Homemade dog deterrents that are safe for your dog

Homemade dog deterrents that are safe for your dog

Health & Safety

There are many reasons why you might wish to keep your dog away from a certain area of the home or garden, or keep them from chewing on a certain item of furniture or other property. If this is the case, it can be hard to know how best to divert your dog away from the problem without fencing it off entirely, and one of the best ways to do this is to use a bitter and unpalatable concoction on the item(s) in question so that your dog is discouraged from chewing them. However, it is obviously important that the substance that you use is non-toxic and safe for dogs, which rules out a lot of potential options!

In this article, we will look at ways in which you can stop your dog from chewing or bothering certain items within the home with a range of homemade, dog-safe deterrent solutions.

Before you start creating your deterrent...

There are some situations when using an unpalatable solution or something that smells nasty to your dog is not a good idea when trying to divert bad behaviour or problem chewing.

The main reason is if your dog is prone to going to the toilet somewhere within the house, in which case, using something strong smelling can actually make the problem worse. Toileting within the home involves scent marking by your dog, and adding another layer of something smelly to this may well simply serve to make your dog more determined to eradicate the nasty or competing smell with a scent deposit of their own! Smelly or bitter-tasting deterrents are not a good solution in this case, and any spills and accidents should be cleaned up and removed with an enzymatic, unscented detergent.

If your dog is teething, they will likely be feeling a lot of pressure on their gums and teeth, and will be looking for surfaces and substances to chew that will help to relieve the pressure. While you can still use a deterrent in this case to stop your dog from targeting something that they should not be using, it is even more important to provided safe, suitable chewing alternatives for your dog, which might be sufficient on its own to divert their attention.

Making dog-safe sprays

Anything sharp or bitter tasting and smelling is likely to be unappealing to your dog, and so all of our recipes below involve dog safe, household food products that will put your dog off without posing a risk to them. Our four suggestions are listed in order from the mildest to the strongest, so try starting off with the first solution on the list and moving down the list if it proves ineffective.

Citrus spray

You can make a simple mild citrus spray to use on household furniture and objects by using kitchen cupboard staples, and on the plus side, the smell of the solution is likely to be pleasant to people but repellent to your dog!

Mix up lemon or lime juice with a simple water solution, decant into a spray bottle and spray over the item or items you are trying to discourage your dog from chewing. Try to avoid using orange, as this can be rather sticky. Remember to use natural lemons or limes or pure juices, and not anything that is artificially flavoured or made of essential oils, in order to ensure that they are safe for your dog.

Apple cider vinegar spray

Most of the commercially sold dog deterrent sprays on the market are composed of an apple cider vinegar solution, usually marketed as a bitter apple spray. However, making your own spray at home will cost just pennies, and you can create a concentration of your choosing.

Simply mix up one part vinegar with two parts apple cider vinegar for a strong spray, or water it down with a little tap water for a milder spray. This usually proves highly effective!


You can substitute the apple cider vinegar part of the above spray with neat lemon juice if you prefer, in combination with the vinegar element. This also has the added bonus of making your home smell freshly polished!

Chilli or cayenne pepper

If your dog is really determined to chew things and you have tried all of the above options, you might need to roll out the big guns- in this case with a spray consisting of cayenne pepper and water. This is highly unpleasant to your dog, and may make them cough or sneeze if they come into contact with the solution on the items that they are keen to attack!

Add a couple of spoons of ground chilli or cayenne pepper to a bottle of water, shake, and spray. Be aware that preparing the mixture itself might well make you sneeze too! Try to use as mild a solution as possible, as the smell and taste are very unpleasant to dogs.

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