Bitter apple spray works to stop chewing



Bitter apple spray for dog training

Bitter apple spray on Amazon

Bitter apple spray works to stop a dog’s chewing and other bad habits. Bitter apple spray is a bad tasting liquid you can spray on furniture, leashes, your hands and dogs’ bodies to get them to stop licking or chewing that area. It tastes bad, so they avoid it.

There are different brands of the spray, and it comes in a gel form, too. I have only tried the spray. The first brand I tried about nine years ago was Grannick’s Bitter Apple (I’ve included some Amazon affiliate links). I got it for my golden retriever puppy, Brittni, to prevent her from chewing objects, especially her leather leash during walks. It worked. Of course, there are other, better ways to teach a dog not to chew something, but the spray is a quick fix. Brittni did not chew her leash again after she got a taste of the bitter apple spray.

Puppies need to be taught limits, like what they can and cannot chew, whether or not they are allowed on the furniture and not to bite hands. Obviously, a dog owner can’t spray everything in the house with bitter apple. But for an especially difficult puppy that keeps chewing something in particular, or if you need to put a stop to something right away, this spray really does do the trick.

The reason I am writing about bitter apple spray to begin with is because Ace has been licking his feet a lot lately. This is most likely because of allergies, and I am working to solve that medical problem. Until I can figure out what is really causing his obsessive licking behavior, the spray is blocking the bad habit. This time I tried the Pet Botanics version called The Bitter End (works just as well as the Grannick’s brand and was cheaper).

Since I bought the spray earlier this week, I have only had to use it twice. When Ace obsessively licks his feet or, between his back legs, I tell him no. If he ignores me, then I spray a small amount of the bitter apple on his paws. He stops licking immediately once he has the spray on his feet and does not go back to licking any time soon. Again, this is not really solving the problem, but it’s blocking the habit.

Apparently you can buy bitter apple spray for cats, birds, horses and ferrets, too. I have heard of a few dogs that seem to actually like the taste of this stuff or at least ignore it, but the majority of animals find the taste to be really bad.

Just out of curiosity, I even sprayed the bitter apple on my own arm and licked it. This stuff is very, very strong and leaves a taste in your mouth for a few minutes. I can see why dogs hate it! Another plus: Humans can’t see it or smell it, and it will not stain furniture or clothes. So, in my opinion, why not have a bottle around? It can’t hurt. Oh, and an 8-ounce bottle only costs about $7. Order yours here.

Have you ever used bitter apple? Did it work?

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22 Readers Commented

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  1. Tammy on August 22, 2008

    I haven’t used the spray, but when my Luna cat was teeny, she had a horrible habit. She had been spayed when I got her (really early!) and her scar was quite uneven. She sucked on it. It was gross! I took her in and the vet gave me a prescription of something like the bitter apple. You spread it on her scar and it was supposed to stop her from sucking.

    It worked a bit, helped, but didn’t stop her. It had both bitter and hot in it I guess. She eventually stopped on her own, but I tried numerous things besides the prescription! Covering it, an e-collar, putting her in a tube sock (with cut-outs for her legs, head, tail)… She was stubborn!

    Tammys last blog post..Animals are amazing!

  2. Apryl DeLancey on August 22, 2008

    Wow! Ace has so much in common with my old mutt. She would also lick her feet obsessively due to a medical issue. I did not try the spray with her though, I was too chicken. I have a thing about too much product on the animals. In addition, the cost and/or effectiveness of “band-aid” remedies are always an issue for me. I eventually was able to correct her behavior, but it took time and patience. Good luck!

    Apryl DeLanceys last blog post..My Fantasy Football Season and Cuzoogle’s Pigskin Picks

  3. Lindsay Stordahl Author on August 22, 2008

    Yeah, I don’t like using too many chemicals either, Apryl. Like, all the flea medicine. What kind of mix was your mutt? I don’t remember.

    Haha! Sounds like your cat really was stubburn, Tammy. Poor little kitty. I’m sure her tummy was really uncomfortable, but it is still funny to picture her in a tube sock.

  4. Marie on August 22, 2008

    I haven’t tried the bitter apple spray, but I’m glad to hear that it’s giving Ace’s feet a rest until you find a more permanent solution.

  5. K9 Amiga on August 23, 2008

    i think you put it well, its a good short term solution but shouldn’t be the only approach to change a dogs habits

    K9 Amigas last blog post..Argentine Dog Saves Abandoned Baby

  6. Saint Lover on August 23, 2008

    I was very fortuneate that my two puppies (Apollo and Zeus) weren’t big chewers. Shoes were about the only thing that fell victim to Zeus and well.. clothes are Apollo’s achillies heel.

    I did have a bottle of bitter apple way back when… but never needed to use it. I dont plan on getting puppies for some time, but when I do I will pick some of that stuff up.

    Saint Lovers last blog post..Wag Fest

  7. Raj Krishnaswamy on August 25, 2008

    Yes. This stuff works like a charm on dogs as well as cats. Plus no chemicals involved.

    Raj Krishnaswamys last blog post..Thermal Spray Gun Maintenance

  8. Biggie-Z on August 25, 2008

    Bitter Apple worked incredibly well on my old dog, an American Eskimo. Not so much with Biggie – he seemed to treat it like salad dressing when we sprayed it on our living room plant to deter him from grabbing leaves and running around the apartment with them. We even tried hot and spicy sauces and they didn’t make a difference, so we had to deal with the underlying behavior instead. Luckily Biggie’s not much of a chewer.

    Ben-Gay or anything else minty also worked to deter Boo from sniffing around the garbage.

  9. xereneles on March 6, 2009

    I had a roommate that had a Great Dane mix that used bitter apple to keep the dog from trying to chew our couch – it did absolutely nothing for the dog but drove me out of the house. I wasn’t around when she sprayed it, but it still made my nose and eyes water and left a nasty taste in my mouth.

    Since getting a dog of my own, I haven’t once thought of using a spray to curb him from chewing/licking. I smear peanut butter on a toy and redirect his attention to that instead.

    • Jode~ on March 27, 2012

      I agree with you about having your mouth being filled with that taste just from spraying it around on things. Totally horrible. ^-^ Seem to be that just Running the dog/ or walking and playing w/ him helped manage a huge list of behavioral problems. Especially over active chewing and jumping on people. He is also mo focused when you start to train him after we ran all the excess energy out of em,, lol an don’t worry, Let him rest for 5 miutes and he will be bouncy and hyper again,,,, ^-^ Just not as bad :D

      The spray may work to detour some pups, and some will just keep chewing on it as if they forgot it taste bad/ or they are ok with the bad taste. lol

  10. Lindsay Stordahl Author on March 7, 2009

    I’ve gotten it in my mouth. It is not a good taste at all. I don’t recommend putting the spray on furniture, because it will eventually make it onto people’s hands and into people’s mouths.

  11. Jean on September 9, 2009

    I find that a mixture of Bitter Apple and Vaseline ½ and ½ works the best. That way when the dog goes to chew on a table leg, door frame, window sill, and so forth, it tastes bad. The objects themselves become the deterrent. Since the Vaseline holds the bad taste in it doesn’t have to be re-applied. The dog can repeatedly go back and try to chew with the same results. Therefore the item has taught the dog not to chew.

  12. JCM's Dog Training on September 9, 2009

    First the owner needs to have several strategically placed rolls of Duct Tape in the house. When the owner sees to dog going to chew on the table leg, shoes, or anything else for that matter, it is important that he say nothing. Let the dog start to chew, committing to the mistake. Quietly pick up a roll of tape and lightly toss it at the dog’s rear end. Because you haven’t said anything, in the dog’s mind it couldn’t have come from you. It must have come from the object being chewed. Dogs learn through “cause and “and through “repetition.” He may very well start to chew again. Here comes another roll. By the second or third roll the dog has learned to avoid the object.

  13. Lindsay Stordahl Author on September 9, 2009

    Not sure that I want to put Vaseline on my furniture, etc. Isn’t that pretty messy?

    The duct tape idea might work as long as the dog doesn’t see you throwing the tape.

  14. Bob on March 16, 2011

    As soon as it drys ,my dog resumes licking. Does not work at all.

  15. Lindsay Stordahl Author on March 16, 2011

    Thanks for your comment, Bob. It works better for some dogs and not so well for others.

  16. Leora on April 17, 2011

    I’ve used it for my cats. One of them started chewing on her perch (which happens to be a mattress that does not belong to us NOT GOOD). Worked like a dream! Unfortunately she decided that our chairs would make a good chewing substitute.
    The stuff definitely stops chewing in a specific spot, but does not curb the behaviour at all. Now if only I could figure out how to train my kitty to stop gnawing on the furniture…

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on April 18, 2011

      I tried it for my cats to get them to stop scratching certain areas of the couch and to stop chewing on my plant. It didn’t seem to help too much. And I ended up throwing my plant away because it was chewed up by cats and probably damaged from the bitter apple. Oh well! :)

  17. Chelsea on May 13, 2011

    We’ve just recently tried the bitter spray and my lab likes it. She has a foot womb that we have been bandaging and she won’t leave it alone/keeps licking the wrapping until it comes off. She actually tore her stitches out earlier this week. So it doesn’t work on every dog unfortunately (the e-collar wouldn’t even won’t on her).

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 13, 2011

      Oh that’s too bad about your dog. I hope you can keep her from chewing on her foot while it heals! Poor girl!

  18. Dave on December 8, 2012

    I was told by a sales rep that if you spray the item being chewed and then spray a small amount in the dog’s mouth they will associate the scent with the bad taste and the product will continue to work after it dries because of the scent. It seems to work for my pit bull puppy. He hates the taste and hasn’t touched the wicker basket he was obsessed with before.

    I’m going to try the duct tape trick! Thanks.

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