How To Keep Dogs Out of Your Yard: Repellents & Tips

Last Updated: July 5, 2023

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Dog standing in the yard

Dogs can be a joy to have around. They're humans' best friends, after all!

But there's a limit to how much canine love you can handle. Being around your own dogs all day is incredible! But letting stray dogs or neighborhood pups roll up in your yard and wreak havoc? That's not so amazing.

Don't worry: You're not a monster for wanting to keep dogs out of your yard. There are countless reasons why you want to keep them off your lawn.

If you have dogs of your own, the scent of several stray dogs could send them into a tizzy when they walk outside. Plus, there's always the risk of those pups spreading disease where your furry friend does its business.

On top of all that, random dogs can easily ruin your garden and landscaping.

Your yard is your property, and you're entirely within your right to want dogs off of it. But what steps can you take to keep them away?

Understand Local Ordinances Regarding Dogs On Your Lawn

Before you do anything, familiarize yourself with local laws and ordinances. Most cities and suburbs have pretty strict rules about stray dogs.

Many require pups to be on a leash at all times when outside the confines of the owner's property. That means that any canine that ventures into your yard is likely violating those rules.

Now, it's crucial to treat carefully here.

Ideally, things won't get to the point where you need to involve authorities. But you should understand your rights and the laws in your area

At the very least, equipping yourself with this knowledge can make it easier for you to convince neighbors to take action on their loose dogs. More on that soon.

Some towns have numbers you can call to report possible violations. Generally, these initial reports won't amount to more than a visit and a warning.

You can request the shelters and animal control to exercise discretion when broaching this issue with families in your neighborhood. No one wants to create drama, including authorities tasked with addressing pet problems like this.

Sometimes, all your community needs is a reminder about the laws. That's usually enough to encourage people to be more vigilant about keeping their dogs secure.

Have an Honest Discussion with Your Neighbors

Here's another step you should take with caution.

If you know where the offending dogs come from and have a generally good rapport with their owners, consider talking to them directly. It's not necessary to involve animal control if you can have an open discussion about it.

In many cases, going straight to authorities can only create some bad blood. Again, avoid drama as much as possible!

Be frank about the problem. Most people are unaware that their dogs are causing trouble. Let's face it: You've likely found your pup getting into trouble, too!

Don't approach this conversation fired up or upset. Be level-headed, calm, and respectful.

Now, there is always the risk that your neighbor will respond negatively to your requests for them to contain their dog. It happens, and sometimes, ruining your relationship with someone in your community is unavoidable.

If that happens, you can take other steps to keep dogs out. But it always pays to attempt the more mature and straightforward route first.

Simple Tips to Keep Dogs Out of Your Yard

Dogs walking in the backyard

If you're still having problems after speaking with your neighbors, you'll likely have to take matters into your own hands.

Luckily, there are plenty of tips and tricks to deter dogs. Give a few of the following techniques a shot, and you can finally enjoy a canine-free yard!

Pick up Droppings

Have you noticed that dogs love to return to the same pooping spot?

Your dog probably does the same thing in your backyard. If another pup has made a mess on your property, removing the droppings may make a difference.

The idea here is simple: Cleaning up excrement is like wiping the scent slate clean. You're removing the scent memory, making the spot less enticing for dogs wanting to return to someplace familiar.

Scoop up any solid droppings. Then, run a hose over the grass. The water will remove most of the smells and pheromones.

To be extra vigilant about removing the trail, sprinkle a little baking soda. Let the powder sit before rinsing it away. Just like that, your yard is pheromone-free.

Related: Get Rid of Dog Poop in the Yard Without Scooping

Set Up Signs and Doggy Bag Stations

What's more annoying: Having a stray dog poop in your yard or watching another human let a leashed dog do the same? No need to answer: We already know!

It's common courtesy to stop your dog from doing its business on another person's private property. If that's unavoidable, the least thing you can do is pick up after your pup. You know that.

Unfortunately, not everyone understands dog etiquette. It's surprising how many people don't care about where their dog poops.

This trick aims to somewhat passive-aggressively shame those dog owners! Setting up a few signs reminds any dog-walking humans who pass by that your property is not the community canine toilet.

The signs are often good enough, but you can go further by providing dog bags. Either way, it's embarrassing for whoever gets caught going against the signs standing right in front of them.

You'd be surprised by how well public shaming works!

Use the Water Bottle Trick

Here's an interesting little trick that you can try.

Believe it or not, dogs know they shouldn't poop where they eat and drink. Eons of domestication have taught dogs well on that front.

Use those canine instincts to your advantage.

Gather several clear gallon bottles. You can use large soda bottles, empty milk jugs, and anything else clear.

Fill them up with water and place them around your yard as a barrier. A spacing of three feet between each bottle should do.

When dogs see that water, they'll instinctively move on. They don't want to spoil a valuable water source. Even if they don't use it, those instincts kick in.

Get Rid of Attractants

It's not always a matter of dogs doing dirty work on your lawn. It could be that you have some attractants nearby. Take a look around, and you're bound to find some items that canines might find irresistible.

The most obvious culprit is smelly garbage. Check out your garbage cans. If they have a poor seal or holes, the smell of your decaying trash could waft into the air and bring dogs near.

Consider getting a newer bin that has a tight seal. It's only a matter of time before a dog gets bold enough to dump the trash. Address it now to avoid that nightmare!

Other possible attractants include food and water.

Maybe you feed your dog outside. If that's the case, the smell of that food can travel farther than you think. It may be time to rethink your feeding strategies.

Do you have stagnant water in your yard? Perhaps it's a birdbath or pond. While not as alluring as food, dogs see that sitting water as an invitation to lap up a drink.

Remove any possible attractant. Look far and wide, too. Everything from vegetables in your garden to your compost bin could be why dogs find your yard so fascinating. Get rid of them, and you may have your solution.

Related: Best Outdoor Dog Urine Odor Eliminators

Use a Motion-Activated Deterrent Device

If all else fails, scare 'em!

The modern canine is clever, but it's not intelligent enough to look past deterrents that deliver a fright! You have many options here. If you want to go simple, try a scarecrow.

Be wary, though: This solution may only provide temporary results. Eventually, neighborhood dogs will realize that the scarecrow is not a real person.

Another option is to use motion-activated sprinklers! These little devices are predominantly used for other vermin but work well for dogs.

Set them up around the perimeter of your yard, and they'll blast those pups the moment they step foot into your property.

Sonic repellers are a good choice, too. They operate similarly to the sprinklers we just mentioned. However, they rely on ultrasonic sound to scare pups off.

As you probably know, a dog's hearing ability is much stronger than your own. They can detect frequencies far above what humans hear. Therefore, ultrasonic devices sound silent. But to a stray neighborhood dog, it's a nightmare!

Try Dog-Repelling Products

If you're still having problems, you might need to resort to repellant products. Check out your local home improvement store. There's a good chance that you'll find all-purpose critter repellants.

They usually come in powder, granule, or liquid. Apply it to the perimeter of your yard, and watch the dogs charge in the opposite direction!

Commercial repellants attack a dog's sense of smell. They include intense aromas far too overwhelming for a dog's sensitive nose. The exact ingredients can vary from product to product, but they usually have essential oils, citrus-based scents, capsicum from peppers, and more.

You can also DIY a repellant spray. Vinegar and citrus are popular ingredients that do the trick.

Some DIY recipes might use ingredients like hot pepper, garlic powder, or mothballs. Those items can indeed keep dogs away. However, they're also very harmful.

You don't want to hurt these dogs. Doing so is inhumane and potentially illegal. Steer clear of any repellants that could cause health issues in dogs.

Related: Smells that Repel Dogs

Construct a Fence

This trick is an obvious one, but we have to mention it.

There's always the option of building a fence! Of course, that's a pretty significant investment, so it's worth trying the other techniques before resorting to this one.

A physical barrier like a fence is enough to keep most dogs out. You can do a tall privacy fence if allowed. Eight-foot borders are too tall for most dogs to scale.

You may not even need one that big to see improvements to your dog problem. Small picket fences can do the trick, too. They create that physical separation, letting dogs know your yard is off-limits!

Before starting construction, don't forget to look into your HOA and local building laws.

Don't be Afraid to Call Animal Control

Animal control can take care of dogs that refuse to stay out of your yard. They will physically remove the canines using traps or specially designed hand-capture tools.

You're within your right to call authorities, but we recommend doing this as a last resort only. No matter the outcome, it'll likely burn bridges with whoever owns the dogs that animal control removes.

It's a risk you must think about before taking action. In some cases, getting fined and watching their precious poop get hauled off is the owners' wake-up call.

Our Final Thoughts

These tricks can help you keep unwanted dogs off your yard. You may have to go through some trial and error to choose the most efficient technique.

Whatever method works best, be consistent. Be vigilant, and you'll eventually train dogs and their owners to stay off your property!

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About the author 


Steve is a writer with over 10 years of experience in dog training and nutritiion.

His goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior as well as keeping up with the latest scientific research in the field.