In a recent study published in the International Journal of Environment and Waste management, behavioral scientists in the UK explored the reasons why dog walkers either did or didn’t pick up their dog’s poop.

Because the problem is costing their government tens of millions of dollars (not to mention the emotional toll of stepping in a pile as you hurry to work), they decided to solve this unsavory problem once and for all.

To start, a team of British, English and Welsh researchers went to a popular dog walking area in Lancashire, UK to conduct a “path audit.” They wanted to determine how the type of path (wooded, curvaceous, public), proximity to trash bins and bags, and cleanliness of the path affected whether or not people picked up after their pet. They also conducted surveys asking English and Welsh dog owners how they felt about dumping dog poo on the streets and lawns of their neighborhoods.

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As a result, they identified five types of dog walkers:

1. Proud to pick up

These dog walkers are proud to be seen carrying dog waste. They often stroll up to a posh pub, blue baggie in hand, and deposit it on the ground beside their table as they sip tea. Okay, I made that part up, but I bet some do. These people are rock stars in the waste management world.

2. It is the right thing to do

These people will pick up poop in public places but will dump the doo as soon as they get to a trashcan. When asked they don’t brag.

3. I have done my job

These folks I don’t understand. They bag up their dog’s poop and then leave it behind if they don’t see a trash receptacle nearby. I step on these blow-up baggies during my pre-dawn runs.

4. Only if I have to

I call them “guilt baggers.” They only sack the scat when someone is watching.

5. Disengaged

Either they’re clueless, clueless jerks, or probably both. They refuse to scoop the poo at any time or in any place. I don’t get it…that's just nasty.

Identifying poop personalities was just the first part of a broader scientific inquiry. Next, the researchers will study tactics to encourage more fecal collection by dog walkers.

What’s your poo-sonality? Do you clean up every time, or sometimes leave a mess behind?

Jun 13, 2014

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