How to Get Rid of Cats, Dogs, Squirrels, Raccoons & Skunks

Strong and cute, these masked bandits can become serious pests.

Strong and cute, these masked bandits can become serious pests.

Dealing with animal pests in your yard can become a headache, particularly if they are getting in your trash, eating your preferred wildlife or living under your porch or deck or in your attic. Exclusion is always the best method of getting them out of your yard.


Block off access to underneath your deck or porch by installing 1/4-inch hardware mesh from the top of the open area to at least 6 inches below the soil surface; bend it outward at least 1 foot to make an apron and cover it with soil. Hardware mesh will also provide protection from mice and rats.

Put locking lids or heavy bricks on your trash cans to prevent the animals from opening them. This excludes them from the cans and also takes away a possible food source.

Install a spark arrester to your chimney and make it tight. This will prevent raccoons, birds, bats, tree squirrels and smaller animals from gaining access to your home via the chimney.

Install hardware mesh around any openings on your house, such as attic vents, to prevent squirrels and other animals from getting into your house or walls.

Install a fence around your property. While the most expensive option, it is also the best option for exclusion. For better control, place an electrified wire 8 inches from the top of the fence and 8 inches from the ground to deter the pests from climbing over or digging under the fence.


Place live traps around your property in places the pests frequent. You can often receive live traps on loan from shelters or you can purchase them from hardware stores, pet-supply stores and big-box stores.

Bait the trap with marshmallows, prunes, peanut butter, tuna, cat food or almost anything as skunks and raccoons are not particularly picky eaters.

Contact your local Department of Natural Resources or animal control service to find out where to release the animal. Skunks and raccoons may only be allowed to be released in certain areas; cats and dogs should be taken to an animal shelter.

Other Methods

Sprinkle repellents along the property or area you do not wish these pests to enter. Some common repellents include fox or coyote urine.

Place moving items in your trees and around your property, particularly where the animals are visiting. These could be long strips of shiny Mylar that blow in the wind, windmills, flags or specialty frightening devices.

Install motion-detecting lights on your property to help scare the animals away. Aside from squirrels and dogs, these animals are all nocturnal and prefer the cover of the night.

Install motion-detecting sound machines that will frighten the animals if they get too close.

Spray the stray cats and dogs or other pests with a strong blast from the water hose when you see them. This will often dissuade them from coming back.

Items you will need

  • 1/4-inch hardware mesh
  • Locking trash can lids
  • Heavy bricks
  • Spark arrester
  • Live traps
  • Baits
  • Repellents
  • Free-moving items such as Mylar, windmills or frightening balloons
  • Motion-sensitive lights
  • Motion-sensitive sound machine


  • Never use poisons to control pest animals in your yard.
  • Stray animals and wild animals may become aggressive if cornered and may carry disease. Contact a professional if you suspect the animals are diseased.

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About the Author

With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.

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