You step outside for a breath of fresh morning air, but your yawn quickly turns into a groan. There’s that stray dog again, and from the looks of your lawn, he’s been digging for hours before you got up.
Later that afternoon, you peer outside your window and spot your neighbor walking his dog past your house. Suddenly he stops and watches as his dog sniffs around your yard before doing its business right on your favorite shrub.
And you’d rather not think about the patches of dead grass that border your sidewalk, killed by months and months of daily dog pee.
Dogs are great, but there’s no denying the havoc they can wreak on your lawn. It’s even worse if it’s not your dog causing the destruction, which can make it feel like there’s nothing you can do.
But don’t give up! There are several tried-and-true ways to keep dogs out of your yard, whether they’re on a leash or roaming free.
Keep Dogs Off Your Lawn with Common Household Ingredients
You’ve probably got these cooking and cleaning staples in your home already, making them super-convenient dog repellant options.
And if you don’t have them, no worries — they’re available in every grocery store and are very affordable!
A dog’s sense of smell is its perhaps its most valuable asset.
With over 300 million scent receptors, a dog’s nose is up to 100,000 times stronger than ours. And in terms of relative size, the scent-processing part of a dog’s brain is 40 times larger than ours.
So it follows that things that smell strong to us can be absolutely overpowering to dogs. Perhaps that’s why so many canines hate the smell of vinegar.
White vinegar can be purchased by the gallon for just a few dollars. Unscrew that cap and you’re likely to get a little lightheaded from that unmistakable acidic scent.
And your dog is likely to scramble out of the room and get as far away as possible!
You can use this sensitivity to your advantage by spraying the perimeter of your property with vinegar. Any passing dogs will know to keep walking rather than stop and sniff your lawn — the smell is just too strong.
But be careful not to get vinegar on any grass or plants you care about. It’s extremely acidic and can throw off soil pH, burn leaves and, in some cases, kill plants.
Concentrate the spray on fences, rocks, the sides of planters and sidewalks instead. You’ll need to reapply it every couple of weeks or after it rains, as the smell fades over time.
Once the neighborhood dogs associate your property with the smell of vinegar, they’ll know not to mess with it. Vinegar also works to repel cats, rabbits, and many other creatures.
Ammonia repels dogs in the same way that vinegar does. The smell overpowers the dog’s sensitive nose and encourages the animal to get far away from your lawn.
It’s also a popular way to keep raccoons and other pests out of your garbage. Spraying a little ammonia into the can and on the bags will ward off any critters looking for a snack.
But you’ll need to be very careful using ammonia, as unlike vinegar, it’s highly toxic if ingested. Spray lightly and carefully, making sure to avoid getting it on any plants you’d like to survive.
And as with vinegar, you’ll need to reapply ammonia after it rains or every couple of weeks as the smell dissipates.
Cayenne pepper is a quick and easy way to add a little heat to many dishes. It’s also a quick and easy way to keep dogs off your lawn.
Dogs are highly sensitive to capsaicin, the compound found in cayenne pepper and other hot peppers that lend them their signature spiciness. In fact, dogs don’t even need to ingest pepper to feel the heat — they can smell it in the air!
Sprinkle a little cayenne pepper along the edge of your lawn to keep the neighborhood dogs at bay. You can also mix some cayenne pepper into water and spray the perimeter of your property with it.
As with the two previous methods, you’ll need to reapply the pepper periodically.
And if you use dry powder, be aware that you may notice more birds than usual in your yard. Birds love peppers but aren’t affected by capsaicin at all, which means you may be putting out a smorgasbord of treats for your feathered neighbors.
We humans love ourselves some citrus. Lemon, orange, grapefruit, lime… wherever it comes from, it smells and tastes delicious.
But dogs don’t share our love of citrus at all. On the contrary, citrus fruits make fantastic dog deterrents — that’s how bad they smell to dogs!
Many people report the strongest dog repelling effects come from citrus rinds and skins. It makes sense: fresh fruit contains the most citrus oil.
But lining your yard with rotting fruit isn’t likely to win you any points with your neighbors. And leaving orange peels and lemon rinds out in the open is a good way to attract raccoons and other wild pests.
Instead, you can make a spray with bottled citrus oil, lemon juice, grapefruit extract or other citrus-derived liquids. Dilute it heavily with water — it doesn’t need to be super-strong to us to be super-strong to dogs.
Then spray around your property as you would with vinegar or ammonia. Most plants can tolerate a little bit of citrus, but you should still try to avoid them as much as possible so they’re not harmed by the acid.
Reapply the citrus spray after rain, every couple of weeks or when you notice that dogs are no longer deterred by the smell.
Commercial Products that Keep Dogs Out of Your Yard
If you’d prefer a product that’s designed specifically to repel dogs, you have several options. These range from commercial sprays to specialized gadgets, so there’s sure to be one that fits your needs.
Attach a motion-activated sprinkler like the Hoont Cobra Yard to your garden hose, place it in your yard and wait.
When a dog, cat, raccoon or any other animal approaches it, it’ll spring to life with a spray of water. The sudden motion and soaking spray will startle the animal and teach it a lesson: don’t come into this yard!
There are a couple of pitfalls with the sprinkler method, though. You’ll need to set it up just right so that it doesn’t soak the mailman or anyone passing by on the sidewalk.
Sprinklers won’t work if temperatures fall below freezing, so you’ll need a secondary repellent for use during the winter.
And if the dog you’re trying to deter loves water, well, you may have just made your yard more attractive, not less!
Commercial Dog Repellent Sprays and Granules
These products are formulated with citrus, pepper and other ingredients that dogs hate. They’re more convenient than homemade solutions and have been well-tested for efficacy and safety.
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Ultrasonic Animal Deterrents
Devices like the Yard Gard produce ultrasonic frequencies that humans can’t hear but dogs can. The noise is unpleasant to their ears and convinces them to stay away.
Ultrasonic deterrents can be adjusted to work on many different animals, not just dogs.
But they shouldn’t be used if you or your close neighbors have pets. The sound doesn’t discriminate between wanted and unwanted animals — it’ll affect any dog in its vicinity.
When used appropriately, though, ultrasonic animal repellents are effective and affordable solutions for keeping dogs out of your yard.
"If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two."
-- Phil Pastoret