Build Your Own Pet Waste Digester

DIY Instructions for a Dog Septic Tank
By The Bark Editors, September 2011
Build your own Pet Waste Digester

As a dog person, you probably think about dog poop more often than your dogless neighbors, especially when it comes to cleaning it up in the yard. You might want to consider making an in-ground pet-waste digester or a dog-poop processor, which is a pretty easy weekend project. These DIY dog waste composters divert dog waste from landfills and instead, keep in your own backyard, only in an environmentally friendly way. They work similarly to a home septic system, converting the waste to a liquid that leaches out through the subsoil.

Instructions for Making a DIY Dog Poop Disposal System

1. Take an old plastic garbage can and drill a dozen or so holes in the sides.
2. Cut out the bottom. (A keyhole saw works great for this.)
3. Dig a hole deep enough for the garbage can.
4. Toss some rocks or gravel in the hole for drainage and position the garbage can so it’s a little above ground level.
5. Place the lid on top. (You might want to paint something like “Dog Waste Composter” across the lid.)
6. Start scooping.

When you add poop to the bin, sprinkle in some septic starter (available at hardware stores or Amazon) and add some water.

“Within 48 hours, the septic-tank starter (which is noncaustic and promotes natural bacterial growth) will have begun its work and you can add more dog doo,” explains Michael Levenston, executive director of the City Farmer program in Vancouver, Canada, from which these instructions are adapted. “You can then begin to add it daily. This waste biodegrades and flows into the subsoil.”


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The holes drilled into the side of the can help the fluid and gas exchange with the soil. Check in at least once a week to be sure the dog poop is composting cleanly, and add more septic starter and water as needed.

For those less DIY-inclined, check out the Doggie Dooley 3000. It's available through Amazon, along with a few other places. The flip-top lid is a nice feature common to all of Doggie Dooley's products.

Winter Weather

During the colder temperatures of winter months, this DIY doggie doo dissolver will still work, but more slowly. The microorganisms that break down dog poop are less efficient in colder temperatures. So, in colder areas, more frequent check-ins are required. If things seem to be slowing down, an extra dose of septic system treatment and water will encourage faster breakdown. Once spring arrives, the breakdown speed will begin to pick up again.

(IMPORTANT: Do NOT use composted dog waste in your garden.)

While burying a garbage can to compost dog waste might seem like overkill if you live near the woods or in a rural area, dealing with dog waste in an environmentally friendly manner is always a good thing.

By the way, the website is loaded with all kinds of helpful urban agriculture tips. Check it out!

Photo: Pexels / Unsplash