Doggie Decorum

Doggie Decorum

Got dogs? Advice guru Marnie Macauley tries to teach dog owners some new tricks.


Ksenia Raykova / 123rf Photo

My darling Singularians, in my eons as an advice columnist, one issue that can turn neighbors — even lovers into warriors — are their adorable dogs. Lately, I’ve received missives from peeved people who have been “poohed” upon one too many times. While this may sound petty, we love our pets, much as we do our mothers (well maybe more), so when critters cause conflict it’s serious business. Let’s look.


Dear Marnie: I have neighbors who bought a huge German shepherd. They do walk her on a leash but they let her do her business on my lawn. They pick up the poop, but in every spot where the dog pees, my grass turns brown and dies! There are pooper-scooper ordinances in my neighborhood, but that doesn’t address the problems with urine. If I complain to the neighborhood council, I’m sure the owners will figure out it’s me, because they’re too lazy to walk her very far! Reasoning with them is out of the question. I don’t need the aggravation and I’m tired of having a spotted lawn. Any suggestions besides moving? — Tired of Re-Seeding from Peeing

MARNIE SAYS: Clearly confrontation causes these selfish people to dig in their heels, never mind their dog’s peepee all over your nice lawn. So my friend we need to re-trench.

* Plan One: Put a big bow on a bag of grass seed. Make it a welcome doggy to the block gift. Go over. Admire the shepherd, mention how you noticed they needed this — and how you do too — now that their pooch has been sprinkling your lawn. Smile.

* Plan Two: If Plan One pizzles out … lie. Tell them you’ve discovered a slug problem on your lawn. You’ll be using slug bait pellets that are harmful to pets. As a dog lover, you feel it’s only decent to let them know, so they can re-route.

P.S. For the safety of all pets, I recommend pet proof slug traps and chemical free, or organic approaches to gardening.


Dear Marnie: My boyfriend has asked me to move in with him. The problem? My dog, Pablo. My boyfriend insists I find a new home for Pablo as a condition of living together. (No, he’s not allergic.) We’ve been fighting over this for weeks, but he keeps insisting this is non-negotiable. I’ve had the dog for six years and he’s been my “woman’s best friend” since I got him. I love him as much as I do any family member. I think my boyfriend, although he has control issues, may be “the one,” but I can’t imagine parting with Pablo. – Dog vs. Man

MARNIE SAYS: “Insisting” you give up your best pal, even if he’s hairy and drools (not unlike some dates) is a cruel and inhumane request, not unlike asking you to give up your mother (on the other hand …).

Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:

* You’ve heard of a bird in hand? Well, think pooch in the hand vs. rigid male in a “maybe.” You know what Pablo means to you. You’re his queen! He’s your biggest admirer. He adores you without criticism or conditions.

* On the other hand, you say your boyfriend “may be” the “one?” Oy! His insistence makes him a rigid selfish schweinhund. Clearly, Mr. Control Freak lacks the ability to care about what you deeply care about. And he could be “the one?” Tell me, how does he feel about babies? In-laws? Laundry? My hunch is, should you move in, his “insistence list” will grow until we find you “paws up” in a corner, begging for a Milk-Bone.

In the words of Pablo, I’d say “Aarf Wiedersehen.”


Dear Marnie: I own a beautiful white Samoyed dog. I just rented a home in a suburban neighborhood in Los Angeles after living in the country for the last few years. I take my dog for a walk in the evenings, but my girlfriend chastises me for allowing him to “dump” in the bushes (he prefers this to “doing his business” in the open). I think my GF is over reacting. I told her this isn’t Rodeo Drive and to chill out. No one can see it. I’m upset at the criticisms, but more, I don’t want to offend anyone and I’m confused on the proper “etiquette” when walking my pet. Please help before WW III starts. – Mark in Beverly Hills

MARNIE SAYS: Your missive has me foaming at the mouth, so for you, I’ve turned into your “Fido.”

Listen! “Woof! Hey – you! I’m gorgeous. My creamy coat alone is the envy of every furrier left in L.A. But looks aren’t everything. Did your ancestors shlep sleds during early Polar exploration? Mine did. Plus, I’m affectionate, alert, and always ‘smiling.’ Now with a few poops from you, my reputation has gone down the toilet.”

Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:

* Pretend you’re a neighbor. Picture it. You’re gardening in your $250 aerodynamic sneakers and – splat! Right into Fido’s gift package. Suddenly you’re trailing malodorous, mutant, noxious, poop behind you and don’t notice until you’ve left a smelly trail to your door step.

* Get it! YOU’RE NOT IN THE BOONIES ANYMORE. Think two words. Poop bags. Get them. Not only is it impolite not to pick up your dog’s poop – it’s against the law. Most localities have sanitation ordinances that cover dog doo-doo. So “don’t-don’t.”

* If you want to let him run free, check out dog parks, even dog beaches. But even these have strict regulations about poopoo-peedoo. Now go pick up the poop before your poor pooch gets a bad name because of his master’s rotten manners. OK pal? Good.

Dog Owner Etiquette.

My thanks to Karen M. Coyne, Chief Office, Public Safety, Las Vegas, Nevada.

* Don’t leave your dog outside all day while you are at work. Even the quietest dogs will bark and become a neighborhood nuisance.

* Where ever you walk your dog, ALWAYS pick up his poop. There is nothing more disgusting than a sidewalk covered in dog poop. Bring along a Ziploc bag or bags specifically made for the job, put your hand inside, pick up the poop and turn it right side out. Bring an extra bag along just in case your dog goes a second time.

* Always keep your dog on a leash on public streets for his own safety as well as the safety of other people, especially children.

* Don’t allow your dog to urinate on other peoples’ property, shrubs, decorations, and trees. To responsible dog owners and the non-dog owning public this is rude (it’s almost like you urinated there yourself).

* Keep your dog close to you when walking where other dogs are also on leashes. Letting your dog run right up to other dogs is rude and can cause both dogs to react aggressively.

* Never allow your off-leash dog to run up to dogs on a leash. Not only is this irresponsible on your part, other people may not have a dog that gets along with other dogs and the leashed dog may attack your dog.

* Always carry pick up bags with you even when walking on wooded trails.

* Don’t take your dog to public places if he’s dog or people aggressive. You can’t always prevent a child or another dog running up to your dog.

* Respect other people’s space. Don’t allow your dog off leash if you don’t have voice control, meaning when you call him and he comes right back.

* Don’t leave your dog outside unattended if he barks or acts aggressively to people or children walking by. Not only is this dangerous for the passersby but it reinforces a dangerous and undesirable behavior that is difficult to change.

Copyright © Marnie Macauley / 2015 Singular Communications, LLC

Marnie MacauleyAdvice guru Marnie Winston-Macauley — therapist, author, speaker — has been a radio, TV, and syndicated advice columnist and counselor for over 20 years. Witty, wise and totally irreverent with a self-professed loathing for psychobabble, she’s written over 20 books and calendars, along with  hundreds of relationship columns and features for prominent publications.  She has her MS degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work.  In media, her work has garnered her Emmy and Writer’s Guild Best Writing nominations. She is widowed and now living single. For personal advice, you can also find Marnie Macauley on or on Presto Experts. She invites you to join her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 
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