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Aversives for Dogs


“Aversive” is Relative! | Determining an effective aversive reaction is definitely a case of trial-and-error, as individual preferences will vary with the animal (and with the owner). Remember: “Aversive” doesn’t mean “punishment.” This is often the best method to discourage an animal from a particular action or place, but will seldom work effectively without an alternative, convenient, and rewarding behavior being offered.



You may need to weight the “material” firmly or tape it in order for it to stay put! To protect furniture or floor finish from sticky substances, attach them to another piece of foil or heavy plastic and secure that with weights or light tape. These are more effective for pups, small dogs, and low-energy dogs than for those who won’t let a little obstacle stand in their way!



  • Shelf paper (sticky side up)
  • Double-sided carpet tape



  • Irregular/sharp rocks, firmly set into dirt
  • Chicken wire, firmly set into dirt (sharp edges rolled under)



  • Heavy plastic carpet runner (pointed side up)



Some of these substances may damage furniture or floor finishes, so be sure to test them in a hidden location before wide-spread use. Except for hot sauce and cayenne pepper, these substances should be safe to apply to most people’s skin, however, individuals may be sensitive to them.

  • Bitter Apple or similar sprays/gels marketed specifically for taste aversion
  • Insect repellent, especially those containing citronella and/or citrus odors (check for toxicity, if safe for young children, is generally safe for pets)
  • Some hot sauces
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Some muscle rubs
  • Citric odors (colognes, concentrated juices or fresh peels)
  • Aloe gel


Surprise! Timing is Everything!

WARNING: For fearful animals, try EVERYTHING ELSE before trying these techniques, especially those using noises


Remote-controlled Aversives:

  • Motion detector that reacts with startling sound
  • “Snappy Trainer” (upside-down mouse trap securely taped underpaper to avoid contact)
  • Aluminum pie plate containing water, beans, or pebbles — preferably balanced precariously


Human-controlled Aversives:

  • Use these to get the dog’s attention and thereby offer an appropriate alternative. Spray bottle or squirt gun filled with water or combined water and vinegar (Note | Avoid the “super-duper” water guns which have very forceful spray)
  • Loud air horn
  • Whistle
  • Shaker can (soda can containing several nails, pennies, beans, or pebbles, securely taped shut)

Thanks to our friends at the
Dumb Friends League of Denver for the use of these informative tips.

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