What to Do if Your Dog Has an Toilet Accident in Public: a Guide for Pet Parents · The Wildest

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What to Do if Your Dog Has a Toilet Accident in Public

An awkward reality for many of us

by Orla Pentelow
9 April 2024
woman on the bus with her dog on the chair
Kosamtu / iStock

It’s a situation every pup parent dreads: you’re out and about with your canine companion, enjoying a leisurely train journey or trip to your local dog-friendly pub , when suddenly, nature calls – but in the most awkward place, ever. Radio 1 DJ Greg James recently found himself in just such a scenario when his beloved Labrador, Barney, decided to relieve himself in the middle of the train. While it might be embarrassing in the moment, accidents like these can happen to even the most well-behaved pups. So, what’s a responsible pet parent to do?

In a video posted to his Instagram, Greg recanted the misadventure: despite taking him for a chance to ‘do his business’, Barney did “the biggest piss” right inside the carriage. Awks. Incidents like this can leave pet parents feeling embarrassed and uncertain about how to handle the situation gracefully. But fear not, as we’ve compiled expert advice on navigating these awkward moments with… ahem, poise and responsibility.

Before we begin, remember that accidents happen. Even the bestest bois like Barney can have a few mishaps in their time. Head of train presentation at South Western Railway, ‘Charlie’, even extended a reassuring message to Greg following the incident, emphasising that canine companions are always welcome, even when things don’t go entirely to plan. “Please don't feel bad!” they wrote in an email to Greg, adding that they’ve seen worse from humans, “especially after a big Friday night out”.

What to do if your dog has an ‘accident’

So, what steps should you take if you’re caught out when your dog makes a mess in public? We turned to Ria Edmenson, a reputable dog trainer, behaviourist and founder of Colin & Co. doggie daycare and retreats, for some practical advice. 

Firstly, Ria shared the excruciatingly awkward sentiment of realising your pup has ‘gone’ somewhere they shouldn’t have (“OMG, where to start”) before giving some go-to advice all Brits can relate to: “apologise profusely”.

Whilst there’s not much you can do to ‘stem the flow’, for next time, Ria suggests creating a ‘go bag’ filled with essential items. “In mine,” she explains, “I have an old towel, baby wipes, a small first aid kit, antihistamines, poo bags, treats, an extra lead, an extra jumper, a pop-out bowl and some water.”

While it might seem like overkill to pack such a comprehensive kit for a simple outing with your dog, Ria emphasises the importance of being prepared for any eventuality. 

“For me, being a bit of an anxious dog mum,” she admits (aren’t we all). “I always assume my dogs will pee or poo themselves or roll in something ungodly and so I expect the worst. I haven’t had to use them in years, but the day I forget it, I know my dogs will make me pay!”

In the event of an unexpected accident, Ria also advises pet parents to remain calm and swiftly address the situation. If your dog wees, for instance, she recommends trying to help as much as possible to soak up the mess. Whether it’s using cleaning supplies provided by the venue or offering to cover the cost of any necessary repairs, demonstrating accountability is key to maintaining positive relationships within your community.

In addition to being equipped with the necessary supplies, it’s also crucial to handle the situation with consideration for those around you. Offering a sincere apology to any affected parties, whether it’s fellow passengers on a train or fellow dog walkers in the park, can go a long way towards diffusing any tension or discomfort. “Two lovely ladies” gave Greg some moral support on the train, but admitted that there’s often nothing you can do. 

Ultimately, accidents happen. Pets, much like humans, will have their moments of indiscretion. You might be a bit embarrassed it the moment, but it’s not the end of the world. So the next time your dog has an unexpected ‘oops’ moment in public, take a deep breath, reach for your trusty go bag, and remember: it’s all part of the joys of pet parenthood (right?).

Orla Pentelow

Orla Pentelow is a freelance journalist and copywriter based in London. When not at her desk she’s out and about with her rescue dog, Luna, who works primarily as chief distractor.

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