If your new puppy or dog is a peeing machine, you may be eager to try just about anything to stop him from sprinkling your home. You may have heard of a deterrent spray called Bitter Apple. You'll find it ultimately has no use for Scruffy's elimination problems. It may turn out helpful for other unwanted behaviors.
Effective Chewing Deterrent
Other than a busy bladder, your dog is equipped with taste buds capable of recognizing sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavors. Because many dogs dislike bitter flavors, the bitterness of Bitter Apple makes it an effective taste deterrent. Invented in 1960 by pharmacist Irv Grannick, Bitter Apple is a topical bitter concoction meant to discourage dogs from chewing on hot spots, bandages, furniture and shoes. This means if you spray Bitter Apple on surfaces you care about such as the legs of your antique Queen Ann coffee table, your dog, upon tasting it, may have a "bleah" reaction, which should discourage him from chewing.
Ineffective Elimination Deterrent
The word "deterrent" may cause you to assume that a brand like Grannick's Bitter Apple would deter your pooch from peeing in certain areas. While this powerful taste deterrent made of water, isopropanol, bitter flavors and extracts will make your dog's tongue want to roll up and hide, it will work only for chewing and licking problems. If your dog has an elimination problem, you may perhaps be looking for a different category of dog attractant and deterrent sprays.
To Pee or Not to Pee?
Attractant sprays contain special scents meant to invite your puppy to "come here and pee." You may want to use these sprays to cover surfaces you want your puppy to pee on such as newspapers and puppy pads -- some pads have attractant infused in them. Deterrent sprays, conversely, are meant to deter your pooch from eliminating in certain areas or on certain surfaces. If you own a puppy, you may want to spray your carpet and rugs with this product. If you own an adult dog who urine marks, you may want to spray commonly marked areas.
Effective Cleaning Sprays
You may think that dogs are creatures of habit and as such they like to pee over and over the same surfaces and spots, but there's more to that. Just as you look for a familiar bathroom sign when you need to empty the tank, dogs seek their previously soiled areas with their potent sniffers. By cleaning up previously soiled areas with appropriate enzyme-based products, you'll eliminate those odors that cause Scruffy to pee over the same areas over and over again.
Ineffective Cleaning Sprays
You may want to avoid certain types of cleaning sprays, as some are ineffective and others may even make problems worse. For instance, regular household cleaning products won't work for the simple fact that they lack enzymes. Ammonia-based products, on the other paw, will actually encourage Scruffy to soil those recently cleaned areas because ammonia is actually a component in urine.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.