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You can train dogs not to do so when they feel like it

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POSTED August 16, 2015 8:37 p.m.

DEAR DIDI:  I take my dog for a nice walk each morning while the temperatures are still cool. The other morning he was doing his business and I stood ready with poop bag in hand.  However, the owner of that yard came rushing out yelling at me. I showed her my poop bag and said I was going to pick it up but she was upset that I even allowed my dog to poop and pee at all!  I was a defensive mom at that point and will never walk down that street again. It did get me wondering what proper etiquette is exactly and would this lady have been just as upset if it had been a Service Dog or Therapy Dog that went on her lawn. -Doggy Mommy


DEAR DOGGY MOMMY:  Most cities have leash and clean-up-after laws.  So you were definitely obeying the letter of the law picking up after your dog.  However, there is a difference between the basics that the law says you must do and what is truly good manners.  We pass laws to make people to do the bare minimum and it is truly a shame that so many dog owners don’t even follow those basic laws. I frequently see people that insist on demonstrating their dog’s supposed “good training” by allowing them to walk off leash in public areas.  I cringe to think what percentage of people aren’t picking up after their pooch in our area as I am constantly running across little land mines on sidewalks and lawns all over the place.

Despite the fact that dog popularity is at an all time high in the United States there are still a lot of people out there that, for a variety of reasons, don’t like dogs or are scared of them.  Therefore, it is only polite not to inflict our precious canine companions on them.  It is one thing to have the right to walk your dog, on leash, in public around someone that doesn’t like dogs, but it is quite another for those same people to have to tolerate your dog on their personal property.  Think of it as protecting your dog from having a bad experience when a homeowner comes rushing outside yelling.  As a matter of fact, there are people who love and own dogs themselves but still don’t want your dog on their lawns.  There are many reasons for their feelings.

Perhaps they pride themselves on their gardening skills and spent many hours keeping a nicely manicured lawn.  Dog urine frequently kills the lawn and can take months to fill in. This leaves an unsightly reminder of your dog’s visit on that homeowner’s mind for several weeks!  On top of that, the hormone ridden scent will linger for weeks despite sprinklers and will encourage other dogs to follow suit. You are not the only one to make the comment about Service Dogs and Therapy Dogs, but I will tell you that the reason those dogs earn those titles is because they are highly trained. In order to gain access to public areas such as restaurants and shopping malls they must not EVER pee or poop just because they feel like it.  They are trained to do so only on command.  This way the owner/handler can choose an appropriate and safe place for that activity.  We train our human children to wait until they are in an appropriate places to relieve themselves.  Same concept applies to dogs.

Yes, even the best trained dogs will have intestinal upset or an emergency.  This is why a responsible dog owner always has poop bags on hand, the willingness to pick it up, and understands that profuse apologies are better than indignant attitudes.  All dogs, no matter breed and size,  absolutely can be trained to enjoy stimulating walks without having to lift legs on every bush and fire hydrant along the way. -email your questions or to inquire about dog behavior presentations to 

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