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Marian Perera
05-08-2015, 06:01 PM
One of my weird-ass scenarios again. Thanks in advance for any advice, folks!

My MC is a chemist who needs to hide someone in his laboratory (there's a secret hollow in a wall, like a priest's hole). Dogs are being used in the search, and my MC must keep them out of the laboratory.

Is it plausible that my MC could concoct some smell that repels the dogs so much they won't enter unless they're dragged in? It's a well-stocked laboratory. I've been reading lots of contradictory information about dissuading dogs - one website says pepper spray, another says dogs can work through the pain. The dogs in question are guard dogs, not bloodhounds and not specifically trained in tracking, but they have an article of clothing belonging to the person the MC needs to hide. Also, the MC works for the person who owns the dogs, so he can't do anything overtly hostile like barring the door or throwing acid around.

Basically, I just need to keep the dogs out of the lab. If anyone can name a specific chemical, that would be great, but confirming whether or not this is plausible helps too. :)

Bufty
05-08-2015, 06:47 PM
I would think the dog handler would be curious as to why his dog was hesitating about entering the lab.

Marian Perera
05-08-2015, 06:52 PM
I would think the dog handler would be curious as to why his dog was hesitating about entering the lab.

Oh yes. That's fine, and it's also fine if the handler gets a whiff of the horrible/painful smell. I want people to start suspecting the MC (which they do in the story).

Pony.
05-08-2015, 07:10 PM
One of my weird-ass scenarios again. Thanks in advance for any advice, folks!

My MC is a chemist who needs to hide someone in his laboratory (there's a secret hollow in a wall, like a priest's hole). Dogs are being used in the search, and my MC must keep them out of the laboratory.

Is it plausible that my MC could concoct some smell that repels the dogs so much they won't enter unless they're dragged in? It's a well-stocked laboratory. I've been reading lots of contradictory information about dissuading dogs - one website says pepper spray, another says dogs can work through the pain. The dogs in question are guard dogs, not bloodhounds and not specifically trained in tracking, but they have an article of clothing belonging to the person the MC needs to hide. Also, the MC works for the person who owns the dogs, so he can't do anything overtly hostile like barring the door or throwing acid around.

Basically, I just need to keep the dogs out of the lab. If anyone can name a specific chemical, that would be great, but confirming whether or not this is plausible helps too. :)

I'll have to scour the search history on my laptop but a while back my wife and i were looking for something 'all natural' we could use to keep our new boxer puppy out of the trash can and cat boxes.
I found a plant that when crushed and steeped the juice was so repellant to the animals of that articles writer that they wouldnt come near her for a month.

We just decided to switch to covered boxes and scoop twice a day.

tko
05-08-2015, 07:25 PM
I have never heard of a scent that repels a dog (the worse the smell, the more they seem to like it.) I had to do a ton of research on bloodhounds and scent for my current novel, and never saw what you need mentioned (what I needed was a scent dogs could smell, but human's couldn't.) Instead, there's a lot of research (see mythbusters) showing a bloodhound can just about find any smell, no matter how hidden.

But it's your world. Just set this up early in the novel and no one will question it. Plot weaknesses can usually be turned into strengths with enough foresight.

Could you use a sound? My dog hates the chirping that a smoke detector makes when the batteries run down. Enough to run out of the house and jump over the back wall. This has happened a few times, and the sound made by the weak batteries every few minutes is almost inaudible. The problem would be believing that a group of dogs would all act this way. A high pitched squeak could be generated by rosin and a leather strap, like a violin.



One of my weird-ass scenarios again. Thanks in advance for any advice, folks!

My MC is a chemist who needs to hide someone in his laboratory (there's a secret hollow in a wall, like a priest's hole). Dogs are being used in the search, and my MC must keep them out of the laboratory.

Is it plausible that my MC could concoct some smell that repels the dogs so much they won't enter unless they're dragged in? It's a well-stocked laboratory. I've been reading lots of contradictory information about dissuading dogs - one website says pepper spray, another says dogs can work through the pain. The dogs in question are guard dogs, not bloodhounds and not specifically trained in tracking, but they have an article of clothing belonging to the person the MC needs to hide. Also, the MC works for the person who owns the dogs, so he can't do anything overtly hostile like barring the door or throwing acid around.

Basically, I just need to keep the dogs out of the lab. If anyone can name a specific chemical, that would be great, but confirming whether or not this is plausible helps too. :)

Pony.
05-08-2015, 07:25 PM
Well i havent found the plant one yet but if howstuffworks.com is to be believed a nice stout ammonia based floor cleaner will mess the dogs up well enough. And for a lab environment a strong cleaner smell wouldnt be out of place.


http://home.howstuffworks.com/how-to-make-homemade-dog-repellent.htm

Marian Perera
05-08-2015, 07:34 PM
Instead, there's a lot of research (see mythbusters) showing a bloodhound can just about find any smell, no matter how hidden.

I read what the Mythbusters tried in terms of putting a bloodhound off the scent. These dogs wouldn't be bloodhounds, though I don't know if that makes any difference.


Could you use a sound? I could, but my MC is a chemist with a fully stocked laboratory.

It's actually less suspicious (and IMO more plausible) if he says, "I'm conducting an experiment that just happens to produce painful-to-breathe vapors, sorry", than if he causes a high-pitched sound that has little or nothing to do with chemical experiments. Especially because he has to hide someone on the spur of the moment, he won't have a chance to think beforehand of what sounds can deter dogs. Whereas bad smells in chemistry seem more or less routine.

Marian Perera
05-08-2015, 07:40 PM
Well i havent found the plant one yet but if howstuffworks.com is to be believed a nice stout ammonia based floor cleaner will mess the dogs up well enough.

Ammonia sounds good, thanks. :)

Pony.
05-08-2015, 08:15 PM
Ammonia sounds good, thanks. :)

Just in observing my own dogs pinesol wont do it. It'll have to be something stronger. My little beasts will lay down in the middle of the kitchen floor while im mopping. But something with a higher ammonia concentration may be a different outcome.

Ravioli
05-08-2015, 08:58 PM
Mind where the repellent is supposed to be. To keep an outdoor environment smelly enough to repell dogs, you'd need 24/7 pipe supply of extremely powerful stink. These smells are said to repell dogs, and remember there are scent-based repellents you can buy at pet shops, too:
http://pets.thenest.com/smells-repel-dogs-6274.html

Except, none of those are reliable. I have dogs, I have cats, they wipe their asses with my desperate measures.

Try perhaps a high-frequency sound the dogs hate, but humans can't hear. It's much more cost-efficient as a sound can be looped and played through speakers, while smell would need a constant supply of the chemical source.

There is also that invisible fence thing where you lay out a cable that shocks the dogs. Except, I don't believe in that measure as dogs can jump/step over it, or instead of flinching back, jump forward. A real eager dog wouldn't even care about a small buzz considering some thoroughly broken and fucked-up Pitbulls will fight through broken limbs.

Hope that helps :)

Pony.
05-08-2015, 09:08 PM
With the invisible fence idea the dog would have to be wearing the corresponding collar. Otherwise its just a buried wire. But you are right in that for a truly motivated dog the invisible fence is little more than a nuisance.

Tazlima
05-08-2015, 09:10 PM
Believe it or not, I've been asked this question many times over the years, generally by people who want to keep their/the neighbor's dog out of some particular portion of the yard or house.

To the best of my knowledge, there's no smell that's guaranteed to keep a dog from going someplace. There are products that claim to repel dogs in some way (for example, bitter-apple spray to make a surface taste bad enough to prevent a dog from chewing). Some of these products enjoy limited success, but none of them are consistently effective across the board.

Then there's the fact that (I assume) you want something that humans wouldn't notice. Dogs generally retreat from eye-wateringly fresh skunk spray, but the handler would certainly notice it too, and both dogs and humans can endure it if they must.

You have to keep in mind that these are animals who sometimes have pineapple added to their diet to dissuade them from eating their own poop (I'd imagine it already tastes pretty bad, but the pineapple makes it taste even worse)...and it doesn't always work.

I'll tell you what, if you DO find something that works, let me know, because that's a million-dollar product waiting to be marketed.

Now to try and be helpful:
This guy's a chemist, right? I'd just say he used "a secret formula of his own creation" and call it a day.

Ravioli
05-08-2015, 09:25 PM
With the invisible fence idea the dog would have to be wearing the corresponding collar. Otherwise its just a buried wire. But you are right in that for a truly motivated dog the invisible fence is little more than a nuisance.
True. Although something that is generally electrified, like a paddock fence, wouldn't require that. But again, I mean Hell, see Jurassic Park how that worked out.

ironmikezero
05-08-2015, 09:36 PM
I don't think the "smell idea" is going to work; in pragmatic terms, too many people know better.

If you must frustrate the dogs' search efforts, I'd recommend having circumstances that would preclude allowing any dogs into the lab. Could it be a mandated restricted area, sterile environment with strictly controlled access, where any unauthorized intrusion would compromise/contaminate ongoing experiments or projects?

Craft the scene so that a person with the appropriate authority would prohibit any canine entry... Have some fun with it - maybe it's a highly classified DARPA project, or something equally ominous - ratchet up the tension.

Pony.
05-08-2015, 09:44 PM
Craft the scene so that a person with the appropriate authority would prohibit any canine entry... Have some fun with it - maybe it's a highly classified DARPA project, or something equally ominous - ratchet up the tension.
Its not my book but i like that 'DARPA/ above the law' kind of idea

Tazlima
05-08-2015, 10:04 PM
I don't think the "smell idea" is going to work; in pragmatic terms, too many people know better.



I like the DARPA idea too, but if the OP is set on the scent thing, I think it would work just fine. Yes, a lot of people know better, but it's more than plausible enough to suspend disbelief. Dogs have a keener sense of smell than humans as well as different standards of what they find pleasant or unpleasant. It seems reasonable that they could theoretically be repulsed by a scent that humans can't even detect.

Heck, it could even be something humans can smell, but find pleasant, in which case the chemist could wear it like perfume.

Marian Perera
05-08-2015, 10:23 PM
Mind where the repellent is supposed to be. To keep an outdoor environment smelly enough to repell dogs...

I mentioned he needs to keep the dogs out of a laboratory, right? It's a confined, indoor environment.


Try perhaps a high-frequency sound the dogs hate, but humans can't hear. It's much more cost-efficient as a sound can be looped and played through speakers, while smell would need a constant supply of the chemical source.One thing I didn't mention, though, was that this takes place in a pre-modern environment. The technology level is at an 1850s level. At best.

So no electronics, no high-frequency sounds played through speakers, no shock fences. Sorry.


Then there's the fact that (I assume) you want something that humans wouldn't notice.

I'm actually fine with the human handler noticing the smell.

It's a chemical laboratory where everyone outside knows the chemist is concocting weird and noxious substances. An unpleasant smell would not be out of the ordinary. And the plot requires the chemist to start falling under suspicion.


If you must frustrate the dogs' search efforts, I'd recommend having circumstances that would preclude allowing any dogs into the lab. Could it be a mandated restricted area, sterile environment with strictly controlled access, where any unauthorized intrusion would compromise/contaminate ongoing experiments or projects?

The person whom everyone is searching for is so dangerous that it doesn't matter what's restricted and what's not. That person has to be found.

This is also a fantasy world with a technology level of roughly the 1850s at most, so while people are intimidated to some extent by mysterious scientific processes that could make the place go boom if anything malfunctions, there's unfortunately no DARPA. The chemist doesn't have the authority to keep guards from searching his lab - the most he can do is make it unpleasant for them to enter, and he has to be subtle about it. "What, that smell? It was only a by-product of the experiments you needed me to work on, my lord! The poor dogs, I had no idea it would affect them so badly."

mirandashell
05-08-2015, 10:38 PM
Peppermint. It doesn't repel them but prevents them from smelling much else. And if he's a chemist he can make it very concentrated.

Old Hack
05-08-2015, 11:23 PM
Citronella is used to deter dogs while training: I don't think it would be powerful enough to stop all dogs from ever going into a certain place, but it is a powerful deterrant where dogs are concerned.

veinglory
05-09-2015, 12:54 AM
If it's not meant to actually work you just need something that would seem logical to the protag. I went into Google scholar and typed in "odor repel dog" and it came up with papers suggesting chloro acetyl chloride, butyrolactones, valerolactones and ketones--mostly not chemicals you find just lying around but conveniently enough a chemist could get them and give plausible reasons for having spilled/stored or otherwise put them in the basement.

ElaineA
05-09-2015, 02:18 AM
From a practical perspective, I have two terriers. Strong citrus spray worked to keep them off the wooden chair legs when they were puppies, and both of them will stay back from onion if it falls on the floor while messy-cook is chopping (me, I admit it). It doesn't "keep them out of an area" necessarily, but that's a matter of concentration. My dogs do not like sharp smells. They sneeze and turn their heads and back away.

Now, the trouble is, I could drag them past any sharp smell, or they would grin and bear it to get at something yummy or interesting, so if you're going to use smell, it will have to go from the threshold toward the hidden thing, and be really, really strong and sharp. So a "spill" might work since it will spread, or perhaps you could consider something acidic, or a compound that behaves like something acidic (sharp smell, maybe a vapor reaction) so the scientist could say "that will burn your dog's paws off." Whether it will or not, who cares. It only matters that he create the illusion.

Pyekett
05-09-2015, 03:05 AM
From a practical perspective, I have two terriers. Strong citrus spray worked to keep them off the wooden chair legs when they were puppies . . .

My dog avoids anything rubbed with citrus peel oils.

WeaselFire
05-09-2015, 05:14 AM
Citrus smells make dogs stay away very effectively. Orange peels keep them from digging in the garden, for example. Pepper is also a classic mask/repellant. Black pepper is okay, but any pungent pepper like cayenne is better. Pepper spray works wonders. Coffee hides some odors, such that drug dogs are trained to alert at strong coffee smells. Finally, ammonia sprayed on garbage cans is very effective at keeping dogs away. The effects don't last through rains very well though and citrus oils work better for that.

Ammonia might work because the odor is easily explained in a lab, but could be suspect if it appeared only in the lab and nowhere else.

Jeff

Crayonz
05-09-2015, 05:20 AM
I read what the Mythbusters tried in terms of putting a bloodhound off the scent. These dogs wouldn't be bloodhounds, though I don't know if that makes any difference.
Not really, plenty of other breeds of dog are used for scent work (tracking, bomb, drug, cadaver, etc) and do just as well. :) Bloodhounds are just the elite of the tracking breeds, I believe.


It's actually less suspicious (and IMO more plausible) if he says, "I'm conducting an experiment that just happens to produce painful-to-breathe vapors, sorry", than if he causes a high-pitched sound that has little or nothing to do with chemical experiments. Bolding mine. If it hurt for the dogs to breathe, that would certainly deter them until their handlers forced them into the room.

One thing: you mentioned the dogs aren't trained to track people, right? If the hidden person doesn't make a lot of noise, it's very likely that the dogs would just give the area an extra sniff (which the chemist could explain by saying he spilled something there earlier) and go about their business. Dogs will naturally track other animals, but tracking people takes training.

Brightdreamer
05-09-2015, 05:32 AM
If it's a fantasy world, you could always pull a little author magic out of your hat and invent something. Create a particularly potent citrus plant or oil, perhaps; the MC could "accidentally" spill a bottle, or simply be working with it, when the dog shows up.

And, as others have said, tracking people is generally trained behavior. Indeed, I'm not sure it would even be worthwhile to "show" them the article of clothing, since they wouldn't likely connect the scent on the cloth with something they're supposed to track unless someone had trained them to do that. The human guards might bring the dog along for intimidation purposes or to run down the suspect if they spot them, and maybe to notice a sound or something the human would miss - if the dog showed unusual interest in a cabinet, for instance, it would be worth opening - but unless it was a tracker... JMHO.

Marian Perera
05-09-2015, 05:43 AM
And, as others have said, tracking people is generally trained behavior. Indeed, I'm not sure it would even be worthwhile to "show" them the article of clothing, since they wouldn't likely connect the scent on the cloth with something they're supposed to track unless someone had trained them to do that. The human guards might bring the dog along for intimidation purposes or to run down the suspect if they spot them, and maybe to notice a sound or something the human would miss - if the dog showed unusual interest in a cabinet, for instance, it would be worth opening - but unless it was a tracker... JMHO.

That's really helpful, thanks!

Plot-wise, the purpose of the dogs is to give the chemist a chance to react quickly and keep them out of the lab. Except he doesn't know that the dogs aren't trained in tracking, and might not even find the person he's hiding. He assumes the worst, and he acts fast.

So his use of the pungent chemical, whatever it is, does keep the dogs out, but it also alerts the handlers that he might have something to hide, which is just what I need to happen. I love the idea of the guards using the dogs for intimidation purposes, but my MC jumping to the conclusion that the dogs will power-sniff their way right into the hiding place unless he does something.

C.bronco
05-09-2015, 05:48 AM
Our dog loves smells. He doesn't care if they are good or bad,, as long as they smell. Mini-daschund.

Taejang
05-11-2015, 06:09 PM
Uh, guys? Forget the dogs. Make a smell so foul the humans won't go in. If the human dog handlers won't go in, the dogs won't go in, either. Problem solved.

rwhegwood
05-12-2015, 10:00 AM
I've heard cayenne pepper mixed in floor wax messes with a dog's nose...stuffs it up a bit makes it harder for them to track...but why go painful or stinky? Not that citrus is stinky, but it is noticeable. What about spritzing around a little in heat female dog urine...the poor dogs will be marking everything.

RoseSnow
05-13-2015, 01:56 AM
Maybe you don't need to keep the dogs out of the lab. Just make all the guard dogs are males. Then lay a false trail with scent from a female dog that is in heat. I would easily buy the antagonist believing only male guard dogs are strong enough or some such chauvinist prattle. The handlers are duped. They think the dogs are on the right trail.

Marian Perera
05-13-2015, 02:17 AM
I'm afraid it's a bit too convenient if the MC has female dog urine saved in his laboratory for a situation he had no idea would arise.

He also can't go to the kennels, find a female dog, get her to pee, collect the urine and take it up to the laboratory to leave the false trail - not just because he'd be afraid of being seen, but because once the fugitive is hidden in the laboratory, he doesn't want to leave it. So the chemical he uses must be one he's concocted in the laboratory.

waylander
05-13-2015, 01:03 PM
Putrescine? thiophenol? N-butyl thiol?

Bolero
05-14-2015, 08:51 PM
Putrescine? thiophenol? N-butyl thiol?

Yes, very smelly - but did they exist in the Victorian period? (Which is op technology level.)

Would need to google and check. Ammonia, Born Haber process - google that - I think it was rather earlier than the organic amine and sulphur compounds like putrescene and the thiols but could be wrong. OP just needs to make sure that their technology is consistent.

Marian Perera
05-14-2015, 09:04 PM
I think ammonia would do it, but I'm toying with some substance like cadaverine or putrescine as well - basically, something that doesn't just sting the eyes and nostrils, but smells as if a body has been rotting in the laboratory for several days.

Aldenata
05-22-2015, 10:56 PM
Butyric Acid (rancid butter) is both infamously stinky and fairly simple to create.

Could you do the Number the Stars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_the_Stars) thing? Use a mix of powdered rabbit's blood and cocaine to short-circuit their sense of smell?

(No idea if that would work in real life. In any event I wouldn't try it on drug dogs, assuming they had any in the 1850's.)