The problem: I walk my dog daily and am wondering if it’s OK to put my dog’s poop in someone else’s garbage can. It would be nice to not have to carry it all the way home, but … there was a spirited discussion on this topic among my neighbors recently, with strong opinions on both sides.

Low road: Simple. Don’t bring bags. Once your doggy has done its business, run!


High road: Kidding, of course, so everyone please calm down. This is a hot-button topic, especially in hot weather. You could check the ordinances for your city. Some cities, in fact, ban you from throwing any of your trash into someone else’s bin.

But this isn’t really a legal issue, since it’s unlikely you’ll get sued, especially if you’re quick about it and assume nobody’s going to take the step of tracking you down through doggy DNA. This is a good-neighbor issue and, by the tone of your question, you already know that. You could rationalize that everyone’s trash bins already are outside, and filling up with trash, so what difference does it make?

For some neighbors, it makes no difference at all. Some dog lovers have started to tie small trash bags to their bins, or adhere cheery stickers, to invite dog owners to drop their droppings inside. But they’re likely the exception. Most people really don’t want your dog’s daily dose in their bin (and certainly not on their lawn!) even if they have dogs of their own.

So find a public trash can. Or look for those genial, dog-loving neighbors who clearly invite this kind of doggy bag into their mix of trash. But, unless you see a clear invitation to drop your droppings, carry that bag home with you and dispose of it in your own bin. Remember to take time to smell the roses on your walk, a nice antidote to what’s in your hand.

Send questions about life’s little quandaries to Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at