I have a house that enters into an alley. With the snow, I can see all the tracks from the dog(s) that come into my yard. Today, I saw a few piles of dog feces that I had to clean up before coming into work.

I do not see human foot prints around where the dog prints are, which leads me to believe that the dog is roaming free, likely at night or during the day when I work. I can't exactly call Animal Control since I don't know what the dog looks like or when it's around.

Short of setting up a fence, how can I get dogs that I do not own or see from coming into my yard and defecating? I need a solution that can be left out in the cold (hand held devices or battery operated devices are out), which means -35c style temperatures (after factoring in the wind chill).

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    Cause it's right beside my foot path to my vehicle Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 6:53
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    @JDługosz I don't think it's unreasonable for him to not want dog feces in his garden Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 12:56
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    Why do you dismiss the only option likely to work (a fence)? Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 13:51
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    @mawg nope, zoos are actually banned in my city for some reason... Closest one is 600 km Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 15:42
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    @Jack because we can't put a fence up in winter, and because it's a shared driveway the dog enters from Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 15:43

9 Answers 9


You could pee around the perimeter that you want to mark as yours.

Source: Personal experience: I had a neighboring dog who would bark like crazy when I approached the fence separating our yards. Eventually I peed along the side of the fence, and he was the quietest dog ever after.

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    +1 to marking your territory in a language that dogs understand. In my case, a neighboring dog regularly left her scat on my deck. after marking my territory, she stopped completely. Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 15:14
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    Strangely enough, I see the dog tracks come up to the area I "marked", then go away... Not even crossing it! Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 18:34
  • @CanadianLuke LOL! pretty awesome, isn't it? Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 20:45
  • Trying to picture someone just casually pissing around the lawn to apply a fresh new coat of dog repellent to the grass.
    – fhcimolin
    Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 18:14

Try bitter apple spray. It's a dog deterrent typically used to prevent chewing but I bet if you put it in a sprayer (like the ones used for weed spray) and went around the perimeter it would discourage them.

Bitter apple spray is not toxic to dogs, just doesn't taste/smell good to them.

Source: kept my puppy from eating my stairs, my dining room trim, coffee table, etc.

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    Does it wash away in rain? +1
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 19:58
  • I have not tried it outside but I have never had to reapply it even after washing my stairs. One lick was enough for my dog. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 19:59
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    Bitter apple is not going to work outdoors. Specially with snow.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 1:48
  • Bitter apple is designed to be usable on a dog's own body. It doesn't have a smell -- just a flavor that some dogs find unpleasant.
    – user19211
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 6:37
  • I understand chile-based approaches are often used as well. That may persist better in the elements (and also may be cheaper to reapply).
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 20:35

Motion activated sprinklers deter everything, are non lethal, and their effects easy to localize.

Lowe's has an "Orbit Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated 1600-sq ft Sprinkler" for less than $20USD.

You mention snow, and for obvious reasons this solution isn't suitable when temperatures get below freezing.

Even with this limitation, keep in mind that it won't be below freezing forever and if you start training the dogs/cats/raccoons/girlscouts as soon as the weather warms up, they will remember the unpleasant effects and continue to avoid the area next winter.

  • Might want some kind of remote control or something as well to disable it -- (i.e. so that it doesn't hit you when you get out of your car) -- [you could try using those home automation plugs, like for X10, or ZWave, etc. -- there's a million of them out there -- one of them should be able to do what you need.] -- Might even be worth considering dosing the sprinkler water with that bitter apple spray mentioned a few answers up. :) Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 23:43

There is no effective, legal way to do this. It's a problem older than Animal Control, leash laws (or equivalent), possibly as old as domestication of dogs. If you don't want to start a war with your neighbors, the only thing you can do without a fence is install an automatic camera so you can identify the dog to Animal Control. This is moderately expensive and only a little effective (many locations have cut Animal Control budgets to the point of having only a single officer for a county and no maintenance budget for equipment).

Best I can suggest is bite the bullet and put up a high, sturdy fence. The saying is so old the English version is a translation from either Latin or Greek (not sure which): "Good fences make good neighbors."

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    Cameras are not expensive. A few years ago I bought an obsolete model of “game cam” for a few bucks; you might have (or want) a GoPro anyway. I like the idea of photographing them and making the owners accountable.
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 6:49
  • @JDługosz Many "obsolete" game cameras (and even many current models) are night vision and monochrome -- not much good for identifying a particular dog. Certainly not good enough for evidence to an overworked Animal Control. And I wouldn't want to leave a new GoPro anywhere visible while I'm asleep or away at work. Burglary bait, even if it's indoors.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 12:07

I would like to see Snopes take on this one. Reported on line as being used in Los Angeles, I have actually seen in in Melbourne, Australia.

I couldn’t believe my eyes as I walked down a nice suburban street, with single homes, each with a neatly manicured front lawn – each with a plastic Coke bottle, filled with water, standing at each corner. I asked my cousin (a native) what in Hades was going on and she just shrugged and said nonchalantly, “yeah, keeps the dogs form crappin’ on yer lawn, dunnit?”

big water bottles

I BEG you to run a scientific test of this and let us know if it works.

[Update] after a little research, Docotr Greenfingers attempes to explain it:

Ever wondered why people put bottles on there lawns? You may have been told its to keep cats away and its true. But does it work and how? First of all we must half fill a clear plastic bottle with water .( Its very important to fill half full of water. ) Put lid on and place in the middle of the lawn. If you have a big lawn then put a few about. Leave out and see if it works! Cats are suppose to be scared away by the bottle, but how you ask? It works best at night and if there a breeze. Take a light say from a street lamp, car or one of your windows. This light travels through the bottle and the water which is then reflected away like laser beams in different directions giving off little flashes. The cat sees these flashes and Zap! He's away. There you have it so go out and try it out on your lawn.

OTOH, Cats Away declares it to be a myth.

And the Snopes jury is out - undetermined.

Please, for the sake of humainity, you have to conduct experiemnts and report back to us.

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    The open-container variant is an excellent way to breed mosquitoes. Awful idea in warmer climes (and colder ones). Confirmation bias is probably the main reason this idea is popular. It's a strong force, according to many studies cited here. Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 20:22
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    Does it works with water ice ? :)
    – Antzi
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 7:06
  • Plus one, since OP is “Canadian Luke”, it might well be ice, much of the year. In my opinion, ice will work exactly as well as water :-)
    – Mawg
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 8:02
  • @MatthewElvey might not the mosquitos drive off the dogs?
    – Mawg
    Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 6:57
  • Dogs are bothered by mosquitoes? Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 18:43

There are some sound based cat deterrent items, which may also work against dogs.

A short internet search showed Cat Repellent, Mega sonic cat repellent, Ultrasonic Cat deterrent, and several more. They have different settings for different animals, when mentioned dogs are always in the list.

Some emit sound all the time, others only when an animal is detected.

With the information of those sellers you can make your own, with a speaker that emits a very high sound, keep it beyond what even children can hear if you have neighbours with kids. If you are smart with machines you might even be able to have it work only when a camera detects a dog in the area.

  • You often have to go quite high to stop it from distressing very young children; sometimes in excess of 28kHz.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 21:03
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    Ultrasonic waves can propagate in unpredictable ways; such a device could terrorize the neighbor's pets without you knowing it (or them knowing what's causing it). I would also have concerns about causing hearing damage to any wandering dogs; I would hope the goal is to humanely deny access, not repel at all costs.
    – user371366
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 8:03
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    If I needed one I would personally buy an approved commercial one, but we are on lifehacks here and people do appreciate 'make it yourself' options.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 15:48
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    Not if your diy version could cause more distress or even injury to uninvolved animals than intended! ... Also mind that a lot of audio playback equipment is technically INCAPABLE (sometimes just inefficient, sometimes completely incapable) of going above certain frequency limits. Hard limit: half the sample rate (so it would be 22KHz for an audio CD player or 44kHz sound card, 48KHz for a 96KHz sound card) if any digital stuff is involved. Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 11:36

From Natural Products to Stop Dogs From Pooping in the Yard

No one wants to step in pile of dog poop. If a canine is a member of your family, poop piles are expected. But with the aid of some natural deterrents, you can encourage pooping in certain areas of the yard. If poop in your yard comes from neighborhood dogs, these same deterrents can help. Natural products provide a safe alternative to harsh chemicals and are typically safe around children as well. White dog waiting on a driveway in suburban neighborhood Small dog standing beside yard credit: Nuli_k/iStock/Getty Images All-Natural Commercial Dog Repellent Products

Outdoor commercial deterrents are available at your local pet supply, grocery or hardware stores. These products use natural ingredients that are safe for animals as well as for any vegetation in your yard. They repel dogs through an unpleasant odor, taste or feel. They typically come in granules or sprayable liquids, and they produce an unpleasant scent that helps keep dogs from pooping in the area. The downside to these is that the scent lasts for a only few weeks, so regular application, including after rain, is necessary. Mix Your Own Homemade Deterrents

If you do not want to purchase commercial products, your kitchen may already have natural deterrents that will keep dogs from pooping in your yard. Chili pepper, sprinkled around the area, irritates the skin and noses of dogs, keeping them at bay. Other natural products that have distinct odors that are very offensive to a dog’s sensitive nose include ammonia and vinegar. Unfortunately, both of these can kill vegetation if poured directly on them. Soak cotton balls with vinegar or ammonia and place the cotton balls throughout your yard. As with commercial deterrents, homemade deterrents need regular application. Apply Alternative Landscaping

If you are looking for a long-term deterrent, alternative landscaping is an option. Certain plants, such as aloe, holly and berry vines, have sharp edges and thorns that a dog will not want to venture through. Pine cone mulch provides a rough surface that may be too much for a dog’s feet. In terms of scent deterrents, the Coleus canina plant, also known as “Dogs Be Gone" or "Scaredy Cat,” gives off an offensive odor that keeps most animals out. The smell of this plant is described as that of licorice or nicotine, and sometimes like skunk scent. Water as a Natural Deterrent

Another natural deterrent stops dogs from pooping in your yard and waters your foliage at the same time. Two watering options include changing your watering schedule and sensor sprinklers. If you have a regular stray dog that seems to take regular bathrooms breaks in your yard, consider making that dog's time of day your watering time. The offending dog will not want to venture in and get wet. Motion-detector sprinklers work well. Place them in areas you want to keep poop-free. When an animal approaches, the sensor turns a sprinkler on. This startles the dog, gets him wet, and sends him on his way. Other motion-activated devices emit high-pitched sounds or bursts or air instead of water to deter animals that venture close.

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    Just because something is natural does not mean it is safe: snake venom and stomach acid come to mind.
    – user2021
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 14:42
  • Agreed, but the OP did not ask for safe ;-)
    – Mawg
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 14:51
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    I don’t know about aloe, but none of my dogs has ever hesitated to explore around blackberry thorns or holly leaves.
    – VGR
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 18:31
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    I tried red pepper to keep dog off a red rug… he went and licked it up. Pure bunk: there is no universal deterrent.
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 7:07
  • Plus one ot both of you, for proving that dogz are thick :-) Perhaps a deterent might be a pile of dead dogs? Only joking; they are as distinct as humans, and it is unlikely that there is a single solution.
    – Mawg
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 7:54

There are chemical animal repellents that you can spray that might work. The active ingredient is methyl nonyl ketone, which is found in a number of edible plants and has a strong smell somewhat reminiscent of cilantro. I've only ever used it indoors, so I don't know how well it would wear outside.

As far as its effectiveness, well, YMMV. It made my cats sprint out of the room, but my dogs just rolled around in it.


I've had a good deal of success with ordinary, ground pepper sprinkled on the ground. I don't know how viable this would be in snow though! The experience is very unpleasant for the pooch, and it will soon learn not to come back.

  • I had a dog that simply licked up the red (cyanne) pepper and white pepper I tried putting down. He did sneeze a lot, though, but that did not stop him.
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 7:08
  • @JDługosz Try Carolina Reaper next time. insanely hot pepper Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 5:56

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