Yapping at Your Fence? How to Keep Neighbors’ Dogs Off Your Lawn

Understanding Why Dogs Enter Your Yard

There are several natural reasons dogs may enter your yard uninvited:

  • Dogs have natural instincts to explore and mark their territory. According to a study by Warembourg et al. (2021), dog roaming behavior has been observed worldwide as dogs seek to patrol and survey their surrounding areas (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2021.617900).
  • Some dogs exhibit scavenging behavior and will enter yards searching for food or interesting smells.
  • Lack of containment or supervision by owners can lead to well-meaning but bothersome dog trespassing. Research shows roaming increases when dogs are allowed to move freely without restraints (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7970034/).

Understanding a dog’s motivations can help guide solutions. While instinctual, their yard intrusions can often be prevented with proper containment and training by owners.

Talking to Your Neighbors

a person politely talking to their neighbor about their dog

The first step in resolving issues with neighbors’ dogs coming into your yard is to have a polite discussion with your neighbors. Go over and talk to them in a friendly, calm manner to explain the problems you’ve been having.

Let them know specifically when and how often their dog comes into your yard, and any issues this causes like damaged plants, fences, or flower beds. Explain that you would like them to better control and supervise their pet when letting them outside.

Suggest working together to find a solution, like only letting the dog out on a leash or into a fenced area. Remain positive and focus on finding a collaborative fix, rather than blaming them. Refer to local noise ordinances or leash laws if needed. Say you hope they will be mindful of your yard, and you can both be good neighbors.

According to tips from the American Kennel Club, open communication is key when approaching neighbors about barking dogs (https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/neighbors-dog-barks-constantly/). Maintain a friendly, solution-oriented tone. With luck, that should resolve the problem.

Using Physical Barriers

One of the most effective ways to keep neighbors’ dogs out of your yard is to install physical barriers that block their access. Fences are the most common type of barrier used. According to https://www.ergeon.com/blog/post/best-fences-for-pet-owners, some of the best fences for preventing dogs from entering your property include:

a sturdy backyard fence preventing dogs from entering

  • Wood privacy fences – These tall solid fences prevent dogs from seeing into your yard.
  • Chain link fences – While less visually appealing, these relatively inexpensive fences make it difficult for dogs to find gaps or weak points.
  • Wrought iron fences – Decorative but still sturdy, these fences can keep determined dogs out of your yard.

You can also install locking gates at entry points to prevent dogs from pushing through an open gate. In terms of landscaping, thorny bushes like roses, blackberry bushes, holly plants, and pyracantha can deter dogs from trying to force their way through.

When selecting barriers, consider the size and athleticism of the neighbor’s dog. A small terrier may have an easy time squeezing through gaps that a larger dog cannot. Do your research to find the most secure option.

Trying Natural Dog Repellents

Using natural dog repellents can be an effective way to deter your neighbors’ dogs from entering your yard without causing them harm. Natural repellents rely on certain smells dogs dislike to encourage them to avoid the area. Some common active ingredients in natural dog repellents include:

natural citrus-based dog repellent spray

Citrus oils – Dogs tend to dislike the smell of lemon, orange, grapefruit etc. You can make DIY spray repellents using the peels or essential oils of these fruits. Spray around the perimeter of your yard or on areas dogs frequent to repel them. For example, see this article on citrus-based homemade dog repellents.

Vinegar – The strong smell of vinegar is unappealing to dogs. You can mix vinegar with water or citrus oils in a spray bottle and apply liberally where dogs enter the yard. Be sure to use an outdoor-friendly vinegar that won’t harm plants. Here’s a vinegar dog repellent recipe.

Herbal oils – Oils from plants like lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus etc. can deter dogs when used in sprays or sachets. The strong herbal smell overwhelms their sensitive noses. See products using these oils.

Motion activated sprinklers – These sprinklers detect movement and spray water to startle dogs. They are harmless but provide a distraction and deterrent. Place them where dogs enter and escape being sprayed to make your yard unappealing.

With regular reapplication, these natural repellents can effectively make your yard unappealing so fewer dogs enter unchecked. They offer safe ways to set boundaries without harming any animals.

Installing Dog Deterrents

Installing deterrent devices designed specifically to keep dogs out of your yard can be an effective solution. Here are some of the most common dog deterrent systems to consider:

Underground/Above Ground Ultrasonic Devices: These devices emit high-frequency sounds that are unpleasant and irritating to dogs but inaudible to humans. Popular brands like Dog Dazer II or Modus can be installed underground around the perimeter of your yard or attached to fences. The sound will activate when dogs enter the protected area.

Static Correction Systems: These systems feature wires buried underground that deliver a mild but startling static shock when a dog steps on them, like the PetSafe Stubborn Dog In-Ground Fence. The shock is harmless but deters dogs from entering the yard.

Spike Mats: Less high-tech devices like plastic or metal spike mats placed around your yard’s entrance can deter dogs from stepping onto your property. The blunt spikes are uncomfortable but don’t pierce the dog’s skin. Brands like Dig Defence are designed specifically to be dog-safe.

When installing any deterrent, be sure to mount or place it securely so it can’t be easily destroyed or removed. Also check that the system won’t impact other animals like your own pets. With proper use, these devices can effectively teach neighborhood dogs to avoid trespassing in your yard.

Using Aversive Training Tools

Aversive training tools use negative reinforcement to try to deter dogs from entering your yard. Some examples include:

  • Citronella spray collars – These collars automatically spray a burst of citronella scent when a dog approaches the boundary. The scent is unpleasant for dogs and aims to deter them from going further. Some popular citronella spray collar brands are PetSafe and SportDog.

  • Sonic collars – These collars emit an ultrasonic tone when a dog nears the boundary. The high-frequency sound is intended to deter dogs from moving forward. Popular brands include Garmin and PetSafe.

  • Pet corrector compressed air – When activated, these handheld canisters emit a hiss of compressed air similar to a snake. It startles dogs and aims to interrupt unwanted behavior. The Company of Animals Pet Corrector is a popular option.

While these tools can help deter neighbor dogs, they should be used carefully under supervision. The stimuli could increase stress or provoke aggressive reactions in some dogs. Proper timing and consistency is key. It’s best to consult a certified professional dog trainer.

Trying Distractions and Diversions

One humane approach to keeping dogs out of your yard is to try distracting them with toys, treats or their favorite person calling them home. Here are some methods you can try:

  • Place balls, squeaky toys and other fun objects in your own yard to lure the dogs to play there instead of in your yard. Rotate the toys to keep it interesting.
  • Throw treats back into the neighbor’s yard to encourage their dog to go back home for a tasty reward. Use healthy treats that will keep the dog motivated.
  • If you know the dog’s name, call it happily and excitedly to get their attention. When they look, toss a treat into the neighbor’s yard so they associate going home with getting a reward.
  • Ask the neighbor if you can keep treats by your door so you can call and reward their dog for going back home rather than into your yard.

The key is making your yard uninteresting but making their own yard fun and rewarding. With consistency, you can train most dogs to understand where they should and shouldn’t be.Rotate toys and treats to keep it novel and be patient – it may take time for the conditioning to sink in.

Hiring a Dog Trainer

Another effective solution can be to hire a professional dog trainer. An experienced trainer can work directly with your neighbors’ dogs to teach them to avoid going into your yard. According to How Much Does Dog Training Cost? on Rover.com, private lessons with a trainer typically cost between $45-120 per hour session

a dog trainer working with dogs in a yard

Dog trainers use positive reinforcement techniques to teach dogs commands and behaviors. They can work on training the dogs to have better “recall” so they come when called instead of entering your yard. Trainers can also utilize “place” commands to teach the dogs to go to a designated spot instead of your property.

A consultation with a knowledgeable dog trainer can provide guidance on the most effective solutions for your specific situation. They can evaluate the dogs and yard setup and make recommendations on deterrents, training techniques, and boundary solutions tailored to your needs.

Investing in professional training can resolve the issue by addressing the underlying behavior problems. While hiring a trainer has an upfront cost, it can save money and stress in the long run by quickly and humanely stopping the dogs from entering your yard.

As a Last Resort, Involving Authorities

If other methods have failed to keep neighbors’ dogs out of your yard, you may need to involve local authorities as a last resort. Many municipalities have laws against excessive dog barking and noise that can help address the issue.

First, check if your city or county has any noise or nuisance ordinances that prohibit excessive dog barking, especially during certain nighttime hours. According to Barking Dogs: State and Local Laws That Can Help, these types of laws can forbid loud noises after 10pm or prohibit any “unreasonable” noise.

If so, you can file a complaint with animal control about the barking dogs. According to What Can I Do if My Neighbor’s Animals Are Creating a Problem?, animal control has the authority to investigate barking complaints and issue fines or citations if the local laws are being violated.

In severe cases, animal control may be able to confiscate dogs that are a recurring nuisance. However, this option is usually only exercised after multiple warnings and citations have been issued. The courts can also order the owner to prevent further disturbances, such as keeping the dogs indoors during certain nighttime hours.

While involving the authorities should be a last resort, local noise and nuisance laws provide important tools to address disruptive animals that impact your quality of life and ability to enjoy your own property.

Being Proactive with Your Own Dogs

Before trying to keep the neighbors’ dogs out, make sure you are being a responsible pet owner with your own dogs. This means properly supervising them, securing your yard, and training your dogs.

Whenever your dogs are outside in your yard, supervise them closely to make sure they don’t escape or intrude into the neighbors’ yards. Even if you have a fence, some dogs are adept at digging under or climbing over.

Check that your fencing is adequate and secure with no weak spots or gaps. Make sure gates and latches are sturdy and can’t be knocked open. Consider tethering your dogs while supervised outside. According to the AKC, “Tethering your dog while you’re home is a great way to let them enjoy the fresh air while still keeping them safe and out of trouble.” https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/how-to-keep-a-dog-from-escaping-the-yard/

Obedience train your dogs so they will come when called and stay when told, even when distractions are present. Work on reinforcing boundaries so they learn which yards are off limits.

Make sure your dogs are licensed and wearing ID tags so they can be easily identified if they do end up in the wrong yard. Being proactive with your own pets first is the neighborly thing to do.

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