To help you make the best decision for your community, the following is a comprehensive guide to help you understand the various components of this equipment and how it all works.
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To start, pet waste stations have four main parts:
- Waste receptacle: Where the waste goes. This part of the dog waste station holds a large plastic liner, which holds the dog waste residents drop off.
- Station post: The backbone of a pet waste station. Every part of the station is secured to this post.
- Bag dispenser: Holds fresh dog poop bags (or “litter bags”). These bags are what the pet owner will use to pick up after their dog. Most dispensers are made to hold one of two types of bags: “header style bags” or “Roll-style bags”
- Station sign: A reminder sign located atop your station, encouraging owners to take a bag and pick up after their pets.
Choosing Waste Receptacles
Of these station components, the waste receptacle and bag dispenser are where you have the most options. When selecting a pet waste station, keep the following in mind:
There are three common materials used for constructing waste cans for pet waste stations: plastic, lightweight metal and heavy-duty metal.
Over time, lightweight metal containers will rust, requiring more frequent replacement than heavy-duty metal models. Plastic receptacles will not rust, but they are significantly less durable than their metal counterparts and tend to fade in color more quickly and noticeably.
Despite their lower initial cost, plastic and lightweight metal receptacles tend to result in higher expenses over the long run compared to making an upfront investment in heavy-duty aluminum models. This is due to rusting, cracking and general wear and tear, which ultimately leads to replacement.
Pet waste stations should always have a tight cover to keep the dog waste in and the water out. We refer to the mess that is created when water mixes with the contents of a dog waste receptacle as “poop soup.” Needless to say, it is not pleasant. Emptying a station that is filled with “poop soup” is difficult to manage and just plain disgusting.
Many plastic stations have large holes in the side for depositing soiled waste bags. Others have loose fitting lids. Both of these designs will allow water to enter the plastic receptacle.
The best stations have a small, mailbox-style chute that closes tightly and is just large enough for waste bags to be deposited. This keeps the water, vermin and insects out while keeping the waste and odors safely inside.
In addition, the mailbox-style chute greatly limits the types of items that can be placed in the bin, thereby making it difficult to dispose of inappropriate items – such as household trash – in the dog waste receptacle.
Pet waste stations come in many different shapes, sizes and colors. The most popular stations tend to stand six to seven feet in total height (including the station sign) and are typically colored green, brown or black. The goal is to have pet waste stations blend in with their background, while still remaining visible and convenient.
When selecting stations, keep in mind that your community does not necessarily need to commit to only one style. In fact, many don’t. For the most part, stations are not located near each other, which means that uniformity does not have a considerable impact. What really matters is that your community has well-stocked, durable stations that are compatible, fulfill the needs of locations, are properly serviced and are in good working order for residents to use.
Choosing Waste Bags and Dispensers
There are two common types of waste bags dispensed at pet waste stations, and therefore two types of dispensers: header style bags and roll-style bags.
As you may have guessed, roll-style bags come on a large roll, just like in the produce section of the grocery store. Header bags, in contrast, come stacked on a card for individual dispensing like a tissue box – one item dispensing at a time.
Communities on a budget often select roll-style bags and dispensers by default. These are the cheapest per-bag solution, but it’s not quite that simple. Per bag cost can be deceptive.
Although header style bags are slightly more expensive on a per-bag basis, their true cost is comparable – often cheaper – when you take station usage into consideration. This is because when bags are on a roll, dog owners have a habit of pulling out many bags at once. In contrast, header style bags are pulled out of the dispenser one at a time because each bag is individually secured to the card.
In our experience, header style stations use fewer total bags than roll style ones almost every time. In addition to saving money in the long run, residents generally prefer header style bags to those on a roll because they are larger, easier to open and have a convenient handle right on the bag.
Station Posts & Choosing Locations
Pet waste stations are a combination of a bag dispenser and waste can with a sign at the top. These are all secured to one central post, which can either be a U-channel or a square post. This post should always be anchored in the ground with concrete, so you want to be strategic about placing them correctly the first time.
When getting started with stations in your community, selecting the more effective location is paramount. The ultimate goal is to make it easy for dog walkers to pick up a bag at the beginning of their walk and easy for them to dispose of it mid-walk or at the end.
Start by considering the density of homes in the community and areas where dog owners tend to congregate, play or walk. Once potential station sites are identified on a map, the next step is to put feet on the pavement and walk the community to see if the proposed sites make sense on the ground. At this point, you are looking for areas that are convenient for dog owners while having a low impact on adjacent homeowners or amenity users. For instance, there may be a site that is absolutely perfect for dog owners, but happens to be next to a community playground or in a homeowner’s immediate line of sight from their front door, bay window or backyard deck. In these cases, placing a station in one of these areas may well lead to conflict.
In our experience, many suburban communities are designed as a loop. Naturally, dog owners in these communities will follow the circular path when walking their pet. As such, you should look to place stations at the beginning and the end of community loop, as well as at convenient intervals throughout. The idea is to make sure there is always a place to pick up fresh bags and drop off soiled ones within a few minutes walking time. If stations are few and far between, pet owners will be less likely to go the extra mile to use the provided equipment, instead leaving the waste on the ground. Convenience is key.
Finally, it is best to place stations along sidewalks and on both sides of the street. Stations should be positioned far enough off the sidewalk to allow foot traffic to continue moving while dog walkers stop to deposit bags of waste. Remember – not everyone is comfortable interacting with dogs; placing stations slightly offset from the sidewalk helps to minimize any such unwanted interaction. Finally, consider adding stepping-stones to prevent grass from wearing down and muddy shoes during inclement weather. This addition can greatly improve the functionality and aesthetics as well.
Most pet waste stations include a sign at the top to remind dog owners to pick up after their pet. There are many options when it comes to choosing a sign for your stations – simply pick the sign/s that are the most aesthetically pleasing to you and your community.