Is It Illegal to Feed Your Neighbor’s Dog?

Whether you have your own pets or not, it can be tempting to share some food with your neighbor’s friendly dog. However, doing so without permission can cause you some problems in the long run. Before you share your table scraps with your neighbor’s dog, it helps to be informed. Learn if it’s illegal to feed your neighbor’s dog and find out what you can do if your neighbor is feeding your dog without permission.

Key takeaways

  • Generally, it isn’t illegal to feed your neighbor’s dog unless you are trespassing or causing the dog injury
  • Legal action can be made against someone who feeds a neighbor’s dog and makes them sick
  • Dogs can be trained to not accept food from strangers without permission

Is it illegal to feed your neighbor’s dog?

When your neighbor’s dog wanders onto your property, it’s technically not illegal to feed the dog. However, you still have to be careful. If the food you give the dog results in health issues or injury, then it could be considered animal cruelty. You can be accused of attempting to poison the dog and your neighbor can take legal action against you.

Going onto a neighbor’s property to feed their dog is illegal. This is considered trespassing even if the dog doesn’t get sick. Generally, the safest and most legal way to feed a neighbor’s dog is to have permission from your neighbor.

Is it illegal to feed your neighbor’s neglected dog?

If your neighbor is neglecting their dog and not providing it with food or water, it can be morally right to feed the dog. However, trespassing into your neighbor’s property to do this is still an illegal act. You can also face legal issues if your neighbor claims the food you fed made their dog sick.

Simply talking to your neighbor and offering to help with the caretaking of their dog can help solve situations of neglect. Some people may not realize they aren’t taking care of their pets properly.

If the neglect continues, the best action to take is to alert local law enforcement or the local humane society about the suspected neglect. Also, document what you are witnessing as best as possible with notes and photographs.

Can I press charges on my neighbor for feeding my dog?

Yes, in most states, you can press charges on your neighbor for feeding your dog if the food results in health issues or injury to your dog. A neighbor who makes your dog sick can be charged with a class B misdemeanor if committed knowingly or intentionally and a class C misdemeanor if committed with criminal negligence or recklessness.

You can call the police to investigate and the attorney’s office will decide if they will prosecute. If your local police don’t investigate, you could try calling the attorney’s office directly. The more evidence you have that your neighbor made your dog sick the better chances the attorney’s office will take action to prosecute.

What can I do about my neighbors feeding my dogs?

First, try talking to your neighbors and explain to them why you don’t want them feeding your dog. For instance, tell them about your dog’s food allergies or how getting treats from neighbors can impact their training.

If talking to your neighbors isn’t working, you can also:

  • Make sure your dog doesn’t go near your neighbor unless on a leash
  • Hire a dog trainer to train your dog not to accept food from strangers without permission
  • Put up an electronic fence with a sensor to your dog’s collar to discourage them from leaving your property
  • Consider taking legal action if your dog gets sick from your neighbor’s food

Should I let a stranger give my dog a treat?

Letting your dog take treats from strangers can impact their training, especially if you only give your dog treats for specific reasons. Discouraging dogs from accepting food from strangers can help prevent a dangerous situation where someone has ill intent in the food they give.

Dogs can also experience anxiety and fear when meeting strangers, so it’s not always the best approach to let a stranger give your dog a treat in an attempt to help familiarize them.

You can create conflict in your dog by having a stranger give them treats. For example, they will want the treat but feel anxious about getting too close to the stranger.

If the new person is someone you want your dog to familiarize with, wait until your dog feels more comfortable, and then let the person throw the treats toward your dog. This will reduce the anxiety of your dog having to get too close.


It’s not illegal to feed your neighbor’s dog unless your food makes the dog sick or injured. Entering your neighbor’s property to feed their dog is trespassing, even if you suspect the dog is being neglected.

It’s best to call law enforcement to help investigate any situations of neglect. If you are experiencing strangers feeding your dog without your permission, there are various ways you can protect your pet and train them to not accept food from strangers without permission.