Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Rant No. 12: Dog shit.

In Berlin, the streets aren’t paved with gold. They are paved with dog shit.

It’s really incredible in a country that is so progressive with disposing of all other waste (plastics, glass, metal) has failed to find an effective way of disposing of dog shit.

What is it about Berlin and dog shit? Would people leave shit on the floor of their houses? Why do people not clean up after their dogs?

In the UK where my mum lives, there are fines for 1000 pounds if you let your dog foul on the pavement. Needless to say, the streets are clean. Why isn’t there a fine like that here? Berliners could not afford a €1000 fine, so surely this would make them think twice before they stand still while their dog fouls on the pavement, and then walk off nonchalantly.

In fact, this is one good point about winter, that at least the dog shit freezes and is less of a hazard to step in. However, it comes with a double-edged sword, as in spring, when the snow melts, so does the shit.

Other countries or towns with a problem of dog shit have come up with innovative ways of solving the problem. In a recent example in France, they asked the dog owner the dogs’ name, and then checked the names against a register and sent the shit back to the dog owners. In Berlin, where the love of protest is so alive, why is there no protest over the dog shit?

One person told me that leaving the shit is in fact a protest from Berliners, but I have forgotten what it is they are supposed to be protesting in this way.

Someone else told me when I moved to Berlin that we pay a tax here towards dogs, which goes to dog owners. I don’t know for certain if this is true, but if it is, then this is crazy. We are effectively paying for having shit on our streets!


  1. I think the dog owners are protesting the fact that they have to pay a dog tax (that's what your friend was talking about), and so they think the city is then responsible for cleaning up after their dogs. Most dogs are off-leash here, so the owners are usually walking way ahead and simply pretend to not see that their dogs just shat on the sidewalk. My theory is that Germans actually like, or at least don't mind, looking at shit; they encourage a thorough examination of their own shit (i.e. the platform or shelf toilet.) Shit is definitely not as taboo here as it is in other cultures.

    1. Yes I agree... I was thinking about that this morning, as we have a platform shelf toilet at home!

    2. Oh poor you! There was one in our apartment when we got here, but we convinced the landlord to let us change it (I paid for the new, normal toilet and he paid for the plumber). The plumber asked my (German) boyfriend why we were even changing it, as it still worked. He said, "You know... she's American." I think they had a good laugh together.

  2. As a German I can assure you that it is not true what you a suggesting. We don't like to look at shit! Come on seriously?
    I infact HATE that dog owners don't clean after their dogs and I think a fine of 1.000 EUR would be sooo great! My husband and I are actually thinking about building an App that let's you tell on people (with picture of the dog and location of the crime scene) that don't clean up after their dog. ;-)
    About the shelf toilets - I don't know why they were built like that before but if you see one it's OLD! The new ones don't have shelves anymore.

    1. Your app sounds like a good idea. The shelf toilets apparently originated from German hospitals, but apparently the Germans found them more hygienic, and at least in the olden days decided to have them installed into private residences too!

    2. No, of course I was only joking! However, I do think public peeing/defecation is not as taboo here as it is in other countries. I see parents encouraging their children to pee/poop in public all the time- sometimes in places where a public restroom is only a few steps away or smack in the middle of the playground! When I was little I was taught to go before we left the house and then if I had to later, tough luck. I had to hold! And don't get me started on the peeing against building doors that seems so acceptable here. Never sen anything like that in all the cities where I've lived previously. Really weird.

  3. Good blog! I am reading one article after another and I am just nodding and smiling, because everything I read is so true. This is my 13th month in Berlin and I am strongly trying to get used too Berlin/Berliners/Germany/Germans,.... The issue with dog shit is the one I really hate about Berlin. I must confess I am a big dog hater since I live here. I had to throw away my favourite shoes as I stepped into a giant dog shit. I am just not willing to clean it, I am sorry :-D

  4. Berlin is the German Capital of Dog Shit.
    I have never seen another German city that is so dirty.
    Obwohl, einige Städte im Ruhrgebiet fand ich auch ziemlich schmutzig.
    Da die Kommunen im Ruhrgebiet ebenso pleite sind wie Berlin, vermute ich, dass hier die Ursache liegt, und sei es nur, weil die Übewachung und Durchsetzung zu teuer sind. Das soll keineswegs die Hundebesitzer von der eigentlich selbstverständlichen Pflicht entbinden hinter ihren Hunden aufzuräumen.