Is Picking Up Dog Poop a Gardeners Job?

I was walking in the park the other day when I saw pet owners walking their dogs. They were cute to look at and they linger around the place for some time. I noticed though that there are irresponsible owners who make gardening in the park a difficult one.

NOT all dog owners pick up their dog’s poop. So it is often left to gardeners to pick it up. Or even mow over. It is not part of a job description. It adds up to extra time in the park.

For those working in parks and gardens, we often see the good and bad in people. Sad to say, many dog owners DO NOT clean up after their pooch leaving it there for someone to step in or clean up for them. A gardener is not a personal assistant doing the dirty work for you. A gardener is not a police officer ordering you to pick up your dog poo. A gardener is not a cleaner that cleans up after you. A gardener maintains the gardens and lawns. 

Not in the gardeners job description

Unfortunately, it becomes one. Again do people think the bag will magically jump into the bin? Why pick it up only to just toss the bag or leave it lying around? Somebody has to still pick this up. Gardeners are not cleaners. Gardeners are not paid more to pick up dog shit. 

EXTRA Time in the Park

For gardeners, it is always important to do a site inspection especially when they are mowing or brush cutting. This is often done by walking around and picking up rubbish and spotting anything out of place. Unfortunately, dog shit is often in areas where “dog owners” think nobody goes. Who do they think picks up the shit? Fairies? Walking the extra few yards around the park adds time and workload. 

Occasionally you spy the dog shit and leave it in place. On the next visit, you can see where you left that spot by the length of the grass. It is often much taller than the rest of the grass. Yes, it’s often easier if there are serial offenders that strike in the same area every time. 

This was the case at one of the recreation areas that we maintained – cutting the grass and pruning bushes. There was one house on the corner of the park. This area was on a monthly cut and to be honest not a high traffic area for locals. The house owner had two dogs and every time we showed up to mow the grass we spent 10 minutes walking the fence line picking up bags of dog shit. Yes, the owner picked up all the dog shit in their yard, then tossed every bag over the fence into the recreation area. It’s a mind-boggling incident as to what the owner was thinking about throwing the dog shit over the fence. 

It was never pleasant to go to this park. We never gave it our best. We always felt like our work meant nothing to this homeowner. It was often a job that was done at the end of the day as we didn’t want to carry around dog shit stinking out our truck all day. Yes, we did report the homeowner but they denied everything. So unless we had video footage it was a no-win situation.

Shit Hitting the Fan

It is the worst being a gardener when you are brush cutting and hit fresh dog shit. It literally is “Shit Hitting the Fan”. Most of the time, there is little you can do about it granted it is not a daily occurrence. In fact, it might only be once or twice a year. As much as you try to watch where you are going and what needs to be cut, you do not always spot the dog shit. 

It ruins your day when you are covered in poo as it normally goes all over your clothes and face. So naturally, you clean as much as you can, yet the smell lingers. It feels like it is embedded up your nostrils. Crikey! The smell stays forever. Oh and the conversations that you have with other gardeners that have had the same experience. It really is the most unpleasant thing that happens in the garden. 

Hitting the dog shit with a mower is less of a problem. It does not spread the same. But if you run over a dog shit, it can stick to the tire. If it does and you happen to have to do maintenance not realizing that there is dog shit off the tire, you will accidentally put your hand on it. And so the frustration goes on. 

Stepping in Dog Shit

This is the most common occurrence: stepping on dog shit. Whether it is old or new, it is never a pleasant experience especially if you don’t realize what you have stepped in. You will carry the dog shit on your work boots to other areas and most commonly, on the work vehicle. It stinks the inside of the vehicle. Even worse, you may carry it into the work office or your own home. 

Cleaning dog shit off boots is not at all fun. It takes time out of your day to clean them off. Spending endless hours and even days scraping the sole of your boots getting that stinky shit off your work boots. Sometimes, you even have to resort to grabbing an “old” toothbrush to clean your boots. 

Maybe worse than stepping in Dog shit is slipping in it. Another situation where shit can hit the fan. 

Again, people think that gardeners will walk around all areas to maintain the park and just leave their dog’s poop next to a tree in the corner. 

You can polish concrete but you can’t polish a turd. Think about it. There is just no good way to talk about shit, especially dog shit. For a gardener, your day turns to crap. Yes, a positive mindset helps a little. But when you are the one doing the job, only a few will find the fun out of it.


Surprisingly, there are beliefs surrounding a dog’s poop. So, is stepping in dog shit good luck? According to superstition, stepping in dog shit with your left foot is good luck. And stepping in dog shit with your right foot is bad luck. 

Whether that’s true or not, for gardeners, both are terrible. You still have to clean up your shoe or if you’re really unlucky it could be both. No matter what, stepping on dog shit is shitty, especially when barefooted. 

Self-Employed Gardener

Scattered dog shit not only happens in parks. This also happens in an owner’s backyard. For private contractors, part of the mowing can be picking up a home owner’s dog shit. Yes, some leave their backyard covered in dog poop. They rely on the gardener/mower man to pick up the dog shit. A gardener is NOT a cleaner. Charging extra for this service should be written into the agreement. As a gardener, it feels belittling to have someone else think all you are good for is picking up their dog’s shit. 

An even better approach might be to sack your customer. Whilst some gardeners are happy to pick up dog shit, others are NOT. Some give the learner or apprentice the dirty task (picking up the dog poo).

Final Words

To ALL dog owners: 

Please clean up after your precious pooch. Owning a dog carries some responsibilities. One is cleaning up after them. Carry poo bags and watch your dog when outside of your own home. It is unhygienic to leave your dog’s poop behind. Keep the streets, parks, and gardens dog poo free. 

If you are unsure how to pick up dog shit, talk to your local pet shop. They will be more than willing to sell you the right products.

Thanks in Advance,

Gardeners (and the general public) of the World

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