Often when we think of the term “pests,” we may imagine flying nuisances like mosquitos. While the majority of responsible pet owners keep their animals safe from heartworm with preventative medication, pests actually come in all shapes and sizes. From rodents to raccoons, armadillos to skunks, even possums can be problematic and often need to be trapped or removed by a professional.

But rather than waiting until they’re a clear and present danger, there’s many ways to keep outdoor pests and wildlife at bay without resorting to chemicals or trapping. For example, getting rid of standing water will help to control the mosquito population, but it can also help to keep other animals away that could be searching for water.

Here’s six ways to keep many different types of outdoor animals and pests away from our pets (and our homes):

No. 1 – Put out the “Unwelcome Mat”: Don’t make your yard (and your nearby home) a welcome place for wildlife. Store all types of food indoors, don’t leave standing water outside, keep gardens fenced, fruit from underneath trees picked up and compost piles covered at all times.

No. 2 – Put A Lid On It: Make sure all outdoor trash and rubbish containers are tightly closed. Better yet, if possible, store them in a garage or shed. Make sure these outbuildings are inaccessible to entry with tightly closed doors or sealed windows.

No. 3 – Perimeter Patrol: If you have a fenced yard, garden, patio or other outdoor area where your pets spend time, keep a regular and watchful eye for holes, cracks, loose boards or other ways that wildlife can slip into this space. Also make sure that latches and hinges on gates are in good working order.

No. 4 – Declutter And Trim: Keep clutter down to a minimum, even neatly stacked wood can offer shelter to some smaller animals. If you have hedges, bushes and other types of shrubbery, make sure they’re regularly maintained and trimmed off the ground to keep the “no vacancy” sign out for animals looking for a place to stay.

No. 5 – Keep Wildlife Out And Pets In: There’s actually a number of different natural repellents available on the internet that can keep rodents and other types of wildlife outside while keeping your pets inside their fenced confines. Using scents and flavors like Tabasco®, peppermint and onion will often keep critters away from your home and yard. When you have pets, make sure you apply these deterrents on the outside perimeter which will keep those pests away and your animals inside.

No. 6 – Sound The Alarm: Some have resorted to using high-pitched noises to keep away pests, but these could also wreak havoc with our companion animal’s sensitive hearing. For nocturnal critters like rodents, raccoons and skunks, simply playing a radio or television during the day can be enough to keep them from nesting near your home. If they don’t have a quiet place to sleep when the sun is shining, they’ll choose someplace further away to rest during the day and go foraging at night.

Often the best form of defense begins with a good offense. Be sure to be proactive when it comes to keeping pests and wildlife away from our pets.

Travel junkie, Amber Kingsley, is a freelance writer living in Santa Monica, CA. Her art history background helps her hone in on topics that are of interest to readers. She is a dog enthusiast and loves spending time with her pomeranian, Agatha.