I am having some anger issues tonight. Something has me ready to spit nails so unlike those who hurt us this year, I am going to do something helpful. There are a lot of new service dog teams out there who  might need this, so here goes.

Your dog will lose their bladder or their bowels at some point when it is bad for them to do so. It happens to every team. It should be an isolated incident but it will most likely happen during the course of your time together. You likely will have a bag with you at all times anyway so here are some handy things to stow in it in case of emergency:

  • Diapers: Yes, you read that correctly. Grab a few diapers, preferably larger than small baby sizes, and have them on the go in your bag. You can clean up a wet mess in no time flat with one of these suckers! Open, throw down, wipe up. Fold the diaper up, throw away. Alternately if diapers aren’t easily had, feminine pads can do in a pinch. Diapers just absorb more!
  • A folded flat cereal box: This one was recommended by a trainer. They suggested having it ready for if you see dog about to squat for an accident, but that is not always possible. If you do have time to get it out before  your dog fully squats you slide it under their rear and let the accident happen there. This was never quite possible for us, accidents occurred too fast.
  • Clorox Wipes: You can usually buy these (or Wet Ones) in travel packages for throwing in your bag and having to wipe an area down quickly after you clean up the mess. It’s your responsibility as the handler to make sure the area is the same when you leave as when you arrive, these go a long way towards that goal!
  • Baggies: You can use large ziploc bags, old plastic shopping bags, or in a pinch dog waste bags to pack up the mess and dispose of it quickly.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Until you can get to soap and water, tide yourself over with trusty old hand sanitizer.
  • If for some reason you cannot clean up or you can only partially clean up the mess, direct staff to the area and offer apologies. They cannot clean up without knowing what’s happened and most are quite understanding. This is most likely to come up with your child is having a hard time with the situation or your dog is actively ill and you need them to get outdoors before the mess gets worse. Never just leave a mess. Your responsibilities as a handler dictate that you make sure that you never leave such a thing behind without at least trying to help.

The most courteous place to dispose of the offending items is obviously outside but sometimes circumstances make this tricky. I found finding a restroom made this easiest as they usually have a bin for sanitary waste. It also allowed a moment for hand washing! Usually, though… Your best bet is to drop it outdoors in the first available bin.

It is also important to remember to not scold your dog. It’s going to do exactly zero good for either of you to do so. Make it a non-thing as much as possible. You clean up, you carry on – preferably stepping outside at the very soonest moment to make sure that if anything else needs doing it can be done somewhere appropriate. It may be sad and shocking when accidents happen but it’s no more fun for them than it is for yourself. Do your best to remain calm, clean up and move on. Believe it or not, most stores have seen worse at some point in their existence.

Hopefully this can help some of my friends who have newly graduated or who are just about to meet their new family member. Good luck out there and remember accidents happen, it’s only when they happen regularly that you have to worry!