I am not sure what to do in this situation. After I saw you on TV this morning I tried to think of a way that any of us could better handle this problem. In our (and in some other) neighborhoods, there is a terrible epidemic of dog owners, walkers, etc….who do not pick up after their pet. For some reason they are blind to the fact that their mess goes down the drain and to our beaches! I have tried to talk with someone in our city to find a way to curtail this. All they tell me is that they can’t do anything unless I know where they live. That would be pretty bold of me to follow someone home. And when I ask people after I see their pet do its’ business, they get defensive and proceed to show me a paper or bag that they are using. Ha, they certainly by no means ARE using it! How can any of us better handle this, trying to get these people to understand is proving very difficult! I have noticed lately that these very same pets that were walked by the adults are now being walked by children. So this is supposed to be ok, since we’re not supposed to confront children? We might be accused of harassment or worse! I am at a loss, HELP!
Going to the Dogs
Dear Going to the Dogs,
Thanks for watching the show this morning and tracking me down. How frustrating it is to deal with individuals who just simply don’t have respect for others. Perhaps you need to be the catalyst like the individual in New York who eventually got the city to take action and put up signs everywhere, as well as, charge someone $131 for leaving poop behind.
Whether a child or an adult I don’t think it is wrong for you to confront if you see them not picking up after themselves. In fact, I would approach them with a plastic bag and a pleasant tone and say, “I noticed your pup pooped, but I didn’t see you pick it up. Do you need this?” If they respond positively, send them appreciation. “Wonderful! We’ve had so many people lately not cleaning up after themselves, and it’s becoming a problem. I appreciate that you do.” Remember, people respond to positive feedback the most.
If they respond by showing you they have a bag, say “Great!” And then stand there and watch them until it’s picked up. I don’t think there is anything wrong with approaching a child and telling them the same thing. You could say (again in a playful tone), “Your parents are lucky you are responsible enough to walk your dog, but part of the responsibility is also picking up after yourselves. Here’s a bag for you (and just hand them one, watch, send appreciation and walk away).
If you really want to have a longer conversation you can DEAL (there’s an article on my site that talks about the steps, but the result would sound like this): “The last four times I’ve observed you walk your dog by my home, I’ve noticed poop left behind. This concerns me as we’re all supposed to pick up after ourselves to keep things clean and sanitary. I would appreciate you picking up after your pup consistently.” That is clear, direct and assertive.
Let me know how this goes for you or if you try it. The key to getting people to change is to MAKE them want to change which comes from a place of love, not anger. No matter how much this frustrates you, you must control your attitude and tone of voice or you’ll get nowhere with these individuals.
Thanks again for reaching out!