if You Pepper Spray a Dog

What Happens if You Pepper Spray a Dog?

Have you ever experienced having an aggressive dog come lunging towards your polite pooch? While it is not that common of an occurrence, there are times when other dogs might attack you or your canine when you are out for a walk. Dogs can prove to be great friends; however, there are also plenty of cases where both pets and their owners have gotten attacked or bitten. Many reported cases of dog bites appear around the world each year.

While this does not mean that you should not keep canines as a pet, it does suggest that you should be prepared for such an incident. One of the ways you can stop the dog from attacking is by using pepper spray.

It is a quick, effective, economical, and rather a safe method for dealing with aggressive dogs. The mechanism is simple; the formula is strong enough to temporarily disable the dog from attacking you or your pet. The effects wear off after a while.

In this guide, we will be talking about the times when you might need to use pepper spray and important things you need to know before using these.

if You Pepper Spray a Dog

Why Do People Use Pepper Sprays on Dogs?

Pepper sprays are used for a single purpose, to stop an attacking dog. The name tell us that the active ingredient in pepper, and it momentarily stuns the canine by attacking the eyes and nose. It is painful to the dog but not to the level of being inhumane.

Use Pepper Sprays on Dogs

Therefore, the two main reasons people use this spray is to:

  1. Stop and Immobilize an Attacking Dog
  2. Get Time to Escape or Help their Pet Escape

Using these require a person to be above 18 years of age. While it is legal to use it for self-defense, one needs to make sure to use it only as a last resort. You cannot go around spraying a dog that is snarling.

Pepper sprays are only meant to be used if the dog is trying to attack you or your pet. Unnecessary using can increase the dog’s aggressiveness and may do more than harm. At the same time, pepper spraying a dog that hasn’t attacked you can have consequences.

It is legal to use most pepper sprays in around 50 states all over the world. However, before using it, try to move away from the dog. Consider shouting or scaring him away. If the dog still continues to lunge towards you or your pooch, only then may you use the spray. Many of these come with a range of 10 feet or more, allowing you to use them at a safe distance. Make sure to not accidentally use it on another person or pet in the process.

How Effective Is a Pepper Spray on Dogs?

Turns out, pretty effective. These deterrent sprays use capsaicinoids as the main active ingredient in the formula. The effects include an excruciating burning sensation in sensitive areas like the eyes and nose membranes.

Effective Is a Pepper Spray on Dogs

It is quite similar to regular pepper sprays for humans. However, while pepper sprays for dogs are less intense than the ones used for humans, these are just as effective because dogs have sharper and more sensitive senses.

When sprayed, the dog experiences a lot of pain, and while the effects are temporary, these are known to last for around 30 minutes. As a result, the dog is instantly stopped from attacking, and you can make your escape.

Other than the long-lasting effectiveness, this can also be used from a distance. However, the accuracy of the aim can be affected by how far you are from the snarling dog.

However, you need to be careful in such cases so it does not blowback on your skin. The strength is mostly ideal for large dogs. Using these on a small breed or puppy is not recommended as the effects may be very harsh.

Keep reading to learn the best methods to make a dog deterrent spray.

Things You Need to Know Before Using a Pepper Spray

Now that you know the reasons why you might need to use pepper spray let us proceed to list the things you should know beforehand. These include the proper usage instructions, including the when and where, the necessary precautions for you and your pooch’s safety, and last but not least, the useful alternatives.


These come in a variety of sizes and shapes; however, the method of using each one is almost the same. When it comes to usage, you need to keep three things in mind.

1. The spray should be easy to handle. Many of these come in compact sizes with belt clips for easy attachment and carefree handling. The clip should be adjusted, so you are able to retrieve the pepper spray with ease. If it is too bulky or not easy to carry, you will not be able to use it properly in case of an emergency. Therefore it is best to keep it somewhere accessible.

2. You should be able to use it swiftly in case of an emergency. These are not meant to be used for training purposes; however, using this for the first time in case of an emergency is also not a recommended option. When used incorrectly, it can be dangerous for you and your pet. After all, it is a strong irritant. Many brands offer a training spray that has the same mechanism for working but uses a harmless alternative like water. You can practice using these, so when you have to use a real spray, it is not your first time aiming.

3. You should know the ideal distance. This is important because, in most cases, when you are attacked by a dog, you will want to use this before the ferocious canine reaches you, and that means using the spray from a distance. Depending on how far you are from the target, your aim will get affected. Therefore, it is best to know how far you can aim with this without missing it. When you have taken care of these three things, you can be sure to use the spray correctly.


Pepper sprays do not have long-lasting effects; however, these are painful. Quite often, these can leave a dog even more upset than before. This may increase the chances of another person getting attacked.

Similarly, if you get this on your skin, it can be painful and irritating as the effects may last for around 45 minutes. Pepper sprays are legal; however, they come with their restrictions as well. Therefore, the wrong usage of these deterrent sprays can have consequences.


As mentioned before, these are painful to dogs are sometimes do more harm than good. However, if the goal is to simply stop or startle a dog to buy enough time for an escape, a better alternative can be used. An air horn or a citronella spray is ideal for such usage.

These alternatives use noise and scent to temporarily disable an attacking dog. The effect is also instant and buys you time; however, it is not nearly as painful. It is also an ideal option for smaller dogs.

Read more: Stop My Dog From Peeing in the House


Getting attacked by a dog is no pleasant experience and is best avoided if possible. A pepper spray for dogs can be a useful safety tool for you whether you own a dog or not. These use the active formula to overwhelm a dog’s sense of sight and smell. The effects are instantaneous and stop the attacking dog.

These are also compact, easy to carry, and easy to use. How far you can aim from a spray depends on the bottle style, and it is usually mentioned on the package. If a certain brand offers a training bottle, consider using it to practice a correct aim.

If you wish to find an alternative, you can also use either an air-horn or a citronella spray. In the end, your goal should be to prioritize your own safety with the least possible damage to the aggressive dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a Pepper Spray Stop an Attacking Dog?
Yes. The spray uses capsaicinoids which introduce a burning sensation in the eyes and nose, stopping the dog from attacking. However, the effectiveness also depends on your aim. If it is not correct, it will not stop the dog and may end up making him angrier. Therefore, the key to getting it to work is aiming right.

Is It legal to use Pepper Spray on a Dog?
Yes, it is legal to purchase and use pepper sprays almost everywhere. However, you need to be of legal age in order to use it. Your reason for using this should also be an acceptable one. It is not legal to use to a dog that has not taken the initiative to attack you.

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