What Smells Do Dogs Hate?

Known for their hypersensitive noses, dogs have a sense of smell that is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than humans. Oddly, they seem to love all the smells we abhor (except for a grilled steak.)

We love our four-legged friends, but let’s face it, they’re not exactly the cleanest creatures on Earth. They love to sniff each other’s butts, get into the garbage, and are quite intrigued by the smell of another dog’s urine and feces. But originally bred as trackers, hunters, and guard dogs, our best friends are forgiven for their nasty habits.

Fortunately for us, dogs hate the smell of some things, most of which we find pleasant to smell. So if you have an adventurous type dog, you can use these smells to keep Fido out of your flower garden and any part of your home you wish to keep dog-free. After a while, the dog will associate the unpleasant odor with the area and tend to stay away.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus Fruits

Humans find the smell of lemons, oranges, limes, and grapefruits welcoming. The high oil content in citrus rinds is responsible for their vibrant aroma. You’ll find citrus incorporated in a variety of home products from candles to cleaners.

While we find the smell of citrus pleasant, a dog’s sensitive nose is irritated by its intensity. In fact, some products have been designed to prevent dogs from urinating when applied to a specific area.

Save money and avoid any unwanted added chemicals in store-bought products. Simply scatter the skins on the grounds around any area you want to keep your dog out of. For indoor use, create a spray using citrus juice. Or for something stronger, use citrus essential oils diluted with water.

Rubbing Alcohol

The smell of antiseptic alcohol probably isn’t your favorite, but dogs find it very unpleasant. But this isn’t an ingredient you should use as a spray to keep dogs away. That’s because it’s a skin and respiratory irritant. Instead, spray a few cotton balls with alcohol and place them around the area you want to keep him out of. The effectiveness will depend on its concentration. The smell will be stronger if the percentage of alcohol is higher.

Keep in mind that alcohol is flammable, and always use it with caution. Never spray alcohol on a dog’s skin after an injury. Clean the wound with soap and water and consult a veterinarian.

Dogs also hate the smell of antibacterial gel and some alcoholic beverages. That doesn’t mean he won’t lap up a leftover beer or watered-down cocktail he finds to be tasty, so take care leaving them sitting around. It happens more often than you would think, and dog owners have stories about finding Fido passed out on the sofa.

Chili Peppers

Chili peppers, or any type of hot pepper for that matter, including chipotle peppers and habaneros, will be very off-putting to your dog’s nose. The chemical compound capsaicin which has a variety of health benefits for humans and sets our tongues on fire is so strong dogs may even stay out of the kitchen when we cook with peppers.

A deterrent spray can be made by mixing ground peppers with water and putting it in a spray bottle. But never spray it directly on the dog. Their nose is so sensitive to capsaicin, that they may experience violent sneezing, or even suffer from respiratory problems in serious cases.


Vinegar is one of those versatile ingredients used for several purposes around the home from cooking to eco-friendly cleaning to home health remedies. Its strong smell is even off-putting to some people. Vinegar’s cleaning power and strong smell come from acetic acid, a by-product of the fermentation process.

There are several types of vinegar available. White vinegar is best for keeping dogs off furniture and away from forbidden parts of the yard. It’s also a deterrent to keep them from urinating indoors. Mix one part of white vinegar with three-parts water and put the solution in a spray bottle.

Acetic acid is safe and non-toxic. When diluted properly, apple cider vinegar mixed with dog shampoo will make your pooch smell better. Don’t apply it to the dog’s head and rinse well.

Read also:  9 Interesting Facts About Labradoodle

Household Cleaners

Household Cleaners

Ammonia and chlorine are common ingredients in household cleaners. Their strong smell is even off-putting to humans. And as stated earlier, some household cleaners also contain citrus oil, another deterrent for dogs.

Any product using ammonia or chlorine shouldn’t be used as a deterrent to keep dogs away. Inhaling the fumes from these chemicals is harmful to dogs. Remember, dogs have a much more acute sense of smell, so if the fumes bother you, rest assured the dog will find them overbearing. Additionally, the odor produced by ammonia is similar to that released by a dog’s urine. Your dog may become stressed and think another animal has been in the house.

If you must clean using these chemicals, have someone take your dog for a walk. Or use enzyme cleaners instead. They don’t use scents that will repel your pet.

Moth Balls

The distinctive strong odor of mothballs keeps moths at bay and prevents them from eating holes in your stored clothing. They act as a deodorant as well as a pesticide and can be used to control the smell of mold.

The chemicals in mothballs are dangerous to both humans and animals. If your dog or a small child eats one, they’re at risk for death. If you’re going to use moth balls as a deterrent for your dog, they should be used in a special holder. As long as the smell can permeate the room, the mothballs will do their job.

Ground Spices

Common cooking spices that dogs hate the smell of include cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, mustard, cardamom, and cayenne pepper. Your dog’s reaction to these ground spices will be similar to what happens with chili peppers.

These common spices are often used in commercial dog repellents, and they are very effective. Their safety makes them perfect as a dog deterrent in your garden. They won’t hurt plants and help prevent dogs from digging up roots. Simply sprinkle the spices around the ground.

Take care not to blow the ground spices in your dog’s face, Tiny particles can easily enter his nostrils and cause burning and irritation.

Cologne or Perfume

Cologne or Perfume

Have you ever felt rejected by your fur baby while trying to cuddle with him after dousing yourself with cologne or perfume? That’s because of the combination of the denatured alcohol and aromatic chemicals in them. Even deodorants can trigger a response in highly-sensitive dogs such as Blood Hounds, Basset Hounds, Golden Retrievers, and Labradors.

Dogs also hate perfumes because they mask the natural smell of their owner (which they love dearly.) Dogs recognize you by your smell, so it’s natural for them to detest anything that inhibits them from identifying you.

What about those carefully coifed and perfumed Poodles? They don’t really relish the smell but will put up with perfumes specially formulated for dogs when used in moderation.

Nail Polish

Most people don’t like the smell of nail polish and nail polish remover, but it’s especially irritating to our canine friends. That’s because these products contain acetate, formaldehyde, isopropyl alcohol, and nitrocellulose, all of which dogs detest. You may notice that your dog sneezes excessively and itches when you use these products around them.

Using acetone-free nail polish remover will help, but it’s best just to use these products in a well-ventilated area and away from your dog.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, mint, and basil have pungent yet pleasant aromas to people. Although they aren’t overpowering to dogs, they prefer the smell of your dirty sneakers over fresh herbs.

Planting these herbs in your garden may help keep dogs from digging around your flowers and vegetables. The only exception is mint. Some dogs hate it and some don’t. In fact, mint-flavored treats are available to help tackle doggy breath.

Fresh herbs contain aromatic oils that act as a deterrent to dogs. You can steep them in water and create a safe yet effect spray to keep dogs away from taboo areas.

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