Making a DIY dog septic system.
April 1, 2011 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Thoughts on a dog septic tank?

Not looking to compost it like this instructable, I'm looking to build a DIY version of a Doggie Dooley. I have an extra 55-gallon barrel from a rain barrel setup. I also have 2 saint bernards so the Doggie Dooley is nowhere near big enough for my needs. Is it as easy as cutting off the bottom half of the barrel, burying it adding some rid-x and water then tossing in the dog sh*t? I understand all the upkeep w/ adding water and whatnot but i wasn't sure if there were more steps I should be aware of. None of my neighbors have a well and the system will be located 50ft from my house and over 100 from all neighbors. I live in CO where it's incredibly dry and the soil should drain well. Anything else you need to know before making suggestions just ask. Thanks Me-fiers!
posted by no bueno to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
We tried to put in a Doggie Dooley, and it was 5 years ago so I don't remember exactly how deep but the hole they wanted us to dig was, but we only made it 4 feet before we gave up, and because the Dooley is so small in diameter it was all pooped up basically instantly (3 50-70lb dogs).

So I would suggest if you've got an auger or, I don't know, backhoe - considering the output of bernards - and can get a good deep hole, it's the same principle. You do want to cover it and rig some kind of a step-tab on the lid so you can open it by foot.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:57 AM on April 1, 2011

It depends. What type is the soil? Here in TX, it's clay -- and it doesn't drain well despite how dry it is. The couple of people I know who have tried doggie dooleys have had them back up and horribly backfire. Literally.

Second, I don't think you want to make the tank metal. It would be better to research septic systems before you start anything.

In other parts of the state where the soil is sandy enough to drain properly, without the additive that they sell with the Dooley (which is not Rid-X or anything like it), construction is possible if septic system installation is possible. However, you would want to make sure that you follow whatever the local engineering guidelines are for a septic system.

Personally, if you have a hillside on your property, I would look more into the idea of installing/building a low-volume composting toilet. That's kinda sorta more what the doggie dooley is anyway.
posted by SpecialK at 10:58 AM on April 1, 2011

Response by poster: I'm a few feet down in the soil and it's still pretty sandy.

The reason I was thinking Rid-x was because a lot of people said they stopped buying the Doggy Dooley enzyme and used regular septic tank enzymes. I don't think the the doogy dooley is a composter i think it's more of a septic system, since it states that in the title. I could be wrong but as far as I can tell its a bucket w/ an open bottom, it breaks down the waste w/ the enzyme and it leeches down into the soil. Also, the tank I'm using isn't metal its a plastic 55 gallon drum.
posted by no bueno at 11:12 AM on April 1, 2011

Best answer: I think you are headed in the right direction. I wouldn't cut the bottom out, however. I would leave the barrel intact and drill holes (with the biggest bit you can muster up) all over the bottom and at least twelve inches up the sides. This will help the underlying soil from coming up into the system when it rains and will make the structure a little more stable in the long run. Be sure the lid can hold the weight of an adult walking across it and that it is difficult or impossible for a small child to remove.
posted by Old Geezer at 11:27 AM on April 1, 2011

Response by poster: Yea i plan on burying it pretty deep and connecting a 4" pvc pipe to the hole on the lid and that will be the only thing sticking out of the ground. I have some extra pea gravel from previous landscaping that I think I'm going to shovel into the bottom of the hole as well unless you think this will make for too much drainage(if that's possible).
posted by no bueno at 11:46 AM on April 1, 2011

You might also consider renting an auger and putting some drainage pipe, filled with pea gravel, even farther down into the ground under your setup. That might be overkill, but would greatly increase your drainage capacity.
posted by rockindata at 12:53 PM on April 1, 2011

Best answer: Is it as easy as cutting off the bottom half of the barrel, burying it adding some rid-x and water then tossing in the dog sh*t?

That is pretty much exactly what these folks recommend. I did it at my old house. It worked pretty well, except we had three large dogs and it did fill up faster than the poop broke down. You might want to bury a couple of cans.
posted by treblemaker at 1:51 PM on April 1, 2011

Response by poster: @treblemaker - Thanks! Did you have a 55gallon drum and 5 ft deep 3ft wide hole surrounded w/ pea gravel? I'm hoping my two dogs won't be able to overflow that.
posted by no bueno at 2:03 PM on April 1, 2011

Also, as a sidebar, I tried using a DoggieDooley and put in in the ground and the appropriate depth and did everything they said to do.

Bad soil drained WAY too fast for it to work. So it's pretty much useless and I'll eventually cut off the top and fill it back up with dirt.

Just something to keep in mind.
posted by Zoyashka at 2:45 PM on April 1, 2011

Response by poster: @zoyashka - The dirt was pretty sandy for the first 2 1/2 feet when I hit about 3-4 feet it was a very hard solid clay so I'm guessing it won't drain too fast. I'll still be putting pea gravel for the bottom 5-6" just in case. What is the "appropriate depth"?
posted by no bueno at 3:49 PM on April 1, 2011

Did you have a 55gallon drum and 5 ft deep 3ft wide hole surrounded w/ pea gravel? I'm hoping my two dogs won't be able to overflow that.

Mine was 32 gallon, I think. So, yeah, I bet you'd be in pretty good shape with that.
posted by treblemaker at 12:03 AM on April 2, 2011

Hmmm, I don't recall exactly what the depth was--whatever the instructions said to do. I would guess 2 1/2 - 3 feet? I don't remember what the soil was like at the bottom of the hole, so I can't really comment on that part.
posted by Zoyashka at 9:09 AM on April 2, 2011

Response by poster: Just in case anyone is checking back for an update the septic is working great. Had to run a total of about 60 gallons into it over the entirety of the summer but it's draining quite well and dissolving the all the solids.
posted by no bueno at 12:42 PM on September 8, 2011

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