The smell and taste of bitter apple spray discourages dogs from chewing on furniture and other items in the home, but frequently buying the product at pet stores can be pricy. If the store-bought non-toxic spray keeps your pooch from chewing up your favorite pair of boots or your copy of "Brothers Karamazov," consider making your own repellent spray at a fraction of the cost.
Items You'll need:
• Empty spray bottle
• Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
• White vinegar
Step 1 - Purchase an empty spray bottle (recommended) or re-purpose an empty one. If you choose to re-purpose a bottle which once held a commercial cleaner, make sure that you rinse it out thoroughly with hot water and wash it out with soap. Absolutely no traces of substances that may be toxic to your pooch should remain. We highly suggest that you only repurpose bottles which originally contained non-toxic substances.
Step 2 - Add your ingredients. 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. 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. If you don't have apple cider vinegar handy, mix 2 cups of lemon juice with 1 cup of white vinegar. The lemon juice will also taste tart, and discourage your beastie from chewing.
Step 3 - Spray Away. Spray the objects you'd like your pooch to stop chewing. Reapply the deterrent spray 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.
Step 4 - Drive the Message Home. As 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 any repellent -- even non-toxic homemade deterrent spray such as this one -- into your dog's eyes AND never apply it onto your dog's skin to prevent him from chewing on himself, such as his tail or paws. Skin that has been chewed or licked 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 (and all dogs!) are not created equal. so this spray will not discourage ALL dogs from chewing. Additionally, some dogs have the tendency to become tolerant to its taste.
By Vivian Gomez
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.