Stop Dogs from Using Your Lawn as a Bathroom

by Cris Carl, Networx

Solutions for dealing with the toilet habits of your neighbors’ dogs have a lot to do with your personality. Are you the type to boldly confront people? Are you the “law and order” type who will go to any lengths to bring the culprit to justice with the local animal control officer? Maybe you don’t like confrontation so you try subversive ways of dealing with the problem. Or, are you more likely to be proactive and make use of various types of barriers to prevent the dogs from ever coming into your yard in the first place? Here are a few ideas about how to deal with this messy issue.

Confronting the responsible people

If you can identify the owner of the dog, you can try to have a simple and polite conversation with him. Personally, I have rarely found this to work, but maybe you will have better luck than I’ve had. Generally, if people are letting their dogs run free or are “looking the other way” while on a walk, then they probably could care less about the issue. Plus, depending on the neighbor, it could get ugly.

Yelling at people you catch in action can be effective – or get you in a fight, with someone who has a dog with them.

I did actually stop one boy from letting his dog poop on my tree belt. I photographed him and told him I was going to report him to the dog officer (we have a local ordinance with a $300 fine). I never saw him or his dog again.

  • You can set out web cams to take note of the offending dog(s) and provide the evidence to the authorities.
  • You can post signs, but dogs will often just pee on them.
  • There are some that think placing the offending material back on the property of the dog’s owner will achieve the desired result. While you may feel some satisfaction by returning the favor, so to speak, you are more likely to start a feud with your neighbor.
  • Networx editor Chaya Goodman has a friend who spray paints the offensive matter a Day-Glo color and leaves it on his lawn in order to highlight it to irresponsible dog owners.  This doesn’t suit the aesthetic of many homeowners’ landscaping, but she credits her friend with inventiveness.

Related: The Straight Poop on Dog Poop (Green-Style, That Is)

Deterring the dog

In conversations with friends about the topic of owners not cleaning up after their dogs, I ran into some amazingly strong feelings on the subject. And while it ticks me off too, I don’t recommend shooting at the dog with anything other than perhaps a high-powered water gun. The dog is only doing what comes naturally; it’s not personal. I admit however, to being intrigued by the idea of shooting the dog with a paintball gun to be able to identify him to the dog officer.

Dogs are attracted to smells and surfaces that have the right “paw feel” when looking for a place to do their business.  If you also own a dog, other dogs will be attracted to your yard, drawn by both the smell and the intrinsic desire to “mark” a territory. Not only do you need to clean up really well after your own pet, you may need to use deterrent products around the perimeter of your yard.

  • The dogs may be attracted to the kind of fertilizer you use in your flower and vegetable beds, so you may want to periodically change it up. Dogs can be attracted to both organic and chemical fertilizers.
  • If you have lawn sprinklers, vary the time of the watering. Dogs don’t tend to go for wet areas when there are dry ones around.
  • Also, be aware of keeping attractive areas, such as garbage cans or compost bins, as clean and tidy as possible.

Related: Dogs: Worse for the Environment than SUVs?

Perimeter deterrents

There are numerous products on the market that come in the form of sprays, liquids, and granules. A popular product is called “Liquid Fence,” for example. Most products are non-toxic and biodegradable. Some have offensive odors to both dogs and people, while others have odors only offensive to dogs. You can also sprinkle chili powder or cayenne pepper around the edges of your yard. The catch is keeping up with consistent applications of whatever you are applying, such as after a rain.

There are “sonic” solutions that may work to keep dogs out of your yard. These machines may work, but they will also keep other critters such as birds out of your yard too.

Lastly, you can also go whole hog and put a fence around your yard. You will still need to regularly check the fence perimeter, as determined dogs will dig right under them.

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Aud Nordby
Aud nordby2 years ago


Edvanir L.
Edvanir L.2 years ago

I don't like to see so many dog's poop on the streets, specially when I step on it! Unfortunately, despite the laws we have, people keep "forgetting" it. But being aggressive is not a good solution. I have a question for the author: Do you have or ever had a dog?

In my neighborhood there are a man who screams at people who let their dogs go onto his building lawn. It doesn't matter if they poop - he just screams. It's annoying! And honestly I don't think that being a lawn guardian is worthy. There are more things to be done in life then scream at people because something so small.

Edvanir L.
Edvanir L.2 years ago

Annamari L, I loved your comment!! Unfortunately, care2 only aloud us give one per day, and I did it already.

Natasha Salgado
Natasha Salgado2 years ago

All i want to say is please don't hate on the dogs or blame them. Take out your frustrations on the ignorant guardians if poop is left on your property/garden!! Thank you

Joan S.
JC S.3 years ago

I live on a moderately busy street and have worked hard to make my yard look nice. It does irk me to find a dump in the middle of my vegi's. One of my first experiences with a rude dog owner was when I looked up from my weeding and saw this huge dog, on a leash, dumping in the middle of my iris'. I yelped and asked the woman please don't let him go on my plants. She replied, "What's the matter? Don't you like dogs?" - I replied, "No, not when they are pooping on my garden!" She looked at me in disgust. I don't blame the dogs I blame their owners.

Kristina C.
Kristina C.3 years ago

Thank youf or the article - but I am not so sure about the solutions. First I don't think that it is such a big deal if someones dog uses my gras. We all should not even have these manicured nightmares of pesticide infected lawns in our front yards!
There are leash laws everywhere - and if talking to the pet owners does not help - well I am not punishing the dogs and cats. There are probably much more roaming cats than dogs.

Please sign my petition:

K s Goh
KS Goh3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Vanessa S.
Vanessa S.4 years ago

People can be so rude

Catherine B.
Cath B.4 years ago

Of course, Howard - you are certainly right. And thank you for your course of action. Excellent.
I do think sometimes people just like to annoy others and it is of them we vent our frustration of their behaviour toward us and the rest of our community, because that is what it feels like, when they deliberately dont have respect for everyone else. :-)

Howard C.
.4 years ago

Chaya, I have read your post with interest. I always clear up after my dog, I also often clean up after other people's dogs. You may think that I am strange doing this - may I tell you why? I spend my working life counselling people who have lost their sons/daughters/spouses in conflicts overseas - Iraq/Afganistan. Dog poo pales to insignificances against the loss of a loved one, picking it up takes seconds and protects those who might be harmed by it. There will be always be those who aren't as thoughtful as we might wish they were, accomodate them, you never know, maybe they are forgiving of some of the things you do. There are very, very few of us who don't do something that annoys others!