The problem with dog poop in France

Written by Diane on. Posted in on Dagny the dog, on life in France

French people love their dogs. No one will argue that. From big Great Danes to little Yorkies and poodles, the French bring their dogs everywhere including places like the pharmacy and the café for an afternoon coffee — and I love it. What I don’t love is that the simple concept of picking up after your dog seems foreign to pretty much everyone. The problem with dog poop in France is real. A poo bag? What’s that?


Sure, any dog owner can empathize with someone who has been caught off-guard without a bag when little Fifi decides to take a poop. I can’t empathize with nearly every French person’s inability to pick up after their dog. Sh*t, dookie, caca — call it whatever you want. It all feels the same when it’s between your toes.

Is dog poop part of the culture? What gives?

Read on!

Dog poop in France

Let’s back up. I’ll preface this by saying I’m sure some people pick up after their dog, although it’s not the norm. It even seems to be socially acceptable to leave your dog’s poop right there on the sidewalk. Need proof of the problem with dog poop in France? These pics were all taken on the same short walk on the same day. We didn’t even have to search.

Dog-poop-in-France-2dog-poop-in-france-3Dog-poop-in-France

French people, listen up. I don’t know what you’re into, but if you like playing poop games and leaving your dog’s crap everywhere for whatever reason, do it on your own time in your own backyard.

Stepping in it on a public sidewalk ranks pretty low on my cool-o-meter and I’m just going to assume that you leave your dog’s poop there for a reason. Oh wait, what’s that? There’s no reason other than laziness? Of course…

In parks, there aren’t poop bag stations or anything to help you out. In pet stores, they do sell rolls of waste bags but the French just don’t catch on. So why does the simple concept of picking up after your dog seem to evade the majority? Beats me.

Some people do seem to care about the mounds of sh*t that you can’t help but step in. A neighbor posted this sign shown below after he noticed a collection of poop near his doorstep. It translates to:

PLEASE, this is a private passageway. Thanks for not allowing your dogs to leave their excrement wherever :

dog-poop-sign

So what am I to do about this poop problem that’s getting on my last nerve? Educate… one French person at a time. And I did!

Flash back to right after we got Dagny in the winter: I had the unfortunate experience of meeting our senior citizen neighbor. Tom had already met her once when he was out with Dagny and warned me that she doesn’t like dogs. She was coming home one evening when I was walking Dagny and I passed her when we were on the sidewalk outside her property.

After we passed by, I heard her say, “Make her go closer to the curb.” I whipped around and said “Excuse me?” not sure if she was talking to us. She directed me to the edge of the curb closest to the street and told me to stop the dog from sniffing near her property. I informed her that I don’t decide where my dog relieves herself and frankly I was happy that she was going outside (not potty trained at the time). She then proceeded to show me  poop near her front door and said she didn’t appreciate it.

I told her first off, that the Rottweiler-sized poop left near her door couldn’t have come out of my 7 pound (at the time) dog, and second, that as an American and a responsible pet owner, it’s the norm to pick up after our pets.

She raised an eyebrow. I showed her the poop bag I had in my pocket and she was a bit shocked. Yeah, take that lady. Then she said have a nice evening and went inside. I knew full well she was watching us from her window, so I took Dagny to the edge of the curb and within a few minutes, she went to the bathroom. I made a HUGE deal bending over to pick up her tiny little poop knowing the neighbor was scrutinizing our every move — like old ladies often do. I tied a nice little knot in our bright pink poop bag exaggerating my movements (so she’d be sure to see how it’s done) and put the bag in the public trash can across the street. And I smiled walking away. The next time this neighbor saw me, she actually pet Dagny and smiled! Score! She’s been nothing but nice since!

So when I see a dog going to the bathroom with an owner who just aimlessly watches and then moves along leaving his “business” there, I’m the one who will go up to a complete stranger and offer him or her a plastic poop bag.

I’m the one who says, “I think you forgot something there sir.” Yup, it’s my mission to educate one French person at a time on how to pick sh*t up — American style.

Do you have a dog poop problem where you are? Tell me about it!

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Comments (17)

  • Jess @UsedYorkCity

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    Hysterical! I always wondered if the “French don’t pick up sh*t” myth was true! Good for you for giving the fine furry-friend owners of France a proper American education!;-)

    Reply

  • Meghan

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    I have had the luck of stepping on dog poop in my neighborhood. But I live in an area that has gone downhill and I can’t sell my house due to the market. (couldn’t even get what I owe) I have dog poop in my front yard that does not belong to Bentley all the time. gross. I was out walking Bentley last week and someones Chihuaua had gotten out (Taco is the dogs name,and Bentley and he are buddies) Anyways Taco was following us for a portion of our walk but I was trying to find his owner, Taco ran to a womans yard and peed, she came running out screaming at me to pick up after that nasty thing.. I told her he wasn’t my dog and that I ALWAYS pick up after my dog, and showed her the bags. She said “well that nasty thing sh**’s in my yard all the time and the owner is gross and doesn’t pick it up. (not really my problem but I agree it is gross) I don’t understand, one of the things I had to consider before deciding to get a dog was if I was ok with picking up his poop, if the answer had been no, then I would not have gotten a dog.

    Reply

  • Debra H

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    Good luck on your mission. I know it is very hard to change a cultural habit like this. Hang in there and good job

    Reply

  • Catherine

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    Bravo for your boldness! Teaching the French a lesson is one thing—doing it on their turf is another, very impressive…

    Reply

    • Diane

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      I stick to old ladies and people that can’t kick my butt!

      Reply

  • David Navarre

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    Well done! On our next trip, even if we don’t take Henry (our cavalier), I think I’ll take a roll of poop bags anyway, so I can help you in your quest. I can’t believe anyone thinks something so unsanitary is acceptable, let alone an entire country.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      You know, just this weekend, David, I was in La Rochelle and in the town center, I saw little disposable waste bag stations. I was so excited but then realized after seeing three empty ones, that the French still don’t get it. I think they’re trying but it’s too cultural for them to just leave the poop.

      Reply

  • Koren @ City Gal

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    LOL!! My neighbors in NYC would KILL me if I didn’t pick up the poo! One time when I lived in Beacon Hill, a very upscale neighborhood in Boston, I threw my poop bags out in the pile of trash bags a few times, not knowing that the trash people would pick up the large bags and leave Sugar’s little pink poop bags on the street. For a month, someone on my street was cleaning them up, so I never knew! UNTIL, one day I came home to a NASTY note taped to the front of my brownstone for all neighbors to see, telling me that the trash people were not picking up the pink poop bags that the girl with the black Chihuahua leaves for the trash, and if I didn’t start throwing them in the receptacle (a couple blocks away), they were going to call the cops! HUH?! I thought I had been throwing them away with the trash the entire time!

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Oh man, you just HAVE to love notes from neighbors. Well hey, at least they finally did leave you a note and you were trying to do the right thing the whole time. That’s one step above most French people who don’t see the problem w/leaving poo everywhere.

      Reply

  • Amanda

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    Yep. This. Every time.

    I’ve even had a woman stop me and thank me for cleaning up my dogs poo.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Same here, people wait to see what I’ll do and I always have at least one bag. Sometimes I even give bags to complete strangers who leave their dog’s poop on the sidewalk. I don’t even say anything. Just hand the bag over and walk away…

      Reply

  • Alan

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    Diane,

    After three months we have found the same and wonder if we are the only people that clean up after their dog.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      It’s strange isn’t it. Doubt the French like stepping in poop any more than Americans do!

      Reply

  • Noah

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    Very good information. Lucky me I discovered your blog by chance (stumbleupon).
    I’ve book marked it for later!

    Reply

    • Diane

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      So glad you enjoyed the post. Happy to have you here!

      Reply

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