How To Keep Dogs From Pooping on Your Lawn

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dog pooping on grass

Man’s best friend is only a best friend until he walks over from your neighbor’s house and poops on your lawn. It’s a indignity that faces many homeowners, and an offense that bugs some more than others. Whether or not you’ve actually dealt with errant dog poop showing up on your lawn, you’ll want to read on. We’ll discuss an extreme technique for battling unwanted deposits in your yard, and we’ll share a couple graphic images of alternative deterrents to this excremental problem.

A Tale of Dog Poop

keep dogs from pooping in yard
One of the more poetic anti dog poop signs in our neighborhood.

Back when we first moved into our house, I quickly discovered home ownership isn’t as glamorous as it’s made out to be. Even though we don’t have a dog, I awoke to find a fresh turd on our lawn, daily. I dutifully grabbed a grocery bag and disposed of the trash for a week or two (which then treated us to an epic stench every time we opened the trash can). I had a few theories on the culprit, but people walk dogs here all the time. I needed proof. As my cleanup duties for a dog I didn’t own or even see became more “regular”, my resentment began to build. Soon, I was spewing anti-dog diatribes to my wife. It was at the end of one of these heated moments I pronounced, “My days as a pooper-scooper are over. I’m setting up a surveillance camera!”

An undisclosed amount of money and several man-hours later, I had a surveillance camera mounted to the second story of our house, and tied into security software (Security Spy for the Mac) that can be set to trigger recording when motion is detected in a certain part of the video (in this case, our lawn). It was a bold move, and I quickly began imagining my new life that no longer involved scraping chunks of poop from our lawn. Several days later, I was reviewing footage and found the culprit, arched back and all, depositing a fresh turd on our lawn. Gotcha!

serial pooper caught in the act
Serial Pooper – Caught in the act

My glee soon mellowed as I realized the dog (and another canine accomplice), belonged to our neighbors across the street. It seems discovering the identity of the canine culprit was only half the battle. Hmmm, how do I diplomatically handle this? A subtle “Wanted” poster of course! A few minutes in Photoshop and I had a “Wanted – Serial Pooper” poster printed up, complete with screen shot, criminal history, and the line, “Considered armed and pooperous.” I then dropped off the poster at my neighbor’s house. Luckily, they thought it was hilarious, (or at least they pretended it was hilarious), and they promised to beef up their fencing to prevent any ongoing incursions onto our lawn. Score one for the crazy homeowner!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But Marc, I’m not insane like you are. How do I keep dogs from pooping on our lawn without investing substantial resources?” Don’t worry my anti-poop comrade, HomeFixated has you covered. A dirty little secret is that many serial poopings occur under the watchful eye of the dog’s owner. You see, some dog owners don’t see it as their responsibility to pick up poop after their dog. I don’t agree with the lack of responsibility, but I can definitely understand not wanting to pick up poop.

Let’s face it, being a responsible dog owner is humiliating. If you do any walking in your neighborhood, you know what I’m talking about. It’s always an awkward moment when you walk by someone picking up their dog’s poop. Not making eye contact and pretending they’re not scooping up that steaming pile of canine excrement is a common approach. I have to give my respect to those dog owners that do suffer the indignity of being human pooper-scoopers, because owners that don’t pick up after their dogs just suck. That’s right, if your dog poops in your neighbors yard while you stand there watching, and you can’t be bothered to pick it up, you suck. Of course no self-respecting HomeFixated reader would ever fall into that category, I’m just on a rant.

Dog Poop Deterrent Options

german don't poop here sign
Some Germans take a poop-free yard to the extreme
Anyway, if you have sucky dog walkers in your ‘hood that think leaving dog turds on your lawn is OK, the number one technique to battle them is using signs as a deterrent. The signs basically say, “Hey a$$hole, don’t let your dog poop here”, typically without the profanity. Some signs are friendly, hand-written notes. Some, less friendly. Others don’t use words at all. And some don’t bother to mask the hatred that can simmer inside a homeowner (like this sign I spotted in Germany). Translation: “Not Here! or else. . . ”

dog poop sign
If you like banking metaphors, this is the dog poop sign for you. I spotted this one at a neighbor’s here in San Diego.

Some people get very detailed in their signage, often attempting to appeal to the wayward dog-owners long-lost sense of propriety or decency. Others resort to a tradition that any devout Christian might relate to: guilt. Of course, if you opt for signage like the next example, it’s only effective as long as your lawn looks like crap (or pee).

dog-poop-guilt-sign
This guilt-laden approach only works while your lawn looks bad

For those of you that prefer the “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em approach”, you might consider the ancient Japanese art of turd polishing courtesy of Myth Busters (for the record, I don’t recommend this approach):

dog poop signIf you’re thinking about buying a dog you might have to clean up after, remember my neighbor’s sage wisdom: “Little dog, little poops. Big dog, big poops.” For your own (less violent than the German version) anti-pooping dog sign, check out the Esschert No Pooping Yard Sign shown here for just $13 on Amazon via the link below. If you have any fun (dog) poop stories, please share them in the comments.

Buy Now - via Amazon

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About Marc Lyman

Marc grew up under a brave single mom who "encouraged" home improvement on the family home. Early toddler gifts included a tool set, and even a cordless Bosch drill when cordless drills first came out. In grade school (give or take a few years), Marc's mom said, "We need to cut down some trees. . . . here's a chainsaw." A father figure also involved Marc in many home improvement projects, including a summer of home remodeling in Palo Alto, CA. Toss in some Obsessive Compulsive personality traits researching everything home improvement related. The end result: a genetically pre-disposed, socially sculpted home improvement machine! For his complete profile, please visit our About page. Really, it's worth it.

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50 thoughts on “How To Keep Dogs From Pooping on Your Lawn”

  1. I can respond to that. As a long-time native New Yorker who transplanted to a mellow upstate community late in life but holds her Hell’s Kitchen upbringing very close to her heart, I cut straight to the punch and confronted the “not so amicable” neighbors and their dog who deposited a huge steaming poop which I had to pick up that very morning. I told them to get their dog the f@#k off my lawn, as it already crapped there once and I wasn’t up for a repeat performance. The owner vehemently denied this. I pointed to the cameras and said “pictures never lie.”
    In addition to not being amicable, this neighbor was also allergic to the truth and decided to escalate the situation by threatening to let her dog s#!t there again and leave it.
    Maybe she thought I couldn’t walk, or didn’t know the way down the three steps on my porch or that I was scared of her dog on account of it was sort of big or something, but none of that was true, and, actually, I can move, and did move really quickly right up close to her. I explained, calmly, that, technically, it is illegal to not clean up after one’s dog and not a good plan threaten to do something illegal like that again, especially to me. And I’ll be watching. Not my camera. Me, in person.
    I think she might have developed a better understanding of the “curb your dog” concept after our conversation.
    Some neighbors are more amicable than others. Others need reinforcement.

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  2. How about with the popularity of social media…start “shaming” them. Take video and post it. Make people aware that their behavior sucks and they give humans a bad name! I too have had to deal with BAD dog owners. In my house in the suburbs; I’ve ran after people shouting, “Are you gonna pick that up?” (They did and never brought their dog down my street again.) And on the days I don’t catch them, I put up a handmade signs along the edge of my property that says, “Pick up after your pet!” That seemed to have deterred them. Now in my city home, that can be tougher. I didn’t want to make it problematic for when my daughter is home alone while I’m away, so I put up stakes and hurricane mesh and that has kept everything away. They seem to have stopped pooping even along the strip of grass along the street in front of my house. The fence isn’t particularly pretty. But I don’t care. I don’t have the stress I had on the daily. I will eventually replace it with a better fence. For now, I believe the offenders got the idea as almost 100% of the neighborhood has no front yard fencing. I have talked to a few neighbors that have lived in this neighborhood for over 20 years and have said they just put up with it. That could be the problem with the world. So many just allow bad behavior to continue. I have 5 dogs and 9 cats, left over from a pet rescue. They are animals no one wants. Most are seniors. I pick up their poop almost as soon as it drops. The dogs are bathed once a week and cats once a month. Fed a highly nutritious diet. All get plenty of exercise and sunshine. Cats included. No the cats are not allowed to roam free, but have a 12 x 80 foot outdoor kennel they go into whenever they like to catch a few rays and bird watch. It’s called pet responsibility. I totally get the frustration and it’s the people that are jerks that just don’t get why we are upset.

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    • My neighbors 2 large dogs have a spot for their use adjacent to the hedge separating our properties, I park my car less than 5 feet from the pooping area we have a screen patio that is 20 ‘ from that spot, the smell, the tiny flies. Why can’t they see or smell the problem.

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  3. I live right across from the river, where there is the same kind if grass in my yard as across the street on the river side! Neighbors have let their dogs pee and poop on the plants at the end of my front walk for years. I watched it just this afternoon and the neighbor just smiled at me, showed me her bagggie and let her dog poop in my yard. Yes, she picked it up, but left no monetary gift for the constant replacement of my flowers I have to pay for when her dog kills them! So inconsiderate. My own dog doesn’t pee or poop on my flowers, even in the backyard!

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  4. Small moth balls in yard will keep them off and you can still cut grass. Strong smell will become lighter quickly but they can still smell it.

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  5. If we see people letting their dog in our yard we approach them and ask them not to do that. Most don’t come back. There is one lazy couple who think going behind our pine trees deters our sight but we can still see them. We now spray the perimeter of the yard with white vinegar or cayenne pepper. It has to be reapplied every day or two and after rain. It has worked. Some dog roams freely which is against the law here, and it had diarrhea near our driveway. We are now getting Critter deter spray which stays in the rain too. It’s amazing how rude some dog owners can be. It is trespassing either it’s you or your dog.

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    • huh I have this couple of girls who do that crap every day sneaking around and not having any respect for their neighbors YARD! Really, just goes to show you maybe a fine is in order because some cant get the keep your mutt off my lawn but oh heaven forbid its on theirs…

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  6. I’ve tried many approaches, including signs, killing neighbors with kindness, and leaving the bagged poop in front of their homes. I’ve gotten the best responses from the following signs:
    On my own property on a big brown spot –
    “My dog loves all the pee-mail he gets but there is so much of it the grass is dying. Please don’t let your dogs pee here. Thanks.”
    Around the common areas –
    “This is a neighborhood –
    not a toilet
    SO PLEASE STOP LEAVING FECES HERE!
    Pick up after your dog.”

    I’ve often thought that if my neighbor took a dump on my lawn she’d get arrested and probably a psych eval, but somehow it is ok for her to leave her dog’s crap there.

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  7. Oh gosh I can not tell you how bad I feel as I am one of the guilty parties. I live in an upscale neighborhood and while working for a construction company my Son who is now in Army Basic Training rescued a flea and tick ridden little mutt. I am legally blind and home by myself and this darn dog has started running my neighborhood, probably pooping as much in neighbours yards as well as my own. I have no fence and I try to get him to poop in the woods at the back but prefers the lawn. I can not see to pick it up but can certainly smell it. I am torn between killing the dog or my Son who left this dog begging me not to get rid of him while he was in boot camp. I wouldn’t blame my neighbors bringing piles of poop to my yard and the funny thing is I wouldn’t know if they were. I found this blog while searching for a way to keep him off my lawn so I will try the cayenne pepper. I’m also going to get some garden lime for the odour and damage done to the grass. My hubs is gone all week and so spends his Saturdays cleaning up dog poop. We don’t have extra money right now for a fence. On behalf of anyone in a similar position, I humbly apologise.

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    • You son is now an adult. It is his responsibility to put up a fence for his dog. The back yard would be the best place. So you can just open the back door and let him out. He must also while home makers sure the fence is dog escape proof. He can do this while he is on leave. Or you get quotes for the fence and he can send you the money. He should have plenty of it., because there is nothing else to spend/ it on. This only works if he was raised to be responsible. Goodl luck and God Bless.

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  8. I have had this problem for some time. I own two dogs, who produce more than enough dog poop for me to scoop. However, we have a lot of dog walkers in our neighborhood and some who come over from a nearby apartment complex. For the most part, the ones in our neighborhood pick up after their dogs. It is only common courtesy for Pete’s sake. If they don’t want them pooping in their own yards, why in the h*** do they think I would want it in mine? I have discovered on more than one occasion that a neighbor has been bringing his two big dogs around to my yard to do their morning business. I have security surveillance is how I know this. Although he carries a plastic bag in his back pocket, for show, he never picks it up. I guess it is for emergency use in case he gets caught in the act. I have sent a kind letter to him asking that he please pick up after his dogs, Didn’t work. So I am now getting up at 6 a.m. every morning, as he doesn’t bring them around in the afternoon, so I can get a little more confrontational. It is unfortunate that my life has to be disrupted because some inconsiderate a-hole will not pick up after his dogs! He saw me this morning sitting on my back porch. Fortunately, I have another option. Our county animal services will issue a 50 dollar citation to owners whose dogs are repeat offenders of pooping/peeing on lawns of others. As for the apartment dwellers bringing their dogs over to do the dastardly deed and not picking up, a letter from our HOA solved that issue. We have a “community” dog pooping area, which the moron passes to get to my lawn, which makes me think he has intentionally targeted my lawn. It is really getting old.

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  9. I just moved into a new house and I’m have the same problem:-(I’m getting very upset, when I do find out which neighbor it is I’m going to return the poop back on their lawn!!I will then try that Chyanne pepper method:-)I have tons of dead grass circles from the pee and poop spots:-(it’s very embarrassing!!!

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    • We feel your pain Brian. . . but careful with the poop return. Sometimes some diplomacy goes a long way in de-escalating what can become neighborly animosity. Good luck, and let us know if you have any luck with the pepper.

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      • I, too, have struggle with irresponsible pet owners no matter where I’ve lived. Apparently a lot of pet owners are lazy, possess no savoir faire whatsoever, or are simply asinine Huns. Animals at large, on leashes, no matter, their owners don’t care. Cats are WORSE.
        I always pick up my dog’s poop whether it’s in my own backyard or when I walk her. She’s an 85# Doberman, so it’s unpleasant business, but she is worth it.
        The bad thing is, once an animal urinates/defecates in a yard other than it’s own, if just once, not only will THEY return, every passing stray and/or other dog will as well. It’s like an invitation!
        Folks, I am sorry to say this, but I cannot support moth balls or cayenne pepper. Moth balls can and will kill cats, dogs, wildlife, and God help you if a child gets hold of them. The cayenne pepper, again, dogs, cats, children, wildlife can walk through it, get it on their paws, then scratch other parts of their body (ears, eyes, nose) and look, honestly, they don’t deserve that. Any creature poisoned in such a way, they don’t deserve that.
        Do a bit of research, check with a vet or Co-Op for suggestions, search the Internet.
        Please remember that there are no bad dogs, just bad owners.

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  10. Marc! I’ve read your article, while funny – I don’t want poop on my yard! The “dog” yards don’t have even a pellet of poop! I have a sign, obviously didn’t work…wonder if it just gave the dog a target?! Have you found any good repellents since 2011??? Help!

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    • Hi Mary. . . sorry to hear your woes! Unfortunately (fortunately?), I haven’t had the need to resort to repellents. If anyone else has had any successes with dog repellents (commercial or home-made), please enlighten us! Good luck in the meantime Mary!

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    • You can find out who is doing it and record it…video it. Best is. You can sue their homeowners insurance….I did.
      It stopped and I bought a 23,000 boat with the money and they moved.
      I now have a sign.
      If you allow your dog to shit and urinate in my yard. Be prepared for me to take you to court. ..I win…trust me.

      Reply
      • How do you sue their homeowners insurance? Did you initially take them to small claims court and what is the charge (criminal trespass?)

        How did you win a $23,000 judgment (property damages to reseed / sod the entire yard or mental and emotional anguish?

        I am having the same problem with a neighbor. Appreciate any feedback or insight on how to sue and hold them accountable.

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      • Unsure how you pulled that off, but I LIKE IT!
        Serves their inconsiderate a**es right. LOL
        How much due diligence did it take of filming before you slapped paper on them?

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  11. I learned a trick from my neighbors several years ago that works. Go to Walmart, etc. and buy some bulk Cayenne Pepper and sprinkle it on the outer limits of your yard/sidewalk. Do this before it rains or you mow the lawn for at least a couple of days to let it settle in. After that, NO PROBLEM!!! Just repeat as needed according to rain and mowing.

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    • Cayenne Pepper works!!! Used it against cat droppings on my apartment doorstoop. Is a small price to pay time and money wise. And with dogs think about it. They always have their snouts to the ground sniffing the ground. Same thing or worse will happen to them like when we sniff pepper!

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  12. For any dog owners out there, you should be aware that if your dog is pooping/peeing during walks that is Dominant Behavior and should not be tolerated. You won’t have to pick up dog poop if you train your dog properly. I’m not trying to be mean, but your dog will be calmer and happier if you show him that You are the alpha dog by not allowing these kinds of behaviors. just my 2 cents.

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    • I always take my pooper scooper with me and baggies…..If my dog takes his poop, I scoop and we are off to continue our walk. When returning home I put the bagged feces in the outside trash can……However, my neighbors are not so considerate. I have spoken to them, time and time again. So I finally called animal control.. And they even do nothing….I do not get it. I have had two cats caught in cat traps. I only did that because right next door they had 15 cats, that just kept breeding and multiplying and getting in my garage….I AM FED UP!!!!!.

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  13. I remember my Dad fuming over a fresh pile in his well manicured yard–every single day. He spied the culprit. A large boxer being let out the front door -2 doors down- every morning – and audibly being told–“go poop”—dog ran down, pooped and went home.
    My Dad, being the jokester he was, got a large 2 pound coffee can and began making deposits, until it was FULL. When it was -he added a bit of hot water, shook violently and walked over to the neighbors.
    Rang the front bell and when the guy opened the front door said, “I believe this belongs to you” and poured the contents on the welcome mat.
    No, my Dad wasn’t afraid for his life–he was 6 foot 5!!
    No more poop in his front yard- EVER!

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  14. This is in response to jack f’s comment why waste words no 1 or is it no 2 anyhow Thats like steping on dog waste and inferring well by golly it’s only dog poop I walk around all day like this it would be wasting time to clean it off I could just go in public and not waste words (or time) why don’t you wait until winter and when the poop is frozen you could practice your golf swing 7 iron for smaller dogs I think you or your caddy can figure this out. I’m done (why waste words.) Dan

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  15. After reading the posts that makes me recall the posts i mean the fence posts my neighbors dog use to drop man they was huge, sloppy and stanky the dogs owner denied denied etc I finally decided to scoop up when she was leering I then started putting the logs in her folded daily news that ended it 3days later it was ok well that’s my story Dan

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    • Although I can’t say I fully endorse this strategy, it has a certain form of poetic justice to it. It even has a happy ending, at least for you. This is the kind of quality poop story-arc we’re looking for here! Thanks for sharing it (the story, not the dog poop) Daniel!

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  16. Hey marc,

    I enjoyed your post. It helped settle my hackles down. I was researching said subject, somewhat angrily, after having just removed six or seven(who’s counting?) calling cards from the neighbors four or five(again, who’s counting?) dogs when I came across your post. I wish I had read your post a half an hour earlier and then perhaps considered your diplomatic and most likely more effective approach. Instead, like the live-wire Montana boy that I am, I opted to gather up all the unwanted poop and then make a Hanzel and Gretel type trail from my neighbors front steps to his truck. Probably should have relied on the cover of darkness but I have things to do and when inspiration hits, it’s best to act immediately rather than lose ones resolve…

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    • Hey Tate, thanks for the kind words (and for spelling my name correctly. . . which makes you an especially astute HomeFixated participant)! It’s definitely easy to let emotion dictate action, especially if you know where to vent your frustration. I had the benefit of finding the “smoking gun” video footage highly entertaining which gave me a slightly different mindset. I have to applaud the creative Hanzel and Gretel trail technique though (although if you’re still in Montana body armor might have been called for)! Here’s wishing you a poop-free yard my friend.

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  17. Marc,
    Funny and true. I grew up in a small town – large lots and you sent your dog out to the back 40 to take care of business. We bought a house in the city and poop everywhere, we do not own a dog. We had a baby and I put a nice sign up – “Kids at Play, Keep Poop Away” friendly enough – no one cares – they read the sign as their dog is dropping a deuce and walk away. To me it’s a character flaw of the dog owner – to see the sign and not care if a kid has a squishy foot from it?? I heard the sprays and powders don’t work and I don’t want to punish the dogs or have my kid playing in some chemical. Walk lightly and don’t let the weed whacker hit a pile – not pretty.

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    • Thanks for the comment Dennis. Since the friendly sign doesn’t seem to be working, maybe you need to go with the more aggressive German version in the article? If that fails, you can always take a look at the Automated Paintball Sentry. Thankfully I’ve never hit a pile with a weed whacker. . . . hopefully everyone out there heeds your warning!

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  18. You handled that situation much more diplomatically than I would have. I would have printed off pictures of the dog pooping, marched over there and freaked out, completely embarrassed myself and ruined the relationship with the neighbor forever!

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  19. I’ve found that the most effective poop deterrent is having a cat or two around. We have one dumb, friendly, fat cat, and one angsty, vicious, lean kitty. The friendly one has an unfortunate habit of greeting rabbits and puppies with a friendly cuddle, but luckily the skinny scrappy one knows where to draw the line. I think he’d lay down his life to keep interlopers off our grass.

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    • Thanks for the tip Avrora. So you’re saying I need to find and care for a skinny, scrappy, angsty and vicious cat to deter doggies? That sounds a little dicey. Plus, I never have to feed my surveillance cam cat chow, or take her to the vet (or fend off any claw-laden neurotic attacks on myself). Then again, my surveillance cam won’t exactly chase dogs away either. Alright, you convinced me, a crazy guard-cat will be my plan B!

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  20. If you were hiding out on the roof near the cameras vantage point only to jump down and catch the dog in the act you would be a pooper paratrooper.

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    • Nice Jeff! If only I could find a ‘chute that opens quickly enough. Of course then my status as crazy neighbor would have been carved in stone (it’s currently just etched lightly).

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  21. Oh man. Hilarious post! I love the idea of setting up a security cam to catch the dog red handed (or pawed). What would you have done if the neighbors weren’t so amicable?

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