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Dog Repellents

How to Keep Dogs Away From Yards

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Picture of the Scarecrow Sprinkler

Picture of the Scarecrow Sprinkler.

David Beaulieu

The need for effective dog repellents is clear to all those long-suffering folks who, although not dog owners, are nonetheless forced to deal with the unpleasant task of dog waste disposal. Below I consider some of the best approaches known to keep dogs away from yards, without harming them in any way. Broadly speaking, we can label all of these diverse approaches as "dog repellents," since they are all designed to repel unwanted canine intruders from a specific area. But I'll also provide examples of commercial products more narrowly associated with that label, namely, products that come in a can and are sprinkled or sprayed on the ground to keep dogs away.

Dog Repellents Applied as Powders, Granules or Sprays

One problem with the products that are sprinkled or sprayed on the ground is that you will have to reapply them after a rain and/or as the strength of their odor diminishes over time. On the upside, though, two examples in this class are available right off the kitchen shelf, saving you a trip to the home improvement center:

  1. Ammonia
  2. Vinegar

Note, however, that neither ammonia nor vinegar should be sprayed directly onto any lawn grass or landscape plants that you care about, as sufficient amounts of them will kill vegetation. In fact, I discuss vinegar as a weed killer elsewhere. Ammonia and vinegar, then, can be thought of as dog repellents to use around the perimeter of your property, forming a stinky, invisible barrier that keeps dogs away.

Dogs also dislike the smell of citrus, leading some homeowners to use orange, grapefruit or lemon peels as dog repellents. While these fruit peels are natural and easy to obtain, their use will probably have to be restricted to backyard garden areas, where they are out of public view.

Commercial Dog Repellents

Get Away® dog repellent makes use of the fact that dogs dislike the smell of citrus. But unlike with orange peels, sprinkling Get Away in the front yard won't create an eyesore. This dog repellent comes in both granule and spray form.

Critter Ridder® is an organic dog repellent put out by the same brain trust behind Havahart traps. Available in both granules and sprays, Critter Ridder works as a dog repellent because it gives off a smell of black pepper, which our canine friends find offensive.

Liquid Fence® works on a different principle. This dog repellent depends on the fact that dogs seek areas with familiar smells in which to do their business. Liquid Fence masks those smells. So instead of repulsing dogs with offensive odors, this product removes the welcome mat, so to speak, thereby discouraging them from conducting "business as usual."

Gadgets That Act as Dog Repellents

Unlike dog repellents that come in powder, granule or spray form, no re-application is required with gadgets like Scarecrow Sprinklers. Just hook one up to your garden hose and let its motion-activated mechanism do the work. Another advantage with this product is that there's no need to take separate control measures against each of the various types of pests with which your yard is challenged: Scarecrow Sprinklers® will repulse garden pests just as surely as they'll keep Fido away.

Yard Gard® is an electronic dog repellent. Like the Scarecrow Sprinkler, it is effective against other pests, as well. But unlike the Scarecrow Sprinkler, you have a choice:

  • Blast would-be pests 24/7
  • Or allow its motion-activated mechanism to alert it when pests approach

This dog repellent works by emitting sonic and ultrasonic sound waves that canines find offensive. Mount it on an outdoor storage shed, tree or fence.

Don't confuse Yard Gard with an underground dog fence: the former keeps dogs away, while the latter keeps them confined. Both emit sound waves that dogs dislike, but underground dog fences are used to keep your own dog from roaming off your property (similar principle, different purpose).

Of course, in addition to dog repellents, don't forget that one option for keeping dogs away from your property may be simply to erect a fence. However, the fence solution often isn't an option in urban areas, where you may have a grassy strip of public land (not part of your own lawn, but still grass you have to mow) that you have to maintain between the street and your own property border. Unfortunately, inconsiderate dog owners will walk their mutts on this strip and not pick up after them. Since you don't own this strip of land, you can't fence it off to keep dogs away. Thus the need for the dog repellents discussed above.

More:

Or perhaps your problem is a different one? If you have a canine companion and are wrestling with such issues as urine stains on your grass, please see my dog landscaping article.

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