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Where’s A Pup to Poop?
What's proper etiquette for neighborhood walks?

While returning home from a dog walk one night, I spotted a woman loitering outside of my house. Since I didn’t have my glasses on, it took me a moment to realize she had a Shih Tzu on an extendi-leash pacing back and forth across my lawn, as he chose the perfect place to poop.

I called out to her just as her dog squatted down to do the deed. “Excuse me, is he going to the bathroom on my lawn?”

I had to repeat this a second time before the woman turned to acknowledge me. “Oh, this is your house?”

I was incredulous: Did it really matter whose house it was? It was my house. In fact, I’m a new homeowner still busting with pride—and I was right there! I never allow Truman do his business on people’s lawns, especially not in a neighborhood like mine, with all kinds of public parks. In fact, my own house backs onto a large park, and if she’d turned the corner, her dog would have had blocks of greenery on which to do his thing.

“No harm, no foul,” she said dismissively, pulling out a plastic bag. I paused for a second, hoping for an apology, before correcting her.

 “No,” I said, attempting to be diplomatic. “This is my home, this is my lawn, so don’t ever do this again. I don’t let my dog do that on someone’s front lawn. That’s really rude!”

“I’ve picked it up, relax,” she spat.

I felt my grip tightening on the leash as she slowly sauntered down the street. Truman, my Shepherd-cross, growled in solidarity.

My neighbor and I aren’t the first to get into an altercation over dog doo. Last fall, a 47-year-old Washington woman named Linda May Johnson went to trial after being charged with trespassing, harassment and disorderly conduct. She had allegedly allowed her two miniature poodles, Ollie and Hershey, to poop on her neighbors’ lawn, repeatedly. The neighbor, who’d frequently asked the woman to let her dogs poop elsewhere—and who’d been verbally berated as a result—was also a dog owner, but disagreed with Johnson’s assessment that the first few feet of her lawn were actually public property.

Unfortunately, the judge dismissed the case. During an interview with The Washington Post, Johnson said she’s considering filing a formal complaint against the police service and suing her neighbor.

These struggles aren’t limited to regular folk. According to TMZ.com, comedian Dane Cook was evicted in September from a West Hollywood apartment after failing to pick up his Miniature Pinscher’s droppings. That same month, Adrianne Curry—of “America’s Next Top Model” fame—filed a restraining order against a woman whose dog was decorating her lawn. Of course, the woman—whom Curry accuses of stalking her—had also allegedly posted creepy messages on Curry’s MySpace page and even sent her a pair of designer shoes in her favorite colors. (I hope she checked inside them before putting them on.)

If you raise the subject of dog-break etiquette in a mixed crowd, you’ll probably hear everything from moral outrage to tolerance. But whatever side you’re on, it’s probably best to err in the direction of the curb. Next time Mr. Boggles yanks you towards your neighbor’s begonias, why not give the leash a tug and lead him toward the road or sidewalk? Better yet, reward your dog for pooping in a particular spot, and he’ll quickly comprehend that there are some places he can go and others he can’t. Conflict averted.

And for those who suffer rage blackouts when your neighbor and her canine companion dump on your turf, take a deep breath and zip it. Do you really want to make an enemy out of the nut-bar next door?

Bark Off: Is scooped poop different than no poop at all? Is the edge of a lawn better than the middle? Be honest, as a dog-person, a lawn-lover or both: Share your best and worst neighborhood pet waste experiences.


Caitlin Crawshaw is an award-winning Canadian freelance writer and animal lover, whose articles have appeared online and in newspapers and magazines across North America. inkslingermedia.com
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Submitted by Fred | January 19 2009 |

When it comes to excrement — dog or otherwise — people have a wide range of reactions. Some can handle it, others can't. For the sensitive (such as the writer above), it is probably a good idea not to defile their lawns. But for hardier souls, the act is not only a part of life, but an integral part in the process of renewal. It's no accident that we use waste to fertilize our fields. While some of this may make sense on a theoretical level, in reality, nobody likes to get dog shit on their shoes. So I think it is probably a good idea to prevent, when you can, your dog from depositing his brown jewels on other people's lawns.

Submitted by Dave | January 26 2009 |

Yes curbing your dog as it is call usually is a law in most states, cities and towns. I have a neighbor who every morning takes his 2 dogs out for the bathroom run on mine and my neighbors lawns. He doesn't have them on a leash and doesn't carry bags to pick it up. I have a larger dog and have resisted letting my dog take the big dump outside of their drivers side car door as he lets his dogs do. The dogs come all the way up the the front of the house and mark their territory on all my house plants on the front walk. I have been their neighbor for over 30 years and find it hard to say much but would think that if they see me out there when their dogs are doing it they might get a hint. It hasn't worked so far. Patience is my motto but it's wearing very thin. I think I want to rig the sprinklers to turn on when dogs pass the perimeter of my lawn.

Submitted by dennis | April 16 2009 |

i live in an apartment complex that literally is almost right on top of lake property,as the lake is right across the street.the street being just a small,one mile long , two lane road. at least thirty people per day walk their dog's on the lake property side of the street.i don't believe i've ever seen anyone that walks their dog there ,actually scoop the poop.

nor' do i.

i was told by someone recently that there is now a dog warden that roams the area now and then,looking to cite people who don't have little poo bags.

i've learned that the way to get around the poo cops are to simply carry a poo bag.

they don't make themselves inobvious,as i've heard that they do wear a type of uniform.

the way i myself get around the poo cops is that i take my dog out in the middle of the night to go potty
(the dog, not me).

i sleep days.

so when my dog has to go it's usually well past dark.apparently the dung guards don't patrol after dark.

wonder why..maybe it's too hard to see the logs after the sun goes down.

Submitted by JonnyA | January 19 2009 |

I have owned or cared for more than five dogs in my life. But I never simply let a dog (or another pet) outside to do its business wherever it wants because I wouldn't want to wake up in the morning or come home in the evening and have to pick up the poop from someone else's dog. The thing that bothers me most about people letting their pets out or letting them relieve themselves on someone's lawn is that it is basically an abdication of responsibility for the pet.

If you don't want to pick up poop, what makes you think your neighbor does?

My biggest pet peeve though is for pet owners who deposit their pet's poop in my garbage can after picking it up. I don't want it anymore than you do. So please, next time you take your dog out for a walk keep it off my lawn when it's time to do nature's thing. And remember to pick up after it and take the poop straight on home to your own garbage can.

Submitted by malies mom | January 19 2009 |

This curbing thing seems to be a city dog type activity. If one lives in a suburban locale, as we do, the walks take place on the sidewalk. To one side are the main lawns...to the other is the width of "tree lawn", that closest to the curb, and which I have been led to believe is owned by the city, but to be maintained by the homeowner.
When I walk my canine daughter I always have my pocket stuffed with a discreet poop bag, made for the purpose with a darker bottom to not have visible poop in it. I use these especially when we travel. I am not the type to rigidly train...but neither do I allow my little one to poop on the main lawn...I do all I can to prevent that...and immediately clean up wherever the poop may fall.
My problem is that my elder father enjoys taking the canine granddaughter on a flexi leash...which allows her to wander all over the place. A shocking behavior since this is a 91 year old guy who tends to his yard putting in hours of effort and care and would not want anyone elses pup to poop on his precious lawn. In fact, I am suspicious he enjoys taking her for a walk so she poops elsewhere! Not that he doesn't pick up after her...but he makes it all the more complicated by caring a small spade and bag...
The point is we all must be responsible and clean up wherever it happens.
It is a shame when some don't, and then make the rest of us look guilty. I took Malie to a hotel not far from here for a few days, and the hotel specified where we were allowed to walk. Poop was evident...and it was not ours. Should I clean up after others? Very annoying. I wish more places would put the stands with bag dispensers in the areas.

Submitted by Beth | February 12 2009 |

The snow has melted and piles and piles of dog poop has been uncovered on the sidewalks in my neighborhood. Many of them smeared by the careless and probably cell phone chatting pedestrian. It is not only gross and unsanitary, but indicates laziness and disrespect people have for one another.
I, myself walk my dog and carry a plastic bag which I have never had to use because my dog does not go out to poop (or pee) on anothers property. She does that in her own back yard. I don't understand why dog owners who do have yards in which their dogs should be doing their business find it okay for them to poop every where else. In particular, not picking it up.
Anyway, dog urine is much more destructive to grass than poop. I have a patch on my parkway where every dog in the neighborhood finds irresistable.

Submitted by Anonymous | May 8 2009 |

I walk my dog everyday twice a day and I used to let my dog walk, pee, and poop on anyone's lawn. I would always pick up the poop though.

One day when I was on my daily walk with my dog, she picked the very corner of a lawn to pee on quickly. After she eliminated, we continued walking until a woman across the street who had just exited her house yelled "CLEAN IT UP! THAT'S THE SECOND TIME!"

I was confused and answered "what?" She told me that this was the second time that my dog had eliminated there and I had not cleaned it. I explained that it was PEE and not poop. Then she argued with me that letting a dog walk there was trespassing and that I could get into big trouble. I was walking at that time with a friend so they replied "Please mind your own business".

Then the next day when we pass her house. The neighbor asked to make up and to warn us that walking the dog on someone else's lawn was not permitted. My friend continued fighting with her and I just watched dead silent. Also the neighbor said she was a lawyer and has proof that walking the dog on another person's lawn was not permitted here.

I really want to apoligize to her but I don't know how or when. What should I do?

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