How to Make Homemade Taste Deterrent for Dogs

by Vivian Gomez
"I can explain everything."

"I can explain everything."

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The smell and taste of bitter apple spray discourages dogs from chewing on your stuff, but frequently buying the product at pet stores can be pricy. If the non-toxic spray keeps your pooch from chewing that copy of "Brothers Karamazov" you just bought or your favorite pair of boots, consider making your own at a fraction of the cost.

Empty Spray Bottle

Purchase an empty spray bottle at a dollar or discount shop. Chain pharmacies carry them as well, typically in the cosmetics or hair accessories aisles. If you re-purpose a bottle of cleaner, rinse it out thoroughly with hot water and wash it out with soap. No traces of substances that may be toxic to your pooch should remain.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is the base for most bitter apple sprays. You can spray it on items you don't want your dog to chew on without damaging them. The tart taste serves as a repellent. Pour 2 cups of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup of white vinegar into the spray bottle. Shake well, and spray on all items you want your dog to stop chewing.

Lemon Juice

If you don't have apple cider vinegar handy, lemon juice works, too. Pour 2 cups of lemon juice and 1 cup of white vinegar into the spray bottle. Shake well, and spray. The lemon juice will also taste tart, and discourage your beastie from chewing up the table legs.

Spray Away

Reapply the deterrent spray to your things every week. If you forget, then the taste will fade and Fido will go back to chewing up that sofa. Be consistent in reapplication so your four-legged pal gets the message.

Drive the Message Home

Your clever pooch is learning to not chew on your things because they taste bad. Reinforce his learning when you catch him in the act. Stand tall, hold out your finger and give him a stern "No!" Getting upset will only serve to confuse him, and he might even misinterpret your yelling as an invitation to play. If you don't catch him in the act, hold up your chewed-up sneaker and say "No!" Using the deterrent spray in tandem with training is an effective way to get your pooch to not chew up all your worldly possessions. Bitter apple spray is not a substitute for behavioral training.

Warnings and Considerations

Never spray repellent -- even non-toxic homemade deterrent spray -- into your dog's eyes. And never apply even homemade deterrent spray onto your dog's skin, in cases where you want to prevent him from chewing on himself, such as his tail or paws. Skin could be raw or broken and will need to be reviewed by a veterinarian to see if topical antibiotics are required. Consider, too, that all repellants are not created equal, and bitter apple spray does not discourage all dogs from chewing. Additionally, some dogs become tolerant to the taste.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

About the Author

Vivian Gomez contributes to Retailing Today, the Daily Puppy, Paw Nation and other websites. She's covered the New York Comic Con for NonProductive since 2009 and writes about everything from responsible pet ownership to comic books to the manner in which smart phones are changing the way people shop. Gomez received her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Pace University.

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