How to Make All-Natural Dog Deterrent

As much as you love your dog, there are activities that you don't want it to do. You may want to keep it off your furniture, or to stop it from digging up your lawn or plants. Keeping it out of the garbage is a must, and stopping your puppy from chewing the shoes in your closet is critical. Dog deterrents come in many forms, but store-bought products may stain fabrics and contain chemicals that could harm your dog. Make your own all-natural deterrents and keep your dog from getting into trouble.

Buy a small bottle of pure Citronella oil. This is a product made from Lemongrass that, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, "has been used for over 50 years as an insect repellent and as an animal repellent" (See References 1). It has low toxicity and is also used in anti-barking spray collars. Find it at your pharmacy or a store that sells essential oils and natural remedies.

Mix four fluid ounces of citronella oil with two pints of water and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the formula daily on and around the areas where you don't want the dog to go daily. Do this for at least a week. Dogs generally recoil at the scent of citrus.

Use the citronella mix as a safe repellent for other dogs when you are out walking your pet. If another dog shows aggression, a squirt from the spray bottle aimed at any part of the dog is likely to repel it. Try to avoid the dog's face unless the situation is serious, as it may sting the eyes.

Sprinkle small amounts of finely ground white or cayenne pepper in the areas you want the dog to avoid. A dog follows its sense of smell to find the garbage or to investigate a spot where it has previously soiled. If its nose encounters pepper along the way, this will make it sneeze and burn its nostrils; it will be unable to identify the scent it is looking for and will move on to other activities.

Use your dog's own faeces to stop digging behaviour. Burying a portion in a flower bed that has caught its interest will prevent it from digging. Fill holes it has dug in your lawn with faeces and then cover with soil and grass. A dog will be able to smell the faeces through the covering and its natural aversion to having contact with it will prevent it from digging further.

White or brown vinegar can be sprinkled or sprayed in the areas you want left alone. As with the citronella mixture, this needs to be refreshed daily to ensure the scent remains strong enough to repel the dog. Follow up with pepper for maximum effect.


Spray the deterrent more than once a day if it rains. The dog will return to the area of interest several times before getting the message, but if the deterrent is diluted (due to rain) or dries up, the smell may not be enough to repel it. As an alternative to purchasing citronella oil, you can make your own "citrus mix" by boiling citrus fruits chopped with the skin for several hours and then straining the liquid to remove the pulp. Use the mixture without diluting it.


When purchasing citronella oil, do not use a product that simply contains citronella, such as insect repellent or lamp oil, as these may also contain other products that can be harmful. Use caution when spraying light coloured fabrics with a liquid like brown vinegar, as it may stain.

Things You'll Need

  • Citronella oil
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • White or cayenne pepper
  • Dog faeces
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About the Author

Tracey Sandilands has written professionally since 1990, covering business, home ownership and pets. She holds a professional business management qualification, a bachelor's degree in communications and a diploma in public relations and journalism. Sandilands is the former editor of an international property news portal and an experienced dog breeder and trainer.