Dear PoPville – Dog Ettiquete Questions

Photo by PoPville flickr user pablo.raw

Dear PoPville,

Having been yelled at now numerous time by people when I walk my dog, I have a couple of questions to throw out to the group:

1) Are the small plots of grass in front of people’s row houses “private property”? What about alleys on the side of buildings? The “private property” threat seems to be a favorite among dog haters.

2) Are DC trash cans also “private property” and is throwing away properly bagged dog waste illegal/morally wrong?

136 Comment

  • If I lose a can, or if it is damaged, I have to replace it with my own money, and garbage men won’t take refuse not canned (at least on my street). I also have to move the cans back and forth, responsible for their upkeep etc. Basically that makes them mine. And if I catch you not picking up you dog shit on my tree box, or throwing our your dog shit in my garbage can, your gonna learn pretty quick what dog shit tastes like.

    • + infinity billion.

    • I am going to assume by “DC trash cans” you mean those on the street corners and not those mentioned by the gross response below.

      I mean really, who ever heard of keeping your trash clean of only your trash… that is just sad.

      The answer to your questions are NO and NO… ignore the haters.

    • when you throw your dog’s crap into someone else’s trashcan, it isn’t going to make it into the bags of trash that are in there. that means that it’s going to make its way to the bottom of the can, get stuck there, never come out, and start smelling like in a matter of days.

      when you get a dog you assume responsibility for it–your responsibility, not mine. i dont want to deal with 20 tiny bags of shit that get smooshed into the bottom of my garbage can. pick up the poop and take it to the public trash can on any street corner or even back to your own house. if you cant carry it for a block, you should have thought about how uncomfortable poop makes you before you committed yourself to care for an animal synonymous with “poop machine.”

      and yes, i have dogs, so i know how hard it is.

    • Well, you seem like a wonderfully pleasent person! Enjoy your jail sentence when you (presumably forcefully) show someone what dog shit tastes like, and then are promptly arrested for a felony.

      Why are you so angry about trash? Its trash!

      • Are you kidding felony,,, in this town that person is likely to not even get a ticket.

      • To be clear, I would not throw my dogs poop bags in someone elses trash, however, your threats of violence are so over the top and outrageous it makes me feel bad for you and your family/the people who have to deal with you on a regular basis.

        • I didn’t threaten anyone. I was just pointing out that the person you were responding to would likely not get a felony conviction in this town.

          • Sorry for the confusion, was adding to my original response.

            But to your point, to think that someone who forcefully shows someone how dog shit tastes won’t even get a ticket… really? Do you really thing, that someone who goes, picks shit off the ground, grabs you, and shoves feces into your mouth, and then goes back into his house… You really think that MPD won’t do anything? Really??

          • Yep really, people who shoot people in this city are walking around scott free. Another discussion for another time. This is to Kyle-W post.

    • Everyone is a tough guy on the internet.

  • Regarding number 2, seriously, just don’t throw away your trash in someone else’s trash can. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. It’s technically not my private property but I am responsible for the can and its contents. If someone knocks it over with their car or if the trash guys spill half of it in the alley I have to pick it up and I don’t want to be picking up your dog’s crap.

    • +100.

      In my alley the trash collectors seem to pick up bags out of the trash can rather than lift and dump the whole thing, so individual items or very small bags are likely not to get dumped properly.

      I keep my trash/recycling bins on my own property (behind a fence) except when I’ve specifically put them out for collection. But just because it happens to be trash pickup day shouldn’t make it OK for someone to throw their dog poop inside.

  • christanel

    1) I’d be cautious but sometimes it’s not avoidable. If there’s a sidewalk separating the rowhouse stoop from the grass plot you should be okay as long you clean up after the dog.

    2) Absolutely not – at least not if you mean these: They’re on the sidewalk for a reason and cleaned by DC not the owner.

  • Wow, dog etiquette and “parking” in the same thread!

    Don’t ever put your waste in another’s can. When it comes to dogs, if there is any question, do not do it.

  • Is OP referring to the trash bins located on people’s property as ‘DC trash cans’ or is OP referring to the big trash cans on street corners as ‘DC trash cans’? Sounds like an important clarification before the masses chime-in. Good luck, OP, you’re a brave soul for submitting this one… 😉

    • I’m sure the writer is referring to the big green trash cans that say property of dc on them.

      I’m a dog owner and would never touch one of those. Even if it’s technically legal, it doesn’t seem particularly neighborly.

  • In addition, I don’t hate dogs. I love dogs, I hate their fool owners who leave shit all over the street.

  • OP, why is someone who has a sense of personal responsibility automatically a “dog hater?”

    The false sense of persecution among dog owners damn near rivals that of bikers.

  • I always imagine someone saying something when I drop off my dog’s shit in their can. This has never happened in 5 years though. I’m prepped to say something like “Would you rather I leave it here on the street?”

    I mean, seriously. I’m not leaving shit on your house or on your person. Chill out.

    • No fool, I wouldn’t rather you leave it on the street, I would rather you take it to your own garbage can. But I look forward to catching you throwing it in mine, you’ve got five years of karma I can’t wait to take out on ya.

    • I’d rather you not be lazy and take responsibility for your dog and its waste. The contents of my trash can are my responsibility and I do not want to be responsible for your dog’s crap.

      Apart from not wanting to (boo hoo), what is your reason for not carrying the poo to a public trash can or your own trash can?

    • Dog,

      When someone leaves dog waste in my assigned trash receptacle, whether bagged or not, the trash collectors will not take any of the trash away. They skip the pickup altogether. So though you think you are doing the right thing, you’re not. Either dispose of it at your residence or in a public trash can.

      • Seriously? Then how does dog waste ever get disposed of?

        • Yes seriously. I have to move the small bag of someone else’s dog crap into a regular trash bag. Not fun.

          • Dog owner here. And I’m going to second, or whatever, the above. If you leave it little New York Times bad of dog crap in one of the green household trash cans, the delicate flowers that are DC’s trash collectors WILL NOT take the trash. When I first moved in, before I had a dog, I used to have to call the city twice a week about why my trash didn’t get picked up. So please DO NOT leave your dog poop in another person’s can (unless it is an emergency AND you can untie their bag of trash and insert your dog’s poo well into their larger bag).

            Homeowners do not own the tree boxes, but they are responsible for them. I know it is impossible to completely control where Fido pees and poops, but if someone has obviously put some effort into plantings and such in the tree box, try to keep the dog out of it. And regardless of how nasty the treebox is, DO NOT leave dog crap behind: PICK IT UP.

            Now, if you happen to own some teenagers, please train them not to throw their chip bags and soda cans in my tree box. Thanks

    • No, but you are leaving it somewhere where I will likely have to get in there with a hose or my hands to pull out the tiny bag of shit, because it doesn’t get picked up by the garbage collectors. Don’t leave it on the street, take it home with you and put it in your own green can. It is nasty, and it is your responsibility.

    • I would rather you left it on the street, since that’s where it’s going to end up anyway. The garbage collectors just grab the big, bagged trash and leave everything else behind. And I’m not going to touch your dog’s shit.

  • The parking strip is not private property, but the homeowner is responsible for its upkeep. I’m not a dog lover (actually I kind of dislike them), but I have no problem with dog owners letting their pets do their business on my parking strip if they clean up afterwards. A surprising number do not.

    As for the garbage can, no, I don’t think you should put dog crap or anything else in someone’s can. On my block, the garbage collectors do not turn the cans upside down into the truck. Instead, they remove all the bags from the cans and throw them in by hand. Why, I don’t know, but the upshot is that they won’t grab your little doodie baggie, and it will sit in the bottom of the can for me to deal with.

    • Right, the trash collectors don’t take the little bags. I always toss mine in a public trashcan, but if there weren’t any nearby I’d keep a dedicated full-size trashbag in my backyard where I’d toss all the little bags.

    • PDleftMtP

      I have the same problem. Your little bag of dog crap will sit in the bottom of my can turning into fetid sewage soup next time it rains. Sorry, but that’s just rude, and I’ll say so if I see you. I don’t hate your dog, but it’s your dog to clean up after, not mine.

    • Also, please consider the way in which the strip is maintained. Mine is just bark (upgrading it has been on the to-do list for a long time), so I don’t care if someone’s dog is rooting around there. But, if I had a bunch of well tended plants and flowers, I probably wouldn’t want a dog digging in my garden. I see this all time.

  • I’m predicting 100+ comments, with a devolution into gentrification/race trolling at some point.

    • And I would like to express my will that everyone gets to vent their spleen without crossing the line! Come on, everybody! Complain without going psycho!!!

  • Also please do not let your dog pee on the side of a house, fence, mailbox or light post (unless your own) or just let the dog go on the concrete sidewalk (yes I’ve seen it). When in doubt, go for organic matter: grasses, trees (but not nice to go on flowers). This is coming from a dog owner!

    • If not in the middle of the sidewalk, on the fence side of the sidewalk, or on the other side of the sidewalk (you shouldn’t be letting them pee in tree boxes), where are dogs supposed to go? Mine prefer the ivy that tends to spill past the fence into the sidewalk edge, so I guess that meets your requirement, but I’ve seen neighborhoods that don’t have much of that.

  • Are “residents” allowed to express their “First Amendment Rights” and “complain” about things they “don’t like” happening near “their homes” that they use or pass by “every day” even if they aren’t legally allowed to “sue you” or “call the cops” if you “do “it?

  • orderedchaos

    Never put *anything* in someone else’s trash can — it’s creepy and wrong. If I saw someone putting a bag of something onto my property I’d be pretty wary.

    A public can on the corner is fine, clearly; carry the poop with you until you see one of those, or bring it home with you.

    As for the alleys and treebox plots: it’s not private property and it’s fine (IMO) for dogs to use it, as long as you pick up after them of course.

  • As to Number (1), if you are talking about grass between the sidewalk and the person’s house (i.e. a yard of sorts), then yes, DO NOT let your dog sniff around, carouse, or do its business there. If you are talking about the patch of grass where there is the public sidewalk between it and the house, I think they are fair game on the following conditions. First, always, always pick up after your dog. Second, if there is a small fence, raised box, or a sign asking you to keep your dog out of the patch, do not let your dog go there.

    As to the trash can issue, I think it is preferrable that you use public trash cans (like the ones at the park) to dispose. I know the location of every such can within a two mile radius of my house for this very reason.

    • Ha ha that made me laugh. I know where all the public trash cans are too, and I’ve noticed that my dog likes to go as far away from them as possible, I assume so she can force me to carry little bags of poop for the maximum distance.

  • Nobody yells at me about my dog, maybe because I weigh 280lbs and I have a pitt bull. That’s an easy way to fix the problem.

  • It’s astounding to me that anyone would think it appropriate to put a bag of dog shit in someone’s trash can. Take it home with you and put it in your own trash can.

  • 1) since those who live behind the tree boxes have to maintain and clean them, i’m sure they wouldn’t relish the thought of your pup leaving small gifts for them to pick up. be as courteous as you would if your dog relieved him/herself on the sidewalk.

    2) people have to pay for their trashcans, so yes, they’re probably viewed as such. keep the poop bags in public cans if you can. i don’t have a dog and wouldn’t really appreciate dog sh*t in my recycle bin.

  • The tree boxes in the front of ones house actually belong to the city but the owner of the property that they are in front of are responsible for their upkeep. This being the case, if a person does not clean up after their dog and the pile of feces is left in someones treebox, that property owner is responsible for cleaning it up. There is a city ordinance that states that property owners have to keep their property in a decent, sanitary condition, which it is not if there is dog feces in the front of the house. But the bigger question is why you would not clean up after your dog in the first place – public property or not? You feed the thing right? Well, it’s all part of that responsibility. As for trash cans – yes the person who is responsible for that trash can (they are numbered) can be held accountable for what is in it and if it is overflowing/in the wrong place/busted/etc. So no one should put their garbage in someones trash unless they have permission.
    Personally, I have no use for dogs – vile things.

  • I’m a dog owner and I agree with what seems to be the general consensus-

    It’s OK for a dog his/her business in a tree lawn/box provided the owner picks up after the dog. And, I avoid the ones that are really nicely maintained with flowers, etc. Even my 5 pound dog would trample them; I appreciate that a neighbor took time to spruce up his/her tree box and I respect that. Ones with just grass/dirt are fair game IMO, if the owner cleans up.

    It’s rude to throw away dog waste in these trash cans: , even if it is “properly bagged.” As others have stated, homeowners are responsible for the trash in said cans if the can tips over, etc. additionally, even though they are supposed to, garbage men sometimes don’t dump the entire can and only pick out the large bags. So, your small bag of dog waste may be sitting in someone’s lidded trash can for a while. It’s just common courtesy to wait to encounter a public trash can, like the one christanel posted. (And the public trash cans are fully emptied every night, at least on my block, so the dog poop won’t be sitting there for days.)

  • 1) People are supposed to maintain those plots but rarely do. It’s the dog walker’s responsibility to pook up the poo and dispose of it.

    2) Legally, you cannot dispose of poo bags in public trash cans either. You’re supposed to take it home and throw it away. However, that seems pretty absurd, so using a public can seems fine. As for using someone else’s can, I don’t think it’s illegal per se, but it’s pretty much a dick move.

  • I see this as less of a question of what is legal and more of a question of what is the right thing to do. We live in a city and we all have to make compromises. Non dog people have to accept that dogs need to do their business and dog owners need to accept that people don’t want to step in or look at dog poop.

    I have a dog and I do let him go in the tree boxes and parking strips (small patch of grass between curb and sidewalk) and I always clean it up. But I never let him do his business their if their are flowers or landscaping. It’s just being considerate. I also don’t let him go on the sidewalk or in alleys. People let their kids play their. And I don’t want my kids playing in pee either. I don’t like pulling bags of poop out of my trash can so I don’t put bags of poop in other peoples. Again, its just the right thing to do.

  • I am a dog owner and a home owner. Here is my take:

    1) Yes, the plots in front of people’s houses are “private property” (it’s called a yard). The space on the other side of the sidewalk, however, is not. Alleys are fair game, back yards are not.

    2) YES! The trash cans in front of people’s homes are private property (the homeowner has to pay for them) AND YES IT IS ABSOLUTELY WRONG TO THROW DOG WASTE IN THEM! I don’t even throw my own dog’s bags in my own trash cash, and here’s why: The garbage collectors rarely collect them. They slide to the bottom of the trash can and stay there. So when jerks leave their dogs’ waste in my trashcan, it just accumulates. The only way to get rid of it is for me to then go back and collect your crap bags in a bigger trash bag that the garbage men will actually pick up.

    I have owned a dog in DC for 5 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever been yelled at, so you are definitely doing something wrong. Please use your brain and be considerate.

  • I think that if a person has a dog, and the dog defecates anywhere, it is impolite and disrespectful not to pick up after your dog regardless if it is in a tree box or anywhere else. If you have a dog, and they have to pee, having them do so in a tree box that is very well maintained is equally disrespectful for the person who is maintaining it because you can kill the plants/flowers in the tree box. Conversely, if it is not maintained, peeing is fine, but you should still pick up the feces.

  • I’m not a dog hater.

    1. Pick up and carry your poop back to your own damn can.

    2. The alley behind your house or the small plot in front of your apartment…how about I come over there and take a dump in it myself and see how you feel about it?

  • So some kind of trash is more trashish than other kind of trash? Didn’t realize there was a trash hierarchy. If there is no public can around, and a DC trashcan on the street, that dog bag is going in there.

    • Have you not read the other posts? Is it really all just about you? If there is no public trash can available, TAKE IT TO YOUR OWN TRASH CAN. DON’T BE SO SELF-SERVING AND INCONSIDERATE!

    • And just screw the trashcan owner who has to somehow get your poop bag out of there? Why do you live among other humans? This is what Alaska is for.

  • I’ll take the dog etiquette question a step further.

    Whats the deal with dog owners at a dog park that are frustrated by others’ dogs jumping around on them, stealing their dog’s toys, and so forth? Too many dog owners think that we’re at a playground populated with kids. Someone actually got mad at me because my dog took her dog’s toy. Dogs dont understand property rights.

    As for the other issues: dogs are going to go wherever they want, thats just a fact of life. You can work with them and try to control it, but mistakes happen. Pick up after them. And put waste in public trashcans, not personal ones.

    • I’ll take the bait on this one. I only get frustrated when this happens if it is clear the jumping/theiving dog’s owner is either (1) not paying any attention to his dog and instead at the park to socialize, read, play on his Iphone, etc., or (2) thinks little Woofy’s behavior is funny and or cute.

      If the owner makes an effort to get the ball back (and I’m usually on the other side of the park from the pack if I’m playing fetch, or else not bringing out the toys at all) or make sure his dog doesn’t keeping jumping on me, I’m totally cool with it, because dogs will be dogs. But that doesn’t make such behavior desireable or lead to a good environment for dog play and socialization.

      My dogs are far from perfect and on occasion will jump on someone at the park, but you’d better believe I’m paying attention and will sternly tell my dog “off” if I see it, and will remove my dogs from the park if they keep it up. So in sum, my beef isn’t with the dogs, it’s with their owners.

      • hahaha you actually have a problem with a dog taking a toy from another dog? You realize dogs dont assign the same meaning to these things as owners do, right?

        Sounds like you might be part of the problem.

        • Did you even read my post or are you just trolling? I admitted that dogs will be dogs. I stated my problem is with owners who don’t make an effort to ensure their dogs are behaving. I will clarify by saying that I don’t think it’s fair for an owner to introduce a toy into the “pack” at the park. But when I’m thirty yards away from the pack, throwing a ball in the oppositie direction, and generally making an effort to prevent unpleasent encounters, and someone’s dog repeatedly is coming all that way to try and take the toy (or in the case of some dogs, jumping on me and try to take it out of my hand), then yes, I have a problem with that. Particulary when the owner is just sitting there laughing.

          In addition, don’t be so sure that dogs don’t assign the same value to property as humans. Some of the worst scraps I’ve seen at dogs parks have been over toys. Hence why I don’t bring special toys or play near the group. Dogs are possessive too, Anon X.

    • I try to train my dog not to jump on other people, but she’s a dog. I usually tell her sternly to not jump, but in the dog park, it’s kind of a free-for-all, so I also never understand when people flip out.

      As for dog toys, I agree. If it’s a special toy, don’t bring it to the dog park because my dog will take it and run around and flaunt it because she is playing keep away. When we (or the toy’s owner leaves), I’ll make sure to get it back to the rightful owner, but I’m not going to chase my dog around to get someone else’s toy (just to have her take it again).

      • I totally know what you mean. I can’t stand going to the park and there being a dog that won’t stop humping other dogs/jumping on people and the owner does nothing. If they do it a few times, fine, but if it’s non-stop and the owner is too busy doing who knows what and not paying attention it’s pretty rude.

        Once a huge dog ran into me and knocked me down. I laughed. I thought it was funny. The dog wasn’t being mean or aggressive, he was chasing another dog and ran into me. But the owner didn’t even acknowledge that it happened. Pay attention to your dogs!!

        At the new Ledroit Park dog park I have continuously seen people drop their dogs off in the park and then go play with their kids at the playground. Not cool.

        Sorry for the rant!

    • Wow, sounds like you have no control over your dog! My dogs know the commands off and drop it. I do not allow them to jump on other ppl- anywhere! If they steal a toy another dog is playing with I tell them to drop it. No drama, they drop it. Dogs are not uncontrollable animals, you just need to put some effort into it. If my foster cannot yet behave at a dog park I don’t bring him/her. Dogs are quite capable of learning rules. I bring a rubber ball to play with because tennis balls grind down their teeth (knowledge learned through an expensive visit to a special dental vet). My dog’s teeth are ground down so badly we can no longer use normal balls, only the rubber ones. I understand if a dog steals once or twice, but I’ve almost gotten my hand bitten off trying to pick up the ball when other dogs are trying to grab it. Seriously, some dogs are in need of training, apparently yours is one of them.

  • 1. Actually the entire front yard of almost every house in DC is called “public space” and is regulated by DDOT’s public space commission. They tell you if you can build an awning, walkway, fence, etc. You get to maintain it, but you don’t own it. It is not private property. Alleys are public property.

    2. Where is the can? If it is in an alley, or sitting out waiting to be picked up, it is not prviate property. Feel free to look up the multitude of court cases on the topic. But basically, you can throw the poop in the can. I think personally it is a dick move, but do as you wish. If the can is on someone’s yard, you shouldn’t chuck it.

    • Joe, you overstate #1, which has been discussed to death on this blog previously. It is a myth that all front yards are owned by the city. Some are, some aren’t. It’s especially true south of Florida, less so north. Regarding #2, I guess I’m not convinced that there are multiple court cases on point, but, even if there are, why would you advise someone to do something that you yourself view as a “dick move?” Just because someone is permitted to do something doesn’t mean they should.

    • I think the former court cases involve things like search/seizure, privacy, theft, found property, etc. I suspect that there are no published cases involving someone suing another for putting things IN his or her trash, at least not small items in residential trash. On the other hand, there have been instances — written about in PoP, if I recall — of people being fined/cited/billed for putting trash in dumpsters that aren’t theirs to use.

      Regardless, the legality is a non-issue. No one’s suing anybody over it, nor is the city going to police the matter. However, you’re absolutely right that its a dick move.

      And kenyondweller’s right.

  • 1. Unless there’s a sign, let your dog poop away as long as you clean it up.

    2. Don’t throw crap in some random person’s trash can. Regardless of the legality, t’s just not cool. It’s not difficult to bring it home or find a public can.

  • It’s seems there is a general consensus on dog ettiquete, which is cool because I don’t think that this is really an issue of dog-owners vs non-dog-owners/home-owners.

    Poor poop ettiquete also impacts other dog-owners, if to a lesser degree than home-owners. Dogs tend to want to pee where other dogs pee. If someone is allowing his/her dog to pee in a well-maintained parking strip, it’s just that much harder for me to keep my dog out of it.

    Also, improperly cleaned up dog poop is equally attractive to other dogs. Cleaning another dog’s poo off of my dog’s feet is a big pain, though not as much as cleaning it out of a trash can months later, I’m sure.

    Let’s hope that everyone can get on the same page – it benefits everyone involved.

  • Here’s the regs relevant to part 1 of the question:
    702.1 Except as provided in § 702.2, each owner, tenant, or lessee (or the agent of that person) who has control of or occupies any building, lot, or land within the District shall maintain in clean condition the public space from the property line of that building, lot, or land and extending eighteen inches (18 in.) from the curb line (or the lateral lines of the roadway) into the abutting roadway.
    702.2 Each owner, tenant, or lessee (or the agent of that person) who has control of or occupies any building that contains three (3) or fewer dwelling units within the District shall maintain in clean condition the public space between the curb line (or lateral lines of the roadway) and the property line of that building.

    D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 21, § 702

  • If the trash can is in the alley, i’m going to throw my bag of dog poop in it. bring it onto your property if you have a problem with that. i’m not throwing it on your dining room table, i’m putting it in a garbage can.

    as a property owner, i’m just glad when someone cares enough to use a trash can instead of using my tree box as one.

    • PDleftMtP

      Can you not read? IT WILL NOT BE PICKED UP. You are leaving a stinking, rotting mess for the owner of the can to scrape out of the bottom. This is absolutely not OK, any more than leaving a big pile of dog crap on the sidewalk in front of someone’s house.

      • I don’t scoop my dog’s poop up with my hand and fling it directly into the trash. i put it in a bag and tie a knot. you are acting like the city garbage cans are stainless steel platters that people bring into their house to eat off of.

        • RD, placing a bag of dog poop in someone else’s trash can isn’t as bad as placing loose poop in the can… but it’s still bad.

          As many people have commented, garbage collectors usually take only the big bags, which means that any individual items or poo bags will remain at the bottom of the trash can.

          Even if people aren’t taking their trash cans inside and eating off of them, that’s no excuse for someone else to put dog poop in them. If the poop leaks, festers, etc., it’s the can owner who has to clean it up.

          In addition, rats like to eat dog poop. So if the poop does leak into the can, the owners have more than just a mess to deal with; they have a vermin magnet.

          Hold on to your poop bag until you get home or until you see a street trash can. I don’t see how why this should be so difficult.

          • Dear anon in Park View,

            What a civil, patient explanation to rd, thank you!

          • unfortunately, i’m not going to change my habits and walk several blocks home with the poop bag. still going to throw it in the nearest outdoor trash can. if it’s in public space, i’m using it for it’s intended purpose.

        • You’re really missing the point. Your tied up newspaper bag just sits in the bottom of the can. The trash people do not take it out. When it rains it gets wet. It will eventually burst. This is not an impregnable nuclear waste cask. You can keep telling yourself you’re not being a jerk and the poop fairies will just make it disappear from the bottom of the can, but you’re wrong.

  • I am quite surprised at the consensus regarding throwing trash in other people’s cans. Personally, I could care less if you throw trash – including dog crap – in my can if it is bagged in a way that prevents it from spreading out all over the place. In fact, I’d much prefer trash being placed in my or a neighbor’s can than dropped on the ground, where there is far too much trash already. I guess I have particularly good people working my trash route because they always dump the contents of my trash can in the truck as opposed to picking out bags individually. I can’t understand why anyone working with garbage would put their hands on trash bags if they could avoid it.
    One of the problems in my area is a dearth of “public” trash cans. I live a block from the Park View field and there used to be a trash can on the corner. It’s now gone. As a result, I see more trash left on the street. No, it’s not an excuse but it is an explanation. There is a house on Rock Creek Church Road where the resident hangs a black trash bag on his fence, presumably for the general public to use. The trash can by the bus stop is always full, probably because it’s the only trash can for several blocks.
    As far as letting a dog poop on the grass strip in front of my house, the only time I have had a problem with that is when I’ve known that it has occurred – which is when some irresponsible owner did not clean up after his or her dog.

    • I’m surprised that you’re surprised that so many people are considerate and show common courtesy by not throwing dog crap into someone’s trash can.

    • Marcus – I know the trash can, i.e., the always full one at the bus stop at the southwest corner of RCC Road and Warder. It is always full because the residents in the houses on the southwest and northwest corners throw their houshold trash bags in that can. I’ve seen the residents of both houses do this regularly. It’s illegal of course. – Dave 😉

      • Dave, have you reported these folks to DPW and/or or mentioned the issue to Muriel Bowser?

        Maybe DPW could arrange to empty that trash can more frequently? Or is it already being emptied daily?

        • I have not reported it to DPW, nor to Bowser (I’m a Ward 1 resident). The house on the NW corner is Ward 4, the house on the southwest corner is Ward 1.

          I think the can is emptied every other day, but I’m not positive. I suspect DPW will not do daily pick-ups. And they wouldn’t need to if the cans were used properly.

        • I have not reported it to DPW, nor to Bowser (She’s not my councilmember, I’m a Ward 1 resident). The house on the NW corner is Ward 4, the house on the southwest corner is Ward 1.

          I think the can is emptied every other day, but I’m not positive. I suspect DPW will not do daily pick-ups at this location. And they wouldn’t need to if the cans were used properly.

          • Ahh, somehow I was thinking both houses would be in Ward 4.

            It’s a shame that the residents can’t be bothered to hold on to their own damn trash until trash day, but given that they don’t, it might be worthwhile to see if DPW can 1) ticket them and/or 2) empty the street trash can more often. I think the ones a block down on Georgia Avenue (in front of the check-cashing place and King’s Deli) get emptied every day.

  • bfinpetworth

    We have a smallish, tight lidded metal trash can with a trash bag inside it in our back yard into which we place our small doggy poop bags. We keep mothballs in the bottom of the can (I’m told rats and other pests don’t like that smell) to keep critters away. Once a week we empty the larger bag into our large trash bag and, voila, no problem with doggy poopy bags at the bottom of the can. We also keep our large trash bin inside our fenced in backyard, which avoids unwelcome dumping.

    It really is ashame how many people don’t pick up after their dogs.

    • anon. gardener

      We have the same thing, with a brick in the bottom to prevent it from being knocked over by the wind. If I don’t happen to pass by a city maintained trash bin, i bring the baggie home and drop it in the can. Like a Diaper Genie for dogs. Common sense and common courtesy, not rocket science, people.

  • And on a related note – does anyone know whether it is legal to keep your trash cans in the alley on non pickup days? Several years ago, I got a somewhat hefty ticket in the mail fining me for having my trash can in the alley on a non pickup day. Since then, I have been pretty careful about removing my trash can once the trash has been collected. But I’ve noticed now that pretty much everyone keeps their trash cans in the alley. I presume that these people aren’t being ticketed or else they would not be doing this. I just wonder if the law has changed. Otherwise, DC is missing out on some serious ticket revenue – at least in my neighborhood.

    • Place trash and recycling containers out for collection after 6:30 pm the night before collection or before 6 am on collection day. Residents are required to remove trash and recycling containers from public space by 8 pm on your collection day.

    • The rules haven’t changed; they’re still as Matt91 posted above.

      Marcus Aurelius, I think you and I might live on the same block!

  • Here’s more regs that are relevant (and no, they don’t make sense from a grammatical perspective, but that is how they are written).

    900.7 No person owning, keeping, or having custody of a dog, except a seeing eye dog, shall allow or permit the dog to defecate or urinate on public parking or any sidewalk or in any and each such person shall immediately remove dog excrement from any curb, gutter, alley or street.

    D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 24, § 900

  • Do not, do not, do not throw your dog’s waste into other people’s trash cans! When I used to have my garbage collected out front of my house, this would happen all the time and as others have said, the garbage collectors only take the large bags out, leaving the small baggie to fester in 90 degree summer heat stinking up my front entrance until I pulled it out (half melted at this point) and rebagged it in a larger bag.

  • And finally here’s the statute on illegal dumping. All you lawyers out there can argue over its applicability to the hypo.

    (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to dispose or cause or permit the disposal of solid waste, hazardous waste, or medical waste in or upon any street, lot, park, public place, or any other public or private area, whether or not for a commercial purpose, unless the site is authorized for the disposal of solid waste, hazardous waste or medical waste by the Mayor.

    D.C. Code § 8-902

  • I will walk the extra few blocks to find a public trash can before I’ll throw it in somebody’s green one.

    I don’t think it’s a terrible offense, just not neighborly.

    Here’s Larry David’s take:

  • You know, I think I just decided for sure: dogs are disgusting.

    They jump all over you whenever you walk through the door (despite the owner’s insistence that they are sooo well behaved), they lick the crap out of you with their nasty dog breath, they always smell at least a little like a wet, moldy blanket, they eat their own feces, they piss and crap everywhere, and in the city the owner is required to pick the refuse up, stuff it in pocket, and take it home.

    Why do people own these things again?

  • A lot of this depends on the size of your dog. I find that often the ones yelling at me in similar fashion are people who would never think to complain about their own yappy, little rats that have a knack for ruining any apartment building in DC. But they’re not really even dog-owners anyway, so let’s ignore them – their dog’s waste is tiny; or they use puppy pads; or due to the dog’s short little legs it only needs to be walked for 30 seconds; etc.


    (1) I think this all depends on how nice the plot of grass/box/alley is. Is it well maintained, fenced, decorated? If so, take your dog elsewhere. If it’s just an oak tree (ruining the surrounding concrete), go ahead. Regarding alleys – what you’ve never seen a hypocrite before? Folks just want to maintain those for their own dogs.

    (2) Is the trash can fork-lifted into the trash truck or does an individual have to dig out the big bags? If the latter, it’s likely unadvisable, though not illegal.

    With so many young people and such a transient population, it’s nearly impossible in DC to deploy the “when you own a house here” logic. But generally, dog-owners are pretty conscientious here – bagging it up is 80% of the battle. I’m sure your dog is great, and I don’t think you’d be posting if you actually intended to strew his/her waste all over everything in sight.

    Can we all address a much bigger problem – parents who don’t remove their crying children from restaurants. When did this happen? When did it become acceptable to push on, to just talk louder, to put your head down and finish that meal? I have three kids – get off your butt and take them outside, and if they can’t behave, don’t take them out!

  • What I find strange is that the DC grabage men can just choose not to pick up trash if they see a small bag in there (how do they know it has dog waste in it)? Do they actually get to choose based on the size of bags put into a can? Sounds to me like they are not doing their job.

  • I’ve never had a problem with the trash collectors taking my trash away despite tons of little poopy bags in it. Maybe it depends on the workers/route?

    I pick up my dog’s poop. Always. That being said, I am at the point where I feel like there is no point because NO ONE else in the neighborhood seems to pick theirs dogs’ up. And there are some seriously massive horse-sized poops not being picked up. Not to mention how much trash is just littering the streets. And on windy days like today it blows and blows and a giant piece of Styrofoam nearly hit my dog in the face this morning. And all the corner trash cans are always full because people put their house trash into it for some reason.

    Also, who is in charge of dumping the trash cans at dog parks? I don’t haven’t taken my dog in awhile because he had knee surgery in November and isn’t quite ready for crazy-play but it seemed like they were always overfilled with the bags.

    • And I don’t know wtf is up with my grammar today ha

    • not to be totally gross, but are you sure they are dog piles of poop? not that it really matters in terms of picking it up or not….but i used to find piles of poop in my alley that i thought were from dogs. until i caught some dude pinching a giant loaf in my alley.

  • I always pick up after my dog and dispose of it in the public cans. I agree that picking up poo and disposing of it properly (not in someone’s personal can) is the right thing to do. What I don’t understand is why people are so passionate about dog poo when the city is full of chewed gum, chicken bones, half sandwiches, soda cups, pizza crusts and a whole host of other disgusting things my dog likes to find in your tree box when I walk her. Where is the accountability for dirty PEOPLE?

  • About six months ago I figured out how to keep dog shit out of my trashcan. I put a brick on top of it. Sounds silly, but no one ever touches that brick. No one. My best guess is that they would need a free hand to remove the brick, but they don’t have one because of the dog and the bag of shit.

    Prior to the brick I had a sign taped to the can that said “NO DOG SHIT. Kindly take it back to your own trash can. Cheers.” but after a week I started to feel like an asshole, so I removed it. Then I figured out the brick.

    The only probklem is that I have to grab the can right after the trash guys empty it, otherwise it sits there without a brick, and then someone will usually put shit it in within an hour or two. Fortunately I work at home, so I can usually grab the empty can pretty fast.

  • Honestly, the real choice here is probably not between someone carrying it back to there own can or using the nearest can.. more likely it’s between using the nearest can and not picking it up at all. I’d much rather the shit (and other random street trash) go in my can than stay in the street or alley. I get shit in my can (sounds nasty!) all the time, and the trash collectors always take it, our trucks use the auto can-lifting thingy.

    • But how would you feel if the garbagers did not use the forklift thingy and left the shitbags in your can?

  • there is a trash can on 11th st that says it is not for my dog’s poop.

    i make a special point of putting my dog’s poop in it.

    • How very grown up of you.

      There’s an elderly woman on my block with just such a sign, and I’d bet a good deal of money that her enormous grandson would enforce the sign physically. I don’t meant this as a threat, only an observation from what I’ve seen over the past 8 years.

      Is acting like a petulant child really worth the possibility of a beat-down? Or do you only do it when you know no one’s looking? If that’s the case, then you know what you’re doing is wrong.

    • PDleftMtP

      Yes, yes, you’re an inconsiderate jerk and you don’t care how good anyone else’s reasons are – you’re going to do what you want. We get it, internet tough guy.

    • Glad to see you’re so proud of being such a self-centered jerk. People like you think the world revolves around them.

  • In an attempt to bring this conversation back to civility, here is the official DC Department of Public Works statement on “Dog Duties” (
    Please be kind to your neighbors and avoid putting your bagged poop into your neighbor’s trash container or a public litter can. Not only does it attract rats, who eat the feces, the contents of the bag can leak out into the can or onto the street, leaving someone else to clean up after your pet.

    • According to this link you shouldn’t even throw it out in the public cans. It seems like a lot of people on this post assume that everyone lives in a townhouse with a backyard and their own trashcan, a lot of people live in large buildings where we don’t have our own trashcans.

  • I just find the fact that people are so completely upset about this – and have taken the time to write a passionate opinion!!! to be really amazing. I am stunned by what this city has grown into.

    • Trixie, Give me your number, and I’ll call you over to fetch the dog crap out of my trash can since you seem to think this is such an petty matter.

      • Don’t you get it? It really IS a petty matter.

        If you think otherwise, a re-examining of priorities is in order. Maybe try volunteering somewhere or something.

      • Also, do you have any idea how insane you sound? It made me laugh out loud, but then it made me sad. I can’t believe people focus on this when there are real problems out there, and don’t realize it’s petty.

        • So the vast majority of us who don’t like scrubbing dog shit from our cans, when we don’t even own a dog are insane? Really? It sounds like you’re just rationalizing poor behavior.

          And before you act all obtuse — and that’s exactly what you’re doing — try reading some of the posts referring to leaking bags. It happened to me twice this summer.

          • … yes. You are acting insane.

            Hose it down and be done with it. It’s not a big deal. Plenty of other things worth getting upset about.

          • I’m also not “rationalizing bad behavior.” I don’t disagree that dog crap should be bagged and put into the appropriate receptacle. I just think it’s really astounding how incredibly passionate (and by passionate I mean insane) the responses are.

  • I think everyone needs to relax and take advice from Bill and Ted, “Be excellent to each other.”

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