Ask the Past: Dog etiquette

One of my neighbours walks their dog past my house every morning at 7:30, and every morning the dog stops to take a shit on my front lawn. They never pick it up, and it's making me furious. Is there anything I can do to stop this?

It seems that you really need two things here: a way to keep the dog away, and a way to relieve your feelings. Most old books, if they mention dog repellents at all, will suggest that you buy a commercial one, but I have found a couple of recipes that you can try whipping up yourself. Firstly, there's this one from The Chemical Formulary, which is so good that it even comes with a patent number (although not with units of measurement, so use your best judgement there):

Dog Repellent

German Patent 954,023

Citronella Oil 8.5

Anise Oil 1.0

Eucalyptus Oil 0.5

Polyacrylic Acid 3.0

Acetone-Alcohol 95.0

This remains effective for 14 days after application.

Of course, if you don't feel that will be effective enough, and if you don't mind taking a few tiny precautions in making and spraying your repellent, there is this rather stronger recipe from Van Nostrand's Practical Formulary.

Oil of Mustard 5 ml.

Nitrobenzene 5 ml.

Alcohol 900 ml.

Directions: Mix liquids in above order.

Precaution: Oil of mustard blisters skin and nitrobenzene is poisonous, both as liquid and vapor.

(Incidentally, although The Handbook of Cosmetic Materials (1954) lists nitrobenzene as "very toxic" and "absorbed rapidly through the skin", it also says that it was used in shoe polishes and the preparation of perfumes.)

As far as the owner is concerned, since obviously it would be the height of rudeness to actually say anything to them about their dog, you'll need to find an indirect method of communicating with them, and as usual, we'll turn to Australian Etiquette. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to put in a flowerbed along the front of your lawn and plant it out as follows:

Basil: Hatred

Pennyroyal: Flee away

Tansy: I declare against you

A lot of dark green basil leaves of all sizes almost completely covering a dark background
Hatred. Photo by Rob Pumphrey

I'm sure that will help.

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