Hey, Matt:

Walking around my neighborhood you can't help but notice numerous homeowners who have placed plastic jugs or glass jars of water in their front yards in order to keep dogs from pissing on the lawn. Is there any science behind this practice, or is it just a suburban myth?

-- Steve, O.B.

Myth yeah, science no. Can't believe we didn't put this one to rest years ago. Pretty sure Neanderthals put jars on the lawn to keep the tigers from taking a dump in the cave. Grandma remembers that. The only real question here is where this myth comes from. It's ubiquitous in the U.S. Not sure if it's infiltrated the E.U., but I kinda doubt it. Anyway, the theory is that the sunlight reflected and refracted through the clear glass and the water scares the dogs and keeps them away. If your neighbors are among those using "frosted" milk jugs, well, they're not even following the bad instructions in the untrue story, so that's a complete farce. You might say that doesn't matter, since it doesn't work anyway. But I say, if you're going to make a fool of yourself, then make a perfect fool of yourself, and get it right.

The dog brains willing to deal with the lawn jugs story say that if they work at all, it's only briefly. Dog approaches familiar lawn, sees unfamiliar things on it, circles the yard suspiciously, moves elsewhere. For a day, anyway. After that the jugs are just a part of the scene and have lost their novelty value. They might even provide dogs a target to pee on. Bolder dogs will probably ignore them to begin with if everything else smells right. The only way water will fix the problem of the pooed-on lawn is if you fill up balloons and throw them at the inconsiderate dog owner.

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