Homemade citronella bark spray can be used in a spray bottle as a very useful approach to control nuisance barking. Dogs seem to find the scent of citronella offensive; as a result, your dog will associate being sprayed with the behaviour he is exhibiting at the time. If you are trying to train your dog to bark only when appropriate, a spritz of citronella can be very effective in combination with proper training.
Citronella for Problem Barking
A spray of citronella under a dog's chin has been proven more effective than electric shock collars when used for problem barking, according to a study by the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine. It is a much more gentle approach than shock collars or other punishments used to solve barking problems. Manufactured citronella dog collars have a microphone built into the collar, and when the microphone picks up the noise of your dog's bark, a citronella spray is released onto his chin. If you want to have more control over when he is sprayed (since sometimes barking is a welcome behaviour, using a homemade bark spray will allow you to teach your dog when it is good to bark and when it is not.
Using Citronella Bark Spray
Citronella is commonly used as an insect and animal repellent. It is considered safe and non-toxic, with minimal or no risks to wildlife, according to the United States Environmental Agency. People find the woodsy, lemony scent of citronella pleasant, but animals do not. Do not spray your homemade bark spray directly into your dog's face; it can cause eye irritation. If you use quick, powerful sprays directly on your dog's chin, the aroma and the shock of the spray will cause a distraction from his barking so that you can redirect his behaviour without pain. Remember to interrupt the barking behaviour as soon as it begins--and always reward him when he stops barking. Use the bark spray in combination with a command, such as "quiet." Eventually, your dog will associate the command with the citronella spray, and in time you will just need the command word to stop barking problems.
Citronella Spray Recipe
Combine 1 cup of distilled water with 4 tbsp of citronella essential oil and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil in a spray bottle. Shake the solution well before each use. Use 100 per cent citronella essential oil for the spray--do not use citronella oil, which is sold for outdoor citronella lanterns and is highly flammable.