Cleaning up your own dog’s poop is frustrating enough, never mind trying to pick up someone else’s. If your neighbor’s dog is leaving droppings in your yard, and your neighbor doesn’t seem to mind, what should you do about it? We’ll discuss your legal options and other things you might want to do to resolve this annoying problem.

Friendly Reminders

While it may be very frustrating to see someone leave poop on your yard, approaching the person with anger is unlikely to get you the result you want. If the other person feels attacked, they will go on the defensive, and are less likely to correct their behavior. To get the best results, try the following:

  • Don’t yell or threaten: Starting the conversation off in a raised tone or immediately threatening to call the authorities just creates animosity between you and the neighbor.
  • Offer them a dog bag: If you have dog bags, you can offer the owner one, politely. This gives the person an easy-out, as they can say they forgot their bags. Even if that’s not true, the social shame will likely stop them from doing it again.
  • Be empathetic: Very few dog owners want to leave behind their animal’s poop intentionally. It’s possible your neighbor is having a bad day or is distracted by some disappointing news. If you can be empathetic to that, they will be less likely to want to leave poop in your yard.

What if you don’t know who it is?

  • Ask around: Maybe a neighbor saw who left the poop.
  • Install a camera: If you want to get the HOA, city, or other authorities involved, video evidence is helpful.
  • Put up a sign: Some people will be shamed by a little sign that asks people to pick up their dog’s droppings.

Ask for a Citation

There are some dog owners who do not respond well to friendly reminders. In this case, you can look into legal options. In several areas of Marin County, leaving dog poop on a private or public space can earn the dog owner a citation. You can call the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, who handles all citations for animal control, although they may need to refer you to your city depending on the circumstances.

What if the animal has been let loose on your property? Maybe there is a problem with the fence between your place and a neighbor’s? In this case, you have even more legal options. A loose dog can be restrained and returned to the owner. If it keeps happening, you can even surrender the dog—although we advise you to warn the dog owner you’ll do it first and let the pound know that you know who the owner is.

Stern Reminders

Other than continuing to call the county, what can you do to repeat dog poop bandits? Our favorite suggestion is to bag the poop up and drop it neatly on the person’s front yard. That way, there’s no escaping the responsibility to dispose of the poop properly.