Addicted to novelty since 2001

Why Are There Random Water Bottles On the Sidewalk?

I occasionally see these water bottles positioned on the sidewalk, flush to the wall, in front of Maltese houses:

Bottle at Corner  Another Water Bottle

They have a particular purpose. I didn’t know what it was, and neither did any of our guests. I’m not sure how widespread the practice is, but it wasn’t what I expected.

Can you guess? Locals, keep your mouths shut.

UPDATE: Eoghan and others are correct–they’re apparently a defensive mechanism against wayward dogs. The Maltese folks who explained this to me weren’t sure how effective they were, but it’s interesting that it’s also a tactic used in Ireland and Japan.

28 Responses to “Why Are There Random Water Bottles On the Sidewalk?”

  1. Eoghan McCabe

    In Ireland, about 5 years ago, there was a similar trend where people would put water bottle out in their lawn. Apparently it would keep dogs from relieving themselves in your garden! God knows where that idea came from.

  2. bz

    when i go on a long run, i’ll hide water in the bushes along the route.. dunno if there are many marathoners in malta, but it’s my guess.

  3. Christine

    I was thinking that it was men heading out to the pub who put those out for their return home. This way they could take a leak, drink lots of water and go home to their wives who are waiting for them with a broomstick.

    The men in Ireland could have made the dog story up for this same reason. But perhaps my thinking is a bit sexist?

  4. Brian El

    It’s used as a weapon in case someone behind you tries to mug you.

    Trust me getting hit over the head with a semi full water bottle is very painful and it will put off the mugger.

  5. Will

    Like Eoghan, I’ve seen water bottles used here in Australia for the same purpose.

    Some people apparently believed it worked, although they did tend to go overboard and have bottles by the dozens lying on their precious lawns.

    I havn’t seen it done for years though.

  6. Gar Fisher

    I tend to buy the dog pee theory, as houses built of limestone and other rock materials could be damaged or stained by this.

  7. filmgoerjuan

    Perhaps it’s to protect against rabid dogs? Being hydrophobic, there’s nothing they fear more than a big bottle of water!

  8. Hiren Mistry

    It’s a complete fallacy that it keeps animals from defecating or urinating, This was proven in a Discovery channel Documentary that was on not so long ago.

    I like the idea of a pisshead using it as a “Re-fuel” on water before returning home, because if you are using it to stop the animals going to the toilet, you are very VERY sorely mistaken.

    (and even idiots here in New Zealand STILL put bottles of water out on the lawn. IDIOTS I tell you !)

  9. Dave

    I have seen this done on for a long time on both US coasts. Most of the time a 1 gallon milk jug was used. I was always told it keeps cats and dogs from peeing on the house. I know for a fact it does not work. Dogs and cats will pee whenever and wherever they please.

  10. Jane

    I really can’t see this working at all! My dog (male)would pee on the bottle as he loves to go on anything vertical. Either that or he would steal the water bottle as a plaything – another favorite pasttime of his.

  11. Gaston

    Same here in Argentina. People think they keep dogs away. Have my doubts.

  12. andrika

    if the water bottles were empty, i’d say that my boyfriend left them because he’s too lazy to put it in the trash. but if they are full, then i have no idea. :)

  13. Mary

    Believe it or not it is to keep cats from peeing on your property. When we were in Malta I also wondered what these bottles full of water were for. We asked and were told that it is to discourage cats from peeing. Months later back home in Canada I was listeneing to Mark Cullen’s garden show here in Toronto and Mark said that apparently when cats see these bottles full of water they go to do their business somewhere else because instinctively they do do want to contaminate what they perceive as a source of drinking water.

  14. Jay

    It’s also happens like all over the country Thailand. Since there are still so many stray dogs wandering around streets. They do believe this idea works. Most of them would put bottles like that every 50 cm. along the perimeter of there houses. Looks weird to me though.

  15. Steve

    I though it was to dissuade cats and dogs from peeing on people’s sidewalks

  16. BILLYC

    I JUST WALKED MY DOG AND FOR THE FIRST TIME I SAW WATER BOTTLES ALONG THE ROUTE WE TAKE. MY DOG DID RELIEVED HIMSELF ON ONE. I GOT ON THE COMPUTER AS SOON AS I GOT HOME TO SEE WHAT MIGHT BE ON THE NET FOR THIS SUBJECT AND FOUND THIS SITE. TO THIS END I CAN ATTEST THAT IT DOES NOT WORK TO PUT OUTSUCH BOTTLES.

  17. Tom

    Great pictures!

    As for the bottles, anything that works ;) Good dog owners will “read” the bottle’s purpose and stop their pets from relieving themselves on someone’s home.

    In California I use a more direct approach. I rarely have to use it but when I notice a dog owner (not the dog) starting to form this habit, I temporarily put out a sign that says:
    Please, yes you, drain your pet elsewhere.

  18. Dawn

    A year ago, our Hispanic landscaper sent me off to buy 10 clear glass bottles to fill with water and place around our newly-planted lawns–allegedly to keep dogs from defacating near the water bottles. I have yet to have to pick up any poop.

  19. Ryan

    maybe because no dogs have needed to relieve themselves on your lawn. I’ve never had to pick up poop from my lawn and I don’t use bottles of water.. I use something even better.. a gate.

  20. Mary

    I do a lot of walking in my neighborhood here in San Dieg, Ca. I see these water bottles filled with water in peoples yeards. I saw dog go up smell then lifted his leg on it.

  21. My Neighborhood Katahoko « Gomenasorry

    […] the houses. I found that I am not alone in wondering why people use these water bottles. Through Darren Barefoot’s blog, I read that cats are not the only animal people are trying to repel. Equally as […]

  22. Corinne

    As far as I know (and yes, I’m local) those are to ward off cats not dogs since cats are afraid of water. At least thats what my grandma claims…

  23. Brenda

    It works! I remember seeing bottles of water on lawns in San Diego, my sister told me it was to keep dogs from pooping on sidewalks and common lawns.
    I recently had a problem with neighborhood dogs using my property as a public potty until I placed bottles of water in my yard, and it is quite large/2 acres. I have not had to pick up any poop.
    I wonder if it is because dogs see differently and something about it WORKS!!!

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