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How to Keep Dogs Away: What to Do & What to Avoid

By Aviram K.
July 2, 2021
6 min read
How to Keep Dogs Away: What to Do & What to Avoid
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.
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Imagine enjoying a nice afternoon when a strange dog suddenly goes barreling across your property and proceeds to defecate on your newly manicured lawn.

Loose dogs can be a big problem, but luckily there are solutions to this annoying issue!

You can keep dogs off of your property by first having a conversation with your neighbor. Next, keep your yard free of food scraps and dog poop so that strange dogs aren’t tempted, and use scent repellents and a fence around the yard to create invisible and physical barriers.

In this article, we will explore the various remedies for keeping dogs away from your yard, from preventative measures all the way to what your legal options are.

Let’s get started!

How to Keep Your Neighbor’s Dog Out of Your Yard

Dogs may think that they can go where they please, but there are proactive ways you can keep them off of your property.

Have a Talk With Your Neighbor

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In some instances, your neighbor may not even be aware that their dog is escaping into your yard!

Unfortunately, pet owners don’t always realize what behavior is considered problematic to others, so offering your perspective can be very helpful.

When speaking with your neighbor, keep your anger and frustration out of it. Instead, be friendly; assume that your neighbor is blissfully unaware of their dog’s antics. Make it clear that you’re wanting a happy outcome for everyone. If the neighbor is not receptive to this, that’s when you begin considering other means of resolving the problem.

If having a chat hasn’t helped, or you’re uncomfortable confronting your neighbor, you can call your local animal control shelter and have them send someone to do the talking on your behalf.

The representative sent from the shelter will explain the local laws to your neighbor and what could potentially happen to their pup if they don’t resolve the issue.

Clean Up Your Yard

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Dogs go adventuring for many reasons, the most significant being driven by scent.

If you don’t have anything interesting to smell, Fido will be less inclined to go wandering around your property. Likewise, keeping your yard clean will offer fewer temptations for dogs to come sniffing around.

If you have your own pets, avoid feeding them outdoors or leaving their food scraps out. If you’re a human-only household, make sure to clean diligently after barbequing or having a nice lunch outside.

Besides attracting dogs, this can also attract wildlife such as coyotes and bobcats (predators you don’t want to lurk around).

Dogs also drink a lot of water, so try to remove or minimize water sources in your outdoor areas as they may be coming around searching for hydration.

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Being playful and curious creatures by nature, dogs can also be driven to explore because you have something fun in your yard. If you have children or other pets, clean up their toys after they’re done playing so that your neighborhood explorer doesn’t use them too.

Even if it’s not from your own dog, dog poop is a sure-fire way to entice pups to your yard. Gross to you or not, you really do need to make sure that all defecation is cleaned up. Whether picking it up by hand or using something to dissolve it, poop has to go.

What Dissolves Dog Poop in the Yard?

If the poop is runny or has gotten stuck to a difficult-to-clean surface, dissolving it would be a good course of action.

Vinegar can dissolve dog poop and tends to be a household item most have on hand. However, this is best used on artificial turfs and lawns, as it may not fully dissolve dog poop on other surfaces.

If vinegar isn’t strong enough for your needs, there are many different enzyme-based dissolvers on the market, such as NaturVet Yard Odor Eliminator, or Simple Green Outdoor Odor Eliminator.

Some work as quickly as two hours, while others take a bit longer, so make sure you read the label of the enzyme-based product you choose.

Use a Dog Repellant

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Expanding further on dogs and their relationship with smell, using a repellant can be an effective method for keeping dogs away.

Repellants are various smells that dogs dislike, which can prevent them from entering. Repellants range from scents you spray to plants you can add to the garden.

What Scent Will Keep Dogs Away?

Dog’s noses are incredibly powerful, so very bold scents tend to do a number on them:

  • Hot peppers are a repellant that can work exceptionally well. However, a spicy sensation is foreign to dogs, and one introduction can be enough to have them running.
  • Ground spices are a safe repellent to sprinkle in your garden, such as chili powder, cayenne pepper, and ground mustard.
  • Citrus is another popular repellant, effective both as peeled skins thrown in the yard or as an actual plant (which has the added bonus of producing lemons for you!).
  • Vinegar is another smell dogs loathe, but it can be a very cost-effective way to prevent loose dogs from romping in. The downside is that vinegar is pungent even to us, so keep that in mind.

Be mindful of the amounts, though. You don’t want to accidentally have a foreign dog overdose on chili powder, as it can cause him harm.

Set Up a Fence Around Your Yard

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Sometimes, the law of physics can be all you need.

Set up a fence around your property, and it may be more trouble than it’s worth for a dog to attempt to get in. If you already have a fence, look for weaknesses in it, such as holes.

It’s not a bad idea to install dig guards and add height to a fence, so even the most eager dogs have a more challenging time getting in. Dig guards prevent entrance under the fence, and height will prevent climbing over the fence.

What to Avoid When Trying to Keep Dogs Away from Your Yard

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As tempting as it is to retaliate against your neighbor, being the bigger person is the right choice for more than just moral reasons. Various common ‘revenge’ methods can actually get you in hot water.

As a rule of thumb, avoid doing the following:

  • Verbally abusing or threatening the dog owner. Anger and aggression only escalate a problem, and depending on the severity of your actions, you could face harassment charges.
  • Poison or harm the dog. Come on. It’s not the dog’s fault that their owner has allowed them to roam without boundaries; don’t take it out on the animal!
  • Mail or throw dog poop to your neighbors. Yes, you can actually get in trouble for this.
  • Let your dog romp around on their property unattended. Trust me, you won’t teach them a lesson of ‘how it feels’ here; you’ll simply stoop down to their same level or get into the same trouble as them. No one wins.

Can You Call the Cops on Your Neighbor’s Dog?

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If a nuisance dog runs amuck on your property, you can call the cops on your neighbor’s dog.

But, where you live can impact how much the police can do. If the police are bogged down with more urgent matters, they may not have the time or manpower to help you.

It can be more beneficial to call your local Animal Control service instead, as their department is better suited to handle these situations. In addition, Animal Control has similar powers as the police, such as the ability to issue citations.

What Laws Apply to Loose Dogs?

The authorities are limited to the laws and ordinances of your zip code, so you can’t just call them willy nilly. For loose dogs, the most common laws that may apply include;

  • Leash Laws. In most places, a dog is not allowed to wander off-leash except in designated areas. For example, dogs cannot be off-leash in a neighborhood.
  • Trespassing. The dog’s owner is responsible for their behavior. If the dog is being allowed to visit your property without consent, that can be constituted as trespassing.
  • Clean Up Laws. Many places have laws in place about cleaning up after a dog. For example, if the dog is leaving unwanted presents on your lawn, this rule can come into play.

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Other aspects of animal ownership that are regulated include the number of animals allowed in a home, rabies vaccination requirement, and barking. Although these three don’t directly correlate with a loose dog, they can be tacked on to a complaint if any of the above are also relevant to your problem.

Research the rules of your area (your city’s government website is a great place to start!) and see which ones your neighbor may have broken.

What if Animal Control or the Police Haven’t Helped?

If you have repeatedly complained to the authorities about your neighbor and their dog(s), but nothing has changed, you have another course of action: a nuisance lawsuit.

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You can take your neighbor to court over their animals’ behavior. If the nuisance lawsuit is successful in your favor, your neighbor will face steep fines or even jail time if the situation is not remedied.

It is best to speak to a local lawyer if this is what you pursue, as a legal professional will advise you better.


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Aviram K.

Aviram K.

Dog Behaviorist & Trainer

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