Trail Etiquette: Pack in, Pack out!
New York City dog owners know that a walk with your dog typically involves the oh-so-glamorous chore of picking up their poop off the curb. But what about when you're out in the country, on a trail in the woods?
In the state of New York, it is the law to pick up your dogs poop and take it with you. Beyond the law- "Leave No Trace" and "Pack in, Pack out" are standard practices followed by the hiking and outdoor community primarily to protect wildlife and keep our trails clean.
For anyone who is environmentally concerned, it may seem reasonable to debate this due to the amount of plastic we go through in picking up dog poop; "well, isn't it better to let the poop decompose naturally where it can rather than contribute more to plastic waste?"
The short answer is- no, it's not better to let our dog's poop decompose in the woods or on the trail. The easy solution to the plastic concern is to purchase bio-degradable/compostable poop bags! While your individual dog’s poop on the side of the trail may not seem like a big deal to you, a busy trail can accumulate droppings from hundreds of dogs over the course of a single day. Pet waste (similar to human waste) contains pathogens that, when not picked up, can end up in rivers and lakes, ultimately contaminating our drinking water. If the abandoned pet waste contains diseases or parasites such as giardia, this can easily infect other dogs using the trail or be transmitted to and/or by people who might step in it and track it home.
The only thing your dog should leave behind on the trail is paw prints!