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Even the most ardent animal lover can become frustrated by stray dogs and cats visiting their yard. Stray animals can become a real nuisance as they search for food, digging up lawns and gardens and leaving excrement in your recreational areas.

If you’re constantly being bothered by unwanted animals, try one of these effective ways to keep stray dogs and cats out of your yard:

1) Fencing

Small vegetable garden with risen beds in the fenced backyard near house.
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Secure fencing is the best way to keep stray dogs and cats out of your yard. Install a solid, high fence around your yard, ensuring there are no gaps or weak spots that animals can exploit to enter. To stop cats from climbing over, install anti-cat spikes on the top.

2) Motion-Activated Sprinklers

Garden lawn water sprinkler system.
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Motion-activated sprinklers detect movement and spray a burst of water, deterring stray animals without causing them any harm. Just don’t forget to turn them off when you want to spend time in your yard, or you may get an unexpected cold shower!

3) Ultrasonic Repellents

Close-up of the ultrasonic, solar-powered mole repellent or repeller device in the soil in a vegetable bed in the garden. Device with beeping to keep out pests.
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Ultrasonic repellents emit high-frequency sounds that are inaudible to humans but highly unpleasant to animals. They can be left switched on all the time to repel dogs and cats from your yard. However, this is not a good option if you have pets of your own.

4) Remove Food Sources

Woman throwing compost with kitchen waste
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Stray animals are often attracted to the smell of food waste and will come into your yard for a tasty snack. Avoid leaving pet food, bird seed, or other food items outside that might attract stray animals, and ensure your trash cans have tight-fitting lids. If you compost, make sure your compost pile is secure and not accessible to stray animals.

5) Use Natural Repellents

A bottle of essential oil with fresh blooming lavender.
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Cats and dogs are highly sensitive to odors and can be repelled using many natural aromas. Use essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender, or lemongrass diluted in water and spray the solution around your yard, or create a homemade pepper spray solution using hot chili peppers and water. Citrus peels, coffee grounds, vinegar, and soap sprays can also be used to deter dogs and cats.

6) Create a Barrier with Plants

A close up of White flowers of a common privet (Ligustrum vulgare) hedge.
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Use plants and bushes to create a natural barrier that keeps dogs and cats out of your yard and garden. Plant a hedge using dense or thorny bushes such as boxwood, privet, holly, and rose along the perimeter of your yard that deter animals from pushing through. Specific herbs and flowers are known to repel cats and dogs, including lavender, rue, pennyroyal, and Coleus canina.

7) Chicken Wire or Mesh

Cute guard dog behind fence, barking.
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Dogs and cats dislike the feel of wire mesh under their feet and will avoid areas where it is laid on the ground. This is a great solution for garden beds or areas where animals might dig. Chicken wire can also be used at the base of garden fences to stop cats and dogs from tunneling underneath.

8) Use Commercial Repellents

Spraying pesticide from a plastc garden aerosol can.
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There are many types of commercial animal repellents available at garden centers or pet stores. These often come in spray or granular forms and can be spread around your yard or at key entry points. Pet repellents often mimic the scent of a larger predator, such as coyote urine.

9) Block Entry Points

One brown dog stands and looks between the green wooden planks of an old broken fence on the street.
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Taking the time to block up key entry points is often enough to convince local dogs and cats to move on elsewhere. Inspect your yard for gaps in hedges, under fences, or in other areas where animals could enter, and block these up wherever possible.

10) Sound Deterrents

Gold wind chimes.
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Stray dogs and cats are easily spooked by unfamiliar sounds and will quickly move on elsewhere. Hang wind chimes, old CDs, or metal strips that create noise with the wind. The unfamiliar sounds can scare away stray animals.

11) Reflective Tape

Bright reflective tape on dark background. Reflective slap hand band.
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Reflected light can startle dogs and cats, deterring them from entering your yard. Hang strips of reflective tape around the perimeter of the yard or along external fencing.

12) Spray Water

Gardener is watering a garden bed by a water sprinkler close up.
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When relaxing in your yard, keep a spray bottle filled with water handy and use it to spray stray animals that enter your yard. The garden hose can also work well, but make sure the water jet is not too powerful. Over time, they may learn to associate your yard with an unpleasant experience.

13) Artificial Predators

African owl inhabits central and southern Africa.
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Statues or decoys of predators can scare off stray dogs and cats looking for a safe area to relax. Place ornamental owls or hawks in key locations around the yard, moving them regularly to keep up the illusion that they are the real thing.

14) Noise-Making Devices

Speaker be installed in the garden.
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Consider installing devices that emit a loud noise when triggered by motion to startle and deter animals from entering your yard. Ensure the device is placed well away from any neighbors who may object to the noise.

15) Gravel

Growing vegetables in a kitchen garden.
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Dogs and cats find gravel uncomfortable to walk on and will avoid it whenever possible. Create gravel pathways or add decorative gravel to ornamental beds to stop stray animals from digging.

16) Remove Shelters

beautiful backyard garden
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Eliminate any potential shelters in your yard, such as piles of wood, dense shrubbery, or open sheds where animals might seek refuge.

17) Electric Fences

Insulator of an electric fence.
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For more persistent strays, consider installing a pet-safe low-voltage electric fence. This provides a mild shock that deters animals without causing harm.

18) Create a Physical Barrier

Tomato plants with ripe red tomatoes growing outdoors, outside, in a garden in England, UK
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If fencing is not an option, create a temporary physical barrier to keep stray cats and dogs at bay. Install bamboo poles vertically in the ground, cover garden beds with netting, and use lattice or trellis work to create barriers in areas where animals are likely to enter.

19) Speak to Animal Control

Smiling volunteers of animals shelter squatting and palming labrador.
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Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, stray dogs and cats keep on finding their way into our yards. It is important to remember that these animals deserve a chance at finding a good home of their own, so if you are sure that your garden visitors are homeless it is worth speaking to your local animal control center or the ASPCA for advice.

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