What to Do with Dog Poop When Backpacking?

Backpacking in the great outdoors is an exhilarating experience for both humans and their canine companions. The thrill of exploring new trails and basking in the beauty of nature is unbeatable. 

However, responsible pet ownership doesn’t take a back seat when you’re on an adventure. One crucial aspect often overlooked by backpackers with dogs is managing dog waste. 

In this guide, we’ll delve into the importance of responsible dog waste disposal while backpacking and provide you with eco-friendly solutions to tackle this issue. Join us in our journey to preserve the pristine beauty of our wilderness areas!

The Importance of Responsible Dog Waste Disposal

When hiking or backpacking with your furry friend, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your pet’s waste doesn’t harm the environment. Dog poop is not only unsightly but can also pose serious environmental and health hazards. 

Here’s why responsible dog waste disposal is essential:

Water Contamination: Dog feces contain harmful bacteria and pathogens that can contaminate water sources. 

When it rains, this waste can wash into streams and rivers, affecting aquatic life and potentially harming humans downstream.

Wildlife Disturbance: The smell of dog poop can attract wildlife, disrupting their natural behavior and putting both animals and hikers at risk. Animals might become aggressive or lose their fear of humans.

Aesthetics: Nobody wants to stumble upon dog waste while enjoying the scenic beauty of the outdoors. Irresponsible disposal can spoil the experience for other hikers.

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Eco-Friendly Dog Waste Disposal Methods

Now that we understand the importance of responsible dog waste disposal let’s explore some eco-friendly methods for handling it while backpacking:

Biodegradable Dog Poop Bags: Invest in biodegradable poop bags made from materials like cornstarch or recycled plastic. 

These bags break down naturally, reducing their environmental impact. Always carry a sufficient supply with you and pack them out in a sealed container.

Burying Dog Waste: In some wilderness areas, burying dog waste is an acceptable practice. Choose a spot away from trails, campsites, and water sources. 

Dig a small hole at least 6-8 inches deep, place the waste inside, and cover it with soil. Be sure to check local regulations and guidelines before doing this.

Pack It Out: The most foolproof method is to pack out your dog’s waste just as you would with your own trash. Use a designated container, like a pet waste disposal system or a sealed plastic container, to store the waste securely. Ensure it’s airtight to prevent odors and spills.

Use a Portable Incinerator: Some backpackers opt for portable incinerators designed for pet waste. These devices burn the waste at high temperatures, reducing it to ashes. 

However, this method may not be suitable in dry or fire-prone areas, so always check local restrictions.

Natural Decomposition: In areas with appropriate conditions, dog waste can naturally decompose over time. This process can take several months to a year. Ensure that you leave the waste in a location far from water sources, trails, and campsites.

Train Your Dog: Prevention is the best solution. Train your dog to go before hitting the trail and use commands to encourage them to do so away from the path. This reduces the likelihood of encountering waste-related issues on your trip.

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Respecting Leave No Trace Principles

Responsible dog waste disposal aligns with Leave No Trace principles, a set of ethical guidelines for outdoor ethics. By practicing Leave No Trace, you help preserve the wilderness for future generations. 

Here’s how it relates to dog waste:

Plan Ahead: Before you embark on your backpacking adventure, research the specific rules and regulations regarding pet waste disposal in the area you plan to visit.

Dispose of Waste Properly: Choose one of the eco-friendly methods mentioned above to dispose of dog waste, depending on the guidelines set by the park or wilderness area.

Respect Wildlife: Keep your dog on a leash and under control to minimize wildlife disturbance. Never feed wildlife or let your dog chase or harass them.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Ensure that your pet does not infringe on the experiences of other hikers. Pick up after your dog, and maintain a respectful distance from fellow adventurers.


Backpacking with your dog can be a wonderful experience as long as you take your responsibilities seriously. Properly managing dog waste is not just a matter of cleanliness; it’s about preserving the beauty and health of our wilderness areas. 

By adopting eco-friendly dog waste disposal practices and adhering to Leave No Trace principles, you can ensure that your outdoor adventures remain enjoyable for everyone while protecting our environment for future generations to enjoy. 

So, next time you head out on a backpacking trip with your furry friend, remember to pack those eco-friendly dog poop bags and embark on your adventure with a clear conscience and a cleaner trail. Happy hiking!