Print|Text Size: ||
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?

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.

More From The Bark