Can Citronella Repel Dogs?

by Naomi Millburn
Canine aren't usually big fans of citronella's smell.

Canine aren't usually big fans of citronella's smell.

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Whether a dog has an aggressive streak or a persistent barking habit, his owner may attempt to curb the issue by using citronella oil whether in spray or collar form. For some dogs, this essential oil minimizes vocalization issues by giving them a whiff of a scent they don't enjoy. For aggressive dogs, it serves to send them away.

About Citronella Oil

Citronella is an aromatic oil derived from lemongrass foliage. Although the essential oil is a common component in many toiletries and cosmetic items, its scent tends to be disagreeable to the canine species. Citronella oil is considered by some to be a safe way to discourage dogs from engaging in disruptive and conspicuous barking behaviors.

Anti-Barking Collars

Citronella oil is often used to prevent canines from barking in anti-barking collar form. These collars come with small supplies of the oil attached. When a dog wearing one of these collars barks, the collar senses it and immediately sprays the oil. Since most dogs aren't too fond of the citronella smell, the collar aims to train them to associate barking with it, eventually stopping barking. It is not necessarily effective for all dogs.

Fighting and Aggression

Apart from solely turning dogs away from barking, citronella spray serves as a deterrent in aggressive doggie situations. According to the ASPCA, a spritz of citronella aimed at the nose of an angry dog may stop a physical altercation between canines. The same may be true of stopping a dog that's acting aggressive toward you. Citronella can repel a dog in any mood, though, whether he's baring his teeth in defense mode or just lying around relaxing. Many dogs just don't like the smell, period. A spray to the nose might stop a dog that doesn't object to the smell, but not because of the smell -- because of the spritz of liquid on his face. Citronella is not proven to repel anything except mosquitoes.

Danger?

Citronella oil is poisonous to pets, according to the ASPCA. However, the organization indicates that when it comes to the minimal amounts used in anti-barking collars, the oil should not really be dangerous or hazardous. Citronella-infused anti-barking collars typically consist of 10 percent citronella oil. However, the level may be risky if a dog has any breathing difficulties, so take note. Speak to your veterinarian about the safety and effectiveness of using any citronella products around your dog.

The Case Against Citronella Collars

Citronella-infused doggie collars may come with their own set of issues and problems. Repeated exposure may eventually cease being effective at stopping barking in some dogs, notes the Marin Humane Society. The Idaho Humane Society notes that other canines barking may also trigger the spray, sending confusing mixed signals to the wearer.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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