Pet Waste

This page is for Master Watershed Stewards considering a Behavior Change campaign in their communities. To learn more about what you can do as an individual click here. 

Pet waste is a leading cause of bacteria in many Chesapeake Bay waterways. One gram of pet waste can contain up to 23 million bacteria (Van der Wel, B. 1995. Dog Pollution. The Magazine of the Hydrological Society of South Australia. 2(1)1). When it rains, pet waste can be washed off of lawns and other surfaces into streams and creeks, eventually flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. Unlike the dung of many wild animals, such as deer, the waste of dogs contains many more bacteria and parasites and attracts pests, such as rats. Choose this behavior if there are a lot of dog owners in your neighborhood, a lot of private yards, or you observe a lot of pet waste on the ground. You should differentiate your behavior between picking up pet waste in private versus public areas. 

(Note: Some of the behaviors below are general you may want to be more specific before designing a Behavior Change campaign.)

Click here for a brief overview of the Pet Waste Campaign that WSA has already developed.


Baseline Survey 

Intercept Survey

Commitment (CT)


Social Norms (SN) 

Community Event

Social Diffusion (SD)

Community Event, Scoop the Poop*

Prompts (P)

Magnet*Pet Waste Station Signs and Posts*

Communications (C)

Door Hanger*Poopy Times Newsletters*, Social Media

Incentives (I)

Free baggies, dog treats, discounts with vets or pet stores

Convenience (CV)

Pet Waste Pick-up Services*Pet Waste Station Signs and Posts*/ Pet Waste Bags

* Available in editable and/or hardcopy formats from WSA. Click for digital version or email to check hardcopy availability.

Behavior: Pick up and properly dispose of pet waste in the trash.

Some of the common perceived or actual barriers keeping people from picking up after their pets include:

Some of the common perceived or actual benefits that make people pick up after their pet include:

1.      I want to keep a neat and clean yard.
2.      I don’t want people to step in it.
3.      I don’t want it to get washed into local waterways.
4.      It smells better.
5.      I do it as a neighborhood courtesy/ so neighbors won’t think less of me.
6.      It’s the right thing to do.
7.      I do it for the health benefits.
8.      It’s the law.
9.      My friends and family do it.


See what Others Have Done!

Commitments (CT):
City of Colorado Springs
Neighbors for Clean Water
Clear Choices Clean Water

Commuincations (C):
Never Forget a Bag Again Infographic
How to Pick Up After Your Dog Instructional Video


Case Studies

California Water Boards