What’s The Etiquette On Dog Poop?

Oh yeah – we’re going to discuss this.

We can be mature, respectful, and well-spoken, right?

Is it okay for your dog to relieve him or herself on your neighbour’s lawn?  If you said ‘yes,’ and your neighbour disagreed, would you have a problem?

You’d be shocked at how often I come across this…

KeepOffGrass

See that sign?

My client bought that on www.amazon.com, after a lengthy search, a well-thought-out reaction to his lawn problems, and an intense discussion with his wife…

Nicole & Patrick are both friends and clients of mine, and they live in Riverdale, where everybody gets along in a happy paradise!

Riverdale is one of the best family neighbourhoods in Toronto, and the streets are littered with children, in a haven for young parents and their growing family units.

Personally, I love Riverdale.  I have put over a dozen clients in here in the past three years, and it’s one of the first locations I suggest to prospective buyers looking for a 3-bedroom house in a good school district, near downtown, for $650 – $900K.

The one drawback to the area, however, is something I’ve heard time and time again:

“Sometimes, you’re a bit TOO close to your neighbours, and the area is TOO full of smiling faces.”

Take that for what it’s worth.

Riverdale is home to many semi-detached homes, and the houses are much closer together than, say, Leaside, North Toronto, etc.

If your neighbour is renovating, you’re going to feel it.

And if Betty and John’s kid sneezes, you’re probably going to hear about it from eight different people on Saturday morning in Withrow Park.

If you want a close community – Riverdale is the spot.  People are kind, down-to-earth, and helpful.

But what do you do when you have a problem?  And what if your problem is a problem to you, but seemingly not to anybody else?

Patrick is a huge fan of a lush, green lawn, and has always dreamed about owning a home where his kids can set up a Slip ‘n Slide on the lawn, erect a lemonade stand, or just lay on a blanket with a picnic basket on a sunny day.

Unfortunately, Patrick’s lawn has become the neighbourhood dumping ground (pun fully intended…) for every canine that passes by.

Here’s a recent shot of Patrick & Nicole’s lawn after a busy week of dogs doing their ‘thang:

KeepOffGrass2

Make no mistake: this is private property.  Patrick & Nicole bought it – it’s theirs!

But what do you think a Riverdale resident would say if Patrick kindly asked, “Can you please stop letting your dog go to the bathroom on my lawn?”

This truly is a snowball rolling down a hill.

Once one dog goes to the bathroom, another picks up the scent and wants to leave his or her mark, then another, then another, until finally every dog in the neighbourhood knows this spot as “the place” to let go.

And Patrick & Nicole’s house is the first house on the row that has an actual lawn.  The first six or seven homes all have “English Gardens,” and no grass.  So dogs walking up the block, who don’t want to go to the bathroom on a rock, end up stopping at Patrick & Nicole’s house.

It’s been going on for two years now, and Patrick finally had enough.

The boiling point came one day this fall when he was standing on his front porch, with his two kids, and a neighbour walked by with her poodle.  The poodle stopped, and started to take a poop.

“Nice day, isn’t it?” Patrick said, from his front porch, as this lady’s poodle took a crap.

“Lovely!  And your daughters – they’re so beautiful!  I love those little dresses!” she said.

The lady picked up the dog poop with a bag, the poodle ripped up the lawn with her back legs as dogs do when they finish, and the lady smiled, and walked away.

Patrick told me, “This lady had no shame at all – thought nothing of letting her dog take a crap on MY lawn, right in front of me!”

The problem isn’t that Patrick can’t be on guard all the time; the problem is that many people don’t think this is anything to be fussed about!

And for certain – most dog-owners don’t think this is an issue, and that’s why the poop-problem persists.

I’ve talked to dog owners that say, “It’s a natural bodily function, and we all do it!  You can’t be so uptight not to expect a dog takes a teenie-tiny whiz on your lawn!”

But therein lies the question: is this a natural bodily function that we can’t control?  It’s our dog – we can take our dog elsewhere, right?  We can stop the dog from going there, there or, there, right?

Parents – perhaps you can relate to this…

Are you all familiar with the book “Everyone Poops?”

EveryOnePoops

Many of you parents know this book as the quintessential hand-guide to potty training your children, and helping them understand the concept.

The basic premise, and the conclusion, are both spelled out in the title.  The content itself is barely needed!

So dog-lovers, tell me: do you feel the same way?

Do you feel that we’re talking about a natural function, and that Nicole & Patrick aren’t within their right to complain when neighbours let their dogs go to the bathroom on Nicole & Patrick’s lawn?

Or are we talking about two very different things here?

Patrick knows it’s just a matter of time before somebody takes that sign and chucks it into the street, or on to his front porch, but what else was he supposed to do?

I suggested he take a page out of Jim Carrey’s playbook, from “Me, Myself, & Irene,” but he’s a bit too conservative for that approach…

And thus, the sign was purchased on Amazon.com, and the test-run is under way.

I polled two people in my office this afternoon, both dog-owners, and these were the answers:

1) “I honestly never thought about how it would affect the home-owner!  My dog takes these teenie little poopies and I pick it up, so it’s not like they’re really leaving their business behind!  Most of the time, the home-owner would never know!”

2) “As a dog-owner, who has bred, trained, and loved a dozen dogs over the years, I can’t stand when people let their dogs go to the bathroom freely, wherever, whenever.  Do you let your kids pick up candy in the store and eat it?  Or do you teach them restraint, and time/place?  I walk my dogs from a-to-b, and they don’t stop in between.  I only let them go to the bathroom on MY property, or in a dog park.”

Call me biased, but I’m going to agree with #2 (that pun wasn’t intended…).

The idea of “taking your dog from point-a to point-b” is something many dog-owners don’t learn, and sometimes, they’re in a hurry – and they let their dog go wherever they please, instead of waiting to get to the park.  Hey, we all have busy lives, but if you can’t spend 15-minutes walking your dog to the park, and instead you prefer a 4-minute walk where your dog goes to the bathroom on your neighbour’s lawn, then maybe you don’t have time for a dog, dare I say…

If you want to get really technical here, consider that the morning pee is the worst, because it’s the most acidic, and it burns the grass.  The only way to stop the acid from burning the grass is too immediately dump a bucket of cold water onto the urine, but, well, how many of us carry a bucket of cold water with us when we walk our dogs?

I’m curious for my readers to weigh in to this discussion.

I assure you – Patrick & Nicole are both waiting…

45 Comments

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  1. anom says:

    I rent in a house just behind a main street there is a inner street then goes into the neighbourhood. I notice so many dog owners walk their dogs past the inner street to allow their dog to pool and pee all over. They do not pick up and why are they walking in that inner street where its meant for cars to access. Also I have never seen these dog owners before they are really going very secluded location to allow their dogs use other people living area as a toilet. There is dog shit every where. How do I fight back its get ridiculous. Is a why the city can fine these dog owners. Do I have to setup camera and call it in. I don’t think it will resolve less than me showing up on their property with many dogs and allowing them to use their street or walk ways as a bio hazard waste dump site. Please let me know cause I’m fed up its been happening ever since I rent a few years now.

  2. AB says:

    As a Riverdale resident, I’m delighted to say that my front yard is elevated, and has a fence as well so this isn’t an issue for me.
    My general observation is that most dog owners in Riverdale are better than those in the condos downtown (where I lived previously). There’s a portion of the dog owning population that believes their cute furballs are appliances: No training required, just switch on and let them do their business where they want — balconies, elevators, shared property, other people’s property. Someone else will pick up. It’s always someone else’s problem.

  3. Maggie K. says:

    I loathe bad dog owners. I can’t stand it when people let their dogs even walk on someone else’s property let alone use it as a toilet. I have a small child who at this moment in time is in many ways reminiscent of a pet and I do not let him run onto people’s lawns.
    But you can’t change people. At my last house we put up a short fence in the front and that gave me peace of mind that no animals were on my lawn or garden. I spend a lot of time gardening and I don’t want to be touching pet’s crap. Wild animals do not phase me.
    At my new house I will also put up a short fence. I am the type of person to get het up about these things and the fence alleviates the problem.

  4. V says:

    Instead of placing a sign that asks dog owners to get their dogs to crap elsewhere, I think a more effective sign would be one that says heavy insecticides are used.

    I feel dog owners might retaliate against a sign that stems from an owners preference than a sign that made to warn them of consequences. Call my thought process dark, but I do think this would be much more effective.

  5. S says:

    Maybe out of the question, but is there a law that states we have to pick up dog poop in toronto?

    1. t says:

      the reason why dogs keep pooing on peoples lawn is because im experiencing the balcony next to me one floor below full of dog shit been their for a week i called humain society,at first i got additude form theperson i was talking too,then he was trying to hurry me of the phone then i said ,theirs so much piss as well,,then he replied well im not going to clesn their piss and the person hung up the phone even thouggh he took the complaint nothing has been done so so much for donnating to humain society

    2. d says:

      There sure is:

      Stoop & Scoop – not picking up dog excrement – on City or private property
      Removal of excrement – public property
      Every owner of a dog shall immediately remove excrement left by the dog on property anywhere within the City. …
      http://www.toronto.ca/311/knowledgebase/15/101000051015.html

  6. Sam says:

    My wife and I moved an hour and a Half north of T.O. last year and two things shocked us after living in Toronto so long. People parking on sidewalks and……..dog poop! They don’t pick up and it’s everywhere here, sidewalks, lawns, wherever. We’ve seen people walking their dogs just stop and let the dog do his business on the sidewalk and just continue on after. It’s normal here. NO ONE cleans up after their animals. There are many reasons I miss the city (Quieter for one thing!) but your article reminded me of a main one.

  7. Rob Fjord says:

    look what what your cubicle work stations and air conditioning have done to ye all, yous city folk just cant stand nature can yee.

  8. Walt says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NelBNtNm8l0

    Private property means private property.
    You do not have the right to trespass or let your pet crap on the lawn without permission from the owner.

    What part of ‘home ownership’ do you not understand?

    What is the matter with you people?

  9. ScottyP says:

    The fact that this even an argument is completely depressing.

    1. jeff316 says:

      This blog needs a ‘like’ button for comments!

  10. MY says:

    I think people should “curb” their dogs like they do in New York – the dog can pee in the street, ideally over a drain. If that’s not good enough for the owners, they can walk down to the park or do it in their own lawn.

    1. Erin says:

      No, my dog isn’t going to ‘pee in the street’. That’s even more unsanitary. And they certainly aren’t going to pee over a drain. Ridiculous. And no, it’s not always possible to walk to a park or have them strictly do it in their own lawn. Sorry, but non of your suggestions are remotely realistic.

      1. AB says:

        Then wait for a couple of minutes before you walk your dog and let him/her first pee & poop on your lawn or back yard. End of story.
        I’ve heard from many dog owners that nope, they don’t do that, it can damage their lawn, so what about someone’s else lawn?

  11. Lulu says:

    I will never let my dogs pee or poop in any of the neighbour’s front lawn or even on the edge, this is just plain rude, teach and train your dog use your own front or back yard, if no yard, wait until to the park, i find dog owner who let their dog pee or poop in other’s front lawn just selfish and ignorant.

    I caught one lady with her little wee dog poop in my front lawn one day and i open the door and tell her please dont let your dog do that to my yard, she raise her eyebrow and say”piss off”
    i step out pick out a bag of poop from my own dog in the green bin and follow her home ( she is next street neighbour) and open the bad and throw it on her front yard and she scream at me say she is going to call police or animal control for what i did, i stick my tongue out and walk away. since then she never let her dog do that in my yard.

    1. d says:

      Good on you Lulu. Dog owners just don’t get it. Such actions will help educate them. I keep finding dog crap at my front yard, and down from me for a block the sections of grass on either side of the sidewalk are covered in dog crap, mostly raw, sometimes bagged. Either way its nasty. When walking with my kid I have to keep on her to stay off the grass and keep to the sidewalk.
      And why do some dog owners think they are doing a good thing when they actually bag their dogshit and leave it on your lawn?

  12. Fred says:

    @Mooj, @Ed.
    You guys don’t get it. You can’t scoop up pee. It’s the pee that kills the lawn, not the poop (whether scooped or not). It’s great if owners scoop the poop, but that’s only part of the issue.

    @Spilltbongwater
    Good on you to pick up after your dog. But your arguments are massively flawed. You say that the dog will go where and when it wants, but you are wrong. YOU are the master and YOU make the decision that the dog must wait. So instead of pulling the leash like a responsible owner, you CHOOSE to let your dog pee and poo on your neighbour’s lawn. You’re right, it’s not your dog’s fault… It’s yours! When my kid has to pee I don’t let him drop one on your lawn… he has to wait til we get home. Why the difference? As for the squirrels and raccoons argument, those are WILD animals, and your dog is domesticated. Give your head a shake buddy and ease up on the bong!

    Others who suggest a border/fence:
    While this is logical you are just confirming that many dog owners are lazy and selfish, and need an extra reminder to be a good citizen.

    It is clear which side I am on here.

    1. Erin says:

      And being a good citizen means yelling at dog owners and calling them lazy and selfish and generally being intolerant of others when they don’t prescribe to your way of life?

      Thank-goodness you don’t let your kids take a dump in other people’s yard. But kids do other things and they don’t always strictly stay on their own property when they play. Kids play in other people’s yards, kids cry in stores and at the movies, kids sometimes run around restaurants being loud. Kids can be pretty disruptive sometimes in public spaces. But you know what? They are kids and their parents are only human and I exercise some tolerance for people with kids. I try to help instead of having a holier-than-though attitude that I’m above repoach and it’s everyone else with the issue.

      My dog is a dog. My dog likes grass. So yeah, I’m going to let my dog run in the grass. Because that’s what dogs do. And if they pee on the grass, then the earth soaks it up. And if they poop? Then I pick it up. But a dogs a dog and I’m not going to deny her the pleasure of being a dog just because I’m walking in the neighborhood I share with everyone else. Just like I don’t call you when your kids are loudly playing outside and I can hear them in my own house.

      Tolerance of others is a wonderful thing. We are all in this together anyway.

      1. sas says:

        comparing kids to dogs is idiotic. We are all in this together so keep your dog under control. No-one needs to put up with your indulgence.

      2. TCC says:

        I so agree with you

  13. Spiltbongwater says:

    From my experience with owning a large labrador, the grass will grow back. After some heavy rain, and sometime without the dog urinating on it, it grows back just as well as it always was.

    I always picked up after my dog. My dog crapped on a front lawn, I picked it up, and the homeowner yelled at me saying not to do that again. She was unreasonable and could not accept that a dog will go where and when it wants to go, I cannot time it. There is all sort of wildlife living amoungst us, and not sure if she shoots coyotes, squirrels, raccoons who chose to use her lawn as a restroom as well. She could have put up a border around her lawn to prevent peoples pets from entering her lawn, but choose not to,

    1. sas says:

      you are an idiot. if you can’t control your dog then don’t have a dog. What’s next? your dog attacks someone but oh well who cares, you can’t control a dog right? pick it or not, feces is dirty. if my kids and I want to walk around bare foot on our lawn we should be able to. If you want to walk in a toilet, your choice

  14. Joe Q. says:

    +1 on the small picket fence idea. It only needs to be a foot high to provide a physical and psychological barrier.

  15. Joel says:

    I find letting your dog do it’s business on someone else lawn completely unacceptable. You should let the dog go on your lawn before going for a walk. Unfortunately most people with dogs don’t understand that it is a problem as their attachment to their pet is greater than their respect of other peoples property.
    This summer I was walking by a park and saw a parent letting their kid take a #2 on the pavement of a playground, it was reminiscent of Patrick and the poodle owner.

    1. d says:

      I have a flower garden at the front of my yard on my property, 4 feet in from the sidewalk with a small tree. The neighbourhood dog owners think nothing of letting their dogs trample through the flower garden, crap in the garden, and piss on the tree.

      One time I was out and asked the lady politely to please not let her dog go in the flower garden, and use the nice strip of grass on the other side of the sidewalk instead. Guess what her response was. Sorry for letting my dog piss on your flower garden? Nope. Her dog can go where it pleases. And that was that.

  16. Ed says:

    My feeling is that as long as they pick it up then I’m okay with it. I like the small fence idea, 18″ high and no problems with dogs on the grass. Or Patrick can move to a condo.

    1. Joyce says:

      Because there are no dogs crapping all over the condo property? We just moved from a condo to a house – with a small lawn out front. No difference – dogs crapping and peeing on the lawn in front of the condo – and in front of the house – and no one picks it up – even when we’re there reminding them to do so. Why should Patrick move anyway – he OWNS the property. Dog owners should buy their own plot of land to disgrace and not steal Patrick’s enjoyment of his hard-purchased property.

    2. d says:

      What? Why does Patrick need to move? Dog owners need to stop letting their dogs use his lawn as a toilet. Patrick needs to find out who they are and call 311 to report the problem individuals, especially if they are not picking up the dog crap.

  17. O says:

    Hello…long time reader, first time posting…Correct me if I am wrong, isn’t the first few feet of your lawn considered city property? If so, it isn’t your lawn the dog is pooping on…having said that, I once freaked out on a nanny who let the dog run right up to our door and poop in the garden right next to the house…but as long as it is near the sidewalk,I say let it slide..you will drive yourself crazy trying to fight this.

    1. moonbeam! says:

      Well as you can see in the photo, the spots are all over the front lawn, including beside the walkway up to the porch. So it seems the dogs run free all over the lawn, not just at the edge.
      And as David says in the blog, it’s not just the poop, but also the acidic pee that wrecks the lawn.

    2. Philip says:

      nope. Not city property.

    3. @ O

      Some houses have “boulevards” that are city-owned.

      Others, like Patrick & Nicole’s, do not. Their lawn is THEIRS; they own it.

      I see no difference between a dog pooping on their lawn (which they own), and in their kitchen (which they own as well).

      That’s my two cents, but I wanted to hear from readers first…

  18. mooj says:

    Let them be free!

    Good for your dog breeder colleague that they can control where their dog pees/poops, but unfortunately they’re in the minority. As long as they pick up the poop I’m not too sussed. I’d rather have a community full of people with dogs than a community with lush lawns.

    Kyle, I’m pretty sure it’s idiots like you that made dogs mans best friend.

    1. Kyle says:

      And i am pretty sure it is idiotic pet owners like you that are too stupid, lazy and irresponsible that we have shelters full of unwanted animals destined for euthanization. I actually have no problem with the dogs themselves, i have a problem with dumb owners who should be euthanized.

      1. ScottyP says:

        I love dogs, but hate dog owners. (Well, 95% of them anyway.)

    2. sas says:

      then have your dog poop on your own lawn. you might like to live in filth, the rest of us don’t.

  19. Kyle says:

    Things could be far worse. I used to live in a house with a laneway out back, where some POS jerk off would just open his garage door and let his three large dogs roam around the laneway doing their business. Then after about 5 minutes of letting them empty their bowels, he would call them back. There have been a few times where i and my neighbours have found large smelly gifts on our driveways or right in front of our garage doors. Not only does he let his dogs crap all over everyone else’s property. His dogs also happen to be large and unfriendly so there are other times i have been snarled at as they roam around laying land mines. It is dickfaces like him that make people want to leave poison hot dogs out.

    1. jeff316 says:

      There’s nothing grosser than a lane-way after the first major snowmelt of the oncoming spring.

  20. moonbeam! says:

    My observation, as Patrick saw with the poodle lady, is that dog-walkers will only pick up if they are being watched. When no one is looking, they won’t pick up. This is a fact.
    I agree that Patrick must get a border, whether a small fence, rock garden, or hedge.

    1. JD says:

      Don’t generalize. I have owned a dog for 2 years and have never failed to pick up after her.

    2. Rosie says:

      That is absolutely not true. Assholes don’t pick up after their dog while not being watched – decent dog owners (like myself) always do.

      1. sas says:

        Pick up after your dog or not. Why would you let your dog take a dump on someone else’s property. Let your dog trash your own property.

  21. grasshopper says:

    I will also chime in to suggest a small border, just something to create a psychological barrier if not a physical one. There are flower edging fence materials that are only a foot high, but putting that plus some flowers or other plantings would stop most people from allowing their dog to step over a deliberate boundary. People view grass as sort of a blank default yard, but in Riverdale if you show that you’ve invested some time and money in making it pretty and people should respect that.

  22. amral says:

    Will a small picket fence help

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