I once had the delightful pleasure of spending an hour a day with a large, cuddly pitbull. Oh man! He was a treat. Slobbery, energetic, and always carrying his favorite green chew toy (we never left the house without it.) And with all that sweet lovin’, it’s not surprising that he also was a waste-machine. On our hour long walks, I could expect at least two large poops. But I always planned for three.
One day, I was cleaning up after him. It was our first potty-stop, just off the curb. As I bent down to scoop, I heard, “I don’t know how you do that.”
A man was watching me pick up poop.
At first I wasn’t sure what he meant. I laughed and shrugged, tying my bag up and tossing it in the trash. But as time went on, I started thinking more about it.
Being a dog lover means a lot of stuff, including being up close and personal with the dirtier side of life. A regular dog is a healthy dog, and monitoring that is just as important as feeding.
Know Your Dog’s Diet
…and how it affects him. It’s great place to start. There are lots of diets out there, and it’s about finding a right fit; like a harness or dog-sweater.
If your dog is an active breed, a food with tasty proteins mixed in can help fuel that pooch! If he’s older, maybe one that supports joint health is the ticket. You get the idea! Talking to a professional is always a good idea!
But your pup’s diet is more than his kibble…think about how many treats he gets during the day.
I can’t speak for the entire world (if only I could,) but I know if I eat too many brownies, I start feeling a little uncomfortable.
It’s kinda a fun idea to have a variety of goodies available for spoiling your dog. A couple different treats in the cabinet make getting a goodie more interesting! “Which one is it gonna be this time?!”
Too many treats, though, can have the effect of too many brownies. Limiting the amount can help, but you can also mix it up with healthier snacks! Like yummy, dried sweet potato pieces….oh man. Even I’m drooling!
But there is also a more personal way of checking in with your pup…
Take A Look
Glamorous, I know! But the proof is in the pudding…so to speak.
By giving your dog’s gift a once over before scooping it up, you’re checking to see if everything is running smoothly.
You may be surprised by what you see, sometimes! And if it seems a bit unusual, you have a better idea of what your dog is eating.
For example, I once walked a dog whose favorite meal was a stick. He would carry and chew one the entire time, and even with my efforts to stop him, he swallowed some of it. After a few weeks of this, he was constipated, and eventually passed a bunch of stick-bits.
Not the healthiest of habits!
The same idea comes into play with trash and other street-finds. It’s always a good idea to keep stick-chewing to a minimum and keeping your eyes peeled for litter (yum.)
And when it comes to checking your dog’s regularity, these examples can manifest different problems for different pups.
Look For Patterns
I’m not saying you need to keep a poop-journal. But if that’s your thing, why not?
What you’re looking for is correlations between behavior and the quality of bowel movements. This will help you build a mental map of what’s affecting your dog.
Is his poop small and dry? Make sure he is drinking enough water, and bring some out on walks with you.
Does he have a very loose poop right after eating? Maybe you need to change his kibble.
It’s super important to know what’s going on when you’re not around, too. Make sure you get regular updates from your walker, sitter, or trainer that include potty-details.
And that brings me back to:
“I Don’t Know How You Do That.”
What this guy was saying to me is, “That’s gross.” But I whole heartedly disagree. When I open my baggy and stoop-to-scoop, I’m not only doing the polite thing, but the smart thing.
My hands touch some questionable things during the day, but dog poop isn’t one of them. Instead, I like to think that when we clean up we’re getting the inside scoop on taking care of our fur-babies! So, how can I do it? Easily.