Is It OK to Throw Away Your Dog's Poop in Other People's Trash Cans?

"Doesn't garbage belong in a garbage can?" asked Larry David in season 3, episode 1 of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. The garbage in the case of David and his neighbor was an apple core, but many pet owners have found themselves in their own version of the same debate over an inconvenient truth about pet ownership — dog poop.

A polarizing and personal topic indeed, when it comes to the question "can I throw my dog's poop in someone else's trash?" the answer will depend on who you're asking.

cropped shot of young woman holding trash bag while cleaning after pet in park
credit: LightFieldStudios/iStock/GettyImages

The case for using other people’s cans

When it comes to tossing your trash in a trash can, many people would argue that dropping a small bag of poop in a receptacle designed to hold waste is harmless. Pet waste is trash, and dropping it in the trash can of a neighbor is no different than using one provided by the city, or using your own, as explained on Dogster.

Additionally, unless you are a property or home owner, chances are the trash can you're using doesn't technically belong to you — it belongs to the city whose name is likely emblazoned somewhere on the outside of it.

Finally, most people would argue that using someone else's garbage can to toss their dog's poop is far better than simply leaving the bag along the side of the road, or worse, not picking up after your pet at all.

The case against it

According to a recent report by The Washingtonian, throwing any piece of trash into a bin not specifically reserved for you can be legally considered illegal dumping, which is punishable by a fine. While most property owners will likely not file a police report over a single bag of pet waste, the possibility of getting in trouble certainly does exist, which may discourage some from repeatedly tossing their bags into the same trash can. The rightful owner of the can or not, some people simply don't want outside trash anywhere near or on their property. Because you are the caretaker of your own pet, it is technically your responsibility to deal with every aspect that comes with pet ownership, bags of poop notwithstanding.

Dog scoop poop sign
credit: Kameleon007/iStock/GettyImages

Other alternatives

While carrying around a bag of steaming feces is, admittedly, the least attractive accessory one wishes to be seen with while walking around in public, you will likely be home sooner rather than later, where you can safely toss your trash without running the risk of upsetting your neighbor. If you live in a large city, chances are there will be public trash receptacles somewhere along your route, in which case hanging onto your bag isn't all that much to ask of a person.

If you don't have the luxury of a trash can on every corner and don't wish to be seen carrying a bag of poop in your hands, you can bring an additional bag to keep it in or repurpose a canvas treat pouch to conceal the waste. You can also opt for a gadget specifically designed to hide pet poop, like the Leash Pod, which is a portable canister that hides unsightly messes.

cropped shot of woman putting bag in trash can in park, cleaning after pet concept
credit: LightFieldStudios/iStock/GettyImages

If you're a homeowner who wishes people would stop dumping their poop bags in your personal trash, but can still appreciate the effort some people take to clean up after their dog, you can set up a separate bin just for eliminating dog waste. Of course, the responsibility of removing a can full of bagged poop will still fall onto you come garbage pick-up day, but it will provide a practical alternative to tossing in a garbage can and will be much appreciated by your dog-owning neighbors.

As a pet owner, it is up to you to recognize the right and wrong way to handle the elimination of your pet's waste, so if you have a neighbor who is adamant about keeping his bins off-limits, it's recommended that you respect his wishes. If you do choose to drop your bags in other people's trash, extend them the courtesy of making it as unnoticeable as possible by always tying a full bag to prevent spilling, and opting to pass on their trash bin if it seems to be full.