Fewer feces are great, but dogs gotta go when they gotta go.

By Austin Cannon
April 28, 2021
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black dachshund sniffs grass
Credit: Christine Bird/Shutterstock

Welcome to the first installment of Petiquette, a recurring feature in which Daily Paws examines real-world examples of pet politeness, propriety, protocol, and, of course, "faux paws." 

Every so often, our Petiquette experts—Daily Paws writers and editors—will take on your most pressing real-world questions: Is it ever OK to leave my dog's poop behind? What's the most courteous way to include my pet in my wedding? Who's responsible for the emergency veterinarian bill? 

We'll do our best to diagnose the situation and then deliver our verdict, which is naturally final and completely binding. (Just kidding. Do whatever you want as long as you're being kind and courteous to both people and animals.)

Have a problem you want Petiquette to consider? Email us, and we'll maybe include your situation in a future column. Let's get to our inaugural state of affairs. 

Consider This Scenario 

Our case study today comes from a Reddit user asking, albeit in different words, whether they're a jerk for posting signs in their yard requesting that dog owners keep their dogs from going to the bathroom on the grass.

The reasoning is sound: The family recently re-sodded their front yard, and their small kiddos like to play in it. Sometimes, as they are wont to do, passing dogs will stop to pee and poop in the grass. Dog urine and feces—and the residue left behind when responsible dog owners pick up the poop—is obviously not ideal for the children who might be rolling around in that very grass.

So this parent put up signs that read "Kids Play Area" with a "no-dog" symbol on them. Since then, this person says they've picked up a pair of poop piles and witnessed a "host" of dog owners allow their canines to sniff the signs and then pee on or near them. The parent has resorted to asking repeat sign-violators to take their dogs elsewhere. 

"It's a mix of OKs, with some visibly bothered by the request," they wrote. "... What I don't understand is the indifference from some, not even an attempt to pull them back towards the sidewalk, and often stopping to give them even more time."

The signs will come down, they wrote, when the kids no longer play in the yard. 

So, Should You Ban Dogs from Pooping in Your Yard?

Sorry if you want us to rule definitively for the parent or the dog owners; that ain't happening. There's room for understanding on both sides here. 

For dog owners who might see similar "no-dog" signs in their neighborhoods: If you can do it safely, walk your dog on the opposite side of the street where he can poop and pee to his heart's delight. If your dog does squat down in a prohibited yard, apologize if you can and do your best to get all the poop you can off the ground. Icky? Sure, but you kind of broke the rules requested by the legal owner of this property. 

Let's also try to give the property owners the benefit of the doubt and not assume they're on some anti-dog crusade. The signs are, hopefully, well-meaning requests—not accusations of wrongdoing. The last thing we need is vengeance poops. 

Homeowners posting the signs should know this: When dogs have to go, they're going to go, and it's unkind (not to mention rude) to tug on the leash when they're trying to do their business. How would you feel if someone was yanking on your wrist as you're about to really bear down on the toilet? Probably not great!

I'm not a parent, but would it be possible to relegate your kids to only the area near the house, avoiding the potential droppings near the street? Maybe that would work. 

Another idea: Create a physical barrier that makes it harder for dogs to access your yard. A fence might be obvious—but expensive. Perhaps a row of shrubs or plants along the sidewalk? Even a series of short stakes with string between them might be enough to deter a potty-seeker. 

Either way, the bottom line is that we should all be considerate—whether it's a request from a homeowner or an emergency canine bathroom break.

Have an entry for our Petiquette column? Email us