us everywhere but when you don't clean up after them many places refuse them. It's Your Doodie - Pick it up! That is the motto of the It's Your Doodie (tm) Bag a new dog walk waste holder. Pick it up. Place it in the It's Your Doodie tm Bag, clip it to your leash and off you go. No need to think about it until you find an appropriate receptacle. Waterproof interior, clean bags dispense from front, drawstring and cord lock keep it all secure. www.itsyourdoodie.com

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