TOP-10 Dog Repellents to Protect You, Your Yard and Your Stuff

Author: Michael Potter Reviewed by Updated: May 13, 2022

Humans and dogs have co-existed for ages, but such coexistence hasn’t always been peaceful and trouble-free. Even nowadays, stray dogs can scare you and your kids. On the other hand, a pet dog’s behavior can be troublesome for their owners. Pets often chew furniture, shoes, damage lawns and gardens. Is the same true for your neighbors’ dogs? First of all, why do they have so many dogs and why don’t they crap in their own yard? Am I right? In this review, we will cover scientific reports regarding correction of such behavior, picking the best dog repellents and will list the ten most popular must-have products. We’ve even managed to sneak in a few DIY recommendations too! A few smart purchases and some proven tactics will surely bring some needed relief to your life.

Choosing the Right Dog Repellent

My adorable little Schoodle (half poodle half schnauzer) has inadvertently destroyed patches of my lawn by going potty in the same areas of the yard. It wasn’t a problem for the first few years but now there are dead patches – too bad I can’t blame it on the neighbor’s dog! This issue is related to the animals’ physiology. As Dr. Steve Thompson, DVM – Director, Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Wellness Clinic, West Lafayette, Indiana explains, “Dog urine and feces can often be a frustrating problem related to lawn care. Small amounts may produce a green up or fertilizer effect while larger amounts often result in lawn burn or dead patches.” The damage can be so extensive that plants must be re-planted in damaged areas.

While shopping for the best dog repellent, you should learn why dog urine is so toxic for your garden – it is actually quite fascinating (nerd alert). The reason is that it contains highly concentrated nitrogen which burns the lawn like a natural fertilizer if in excess. If you examine the places where your dog urinates, you will notice some burned brown grass in the middle, where the concentration is maximal, and on the sides, the grass is greener because the small amount of nitrogen acts as a fertilizer. That is why products that neutralize acids are ineffective. Remember that it is nitrogen and not acid that you target. Dog feces are also a problem for lawns, but its scale is not as large as that of urine because by-products are secreted from the feces slowly (and it is easier to may your kids clean it up during regular yard maintenance).

How Do Repellents Work? Types & Effectiveness

One of the ways to keep dogs away from your lawns is to use ready-to-use or handmade repellents. Dr. Steve Thompson claims that taste repellents are more effective than touch repellents or odor repellents. The advantage lies in usability. Not only your pet but also your guests will smell unpleasant odor repellents. It’s not awesome when your hands smell like vinegar, is it? Moreover, in some cases, dog try to re-mark their territory once they smell foreign odor.

  • Taste Repellents. Dogs’ taste is similar to that of humans as they distinguish salty, sweet, bitter and sour tastes. Just like us, they dislike bitterness. When using these bitter compounds, don’t forget to temporarily remove water out of your dog’s sight for no longer than 30 minutes so as to guarantee it experiences the unpleasant bitter taste. Nevertheless, taste repellents have certain disadvantages. First, each dog has its own personal taste preferences. Some tastes that keep some dogs away are quite attractive to others. Second, there is a risk of an allergy. Most repellents are to be applied on objects, such as shoes and furniture, and not on human or dog skin. One of the ways to test whether a product will cause allergies is to apply a thin layer on your pet’s skin and check for reactions. In any case, the best strategy is to consult a doctor before using any remedy.

Proper application of taste repellents is crucial for achieving desired results. First, apply the repellent on a small piece of fabric and cover your dog’s mouth with it so it can taste the substance and spit it out. If your dog begins to shake its head, drool or vomit, then this taste is repelling for it and the product can be safely applied on objects and plants requiring protection. The dog will remember the smell associated with the nasty taste and will avoid it from now on. Do not limit yourself to a one-time application, even if you yielded positive results immediately. Apply repellent daily for a month on the same objects to finally discourage your pet from tasting them.

  • Odor Repellents. These products’ competitive edge lie in their maximal safety for dogs. Vinegar that is most often used in odor repellents does not have any side effects and is non-toxic both for humans and cats. Citronella oil is suitable to be applied on garden plants. In addition, oil has a longer lasting effect and is slower to be washed away by rain. Cayenne pepper or chili powder has a strong impact, but you should be careful with them. If your pet inhales too much, their nose channel can be burned. Ammonia is yet another ingredient known for its powerful effect. It is, on the other hand, quite toxic for plants and requires several applications for decent results. Odor repellents have substantial disadvantages. They can cause unpleasant sensations for humans and accumulate sharp odors at home. Moreover, most of such substances have a short-lasting effect and require repeat application. Keeping a squirt bottle handy for outside applications is a good idea.
  • Motion Activated Sprinkler. If the prospect of using smelly products does not appeal to you, try installing a motion activated sprinkler that will sprinkle your pet on their approach. It’s best to install this device in small gardens or in the corners of your lawn where there is most damage. However, a sprinkler’s essential drawback is that this gadget will react to any movement, be it a squirrel or a child. As a result, you risk wasting water but the best quality motion sprinklers have water saving shutoffs. In addition, Anna Busby, The Alabama Cooperative Extension System, warns that “The wasted water not only harms your wallet, but in areas where water conservation is pertinent, keeping your yard lush can be challenging.”

Stray Dog Fences

We’ve mentioned in other articles that short fences serve as a psychological barrier. This method will also be useful for your pets, but you will need a large fence if you would like to get rid of your neighbors’ dogs or stray dogs.

Jeffrey S. Green, Assistant Regional Director at USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services, Colorado, and Philip S. Gipson Unit Leader Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Kansas State University Manhattan recommend installing net fences with barbed wire along the base against stray dogs so that they could not dig a trail under the fence. The fence should be at least six feet high; otherwise a dog will try to jump over it. To enhance the effect, conduct an electrically charged wire on the bottom and top of the fence, then the dog probably will not attempt to dig under the fence or jump over it. Fully electrified fences have also proven their practicality. It’s desirable to have 12 alternating wires as an effective restraining structure against dogs. But electric fences have a number of drawbacks. First, it is necessary to regularly check the wires’ charge. Second, mice and bears can damage such structures. And thirdly, such fences are difficult to maintain in regions where snowstorms occur.

Nevertheless, Jeffrey S. Green and Philip S. Gipson consider fences to be the best investment when protecting against stray dogs. Installing cages with bait is a yet another option. However, it entails the risk of being bitten and infected with rabies. Moreover, it is pups rather than grown dogs who are most often trapped. If you worry about being attacked by stray dogs outside your home, keep reading for more info.

A Comparative Chart of Eight Methods and Products

Method/Product Advantages Disadvantages
Taste Repellent. Rating: 10 The most effective repellent without unpleasant smells. It does not deteriorate, can be handmade to save costs. Allergies are possible; effect depends on your dog’s preferences.
Odor Repellent. Rating: 8 Certain smells (e.g. citrus) are pleasant for humans, it does not deteriorate, can be handmade to save money. Some smells are unpleasant to humans, is less effective than a taste repellent; allergies are possible; effect depends on your dog’s preferences.
Motion Activated Sprinkler. Rating: 9 Does not take much time, irrigates the soil, its effect does not depend on your dog’s preferences. Reacts to any movement, water overspending is possible, can be more expensive than planned.
Diet Modification. Rating: 5 Dilutes urine and reduces grass damage. No scientific research can confirm effectiveness, can do harm to your dog or retaliate by making the dog urinate more frequently.
Dog Training. Rating: 10 The most effective method. Takes time, patience and persistence.
Fences. Rating: 10 The best way to fence away from your neighbors’ or stray dogs. Is unaesthetic in the garden, short fences are a psychological barrier only.
Electric Fences. Rating: 9 Are both a physical and a psychological barrier, the best way to fence away from your neighbors’ or stray dogs. Can do harm to pets, large wild animals can damage the fence, is ineffective during snowstorms, charge must be checked regularly.
Watering Places Of Urination. Rating: 6 Reduces damage through diluting. Is only effective if watering is done immediately after urination. You should watch your dog all the time and always have a water basin or a hose at hand.

TOP-10 Best Dog Repellents

We’ve picked ten products to protect your shoes, a cycling spray used by post services for over thirty years, a spray hissing like a snake and modern ultrasound devices along with a gadget that makes extreme noise. Granules or liquid taste and odor repellents are also available for protecting lawn, as well as a motion activated sprinkler that solves the problem of unwanted neighbors’ dogs’ visits.

1. Grannick’s Bitter Apple | Best Dog Repellent Spray to Protect Your Shoes

Use Grannick’s Bitter Apple spray that contains bitter substances, water and 20% isopropanol (an alcohol used in the making of acetone and hydrogen peroxide). These chemicals are non-toxic and safe both for humans and pets, and at the same time, are effective at preventing the dog from damaging your shoes.

It is very simple to use. All you have to do is spray any problematic areas. Because the product is versatile, it can be applied not only on your shoes, but also on furniture and other objects to be protected. You can also apply it on your hands but make sure you don’t lick them by accident, as the substance is indeed nasty to taste.

We cannot say that this product is extremely popular with users. Most negativity is experienced due to the reported short duration of effect. The good news is that the product is affordable and your specific dog’s reaction to it will be immediate. To avoid a negative experience with this product remember that it is most potent indoors.

Last update on 2023-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Price:  Check the current price

2. Halt! Dog Repellent 1.5 oz | Best Dog Repellent Spray for Cyclists

You can use HALT Spray with an active ingredient capsaicin made from peppers for personal protection against dog attacks. The fact that the American US Postal Service has been using it for thirty years proves its worth. Users also approve of this spray as 68% consider it to be the best dog repellent.

This 4.9 inch tall spray fits your hand well and is easy to use. The jet will reach its target even if the dog is twelve feet away. Aim for the dog rather than for inanimate objects as the dog needs to inhale or get the substance in its eyes. Otherwise there will be no effect. However, you should follow safety rules when using it; don’t get it in your eyes particularly.

Another advantage of this product is that it does not have an expiry date. You can use it once, and re-use it several years later, and it will still be very effective. The SPI Research Team would like to point out that this spray is a simple, easy to carry defense against most dogs but a large very aggressive dog will be less affected by this spray if the dog is already in attack mode – a direct hit to the face will still be effective but be prepared to take secondary measures.

Halt! Dog Repellent 1.5 oz

By Better service stores


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3. The Company of Animals Pet Corrector

The manufacturer claims that another product, The Company of Animals Pet Corrector, is recommended by trainers and behaviorists worldwide to correct unwanted dog behavior. It is more popular that pepper sprays mainly because users are not afraid of accidentally getting pepper in their eyes.

When used, compressed gas is released and it makes a hissing sound resembling that of snakes or geese trying to shoo a predator. Pets have an inherent fear of it. Just like the previous product, The Company of Animals Pet Corrector is ineffective against some stray or highly aggressive dogs. The product is odorless and safe, and additionally, a detailed dog training manual is supplied. When used as a training tool, the SPI Team would like to note that it is nest to use this as a reinforcement to a verbal command – that way you are not dependent on having the bottle with you at all times.

Price:  (2-pack) Check the current price

4. Electronic Dog Repellent and Trainer with LED Flashlight

Brellavi Electronic Ultrasonic Handheld Dog Repellent and Trainer with LED Flashlight can train your dog to avoid unwanted behavior and will repel aggressive dogs for a low price, as the manufacturer claims. This device emits ultrasound that human ears cannot hear, and that dogs absolutely detest but does not harm them.

The manufacturer positions Brellavi as the most humane way to repel aggressive dogs. It is completely safe and has a long action distance of up to about fifteen feet. The gadget is compact and can fit into a pocket, which is crucial for cyclists.

However, as with any product made to deter strays and train domesticated dogs, there will be mixed results. The SPI Editorial Review Staff has concluded that much of the negativity experienced with this product is over expectations. The package clearly says 16 feet effective range but some people are complaining that is doesn’t work across the street. We like this product and see it as an excellent companion to some of the sprays since it works regardless of the wind direction.

Price: Check the current price

5. First Alert Bark Genie Handheld Bark Control Device

First Alert Bark Genie Handheld Bark Control emits ultrasound that only dogs can hear. It makes them stop barking. The device’s action distance is fifteen feet.

The manufacturer also recommends using it as a training supplement. However there is some disagreement online about this topic. Here is what a dog center specialist has to say: “It does not work without consistent use and incorporating basic training concepts. You can’t just point it at a dog while it’s barking and expect it to become silent after repeated uses; many of them become acclimated to the sound and are no longer affected.” What this tells us at SPI is that, along with any dog deterrent, it is best to combine techniques – stern vocal commands, standing your ground (not running away), Physical barriers like a walking stick. Just because you have a little sound shooter tool doesn’t mean you can forget all the other “tools” that you know about dog behavior.

Only 41% of users gave it the highest rating while 24% gave it the worst rating.

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6. SAFETY-SPORT DOG HORN XL | Attack Deterrent

Another treatment, DOG HORN, also makes sounds that are unpleasant to dogs. It is useful in training pets and repelling stray animals when camping, for example. Both vets and trainers recommend it.

Once you press a button, the device will make a sound that is unfortunately heard by people too. It is loud enough even for your neighbors to hear it. This gadget has several modes, so if you press the button quickly enough, the sound made will be more like a whistle. Users are generally satisfied. The SPI Team actually sees the volume as a good thing – if there is an aggressive dog then the noise can alert other humans to help you! An added benefit is that it can deescalate your own dog as well as the approaching dog at the same time. Preventing a behavior is actually easier than changing an aggressive behavior in dogs. SO use this tool quickly before the situation is too extreme.

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7. Havahart Critter Ridder 3146 Animal Repellent | Best Dog Repellent to Protect Your Lawn

Havahart Critter Ridder 3146 Animal Repellent, 5-Pounds Granular Shaker is made of natural components and repels dogs through taste and odor. It contains oil of black pepper, pepperine and capsaicin. This treatment will save your budget as it targets not only dogs, but also cats, squirrels, skunks and raccoons.

It is used outdoors: in the garden, on the lawn, around the flower bed, decorative plants and trees. It can be used indoors too, for instance, in warehouses. As the manufacturer claims, the ingredients are water-resistant and cover an area of 300 square feet. The treatment is supposed to act for thirty days after use.

To avoid any negative experiences use it in dry climates and specifically in the area that repelling is needed keeping in mind that if an awesome food source is near by, a repellent will not over come the drive to eat.

Price: Check the current price

Another product aimed at protecting the lawns from dogs, Ortho Dog and Cat B Gon Dog and Cat Repellent Granules, 2-Pound, is no more popular than the last granular repellent we reviewed. This product is much more accessible than the previous one (it is half the price), due to the reduced amount of contents.

Its active ingredients are geraniol, castor oil, and peppermint oil. Unlike Havahart Critter Ridder, it acts only against cats and dogs, but its coverage area is much larger and reaches 1,400 square feet. The spray must be applied on garden soil so that the smell, unpleasant for cats and dogs, will keep these animals away from the restricted areas. When applying it on the soil with edible plants, make sure the substance does not get on their leaves.

To avoid negative experiences the manufacturer suggests to time application because heavy rains reduce the repellent’s effectiveness. That is why you should be attentive. Downpours can wash off the repellent and in that case, you are 100% bound to waste money.

Price: Check the current price

8. Liquid Fence Dog & Cat Repellent Ready-to-Use | Best Dog and Cat Repellent to Protect Your Yard

Liquid Fence 130 Dog and Cat Repellent, 1-Gallon Ready to Use is made of natural vegetable oils. It is to be applied on the lawns, gardens, flower beds and is designed to prevent cats and dogs from digging the soil and damaging plants.

Beware, this product does have a strong smell. To avoid negative experiences make sure you wear gloves as the smell will stick to your hands. The results are mixed. It is a good place to start for those homeowners who want a gentle approach. If the animals are persistent then you may need to escalate.

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Price: Check the current price

As you can see, ready-to-use repellents are rated lowly although the scientists claim that theoretically, all these ingredients must repel dogs. The causes of failure are rain and low concentration. Let’s see whether gadgets can help us.

9. Dog Repellent, Thanos Solar Animal Repellent

Pest Repeller, Thanos Solar Animal Repellent has the highest rating for products in this price bracket. Pretty impressive results! The device emits an ultrasonic signal that repels cats, dogs, wild bears, mice and birds and is great protection for your house. It is energy-saving and can be powered by solar batteries. The manufacturer claims it is effective in any weather and season.

The built-in sensor detects motion and automatically makes a sound unheard by humans but repelling to animals. It is easily installed in the soil or hung on the wall.

Users are unanimous that it is truly effective. Among the disadvantages, note that you will have to replace batteries every three to four months. Adding AA Batteries to your auto ordering will lessen this inconvenience. Place it where your own dog will not be bothered by it! I am actually so impressed with this product that I will need to try it in up here in Alaska for bears!

Price: Check the current price

10. Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler

Let’s continue with the gadgets. This time, we’ll check out Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion Activated Sprinkler with Day and Night Detection Modes. The device has a day and night mode and can rotate 120?. The sprinkler showers its target with water is activated when an animal approaches the device.

Special technology helps to optimize water spending and save battery life, which is important as water overuse will increase your water bill to a great extent.

The SPI Team suggests moving this sprinkler to different spots occasionally to keep the critters guessing. We recommend this product for a variety of pests as the sight, sound, and touch multiply the effectiveness. Just remember that it probably wont work in freezing weather…

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The Best Dog Repellents Comparative Chart

4 Homemade Dog Repellent Sprays and 1 Unusual Way to Use Coffee

Buying repellents regularly can cost you a fortune. The best dog repellent can be prepared on your own as you won’t need anything extraordinary for that. Remember that each dog is individual and you might have to try out several options before finding a perfect one. First of all, you will need an empty spray bottle. You can buy a new one in a store or re-use one. If it is the latter case, rinse the bottle thoroughly to remove any debris of the previous substance.

Which mix is the best? Hot pepper spray with an active ingredient capsaicin that burns the tongue on contact proved to be the most effective homemade remedy. Dissolve two tablespoons of crushed hot pepper powder in ten cups of water to prepare your taste repellent. Afterwards, apply the mixture on an object that your dog loves to chew. If you prefer odor repellent, vinegar will be the best choice as it is especially unpleasant for dogs that have sharp smell. Mix one portion of vinegar with five portions of water to achieve the required deterring smell.

There are other options. To prepare another odor repellent, mix half a cup of citronella oil with four cups of water. Citrus smell is very convenient as it is pleasant for humans and even used in aromatherapy while many dogs despise it. Mix some citrus juice with shredded peels in a spray bottle and spray the parts of your garden that you would like to protect from your dog’s vandalism. Citrus juice will also deter ants and aphids. If you like coffee, you can have an extra perk. Do not throw away coffee grounds. Instead, collect them and leave them in places that your pet shouldn’t touch.

Diet Modification and Products Impacting Urine Acidity

You can find tips on dog diet modification that is supposed to adjust the impact of the dog’s urine on plants and grass. First, immediately discard products that contain Methionine or Ascorbic Acid, which affect the level of acidity in the urine, because, as we have already found out, this has nothing to do with scorched grass. Moreover, they can harm your pet’s health as kidney stones may form. Special remedies can dilute urine, but safer ways serve the same purpose. For example, feed your pet canned food more often, and dissolve dry food in water. Salts, garlic and tomato increase the amount of water consumed when added to food, which leads to liquefaction of urine. These ingredients should not be used without prior consultation with a vet, as the Colorado State University Extension scientists recommend.

Purdue University experts are extremely skeptical about medical diet modification as a means of reducing the damage dogs can cause to lawns. The article “Animal Urine Damage in Turf ” states that “Most of these products simply cause the pet to drink more water, thereby diluting the urine’s nitrogen content. An added side effect is that the animal will need to urinate more frequently, increasing the potential for “accidents.” Furthermore, using these products is potentially dangerous.”

Another scientist, Ali Harivandi, Environmental Horticulture Advisor, U.C. Cooperative Extension, Alameda County, notes that the claims of diet modification as a solution are unsupported. According to him, no scientific research attests to the effectiveness of diet modification for reducing the damage caused to lawns. Ali Harivandi considers washing urine off with plenty of water is the most effective measure. Water will wash nitrogen and salts off the plants. Time is the key here as the earlier you water the place of your dog’s urination, the better. This method, of course, does not seem to be the most attractive one from the point of convenience. Do you imagine watching your dog while holding a hose or a basin filled with water?

You’d be better spending your precious time training your dog and training it to leave its waste products where you do not see it. Select a place specially designated for this in your garden and lay it with fine soil. Next, for several weeks, collect your pet’s urine and feces and relocate them there. Take the dog out into the garden on a leash and leave it there. When the dog defecates in this place, reward it with a treat. To achieve good results, you will need to repeat this exercise for at least a month, but your efforts will pay off with your peace of mind and a beautiful garden.

Stacey Schat, a veterinarian and an Oregon State University Master Gardener in Columbia County, recommends installing short fences along the restricted area that will serve as a psychological barrier. Even small shrubs will do. Plant the flowers in flower beds densely so that they look less attractive to dogs. Don’t forget to make a trail for your dog to run and have fun on. Stacey Schat is convinced that all these measures will be in vain unless you spend time training your dog. She assures that “If a dog can learn that the sofa is off-limits, it can learn that particular areas in the garden are also off limits. A little behavior training goes a long way. Spend some time working with the pet before redoing the entire landscape.”

If you can’t train your dog, don’t despair. Perhaps you haven’t taken into account some personal peculiarities of the dog. Christopher Enroth, Extension Educator, Horticulture Henderson/ Knox/ McDonough/ Warren Unit shared his experience with two dogs. He laid wood mulch on a spot in his garden and trained his dogs there. One was able to achieve results while the other refused any training whatsoever. He jokingly said that it is “Something about old dogs and new tricks; dog owners know what I mean.” During his experiments, Christopher found out that the second dog preferred defecating in a pile of fallen leaves, and it has become her permanent toilet.

It is crucial to walk your dog regularly in parks and other spacious places to reduce the damage to your garden. This will simultaneously cause more pleasure both to the dog and its owner.

View Comments

  • how can I get rid of dogs and cats in my yard? the pepper does not work it also burn my grass. Liquid fence does not last long.I can not put up a fence. ultrasonic does not work the dog just look at it and the cat it means nothing.
    Please help me?

Author: Michael Potter Reviewed by Updated: May 13, 2022
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Michael Potter, Ph. D. In biology, is a consultant and author for He is a scientist obsessed with the idea to save the world from pests.

He does not belive hollow words and empty promises from the producers ads. It is only facts that matter to him. Mr. Potter questions any statement and analzes in detail all related information.


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