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Dog Fouling - Clean up after your dog - it’s the law

Owning a dog gives great pleasure and companionship to many. However, with ownership comes responsibilities beyond just making sure the dog is fed, looked after and exercised. Everyone thinks that dog mess is disgusting. The below sets out your responsibilities as a dog owner and how you can do your bit to reduce dog mess and keep the environment cleaner for all of us.

Toilet training your dog

Start early

A puppy needs to go to the toilet very often so start by putting him or her outside in a suitable place when you think he needs to go. Keep repeating this and when successful, praise them. If you can't get outside, use a litter tray.

Regular times

Get your dog used to a routine. Have regular times when you take him or her out, for instance in the morning after meals and in the evening.

Going on command

Use a command word ("clean" or "busy") just as he or she is about to go to the toilet so he or she associates this with going. Always use the same tone of voice and if successful praise once he or she has finished. By training, you can get him or her to go where you want him or her to - instead of places that are not suitable.

Scoop the poop when you're out and about

If your dog goes while you are out it is important that you clean up after it. Not only is this the right thing to do but it is also the law! Don't leave it for someone else to tread in it. Although there are various designs of poop scoop devices you can buy perhaps the simplest and best to use is a bag. You can buy special ones made for this or just use other bags. Even though you should not actually touch the dog mess when picking it up, you should always wash your hands as soon as possible when you get home.

If there is a 'dog bin' nearby then tie the bag up and place it in this. If there is no dog bin, then take it home with you and put it in with your household rubbish or use a litter bin.

The Law

Using powers in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (2005), East Northamptonshire Council has implemented four dog control orders including "Failing to remove dog faeces". This applies to all land that is open to the air and the public are entitled or permitted to have access to with or without payment. Using these powers the council can issue a fixed penalty notice of £100 to any person that lets their dog foul and does not pick it up. Being unaware that your dog has fouled is not considered a reasonable excuse for leaving it.

If you are issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice and you don't pay it you could be taken to court. The maximum penalty then rises to £1,000. Whenever you go out with your dog carry some bags with you, just in case. Having no bags with you isn't a reasonable excuse for not clearing up and you could still be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice.

The risk to human health

Dog mess may contain a number of things that can make people ill. One of these is the roundworm Toxocara canis whose eggs can be found in the faeces of dogs that haven't been wormed. If the eggs are swallowed, infection can cause a wide range of symptoms from aches and pains to bronchial conditions. In very rare cases eyesight can be damaged.

Young children are most at risk as they are more likely to come into contact with infected ground and then put their fingers in their mouth. The eggs can lie dormant in the soil for up to three years.

Although the risk to human health is small it can be reduced by:

  • worming your dog regularly
  • always clearing up after your dog
  • good hygiene practice

Toxocara lifecycle:

Toxocara diagram 1


The council's Environmenmtal Services Officers patrol areas where problems with dog fouling have been reported to try to catch the offender or act as a deterrent. If you would like to report a fouling problem it would be helpful if you could give us details such as approximate times when the fouling is happening and if possible descriptions of the dog and/or its owner. We may also be able to put up some signs warning owners not to let their dogs foul. Please see our dog fouling page for more information