What Smells do Dogs Hate Most – 11 Scents that Repel Dogs

Categorized as Misc
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 smells that humans like but your dog doesn’t like it. Spraying or sprinkling the smells that dogs hate 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 scents that they don’t like, they will remember to stay away from those things or places forever.

So if you’re wondering what smells do dogs hate, here’s a list of eleven smells that repel dogs:

1. 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 pepper 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 itchy and make them 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 strong 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. The Smell of Citrus

We all love the smell of citrus fruits since it gives us a feeling of freshness and cleanliness. This is the reason why many liquid floor cleaners use citrus smell for their products. However, for dogs, the citrus has a strong smell that they find irritating.  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 some oils do emit a strong odor, but it’s too much for dogs and can potentially damage their nostrils and airways.

3. Vinegar

Dogs also hate the smell of vinegar. It can be unbearable for some dogs and thus become a good option to be used as a repellent. To make a repellent from vinegar, soak cotton balls or rags with it, 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

The smells of rubbing alcohol can be unbearable for dogs. Soak it with cotton balls and place them in areas you want to keep him from. In addition to cotton balls, you can also use rags or newspapers. To keep the scent intense, you may have to freshen it from time to time. In addition to rubbing alcohol, dogs also don’t like antibacterial agents and alcoholic beverages.

5. 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 scents that dogs don’t like. 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

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 don’t like the smell of cosmetic and personal care products such as 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

Smells 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

Strong spices such as paprika and cayenne are also other scents that dogs don’t like. 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

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 not like the smell of chlorine, but it can also 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. 

11. Perfume or Cologne

Most dogs don’t like 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.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.