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If you live in a neighborhood, chances are high that you’ve had a stray dog venture into your yard at some point in time. In some areas, this happens regularly.
We’ve always had a fence in our backyard, but that doesn’t stop dogs from wandering through the front or around the fence. We’ve even had a small dog sneak through a small hole in our fence!
While most of us love dogs (we have two of them), we don’t necessarily want other dogs roaming around on our property. Not only can they be a safety concern, but they often leave little (sometimes large) presents for us to find.
If you’re in this situation right now and don’t know what to do, there are some simple steps you can try. Below, you will find several methods that can be used to keep dogs out of your yard.
Pick and choose the ideas that make sense for your specific situation. You don’t necessarily need to use them all.
Reasons Dogs Go into Other People’s Yards
To keep dogs out of your yard, it’s important to know why they enter your yard in the first place. So, why do dogs wander into our yards?
Dogs are curious animals, and they’re bound to get bored with their typical environment. If you were confined to your house and a small backyard, wouldn’t you want to see what’s out there?
Your yard might have something interesting to other dogs, such as squirrels or a water feature. If they’re not well-trained, the urge to explore can be difficult for them to overcome.
To Look for a Mate
Sometimes, dogs just want to find love, and that’s not something they’re likely to find in their own backyard. If a male dog hasn’t been neutered, it might wander off looking for a female in heat. Females also wonder in search of male companies.
Reasons to Keep Dogs Out of Your Yard
While some people may simply hate dogs, most of us have specific reasons why we don’t want other dogs in our yards. Let’s take a look at some of these reasons.
They Can Be a Safety Concern
Most dogs are friendly, but that doesn’t mean you should assume that they’ll never bite. If you have small children or pets of your own, the last thing you want is a neighbor’s dog wandering into your yard, putting everyone’s safety at risk.
Even well-behaved dogs act differently when separated from their owner. If a dog makes it into your yard unattended, it’s not always safe to assume that they’ll act the same way that they do in their own yard.
They Sometimes to Do Their Business Away From Home
Dogs often mark their territory with urine, and sometimes feces, for a variety of reasons. The last thing you want to deal with is unevenly growing grass, or even worse, cleaning up after someone else’s dog.
They Might Dig in Your Yard or Garden
Some dogs like to dig, especially in soft garden dirt. If a dog gets into your backyard and finds some nice areas of soft grass or dirt, they might find it fun to make a nice hole for you (or their toy that they want to save for later).
They Might Chew On, or Destroy, Your Property
As most dog-owners will tell you, dogs, and especially puppies, like to chew on things. If you have items in your backyard that a neighboring dog finds interesting, don’t be surprised if you find it chewed on or destroyed.
Growing up, my family had an Australian shepherd that would go as far as chewing on the siding of the house. We had to keep a close eye on him at all times.
They Might Make Your Pets Anxious
Dogs act on instinct, and one of their instincts is to chase other animals. If you have outdoor cats, a neighbor’s dog might enjoy giving them a good chase. This of course leaves your cat anxious and fearful in their own outdoor space.
How to Keep Dogs Out of Your Yard
Now that we know the reasons that dogs wander into other people’s yards and the reasons that we might want to keep them out of ours, let’s take a look at some ways to deter, or prevent, them from coming onto our property.
1 – Talk to Your Neighbor
Before moving on to more drastic measures, the first step you should always take when dealing with a dog that regularly comes onto your property is to talk to the dog’s owner. Let them know what your concerns are, whether it’s a safety issue or the dog marking their territory.
If you handle the conversation in a non-threatening manner, many people will be considerate and do what they can to help you out. If this doesn’t work, at least you know you tried. It’s time to move on to other methods.
2 – Get Creative with Your Gardening
Certain plants, like citrus trees, help to deter dogs from coming into your garden. You can also add some thorny bushes in strategic areas, which will discourage them from proceeding any further.
Dogs are attracted to the scent of certain fertilizers that contain animal products, such as bone meal or fish emulsion. To keep your lawn and garden healthy without further attracting a neighboring dog, try to use plant-based fertilizers.
3 – Eliminate Objects of Curiosity
As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons that dogs wander into other people’s yards is simply boredom and curiosity. While you can’t do much to alleviate their boredom, there are simple steps you can take to make your backyard less appealing to them.
Dogs tend to drink a lot of water, so the first step is to eliminate any water sources. A water source might be a water bowl for your dog, a bird bath, a child’s pool, or standing water in certain areas of your yard.
Also, make sure to eliminate food, or potential food, sources. Food sources for a dog might include a dog bowl for your dog or cat, an open trash can, or smells from your grill.
Don’t forget to remove as many “toys” as possible as well. If you have dogs, you might have to put your outdoor toys in a garage or shed. The same goes for small toys for your children.
4 – Use a Motion-Activated Sprinkler
An easy and effective method for keeping a dog out of your yard is to install a motion-activated sprinkler. While most sprinklers are used for watering your lawn, a motion-activated sprinkler has a different purpose: to deter animals from entering your yard.
A motion-activated sprinkler works by spraying water when it detects motion in the area that it’s covering. The sudden spray of water is usually enough to deter most animals, including deer, rabbits, and more, from entering your yard.
A company named Orbit makes a motion-activated sprinkler called the Yard Enforcer that not only works as an animal deterrent, but also can be used as a regular sprinkler. This is a nice feature that many don’t have.
The Yard Enforcer works day and night and can cover a large area up to 1,600 square feet and can even be connected to additional sprinkler heads to cover a larger area.
One thing to keep in mind with motion-activated sprinklers is that they spray water any time motion is detected, meaning you, your mail man, and your neighbor’s children will get sprayed if they happen to walk into the detection zone. While you might find this amusing, they probably won’t.
5 – Use a Commercial Repellent
Another method for keeping dogs out of your yard is to use a commercial repellent. Commercial repellents usually come in granular or liquid form and need to be applied either to the area being protected or around the perimeter of the area being protected.
Commercial repellents work by producing odors or tastes that aren’t attractive to dogs. To be effective, these repellents need to be reapplied regularly (reapplication times vary by product).
If you decide to use a commercial repellent, just be sure to do some research and make sure that the product is safe for dogs, children, and anything else that might wander into your yard.
6 – Install a Physical Boundary
One of the most effective ways to keep a dog out of your yard is to install a fence. It happens to be the one of the most expensive ways as well.
A fence provides multiple benefits though, so it might be worth considering in your specific situation. Not only does a fence help to keep things from coming in, but it also helps to keep your children and pets from getting out.
Assuming you go with a privacy fence, a fence also makes it more difficult for others to see your backyard. Keep in mind that it also makes it more difficult for you to see the areas outside of your yard as well. For this reason, we ended up installing a shorter, picket fence with spacing between the pickets in our yard.
A fence isn’t your only option when it comes to creating a physical boundary for your backyard. You can also create a natural boundary by using doing some landscaping. One of our neighbors has a wall of arborvitaes on the sides of his yard, which act as a natural fence. A neighbor down the road has rows of pine trees on each side of his yard to do the same. These not only help to keep dogs out, but provide privacy as well.
7 – Create an Invisible Boundary
Don’t want a physical boundary outlining your backyard? Maybe an invisible boundary is a better option for you.
You can create an invisible boundary by spraying vinegar around the areas that you want to protect. This isn’t idea for a large space, but may work well around your garden.
Keep in mind that vinegar can damage your plants, so you’ll want to spray it on non-living surfaces, such as rocks. Also, you will need to reapply the vinegar regularly for it to work effectively.
This isn’t an ideal solution for most people, but can work well in certain situations.
8 – Report Your Neighbor to the Local Authorities
As a last resort, you always have the option of reporting your neighbor to animal control. Depending on the local ordinances, a call may or may not get you very far.
Also, if they do send someone out for a visit, be prepared to provide proof of any claims that you’ve made. By calling animal control, you’re accusing a neighbor of something, so this shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Keep in mind that by calling local authorities, you’ll likely cause some friction between you and your neighbor. Ideally, you’ll only call animal control after you’ve exhausted all other methods and only if you consider the problem to be much more than an annoyance.
What Not to Do
Don’t Use Anything Harmful to Dogs
While a roaming dog may be a nuisance, you should never do anything that will physically harm them. If you search online, you’re bound to find some bad advice about using commercial chemicals or strong spices, like cayenne pepper.
Using these chemicals and spices can cause severe injury to not only dogs, but other animals and humans that come in contact with them. While it might be tempting to try some of these home remedies, they simply should never be used. There are plenty of safer options to consider, such as the ones listed above, that will work just as well.
Don’t Use Repellents That Contain Urine
While it might sound like a good idea to use an animal repellent, just make sure that the repellent doesn’t contain urine from other animals, like coyotes. Although some animals are repelled by this scent, dogs are attracted to it.
While most of us love dogs, or at least don’t have a problem with them, we don’t necessarily want them roaming around in our yard, leaving us with all sorts of headaches to deal with.
While no method is foolproof, by implementing a few of the ideas above, you’ll be well on your way to deterring, or preventing, other dogs from coming onto your property.
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