You love your canine best friend, but doesn’t mean you’re impressed when he keeps getting into your plants or vegetable garden. He digs up your ornamental flowers before they have a chance to thrive, and does his business in all the wrong places. Fortunately, dog repellent can help.
Here are 13 natural repellents that you can try to keep your doggo out of trouble. They’re all non-toxic methods that are known to work—it just depends on what’s most effective for your own pupper.
13 Natural Ways to Make Homemade Dog Repellent
As much as we love them, dogs can seriously harm our gardens and lawns. If your dog is digging up plants, you need a safe, dog-friendly way to keep him or her away from your flowers and vegetables. Most importantly, these methods need to be cost-effective, and safe for your pup if he were to get to the plants despite your best efforts.
Homemade repellents come in varying forms, from solutions you put in a spray bottle to ones you soak with cotton balls. Below are 13 natural tricks to keep dogs away from your plants and veggies. They won’t hurt your furry friends, and are easy to whip up at home.
1. Citronella Oil
Dogs hate the smell of citronella, and trainers often use the oil in both collar and spray form to break aggressive behavior and persistent barking habits. In fact, just a whiff of citronella could very well keep your dog away from your garden.
Be sure to only use citronella oil in very small doses, however, and always mix the oil with 10 parts water, as high amounts are poisonous for pets.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Many store-bought dog repellents are made with apple cider vinegar, which you can use to make your own homemade solution for a fraction of the cost. To make a strong solution, mix one cup of white vinegar with two cups apple cider vinegar. Place it in a spray bottle and mist any desired areas, indoors or out.
3. Mustard Oil
Canines absolutely hate the taste and smell of mustard oil, and it can be used as is to keep your pets away. Spray mustard oil in any preferred dog-free locations and that’s it!
Dogs hate the smell of citrus, so you can use fresh fruit to protect your garden. There are a few ways you can use citrus to repel dogs:
- Cut up fruits like oranges, lemons, and lime, spreading the pieces and their cut-up peels in your garden or near your vegetable patch.
- Set a glass of lemon water near the sofa or chairs you’re trying to keep your dog away from.
- Spray citrus essential oils on your furniture or anything else you want your dog to avoid.
- Make a spray using real citrus juice and fruit scrapings.
As a bonus, citrus peelings will also help keep ants and aphids away from your soil and plants.
5. Garlic and Chili Pepper
Sprinkle a bit of chili pepper on your plants and your plant-chewing dog is sure to stay away. But for an even better dog repellent, make your own spray using garlic and chili pepper.
Mix together chopped onions, chili powder, and garlic with a teaspoon of dishwashing soap and a quart of warm water. Allow the mixture to sit for 24 hours before straining, then pour the liquid into a spray bottle. Spread the pieces you gathered in your strainer around your flower bed or garden, or any area you want your dog to stay away from.
6. Coffee Grounds
Instead of throwing away your old coffee grounds each morning, save the leavings and reuse them as an effective dog repellent. Simply spread the coffee grounds throughout the area you don’t want your dog to disturb and you’re good to go!
7. Chili and Black Pepper
Mix chili pepper powder and black pepper with oil instead of using water, like a typical sprays. The oil will help the peppers release an active ingredient in them called capsaicin, which is a very effective dog repellent.
8. Essential Oils
Essential oils are great for keeping your pup from checking out the garbage can or garden space. All you need to do is mix a few drops of the oil with water in a spray bottle, and mist the solution over the areas you want your dog to avoid. The essential oils that work the best as a natural dog repellent include:
- Sour apple
- Lemon Eucalyptus (Corymbia citriodora)
When using essential oils (EO), be sure to use therapeutic or food-grade oils, rather than the kinds you just diffuse for scent. The latter aren’t as pure, and may have other harmful chemicals added to them.
9. Cayenne Pepper
To create a cayenne spray that’s sure to take care of pesky dogs in no time, use 1 part cayenne pepper to 10 parts water. Mix the solution and place it in a spray bottle. Cayenne naturally irritates a dog’s nose, throat, and eyes. Make sure not to overdue to cayenne though, as high concentrations can hurt your dog’s sensitive snout.
You can also try making your own cayenne pepper potpourri dog repellent. Mix together flower petals and dried herbs, and add some crushed cayenne pepper into it. Pour this mixture into a decorative bowl, and place it in the living room of your home to deter dogs from the sofa or curtains. The cayenne doesn’t hurt dogs, but it does irritate their senses enough that they won’t want to go near it.
10. Vinegar and Lime Juice
Plain white vinegar’s scent is a really effective dog repellent, especially when it’s combined with lime juice. Soak cotton balls in the solution and place them around problem areas, or create a spray to mist your shoes, if your dogs like to chew on them. Just make sure to avoid spraying vinegar on your plants, as this will definitely kill them.
If you want to use this method near your plants, there’s a safer way than using a spray. Grab a coffee filter or blotting papers and soak them in white vinegar. After the paper dries, cut it into thin strips and set the strips around your plants, vegetables, or flowers. You can also dry the paper faster and more equally by laying it flat on a cookie sheet.
Ammonia’s strong scent repels dogs better than anything else on this list. Soak cotton balls in ammonia and set them around troubled areas. You can also clean your floors using an ammonia solution to keep dogs away from the furniture. Outdoors, you can even use the coffee filter method mentioned above, using ammonia instead of vinegar. Just don’t pour or spray ammonia directly onto your lawn or flowers.
Consider that dog urine is high in ammonia. Have you noticed that the grassy areas where your dog likes to pee are usually yellowed out? Yeah, you don’t want to do that on purpose.
12. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing (Isopropyl) alcohol also has a strong scent that keeps dogs away (and often most people as well). Simply soak cotton balls in rubbing alcohol and set them in problem areas. The same advice applies for rubbing alcohol as for ammonia in many ways, but don’t ever spray rubbing alcohol.
13. Dog Poop
I bet you’ve never heard this trick before! Dog poop works well as a natural way to deter your pet from digging up your garden. Place some of your dog’s poo in a hole in their favorite digging area, and your dog will avoid digging it up. After all, they try very hard to bury it in the first place, don’t they?
As soon as the dog has lost interest in the spot, you can fill the hole with soil instead.
A Final Trick
You may also be able to get away with making solutions by combining a few of the above 13 ways to make your own dog repellent. White vinegar is particularly unpleasant for dogs when combined with a dash of cayenne pepper and sprayed around the yard. The steps to make a repellent with vinegar and cayenne pepper are similar to previously mentioned methods.
You could also combine rubbing alcohol with old coffee grounds for an added boost. Some of these homemade dog repellents are equally as effective for other pesky animals, including deer, skunks, or raccoons. Many of these methods even work in dog training or keeping your pet off your furniture while you’re away.
Try them out to see what works best for your pet. In my experience, applying lemon juice directly onto the kitchen trash can kept my dogs from getting in the garbage, while lemon peels didn’t seem to deter them as easily in the garden. Vinegar worked much better at keeping them away from my flowers and vegetables, probably because of the smell.