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 hands, pet dogs behavior can be troublesome for their owners. Pets often chew furniture, shoes, damage lawns and gardens. The same is true for your neighbors’ dogs. 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.
Table of Contents
Choosing the Right Dog Repellent
Some issues are related to 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.
To buy the best dog repellent, you need to first figure out why dog urine is so toxic for your garden. The reason for that 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.
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 comfortable 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. 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 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.
- Motion Activated Sprinkler. If the prospect of using such products does not attract 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. 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
Above, we’ve already mentioned 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’ 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, wear special sonic or visual dog repellents.
A Comparative Chart of Eight Methods and Products
|Taste Repellent||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.||10|
|Odor Repellent||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.||8|
|Motion Activated Sprinkler||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.||9|
|Diet Modification||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.||5|
|Dog Training||The most effective method.||Takes time, patience and persistence.||10|
|Fences||The best way to fence away from your neighbors’ or stray dogs.||Is unaesthetic in the garden, short fences are a psychological barrier.||10|
|Electric Fences||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.||9|
|Watering Places Of Urination||Reduces damage.||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.||6|
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 can’t say that this product is extremely popular with users as only 43% gave it a five-star rating and 17% gave it one star only. The users share their positive experience in using it. One of them wrote: “They were nibbling on my friend’s shoes, so I sprayed her shoes. It was funny, they are walking around her shoes, sniffing, and couldn’t figure out why they weren’t tasty anymore–but it worked.”
The spray’s disadvantage is its short-term effect. It will be even useless if applied in the open air, for instance, in the garden. One of the spray users commented: “It wouldn’t harm anything painted, metal, plastic or wood, but honestly you’d be wasting the product. Even in the house, it seems to lose effect pretty fast. In outside exposure, I suspect it would be pretty much there and gone.”
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2. HALT | Best Dog Repellent Spray for Cyclists
You can use HALT Spray with an active ingredient capsaicin made of pepper for personal protection against dog attacks. The fact that the American Post 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. Someone who had an unpleasant encounter of an aggressive dog pack, concluded: “For dogs who may not really intend on killing your dog, it works pretty well. For a large, pain tolerant dog, who really wants to get in a fight, I think bear mace or a gun would be a better option.”
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3. Pet Corrector | Compressed Gas Stop Dog Barking, Jumping, Discourage Unwanted Behaviour Spray
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 looks like users liked this product better than the previous one as 73% gave it five stars.
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 stray or aggressive dogs. The product is odorless and safe, and additionally, a detailed dog training manual is supplied. One user gave their feedback: “Point it away from your dog. You should say “no” then spray…the idea is to not see it coming, this way it will stop the behavior immediately! Once the dog stops, then praise them. The plan is to have the dog respond to the word “no”…not the can”.
By In the Company of Animals
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4. Hoont | Best Electronic Ultrasonic Dog Repellent
Hoont 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 detest.
The manufacturer positions Hoont as the most humane way to repel aggressive dogs. It is completely safe and has a long action distance of up to fifty feet. The gadget is compact and can fit into a pocket, which is crucial for cyclists.
However, judging by the users’ feedback, the device does not guarantee any results. Here is what one disappointed customer has to say: “I’d say it’s not very powerful unless the dog or cat is sensitive. My dog just ignores it, and so does the neighbor’s dog. My cat freaks out though”.
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5. First Alert | Ultrasonic Bark Control
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, some customers disagree. One of them is convinced that, “It really only works well if your pet’s already trained. If your dog’s stubborn “at all”– it’s useless.” 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.”
Only 41% of users gave it the highest rating while 24% gave it the worst rating.
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6. DOG HORN | 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 satisfied with the result as 60% gave the best rating to Dog Horn. One of them commented: “This is the first thing I used it if a strange dog approached. So far it has been all I need. It also has stopped my own dog from reacting to an approaching dog. Stops the aggression and no one gets hurt…a win-win!”
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7. Havahart Critter Ridder 3146 Granular Shaker | 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.
However, users didn’t rate this product highly as only 24% of them gave it a five-star rating while 40% only awarded it one star. One of the customers shared their experience: “I tried it specifically to discourage dogs. I spread it per instructions . . . no rain . . . and within 24 hours, the dogs (reinforced by their irresponsible owners) left notice that Critter Ridders did not work.” Moreover, the customers do not confirm the manufacturer’s claims of the product being rain-proof.
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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. Only 23% of users gave it a five-star rating while 43% only awarded it one star. This product is much more accessible than the previous one (it is half as expensive), due to 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.
One of the users wrote: “I bought it to keep the neighborhood cats from marking our yard and to keep our dogs out of those areas. It did neither. It’s an absolute waste of money. I received a refund.” The manufacturer replied and supposed that heavy rains reduced 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.
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8. Liquid Fence 130 | 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 and has an identical rating. 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.
According to the customers, it has an unpleasant smell that sticks to hands, so you’d better apply it wearing gloves. users’ feedback is full of doubts regarding its effectiveness: “Liquid Fence did NOT work as claimed. I thought well, maybe I just have to spray it more often, and nope, that didn’t work either. I thought maybe I need to get more of it down than what comes out of the sprayer so I transferred it into a commercial hand tank sprayer which would dispense more, nope that didn’t work either.”
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As you can see, ready-to-use repellents are rated lowly although the scientists claim that theoretically, all these ingredients must repel dogs. In reality, this isn’t true. The causes of fault are rain and low concentration. Let’s see whether gadgets can help us.
9. Pest Repeller | Outdoor Solar Powered Ultrasonic Dog Repellent
Pest Repeller, Outdoor Solar Powered and Weatherproof Ultrasonic Dog/Cat/Mosquito Repellent has the highest rating as 54% of the users gave it five stars for a cheaper price. 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. One of the owners shared their experience: “I usually don’t write reviews but credit where it’s due. Put two in the garden next to new lawn. After a couple of days, no more cat poop. I would absolutely recommend this product.” Among the disadvantages, note that you will have to replace batteries every three-four months.
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10. Orbit 62100 | Best Yard 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 which is three times as expensive. 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.
55% of users gave the product the highest rating. One of them commented: “Seems to be working OK. It sprayed two of the local dogs and they are not coming around as much. They literally try to avoid the sprinkler when they see it.”
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The Best Dog Repellents Comparative Chart
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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 with 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 need 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.