Homemade Citronella Spray for Whining Dogs

by Betty Lewis
    Citronella can keep mosquitos and whining away.

    Citronella can keep mosquitos and whining away.

    Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

    Let's be honest: everyone gets frustrated with a crybaby. No matter if it's a dog or your child, whining becomes tiresome. If your pup's not feeling well or having a bad day, a little whining is understandable. However, constant whining is hard on everyone and Buck needs to learn when enough's enough.

    Why Dogs Whine

    When Buck wants your attention, he may bark, show off or whine. In addition to seeking attention, a dog will whine if he's excited, anxious or trying to appease someone. Your pup may whine when you come home after a day of work or a little vacation, expressing his excitement at your return. If he whines excessively around people or other dogs, often with a submissive posture, you're witnessing appeasement whining. Separation anxiety and physical discomfort, from injury or illness, can also cause your pooch to whine.

    Using Citronella

    Citronella collars have proven to be more effective at minimizing unwanted barking than shock collars. The premise is when a dog barks or whines, a microphone in the collar detects the noise and sprays a harmless mixture of citronella in the dog's face. The odor is unpleasant for the dog, who eventually learns to remain quiet, fearing the spray's scent. The problem with the collars is they don't understand context. Sometimes you want Buck to bark -- such as when a stranger comes to the house -- or even whine, like when he has to go potty right away.

    Making Citronella Spray

    If a citronella collar isn't for you, a spray bottle filled with homemade citronella spray may be more up your alley. Mix 4 ounces of distilled water, 4 ounces of witch hazel and 30 drops of essential citronella oil in a spray bottle. Shake to mix and when Buck whines, spray the mix in his face. Make sure your spray bottle sprays a mist and not a stream of water; never spray a stream of water in your pup's face. Only spray him when he whines inappropriately, however; if he's stressed or scared, don't spray him.

    Other Methods to Stop Whining

    If you're not keen on spraying your pal in the face, or if he's not put off by the odor of citronella, you can teach Buck there are better ways to get what he wants than whining. If he's whining to get your attention, don't reward him by responding to him, not even to tell him to be quiet. Instead, fold your arms across your chest or turn your back to him to indicate he's not getting the attention he's seeking. Reward quiet time by giving him treats only when he's in a quiet state. When Buck's quiet, seek him out to give him attention so he learns that silence can actually be an effective way to gain your notice. If Buck's whining appears to be anxiety-related, talk to a professional dog trainer to learn training strategies to minimize and cope with his anxiety. As well, if there's any indication his whining is from physical discomfort, get him to the vet for a thorough checkup.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

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