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Dogs: This is why we can’t have nice things…

Approx. 5 minutes read

Argh, Rufus! Not AGAIN!

You hear the words propelled from your own mouth as you, for the umpteenth time, pick up pieces of an unidentifiable object that look suspiciously like your missing shoe. And your dog understands the tone of your voice, but the tip of his tail is nervously wagging because 1. You said his name, and 2. He’s got your attention!

You chase ol’ Rufus out into the yard as ‘punishment’, clean up the mess and go back to your home office. Except that after a few hours, things seem a little too quiet. You put Rufus outside, so that’s where he must be… and you do find him, paws and face full of soil; soil that should be in the ground, but is everywhere but! He’s made a dog’s breakfast of the flowers and did such an effective job of digging that you’re tempted to rename him Goldrush.

So, of course you need to clean him up, chase him indoors again and tidy up the yard. Goldrush… uh… Rufus tucks his tail and goes back indoors while you rebury the soil and make a mental note to replace your poor dug-up plants with new seedlings. On your way back inside the house, you take off your soiled shoes and walk barefoot… straight into a puddle of dog pee!

Argh, Rufus! Not AGAIN!

Let’s take a look at some of the dog repellent solutions available to frustrated dog owners, and why dog repellent products aren’t the be-all and end-all of changing your dog’s behaviour. They form just one facet of encouraging ol’ Rufus to be the pawfect furry family member.

How to keep your dog out of the garden

Let’s tackle the digging debacle first. In a previous article, we thoroughly explored the reasons why dogs dig and the behavioural solutions required to stop dogs from digging. If you work on ensuring your dog is not bored, hot, needing to escape, or nesting, then eventually their impulse to dig will be curbed enough for it to no longer be a problem. Behavioural training is the best dog digging repellent.

However, ‘working on it’ can take a lot of time and patience, and every time your dog digs again, it satisfies his digging impulse, making it more and more difficult for him to stop. What do you do in the meantime? What will repel dogs from digging?

There are a number of dog repellents for flower beds, which include:

Some anecdotal advice includes putting citrus peels (like orange and lemon rinds) in your garden to stop your dog from digging, or to use a citronella dog repellent. These are just temporary solutions while you re-train your dog to not become bored or triggered enough to even want to dig.

If your dog is a digging breed (such as a Jack Russell, a dachshund, Cairn terrier, Siberian husky, or beagle – the list goes on), then you may find it nearly impossible to stop him from digging. The trick here is to redirect your pup’s impulse to a digging patch that belongs exclusively to him. Use positive reinforcement to teach him he’s allowed to dig, but only there.

How to stop your dog from marking

We cover this topic in an in-depth article on how to stop your dog from marking in the house. Marking behaviour is caused by anxiety because of changes to their routine, conflict with other pets, or new pets in the neighbourhood. You can relieve your pup’s anxiety by reinforcing a consistent household routine, building up your dog’s self-confidence with training, and being aware of how you may be (even subconsciously) influencing the pet hierarchy in your home.

These issues may take a while to resolve, but until then, you can solve the immediate problem of inappropriate marking in the house with dog pee repellent products. These include a repelling spray that will keep your dog away from curtains, furniture, doorways and carpets, as well as bio-enzyme pet cleaners that target bacteria to neutralise stains and odours. These cleaning products discourage pets from remarking the same areas.

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How to stop your dog from chewing everything

Our deep-dive into why dogs chew and how to stop them from chewing on inappropriate objects is worth the read if you’ve got a chew-oriented dog. Chewing is an impulsive behaviour that is both energising and soothing – it makes your pup feel good. Pawtunately, not all is lost – you can still have a dog and have nice things – if you take the steps early and consistently enough to teach your dog what and what not to chew.

During the behavioural training process of teaching your dog not to chew on non-toy objects, you have two powerful weapons:

bitters – a potent dog repellent spray to apply to non-toy items, household furniture and anything you don’t want your dog to put in his mouth

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toys! Lots and lots of toys!

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The more you play with your pup and his chew toys, the more he will ‘get it’ that chewing on toys = good, and chewing on anything else… not good. Playing with him at the same time every day will help him to anticipate this playtime, giving him no reason to go off and find something else to chew.

How to repel other dogs from my dog and my yard

Having a furry friend as walking buddy is an absolute joy, but it’s also a big responsibility. Unfortunately, there are a few dog owners who either don’t have their dogs under control or haven’t put the time in to train and socialise their dogs enough. It’s a dangerous situation to be in when an untrained (‘friendly’) dog comes lunging at your obedient pup, especially if they’re off leash and your dog is not.

You can keep that stranger dog at bay with an aggressive dog repellent, which is a humane solution of simply a puff of compressed air. It breaks the dog’s fixation and makes him think twice about approaching you.

If you’re being tormented by another dog coming into your yard or bothering your pets, a solution could be to use an ultrasonic deterrent – a high-pitched noise that humans can’t hear, but dogs can. Some dog whistles emit this noise, as well as a dog repellent noise product that works on an electronic signal. Keep in mind that this should only be a temporary solution, as it creates an unpleasant experience for all the dogs in the area – not just the misbehaving ones. It would be best to address problematic dogs with their owners, or report the issue to the authorities.


The use of dog repellents forms just one small part of discouraging your dog’s unwanted behaviour while you work on the long-term behavioural changes. Some dogs respond instantly to positive reinforcement – doing whatever they need to do to gobble up the yummy treats – while others can be more stubborn about changing their ways. Dog repellent products are only meant to work as short-term, intermittent solutions while you and your furry friend work on cementing a long-term relationship and good dog – Good Dog – habits.

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