How can I keep my neighbor’s pet from coming into my yard

How can I keep my neighbor’s pet from coming into my yardNeighbors who habitually allow their pets to roam freely around the neighborhood can be very frustrating.  Whether the animal is just doing it's business in your yard, causing some kind of damage to your property or frightening your family, pets and other wildlife; dealing with the situation correctly from the beginning can help to ensure that you resolve the issue with the least amount of conflict possible.
Here are some steps you can take to keep your neighbor's pets from coming in your yard:  
Try to understand what the issue is.
In some cases, the neighbor does`n't even know that their pet is leaving their property. A hole in their physical fence, an irresponsible child at home or an issue with their invisible fence could be at fault. These failures actually happen more often than you think without the owners knowledge and the pet returns to the property before the owner even knows it was missing. In these situations, simply alerting the neighbor to the issue is most often all that is needed to resolve it. Often, the neighbor simply doesn't care how his pet roaming the neighborhood negatively affects his neighbors. Most of the time, it's difficult and error prone to try to judge someone's intentions. So, unless you know for a fact otherwise, it's best to give your neighbor the benefit of the doubt.
Don't create an enticing environment for their pet.
Pets will come into your yard for many reasons: they consider it an extension of their territory, to get food, to find things to play with or even just exploring while they pass through. A great place to start your effort of deterring unwanted guests is to remove those things that make it so inviting for a roaming pet: accessible trashcans, dog dishes or other food sources as well as chew toys (or things that inadvertently become them like a Frisbee).
Dealing with "Offensive Gifts" from your neighbor's pets
Many animals, particularly dogs, use their sense of smell to localize where they have "gone potty" before as a means of determining where it's OK to do it again. Therefore, a dog who has left an undesirable present in your yard is more likely to do it again because of their sense of smell. If a neighborhood pet has left you an Offensive Gift, you need to:
Step 2:  Dealing with trespassing neighborsRemove it.
It's tempting to do something retaliatory at this point like throw it into your neighbors yard; or, the worst advice I've seen, package and deliver it with a note to your neighbor's doorstep. It's important to focus on resolving the issue with the least investment of your time. Creating a conflict will make your neighbor much less resistant to finding a joint resolution and could create other more personal problems in this very important relationship. Unless the temporary feeling of being avenged is worth having 10x worse offenses committed by your neighbor against you in the future, avoid retaliation and let a cooler head prevail.
Step 2:  Dealing with trespassing neighborsCover up the smell.
After it's removed, be sure to spray something to effectively cover up the smell for the pet who left it. Just because it's gone doesn't mean they can't still smell it. To be sure, spray a dog/cat repellent on that area (the same that you would use on the perimeter of the yard). A few good examples:
Step 2:  Dealing with trespassing neighborsAnimal repellent fence
Many dogs are "nose to the ground"- meaning they are more interested in following a scent than what they see or even hear. For these kinds of dogs, a very effective deterrent is to use one the above repellents around the perimeter of your property- particularly where the dog tends to enter your property. Be careful to follow the directions and, even if the directions don't say this part, ensure that you test a spot on your yard to be sure that it won't kill your grass before drawing an obvious line around your property. As a less expensive option, you may also want to buy black or cayenne pepper powder and use it as a perimeter. This product tends to wash away faster (the first rain or a heavy dew) as opposed to some of the products designed to last longer (several weeks in some cases).
Understand the city ordinances that may apply.
In many cases, city ordinances govern issues around pets, ownership responsibility and especially leash laws. You should be aware of the ordinances and the specifics of what is considered a violation before attempting to contact the police or discussing the situation with your neighbor. To see the ordinances for your city, you can lookup: City ordinances are usally posted on the city’s website. Use this tool: to find your city’s website. for municipalities
Talking to your neighbor about the issue
It’s likely an uncomfortable thing to do, but talking to your neighbor about the situation is usually the best start and often resolves the situation completely without need for further escalation or expense.
When should you NOT have the discussion?
If your neighbor has a history of overreacting, volatility and especially reacting with violence or retaliation; you should reconsider trying to interact with them one-on-one about the issue. With neighbors like this (or similarly negative personality traits), you should trust your instincts.
Step 2:  Dealing with trespassing neighborsWhy you SHOULD have the discussion.
Most people, however, prefer to have an issue brought to them directly first. Not giving them a chance to respond to your concern before escalating can permanently damage the relationship between you. At times, skipping this step can create a permanently adversarial relationship that can escalate over the years. Even if the initial conversation isn’t effective in resolving the issue, giving the person a chance to resolve it before any escalation is the right thing to do and can help you avoid future issues with just a conversation (because they know that you will escalate), and will help your other neighbors understand that you are just interested in resolving the issue and not “that neighbor” who calls the police or an attorney at the drop of a hat.
How to have an effective discussion with your neighbor.
Try to think about how, if the roles were reversed and your neighbor had to talk with you, how would you prefer they handle it with you? In every part of this discussion with your neighbor, you need to keep your focus on resolving the issue with the least amount of conflict possible.
Step 2:  Dealing with trespassing neighborsMake sure you aren’t over-exaggerating the issue.
Be sure that the issue at hand is worth the potential bad feelings it can create with your neighbor. Assuming that it is, ensure that you have the right perspective on how serious the issue is. Does it cause you and your family harm? Does it cost you money? Does it reduce property values? Is it a matter of mutual respect? You should have clear reasons why you feel it is a problem and be able to concisely state them in the conversation.
Step 2:  Dealing with trespassing neighborsNon-aggressive setting.
If you feel comfortable enough with the neighbor, invite them over for a drink or dinner. Let them know that you want to have a friendly conversation about something; but make it a little social. The action and your words in the conversation need to show them that you care about your relationship and simply want to resolve the issue at hand.
Step 2:  Dealing with trespassing neighborsAssume that they are unaware of the problem.
Often, conversations between neighbors can be strained because there is an assumption that the offending neighbor is intentionally creating a problem; when they are, in fact, unaware that what they are doing is an issue. Bringing it to their attention without asserting malicious intent can often lead to a faster resolution and a better relationship going forward.
Step 2:  Dealing with trespassing neighborsAvoid one-ups-manship
The conversation is about finding a resolution, not winning an argument. Do not engage in tit-for-tat responses or allow yourself to be pulled into unrelated conversations about other issues.
Step 2:  Dealing with trespassing neighborsOnce you get agreement, stop.
Particularly if they agree rather quickly in the conversation to correct the issue, be sure to not drone on about it. Thank them for understanding and move on to other unrelated, more pleasant conversation- only returning back to the topic if they do. If the discussion with your neighbor doesn’t yield results, you will need to consider your options for escalating to the next steps.
Contact your neighbor in writing.
The first escalation should be to formalize your request in writing. Be polite but direct about what's been happening and what exactly you think they should do about it. Reference the original verbal conversation and the date you had it; and ensure that the date you are sending the letter is noted on the letter itself. Keep a copy of the exact letter sent to them.
Tall fences make good neighbor's...pets
As the saying goes, "Tall fences make good neighbors". In this case, an assured way to keep the neighbor's pets out of your yard is to physically block them with a fence. If you also own pets, having a fence to keep them in and other's pets out could make the most sense. If you don't own a pet, it really isn't your responsibility to put up a fence (but it always remains your option). Rather it is the pet owner's responsibility to leash or otherwise contain their animal and you can ask your neighbor to do so.
Adding obstructions and deterrents
In many cases, adding an obstruction to the areas of your property that seem to be most traveled routes by your neighbor's pets can be a big help. As opposed to tall wooden or chain link fences, you can also consider more visually appealing options like thick hedges or a retaining wall. Other options include devices specifically designed to deter neighborhood pets from entering your property. Solutions include motion sensor driven sprinkler systems, alarms and lights that are especially designed to keep pets out of your yard without harming them, It is strongly suggested that you never attempt to harm anyone else's pet unless you feel they are threatening the safety of your family, your pets or you. Here are a few solutions that are particularly helpful in deterring without harming neighborhood pets:
Contacting the Police or Animal Control.
If the situation is not resolving through conversation or formal requests between you and your neighbor, it is time to escalate to the next level. You will want to avoid a, “your word against theirs” situation when calling the police or animal control. Firstly, you need to keep a log of the behavior(s) of both the neighbor and the pet. This can be done electronically or on paper. You will also want to have proof of the behavior for discussion with the police or animal control. Using a standard security camera may act as both a deterrent (your neighbor knows that you are getting serious and may begin controlling her pet more aggressively) and as proof of the behavior.
Here are a few examples of standard, visible security cameras:
If you suspect that your neighbor is playing a part (observable negligence or deliberately bad behavior), an alternative approach (or in combination with a standard security camera) involves the use of to catch the person in the act.
Seeking legal advice.
Lastly, you should consider seeking out legal advice from an attorney that specializes in this area of the law. For this scenario, it’s likely that a Property Attorney would be the best choice. Your attorney can begin with a letter from their office on your behalf demanding that they regard the property boundaries. They can also help to submit a restraining order requiring your neighbor to remain outside of the boundary lines of your property.

Related Bad Neighbor Advice Topics: