LIMA — Whether you’re a dog owner or you happen to be a neighbor of one, the issue of dog poo in the yard is hard to ignore.
Two local experts have offered their tips and advice for keeping your canine “going” in designated areas and for keeping both your pooch and your yard healthy and clean. The biggest mistake many dog owners make is not taking an active role in house training their pets, explained Dr. Bill Collins, a veterinarian at Shawnee Veterinary Hospital in Shawnee Township.
“They’re putting them outside and they don’t even know if they’re having a bowel movement or not until the dog barks to come in,” he said. “They haven’t taken any part in the house training at all.”
Proper house training should begin early in puppyhood, Collins stressed.
“We usually recommend crates for puppies,” he said. “There was a study one time that showed that crate training is actually more humane than no crate training.”
“Crate training” implies that the dog is kept inside a cage, or a crate, when the owners are asleep or out of the house, he explained. As soon as the puppy is taken out of the crate, the first thing an owner should do is take the him straight outside to go potty. It’s important to make this a routine from the beginning, Collins advised.
“Take them to the back corner, or wherever you want to have them go to the bathroom and stay with them,” he said. “Don’t just put them back there and go in the house. As, soon as they go to the bathroom, reward them with a food reward and praise. And just start making that a habit, that their feet never touch the floor in the house under they’ve gone to the bathroom outside.”
Dog trainer Donna Kllnger, owner of DONNA — Disciplining Our Naughty-Natured Animals — in Delphos, also stressed the importance of starting puppies out young with house training. Taking a puppy to the same spot each time will teach him to keep his business in that area.
“To get puppies to start house training, what we do is tell people to take them out to the same spot every time and tell them to go potty,” she said. “Because that’s where their hormones will be centralized at, and they’ll smell that and they’ll want to go there. So that will also help housebreaking, obviously — but it also kind of teaches them where they can go.”
As far as dealing with the poo in the yard is concerned, Collins advised to make it a point to clean up after dog — even if it is concentrated in one area of the lawn. This is simply a matter of health for your canine friend.
“Because if they have worms, or if they haven’t had their veterinary appointment yet to be wormed, those worm eggs will last in the soil for 20 years,” he said. “So it’s a matter of training, and also it’s a matter of training the owners also.”
Keeping your lawn relatively clean from dog waste will also avoid attracting other dogs, which can bring diseases to your precious pooch.
“It’s going to keep your dog healthier because you don’t want worms getting into the ground — because that’s where dogs get their worms from,” Klinger said. “And if other dogs have them, they poo in your yard and your dog walks in it, and then they lick their paws and the eggs are ingested into the dog. And your dog ends up with worms.”
How often a dog owner cleans up the yard depends largely on the size and amount of dogs in the home, Klinger said. Some people, for example, might prefer to regularly pick up droppings right before mowing the lawn. Others might clean up immediately after taking their dog outside.
“I hate to even say this, but there are dogs out there that like to eat their own poo,” Klinger said. “And honestly, everything I have tried has never worked for that. So the best thing to do is just keeping it picked up and picking it up after they go, if they have that problem.”
Even well-trained dogs can sometimes “go” where they’re not supposed to: while on a walk, for example. As a courtesy to pedestrians, owners should always be prepared with a plastic bag when walking their dogs.
And if you happen to be a disgruntled homeowner whose neighbor dog won’t stop pooing in your yard, know that this is an owner issue. This nuisance may give dogs a bad rap, but there are laws in Ohio stating that pet owners must contain their dog — whether it is on a leash, a fenced-in area or an electric collar.
“Dog people should have more respect for their neighbors and not let their dogs roam,” Klinger said. “That’s a good way of getting your dog picked up by the dog warden, or getting a fine. And it keeps your dog safer because they’re not going to get hit on the road if they’re contained.”