What Scent Do Dogs Hate? – 12 Smells Dogs Hate Most


As a pet owner, sometimes we have to be strict about which items our dogs can safely chew. Although chewing is a natural way for dogs to explore their world but it can become hazardous if they chew a wrong item, such as an electrical wire. There are many scents that humans like but dogs hate. And spraying or sprinkling the smells that dogs don’t like is one of the best ways to train your dog to stay away from certain places of things.

Why? Smells work so great to repel dogs because dogs’ sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 more acute than a human. This powerful sense of smell makes dogs remember a lot better through smell than through any other means. Once they associate certain things or places with certain smells that they don’t like, they will remember to stay away from those things or places forever.

Here’s a list of smells that dogs hate:

1. Chili Pepper

dogs hate the smell of chili pepper.

The burning sensation of chili pepper can scare your dog to back off or dart away. You can rub or spray-dried chili powder on things or places you want to keep him from, such as your favorite plants. You can also mix it with water to make homemade dog deterrent spray.

Sometimes, I just hold up the pepper when I want to stop my dog from chewing my shoes or keeps pestering me in the middle of something that I’m working on, it works great to make him back away. Whenever possible, I choose not to rub or spray chili power or resort to a spray solution since I think it’s too much for my dog.

Although chili powder and deterrent spray are not toxic, they can irritate your dog’s eyes, make your dog’s nose itch and sneeze a lot and in extreme cases, cause a respiratory problem. If you have to use a power or deterrent spray solution, I would suggest removing the seeds and the white veins inside the pepper first before grinding or mixing it with water to lessen the heat effect. The seeds and white veins are where the capsaicin is most highly concentrated — an oil that gives chili its spicy flavor and smell.

There are a large variety of chilies you can use including Jalapeno chilies, Serrano chilies, Fresno chilies, Habanero chilies, New Mexico chilies, Poblano chilies, Aji Amarillo, and Bird’s eye chilies.

2. Citrus

dogs hate the smell of Citrus.

We all love the scent of citrus since it gives us a feeling of freshness and cleanliness. This is the reason why many liquid floor cleaners use citrus scent for their products. However, for dogs, the citrus smell is a smell that they can’t stand.  Given that dogs’ sense of smell is 40 times more advanced than humans, this citrus smell can be too much for them and therefore can be used as a safe, natural repellent to keep your dog away from unwanted areas for instance when you want to keep your dog from urinating in your living room.

To use citrus as a natural repellent, just cut citrus fruits; whether it’s oranges, lemons, limes, or grapefruit, and place the feel in that area. You can also fill a spray bottle with concentrated lemon juice as well. Then, you just need to spray it around things you want him to stay away from such as chairs, wooden tables or your clothes.

If you think to get ready-made essential oils of some citrus fruit to be used as a dog repellent you shouldn’t. Even though essential oils do emit a strong odor, but it’s too much for dogs and can potentially damage their nostrils and airways.

3. Vinegar

dogs hate the smell of vinegar.

A smell of vinegar is another scent that dogs don’t like,  the smell can be unbearable for some dogs and thus become a good option to be used as a repellent. You can place it in a small open container, put a small dose on bits of cotton balls or rags, or spray it around the unwanted areas.

Even though vinegar is not toxic but having too much vinegar can make your home stinky, therefore you should not use it too much for indoor use. For outdoor use, you can spray it anywhere in the yard or garden.

There are many different types of vinegar including apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, distilled vinegar, wine vinegar, coconut vinegar, cane vinegar, beer vinegar, raisin vinegar.

4. Alcohol

dogs hate the smell of rubbing alcohol.

The smells of rubbing alcohol can be unbearable for dogs. Put it on bits of fabric or cotton balls and place them in areas you want to keep him from. To keep the scent intense, you may have to freshen it from time to time. In addition to rubbing alcohol, dogs also hate antibacterial agents and alcoholic beverages.

5. Ammonia

dogs hate the smell of ammonia.

I’ve included ammonia in this article just for education purpose but I will warn you against using ammonia as a dog repellent. Ammonia has a high level of chemical concentration, which produces strong smells that dogs hate. Although ammonia can be used as a dog repellent, it’s incredibly irritating both for humans and dogs, and can potentially lead to a myriad of health problems if you or your dog is sensitive to the chemical compound.

6. Mothballs

dogs hate the smell of mothballs.

Mothballs may be useful to keep moths away from your clothes but it’s the least safe of the dog repellent solutions. It’s even more dangerous than ammonia. It’s highly toxic and poisonous both for people and dogs. Your dog can die if he eats even just one mothball thus you should keep it away from your children and dog.

7. Cosmetic and Personal Care Products

Dogs hate the smell of nail polish.

Dogs hate the smell of cosmetic and personal care products such as nail polish, nail polish remover, and fragrance. These cosmetic and personal care products are made up of a high number of chemical compounds that can irritate your dog and make him sneeze and itch excessively. It’s sad that many unresponsible dog owners use these products as quick dog repellent solutions when they should not!

8. Mint

Dogs hate the smell of mint.

Scents like mint and other herbs can be used as a natural dog repellent if used correctly. You can make a spray solution from mint herb and other strongly scented plants like rosemary and water, and spray it in the needed areas or you can grow them around your garden to keep your dog away from trampling your favorite plants.

9. Strong Spices

Dogs hate the smell of paprika.

Strong spices such as paprika and cayenne are also other smells that dogs hate. They are best suited for outdoor use. You can sprinkle them near your fence line to keep your dog from digging up your yard or garden.

10. Cleaning Products

Dogs hate the smell of household cleaners.

Most household cleaners, including automatic dishwashing detergents, some laundry detergents, and chlorine bleach, use chlorine to whiten and disinfects clothes, kitchen, and bathroom surface.

Not only do dogs hate the smell of chlorine (most of them), but also it can be harmful and dangerous. To some degree, inhaling chlorine can irritate dogs’ respiratory tract and esophagus. 

My advice is to get natural, pet-safe cleaning solutions that are free of potentially harmful chemicals and additives. 

Here’re my current favorite pet-safe cleaning products:

Puracy Natural Anti Purpose Cleaner

Puracy Natural All Purpose Cleaner, Streak-Free Household Multi-Surface Spray, Green Tea & Lime, 25 Ounce (2-Pack)
2,997 Reviews
Puracy Natural All Purpose Cleaner, Streak-Free Household Multi-Surface Spray, Green Tea & Lime, 25 Ounce (2-Pack)
  • “The Best All-Purpose Cleaner” – The New York Times
  • SUPERIOR RESULTS: Guaranteed to safely clean any hard surface without streaking

The New York Times hails it as the best All-Purpose cleaner. It works well on multiple surfaces (glass, stainless steel, floors, countertops, sticky residues, shoe marks, etc.) and smells good. Customers described the scent as “natural, tolerable, and subtle.” This plant-based cleaner offers two different scents: green tea lime, and organic lemongrass.

Puracy Natural Carpet Cleaner

Puracy Natural Carpet Cleaner Detergent Shampoo, Professional Pet Stain & Odor Remover, 25 Ounce
362 Reviews
Puracy Natural Carpet Cleaner Detergent Shampoo, Professional Pet Stain & Odor Remover, 25 Ounce
  • “The Best Carpet Shampoo” – Bustle
  • PROFESSIONAL RESULTS: Concentrated, naturally-derived detergents and deodorizers rapidly remove stains, soil, and odors from carpets, rugs, upholstery, and other washable surfaces; advanced natural cleaning technology leaves fibers feeling as soft as new

Another great product from Puracy, this natural carpet cleaner removes stain and odor from carpet or any upholstered surface. It has a very light scent, not very strong, which some people may like.

ECOS Laundry Detergent

Earth Friendly Products ECOS 2X Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent, Lavender, 200 Loads (2 Pack, 100 Ounce ea)
414 Reviews
Earth Friendly Products ECOS 2X Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent, Lavender, 200 Loads (2 Pack, 100 Ounce ea)
  • 2X ultra concentrated detergent is tough on dirt yet kind to clothes
  • Made in USA without dyes, optical brighteners, parabens, phosphates or phthalates

This ultra-efficient, eco-friendly ECOS laundry detergent is safe for pets and humans. It cleans great and leaves a sweet light lavender smell after the wash, all with neutral a pH level and no harsh chemicals, unlike other detergents. Plus, it has a built-in fabric softener, so you don’t need to buy one.

ECO Me Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner

Eco Me Natural Non-Toxic Multi-Surface Floor Care Cleaner, Healthy Fragrance-Free Scent, 32 Ounces
38 Reviews
Eco Me Natural Non-Toxic Multi-Surface Floor Care Cleaner, Healthy Fragrance-Free Scent, 32 Ounces
  • PERFECT FLOOR CLEANER: Make your floors sparkle with this fragrance-free multi-surfaced floor cleaner, contentrated all natural floor cleaner that breaks down dirt, food, grease and grime
  • NATURAL CLEANER: Eco Me Floor Cleaner is made from powerful plant extracts and essential botanicals with natural antibacterial properties that don't leave behind residue

This natural plant extracts floor cleaner works on multiple surfaces and cuts through grease, grime, dirt, and food residue without harsh, irritating chemicals and toxins. Not only does this cleaner cleans well and leaves no residue, but it also has low to zero scents.


70CT Pet Bath Wipes, 2Pack
23 Reviews
70CT Pet Bath Wipes, 2Pack
  • NATURE’S MIRACLE Pet Wipes are the solution for keeping your pet clean and odor-free between baths and grooming appointments
  • Our easy-to-use wipes (5" x 8") clean deeply, working to eliminate tough odors, remove pet dander, and naturally moisturize your pet’s coat and paws.

Nature’s Miracle Pet Wipes is a great quick-fix solution to keep your dog clean and smiling good between bath. I often use this on rainy days to clean and other parts after those muddy walks.

11. Perfume or Cologne

Dogs hate the smell of human perfumes.

Most dogs hate the smell and taste of most human perfumes or colognes. Because dogs have a heightened sense of smell, a small drop of fragrance on your skin is enough to hide your smell or, worse, irritate them.

12. Essential Oils

Dogs hate the smell of essential oils.

Despite having natural plant origins, not all essential oils are safe for dogs. Below is a short-list of essential oils that are safe for dogs:

Essential Oils Safe for Dogs

  • Lavender. Lavender oil is popular for dogs, well-known for its calming and soothing properties. It also helps to relieve stress, promote sleep, and relife migraines and headaches.
  • Clary Sage. Clary Sage oil can be used to calm your dog when he is getting upset or aggressive. And because of its antibacterial and astringent properties, most dog owners use it to ease their dogs’ sore throats and sore gums.
  • Copaiba. Copaiba has tremendous anti-inflammatory properties, which are very beneficial for dogs with arthritis or other joint problems.
  • Frankincense. Frankincense has been known to have several benefits, including reducing anxiety and stress, reducing inflammation and pain, reducing cancer cells, and reducing small intestinal injury.
  • Petitgrain. Petitgrain is a natural remedy for stress and anxiety.