Keep Dogs Away With This Simple Homemade Repellent


Dog repellents can be useful tools in certain situations where dogs are causing a nuisance, digging in yards, or going to the bathroom in unwanted areas. However, it’s important to note the difference between repelling and harming dogs. Repellents should only be used humanely and safely to deter dogs, not inflict pain or distress. When used appropriately, dog repellents provide a humane way to keep dogs out of certain spaces or discourage problem behaviors like excessive barking. However, caution must be taken to avoid overuse or misuse of repellents. This content will cover homemade and commercial dog repellent options and provide guidance on safe, effective usage.

Active Ingredients

There are several natural ingredients commonly used in homemade dog repellents. Citronella oil, derived from lemongrass, is a popular option due to its strong scent that naturally repels dogs (Source). Garlic contains compounds like allicin that give off a potent odor, while vinegar has an acidic smell that can deter dogs.

Other common homemade repellent ingredients include ammonia, black pepper, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, horseradish, and mustard (Source). These all have strong scents that dogs find unpleasant or irritating.

Commercial dog repellents often contain chemicals like methyl nonyl ketone, which has a strong, bitter odor. However, natural ingredients are typically safer for use around homes and gardens.

Homemade Spray Recipes

homemade dog repellent spray ingredients

There are a few homemade spray options that can help repel dogs using natural ingredients like vinegar, citrus oils, chili pepper, and more. These ingredients create strong scents that dogs tend to dislike and avoid.

A simple vinegar-based spray can be made by mixing 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar and 20 drops of lemon, orange, or other citrus essential oil in 1 1/2 cups of water in a spray bottle (1). Shake well before each use.

For a spicier spray, combine 1 chopped habanero or jalapeño pepper, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 minced garlic clove, and 2 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let sit for 24 hours. Strain out the solids and store the liquid in a spray bottle (2).

You can also make a spray using citronella, peppermint, and lemongrass essential oils, which give off a strong scent. Add 15 drops of each oil to 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake before use and spray near areas the dog frequents (2).

Homemade Solid Repellents

Here are a few homemade solid repellent recipes that can help keep dogs away from certain areas:

Citronella Candles

homemade citronella candles to repel dogs

Citronella candles contain citronella oil, which has a strong scent that naturally repels dogs. To make citronella candles at home, you will need:[1](

  • Beeswax
  • Citronella essential oil
  • Candle wicks
  • Candle molds or jars

Melt the beeswax and mix in 15-20 drops of citronella oil per ounce of wax. Pour the mixture into molds or jars with wicks to create candles. Place the lit citronella candles in areas you want to keep dogs away from.

Fabric Softener Sheets

Dogs dislike the strong scent of fabric softener sheets. Place sheets around the edges of your yard, flower beds, trash cans, or anywhere else you want to deter dogs. The sheets will need to be replaced after rain or every few weeks as the scent fades.[2](

Using Commercial Repellents

Commercially available dog repellents offer a convenient and usually effective option to deter dogs from unwanted behaviors or areas. Three popular types of commercial repellents include:

examples of commercial dog repellent products

  • Sprays – These repellents come in aerosol cans and emit an unpleasant scent when sprayed. Popular brands like Halt! use pungent capsaicin pepper extracts to deter dogs.
  • Ultrasonic devices – These devices emit high-frequency sounds that are unpleasant and irritating to dogs but inaudible to humans. The Dazer II is a handheld ultrasonic deterrent.
  • Area repellents – Motion-activated devices designed to protect yards and gardens from dogs. Popular options like the APlus Handheld Dog Repellent combine sounds, lights, and sprays.

When using commercial repellents, carefully read and follow all label instructions. Only use them as directed and for their intended purpose. Proper usage includes factors like:

  • Distance – Stand an appropriate distance from the dog as specified on the label when using handheld devices.
  • Wind direction – Avoid spraying upwind and minimize overspray.
  • Visibility – Make sure outdoor area repellents are clearly visible to deter dogs.
  • Supervision – Closely supervise anytime these products are in use.

Adhering to the manufacturer’s directions can increase effectiveness and safety for both people and dogs when using commercial repellents.

Strategic Use

When using dog repellents, it’s important to be strategic about placement to maximize effectiveness. The Spruce recommends focusing on areas dogs are likely to frequent like fences, gardens, children’s play areas, or around outdoor furniture.

Pay special attention to entry points where dogs may enter your yard and spray repellents around the perimeter. Places where dogs tend to urinate or defecate are also prime targets. You can create a protective barrier by spraying repellents along the edges and entrances to these zones.

Consider weather and environmental factors as well. Havahart notes that rainfall can wash away liquid repellents, so reapplication after rain may be necessary. Granular or solid repellents are longer-lasting options. Also avoid spraying near plants and grass, as some repellents may damage vegetation.

Training Aids

using dog training spray as a repellent

Dog repellents can be a useful tool when used judiciously as part of an overall dog training program. According to Dog Training Spray, sprays create an unpleasant sensation that deters dogs from repeating unwanted behaviors like chewing, jumping, or barking. However, repellents should complement training, not replace it entirely.

As explained on the Skout’s Honor website, repellent sprays provide instant feedback to reinforce training. For example, spraying furniture when a dog tries to chew teaches them that chewing is unacceptable. Repellents remind the dog of proper conduct when their training lapses. But the primary training must come through positive reinforcement of good behavior.

It’s important not to rely solely on repellents for behavior modification. As stated on Harbor’s Dog Repellent page, repellents are not a substitute for actively training a dog. Used correctly as a supplementary tool, repellents can aid the training process. But dog owners still need to put in the work of teaching and rewarding desired habits.

Safe Use

It is important to exercise caution when making and using homemade dog repellent sprays. Proper ventilation should be ensured, as the fumes from some ingredients can be strong. Test any spray on a small area of skin before widespread use to check for any negative reactions. Keep all repellents securely out of reach from children.

As noted in “Dog Pepper Spray” (, repellents containing capsicum or pepper spray “are Humane, effective, and all-natural” but care should still be taken with their use. The maximum strength allowed by the EPA should provide effective repelling power for dogs, but be aware these sprays can cause irritation if mishandled.

When using any commercial repellent like those sold by PetSafe (, be sure to read and follow all safety instructions provided. As with the homemade varieties, store commercial repellents securely out of reach of pets and children.

When to Avoid Use

While dog repellents can be an effective training tool, there are some important precautions to take. Most importantly, avoid using dog repellents in areas where food is prepared or consumed. The strong smells can transfer to food, making it unpalatable. Repellents should also never be sprayed directly onto a dog’s body. The ingredients may be formulated for external use, but direct contact increases the risk of irritation. Instead, spray repellents near objects the dog is trying to access or along the perimeter of an area you want to keep them out of. By following these common sense guidelines, dog repellents can be used safely and humanely.


When used properly, dog repellents can be an effective way to deter aggressive dogs or ward off threatening encounters. However, they should only be used as a last resort when all other avoidance strategies have failed. Some key points to keep in mind when using dog repellents:

  • Read all instructions and precautions before using any dog repellent product.
  • Aim spray repellents only at the dog’s face/eyes/nose, not its body.
  • Consider an air horn or loud noise as a safer alternative to deter dogs from a distance.
  • Never use dog repellents on puppies or non-aggressive dogs.
  • Evaluate the situation carefully before deploying any repellent, and use good judgment.

Dog repellents can provide a critical last line of defense against threatening encounters. However, they should be used judiciously, sparingly, and only when truly needed for protection. With proper caution and care, dog repellents can be an effective deterrent.

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