The Best Methods to Keep Dogs Away From Your Yard

Having unwanted dogs in your yard can be a frustrating and stressful issue for any homeowner. Not only can dogs dig up gardens, contaminate the lawn with waste, and harass family pets, but they can also pose safety risks, especially with small children. Fortunately, there are several highly effective methods you can use to deter dogs and keep your yard dog-free. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the top techniques to humanely and safely discourage dogs from entering and soiling your outdoor space.

Use Physical Barriers Around Your Property Perimeter

Installing physical barriers around the edges of your yard is one of the best ways to prevent dogs from gaining access in the first place. Here are some great options:


Fencing your entire property with tall, solid fencing material like wood or vinyl is ideal for keeping dogs out. Aim for a height of at least 5-6 feet. Bury the bottom 1-2 feet underground to prevent digging underneath. Avoid chain link fencing, as dogs can easily climb through or dig under it.

Hedges & Bushes

Planting prickly hedges or bushes around the perimeter creates a natural barrier. Great choices include holly, rose bushes, junipers, or pyracantha. Trim regularly to maintain thickness. The sharp thorns will deter dogs from pushing through.

Large Rocks/Boulders

Placing large rocks or boulders along the edges and entry points of your yard can physically block dogs. Choose rocks at least 2 feet high to make it difficult for dogs to jump over. Partially bury them for stability.

Gravel Beds

Laying 3-4 inch deep gravel beds around the perimeter can discourage dogs from digging under or entering through that area. The gravel makes digging uncomfortable.

Motion-Activated Sprinklers

Install sprinklers that detect motion and spray water when triggered. Dogs will learn to avoid areas that get them wet. Position them near gates, fences or gardens.

Remove Dog Attractions

Dogs are drawn to yards for specific reasons. Eliminating these attractants can make your yard far less appealing:

Trash & Food Scraps

Securely seal all garbage cans and remove any leftover pet food or compost piles. Dog proof waste bins are a smart option. Pick up any fallen fruits/berries from trees.

Garden Beds

Cover bare soil in flower beds with mulch or rocks. Apply animal repellent spray made with pungent oils near gardens. Avoid bone meal fertilizers.

Pet Waste

Immediately remove any dog waste from your own pets in the yard. The smell can draw in more dogs.

Pet Food Bowls

Never leave pet food bowls outside. Feed pets indoors or bring bowls in after meal times.

Access to Other Pets

Dogs may enter yards to interact with or harass other pets. Keep your own dogs and cats safely indoors or supervise them when outside.

Water Sources

Dogs can be attracted to puddles, ponds, or outdoor pet water bowls. Eliminate standing water when possible and remove water bowls when not in use.

Kids Toys/Equipment

Remove any toys, play sets, or sandbox tools when not in use. Dogs are often drawn to areas that smell like kids.

Bird Feeders

Fill feeders only when supervision is possible. Leftover seed can attract dogs.

Use Repellent Smells & Tastes

Dogs have a strong sense of smell and taste. Leveraging pungent scents or flavors can make your yard unappealing:


Spray full strength household ammonia around the perimeter of your yard and on plants/trees. The strong ammonia odor repels dogs. Reapply after heavy rains.


White and apple cider vinegar can be mixed with water in a spray bottle. Lightly mist areas dogs frequent to deter with the sour taste. Go heavier on garden beds, fences and gates.

Citrus Oils

Dogs dislike the smell of citrus. Apply citrus scented sprays or pure oils around the yard’s edge. You can also rub peels directly on fences or gardens. Oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit all work well.

Chili Pepper

Dried chili pepper flakes or a hot pepper sauce like tabasco can be combined with water in a spray. Apply to garden beds, fences, trash cans or any problem areas. The irritating compounds in peppers bother dogs.

Eucalyptus Oil

This natural essential oil has a strong medicinal scent that dogs avoid. Mix a few teaspoons into water and spray around the perimeter of your property.


Crush garlic cloves and boil in water. Strain the garlic liquid and add to a spray bottle diluted with more water. Mist anywhere dogs shouldn’t be and reapply weekly. The garlic smell deters dogs.

Rotten Eggs

The sulfuric scent of rotten eggs keeps away dogs. Make your own spray by cracking 1-2 raw eggs in a bottle, leaving in the hot sun for a day. Top off with water and spray.

Use Textures Dogs Dislike

Incorporating rough textures or materials into your landscape can make areas uncomfortable for dogs:

Wood Chips/Mulch

Spread pointy wood chip mulch or pine cones 2-3 inches deep where dogs are a problem. The uneven surface deters laying down or digging. Replenish as needed.

Gravel/Rock Beds

As mentioned before, a 3-4 inch layer of loose gravel or rocks can be an irritating surface for dogs to walk across. It can also discourage digging.

Chicken Wire

Lay chicken wire tightly on top of soil and secure with landscape stakes. The pokey wire makes it impossible for dogs to dig. It can also be wrapped around the lower portion of fences.

Thorny Plants

Incorporate prickly plants with thorns into your garden beds. Great options include roses, blackberry bushes, firethorn bushes, hollies, or cacti. Dogs will avoid brushing up against them.

Decorative Stones

Place large, jagged decorative stones in problem areas. Dogs will not want to climb over them. The sharp edges also prevent resting nearby.

Use Training Aids

Specialized dog training devices can be quite effective for keeping unwanted canines away. They function by emitting sounds, smells or sensations dogs dislike:

Sonic Dog Repellers

These devices emit a high frequency sound when dogs bark or come into range. Only dogs can detect the unpleasant noise. Position them near yard entry points.

Motion-Activated Sprinklers

As mentioned before, these sprinklers detect dogs entering an area and spray them with bursts of harmless water. Dogs learn to avoid.

Citronella Sprays

Automated spray systems detect barking/movement and spray a strong citronella mist. They provide perimeter protection without harming dogs.

Dog Repellent Mats

Place rough plastic mats with pokey bumps in problem locations. The bumps are harmless but very annoying under paws. Mats can be purchased or DIY’ed.

Electronic Training Aids

Specialty dog training collars emit sounds or vibrations to correct unwanted behaviors. Some devices push out odors like citronella when barking occurs.

Use Visual Dog Deterrents

Visual cues such as flashy objects, patterns or colors can startle dogs and make your yard uninviting:

Predator Decoys

Life-size plastic coyotes, wolves or large birds of prey placed around your yard look ominous and alarming to dogs. Some have flashing lights for added effect.

Holographic Tape

Wind catchers and holographic tape products produce random flashes of light that can startle dogs. Hang in trees or along fences. Go for metallic colors.

Scarecrow Sprinklers

These motion activated sprinklers are designed to look like a large human figure. Dogs are frightened away by both the “person” and the sprinkler spray.

Lion Dung

The smell of a predator like lion or tiger feces alarms dogs and triggers avoidance. Purchase zoo grade dung online or from specialty gardening stores. Spread it dry around the perimeter.

Mylar Balloons

Tie many shiny mylar balloons around your yard. When wind catches them, the random flashing will unsettle dogs. Foil balloons also work well.

Fake Security Cameras

Mount fake security cameras made from plastic or rubber in noticeable spots. Dogs may be fooled into thinking they are being watched and avoid those areas.

Remove Things That Attract Dogs From Around Your Neighborhood

Sometimes it’s factors outside your own yard attracting dogs onto your property. Enlist neighbors to remove these drawcards too:

Ask neighbors to clean up pet waste

Dog poop in nearby yards can draw dogs in to mark territory. Politely request neighbors scoop waste frequently. Offer to share bags.

Advocate for neighbors to restrain wandering pets

Loose dogs can enter any yard. Kindly suggest neighbors leash, fence or supervise pets. Offer tips to contain escape artists humanely.

Report unattended bowls of food and water

Alert neighbors to pick up prolonged outdoor pet food/water dishes to avoid attracting dogs.

Request garbage be secured from scavengers

Ask neighbors to use locking bins and avoid overflowing cans. Pick up any stray trash that may lure in dogs.

Discourage feeding strays

Gently remind neighbors that feeding strays promotes congregating. Stray groups are likely to see your yard as an extension of their territory.

Ask for overgrown bushes or fences to be trimmed

Untrimmed vegetation can allow dogs to move more sneakily between yards. Coordinate pruning days!

Petition to restrict outdoor cats

Outdoor and feral cats can be a strong draw for some dogs. Lobby respectfully for neighbors to transition cats to indoor only.

Report severe neglect or cruelty cases

Seriously neglected dogs without proper containment may roam into other yards seeking food or shelter. Call animal services for assessment.

Use Positive Reinforcement to Deter Dogs

Instead of simply scaring dogs away, you can also train them to avoid your yard by redirecting them elsewhere and rewarding them as they leave. Two methods for this are:

Treat Retreat Technique

Keep tasty treats with you when gardening. When dogs enter, calmly approach and lure them out by dropping a trail of treats leading away from the yard. Praise as they leave.

Teach a “Go Home” Cue

As you redirect wandering dogs with treats, also practice a phrase like “Go home!” in a friendly tone before rewarding exit. Eventually, the verbal cue will prompt the desired behavior.

This positive reinforcement helps dogs associate your yard with something positive (treats!) if they choose to leave. Done consistently, it teaches dogs to voluntarily depart when reminded.

Speak With Neighbors About Roaming Dogs

For ongoing issues with neighborhood dogs, have polite conversations with nearby owners about containing and controlling their pets:

Share your concerns kindly

Calmly let neighbors know the problems their dogs are causing but avoid accusations. Make it a two-way dialogue.

Suggest containment solutions

If lack of confinement seems to be the issue, point owners toward fencing options, tie outs, supervised excursions or training. Offer referrals to fence/kennel businesses if needed.

Advise neutering/spaying

Unfixed dogs often roam looking for mates. Recommend this affordable and effective remedy to decrease wandering and aggression.

Warn about legal penalties

Politely inform owners they may face fines or citations if dogs are picked up by animal control or cause damage. Peer pressure can motivate change.

Offer assistance securing dogs

For financial hardship cases, propose doing a neighborhood supply drive or creating a pet containment fund to help owners in need safely restrain dogs.

Contact animal control if issues persist

As a last resort, involve animal control if owners refuse to restrain dogs. Roaming dogs may be picked up or owners could face tickets for repeat violations.

Being considerate and helpful tends to get better reactions than threats or hostility. With patience and collaboration, dog problems can often be solved through neighborhood cooperation.

Try High-Quality Dog Repellents

Specialized dog repellent products can provide an additional strong deterrent. Look for humane sprays made from pungent natural ingredients. Quality brands include:

Havahart Critter Ridder

This spray contains oil of black pepper, piperine and capsaicin to irritate dogs’ nostrils and discourage lingering. All natural ingredients.

Nature’s MACE SCS2001

Uses capsaicin, oil of mustard, and cinnamon oil to overwhelm dog’s senses non-toxically when they linger in sprayed areas.

Safer Brand #5160 Dog & Cat Repellent Spray

This formula relies on pungent essential oils like citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary and others to repel. Made in the USA.

Bodhi Dog Bitterant Spray

Bitrex provides intense bitterness to deter dogs from chewing items or areas sprayed down. Gentle yet very effective taste deterrent.

PetSafe SSSCAT Spray

Motion-activated burst of pressurized air paired with pungent citronella and lemongrass essential oil smell when dogs come into range.

Always follow product instructions carefully and reapply as directed after rainfall. Test in inconspicuous areas first to ensure plants or surfaces won’t be damaged.

Install Temporary Physical Barriers

In addition to permanent fencing, you can use temporary barriers to make selective areas inaccessible to dogs as needed:

Tent-Style Canopy Covers

Protect sandboxes or playsets by installing weather-resistant canopy tents fully around them when not in use. Remove and store when you want child access.

Wire Garden Cages

Use cages made from chicken wire formed around vegetable gardens or flower beds to keep digging dogs away from tender plants. Lift cages to garden.

Lattice Wood Barriers

Lean decorative lattice wood panels against fences or gardens to create an instant barrier. Use landscape stakes to hold in place. Lift and store when access needed.

Portable Fencing Panels

Plastic foldable fencing panels or plastic snow fencing can create temporary barriers. Secure to stakes surrounding vulnerable areas to keep dogs out.

Motion-Activated Sprinklers

Bring portable motion-activated sprinklers out only when supervision isn’t possible. The spray will discourage dogs. Store indoors when done.

Crates on the Porch

If dogs are problematic at your front door, placing dog crates or exercise pens on the porch temporarily makes it impossible for them to approach or pile up. Remove when issue subsides.

Stay Persistent

Preventing unwanted dogs from invading your yard requires commitment and consistency:

  • Maintain fencing, barriers and repellents to keep your property fully protected. Check for breaches regularly.
  • Reapply odor/taste repellents frequently, especially after heavy rains. Don’t allow smells to fade.
  • Remove dog attractions promptly whenever they occur. Leaving out even small bits of food or garbage can sabotage progress.
  • Keep using positive reinforcement training techniques whenever dogs show up. With time, they will opt to leave immediately when prompted.
  • Monitor for new entrance points or routes dogs find. Quickly block any new gaps or weak spots. Adapt and improve as needed.
  • Discuss any ongoing issues promptly with neighbors. Persist politely until a solution is found together.
  • If problems worsen, don’t hesitate to call on your local animal control department. Their expertise can be invaluable for resolving difficult cases.

With consistency and diligence, you can successfully train most neighborhood dogs to avoid treating your yard as their own. Don’t get discouraged! Preventing dog invasions may take time, teamwork and creativity but the benefits of reclaiming a dog-free outdoor space make it well worth the effort.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are humane ways to keep away dogs?

Humane tactics include physical barriers like fencing, smell & taste repellents using pungent but harmless spices, oils or citrus, and positive reinforcement training using treats. Avoid tactics which risk injuring dogs.

How can I stop neighborhood dogs from barking at my yard?

Reduce what attracts them like food sources or other pets. Install an ultrasonic dog repeller which emits a startling sound when barking occurs. Plant dense bushes and hedges to visually block your yard. Keep curtains drawn.

Why do stray dogs come into my yard?

Strays come looking for food, water, shelter and even the company of other pets. Eliminate these attractants in your yard. Talk to neighbors about stopping feeding strays and report cruel cases of abandonment to animal control.

How can I keep stray dogs away at night?

Motion activated lighting and sprinklers will deter nighttime wanderers. Make sure gates are latched and perimeter fences are intact. Don’t leave pet food accessible. Clean up fallen fruit and secure trash cans to remove late night food sources.

What smells deter dogs from yards?

Smells that dogs dislike include ammonia, vinegar, citrus oils, mustard oil, garlic, capsaicin, eucalyptus oil and predator urine. Check any plant toxicity before applying oils directly. Reapply repellent smells frequently.

What plants keep dogs away?

Thorny, prickly plants with strong scents can naturally repel dogs. Great choices include rose bushes, hollies, firethorn bushes, junipers, lavender, marigolds, chives, daffodils or cacti. Avoid poisonous plants.

Will cayenne pepper keep dogs out of my yard?

Yes, cayenne pepper can be an effective dog repellent. Mix cayenne powder with water and vinegar and spray around the perimeter of your yard and any problem areas. Reapply after rain before the smell fades. Don