Fact Check

Water Jars Keep Dogs Off Lawn

Will leaving a full jar of water on your lawn keep dogs from defecating on it?

Published April 9, 2001


Claim:   Jugs of water left on a lawn will prevent dogs from defecating there.

Status:   Undetermined.

Example:   [Irish Times, 1997]

A superstition has grown up — and there may be some force behind it — that a half empty, clear plastic bottle, laid down on its side, or four or five on a biggish lawn will, infallibly, keep them [dogs] from defecating on your grass.

Origins:   A widely-asserted piece of dog lore is the claim that leaving half-full (or full) jugs, bottles, or jars of water on your lawn will

keep dogs from defecating on the property. No one has yet to do a controlled study on whether this trick actually works, but a number of those who have resorted to this method of combating canine caca have reported that it did indeed improve matters, however others who also tried it reported

that it didn't deter the neighborhood dogs from using their lawns as personal lavatories.

Another version of the belief asserts that these water-filled bottles will deter cats from wreaking havoc with the flower beds.

In case you thought only folks in your immediate neighborhood were crazy, this belief has been reported in the U.S.A., Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Is there anything to this notion or not? Who knows? For the record, those who have gone this route have used everything from clear glass jars to clear (or green) one-liter plastic soda bottles to opaque, gallon-sized plastic milk jugs. They've also either planted the containers standing upright or laid them on their sides.

Those who swear by the practice have come up with a number of "explanations" for why they believe this works:

  • The glinting of the water in the bottles emits some special canine danger signal.
  • Dogs won't foul a source of drinking water, or they won't mess where there's food or water to be found.
  • Pooches see their reflections in the water, are disconcerted by them, and run off.
  • The smell roiling off jugs filled with pure bleach or a bleach-and-water combination drives the mutts away.

Of course, even if this does work, the question has to be asked: Which is worse, a lawn dotted with doggie-doo, or a yard full of plastic jugs?

Barbara "jug? head?" Mikkelson

Last updated:   8 August 2009

  Sources Sources:

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   Curses! Broiled Again!

    New York: W. W. Norton, 1989.   ISBN 0-393-30711-5   (pp. 142-145).

    Edson, Billy.   "Water, Water Everywhere and Not a . . ."

    The San Diego Union-Tribune.   21 August 1986   (p. F43).

    Lazaneo, Vincent.   "Readers Report Water Jars Do Indeed Keep Dogs at Bay."

    The San Diego Union-Tribune.   10 August 1986   (p. F41).

    Lewis, Paul.   "Inventor Claims Gizmo Will Keep Pests Away."

    London Observer.   2 October 1993   (p. D9).

    Scott, Bill.   Pelicans & Chihuahuas and Other Urban Legends.

    St. Lucia, Queensland: Univ. of Queensland Press, 1996.   ISBN 0-7022-2774-9   (pp. 73-74).

    Stackhouse, Shirley.   "Popular Myths That Would Make Your Hair Curl."

    Sydney Morning Herald.   20 September 1994   (p. 32).

    Yool, Victor.   "Ask Dr. Hort: Dueling Theories on Plastic Jugs As Pooch-Repellent."

    The San Francisco Chronicle.   12 February 1997   (Home; p. 8).

    The Irish Times.   "In Time's Eye: Top Dog."

    23 June 1997   (p. 15).