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What Smells Do Dogs Hate The Most?

When it comes to the sense of smell, dogs have us humans beat by a longshot. Canines can have upwards of 300 million olfactory cells that help them navigate the world around them. Compare this to the five million olfactory cells that humans have, and it's not hard to understand why dogs can become so overwhelmed when you take them outside.

Your furry friend uses their sense of smell to make sense of the things around them.
dog smelling something he does not like

While we humans have our eyesight to make memories, dogs can remember distinct odors that we couldn't even fathom. It's a unique canine trait that you can use to your advantage.

Despite all of the weird things that dogs love to smell and get into, there are some things that they will avoid like the plague. Many of the most common smells that dogs hate are things that we find pleasant.

If you have an adventurous dog that likes to get into trouble, you can use these smells to create an effective deterrent for your canine companion.

One whiff of these odor sources and your dog will turn away in disgust. They don't cause harm, but rather create a negative memory about a certain place or object.

Over time, your pup will simply avoid the area altogether, allowing you to keep a part of your home dog-free. Here are 10 of the most common smells that dogs hate.

10 of the most common smells that dogs hate

#1. Hot Peppers

hot pepper

Hot peppers, such as jalapenos, chili peppers, and poblano peppers, are all natural dog deterrents. They're effective for one simple reason: the spice.

The tingling sensation that you get on your tongue and in your nose is completely foreign to dogs. As a result, they will often get as far away from the pepper as possible.

In many cases, simply holding up a pepper is enough to repel a dog. While we can't always smell the spice right away, the strength of your pup's olfactory senses ensures that they do.

The spiciness from peppers comes from chemical compounds called capsaicinoids. You can easily create a deterrent spray by grinding up the pepper and mixing it with some water.

With that being said, it's important to be careful. Dogs are very sensitive to spice, so they may experience sneezing. In serious cases, they can even suffer from respiratory issues. You should never feed your dog a spicy pepper or spray it on them. Instead, you can use the spray to keep your pup off plants and certain parts of the yard. 

If your dog is particularly sensitive, you can create the spray without the seeds or white veins. This is where most of the capsaicinoids can be found. Your deterrent will be less pungent, but it should still get the trick done.

#2. Ground Spices

The reaction your dog will have from encountering ground spices is very similar to what happens when they come across hot peppers.

Ground chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, ground mustard, and more are great for keeping your dog out of your garden. The spices won't affect your plant life, but they will stick in the soil to prevent your dog from digging up roots.

Many ground pepper spices are used in commercial dog repellants because of their effectiveness. If you want to give spices a try, you can simply sprinkle it over a part of your yard.

Again, you should never blow it into your dog's face. The fine particles can easily get into your dog's nose, where it'll cause burning and irritation.

#3. Citrus Fruits

Citrus Fruits

The smell of citrus is something that can be found in a wide variety of home products. It's used in cleaners, room deodorizers, candles, and so much more. While it may be pleasant for us, it's something that dogs absolutely despise.

The issue with citrus is that the oils from the skin can cause irritation in your pup's respiratory tract.

Citrus oils are commonly used in products that are designed to prevent a dog from urinating in a specific area. Instead of shelling out the big bucks, you can easily make the product yourself.

All it takes is some skins from oranges, lemons, limes, or grapefruits. Simply place the skins on the ground and your dog will avoid the area.

You can also use the fruit's juice to create a spray. If you want something a bit more powerful, essential citrus oils are also available. They're highly concentrated, so you may want to dilute the oils in a bit of water before spraying it around your home or yard.

#4. Fresh Herbs

Many dogs are not fans of fresh herbs like mint or rosemary. They have a very pungent aroma that's not appetizing to them. You can use this fact to your advantage and plan fresh herbs in your garden.

Not only will it keep your dog away from other plants, but you'll always have a fresh supply on hand. Alternatively, you can also create a simple spray solution by steeping the herb in water to extract its oils.

While most dogs can't stand herbs, some will have no problem with mint. In fact, there are many mint-flavored treats out there to help tackle bad breath. Before you start investing in mint-based deterrents, see how your dog reacts to the scent and flavor.

#5. Vinegar


Vinegar is a very versatile ingredient that is used in many home remedies. There are a number of different types of vinegar available on the market.

Some of them, such as standard white vinegar, can be used to keep your pooch off furniture or parts of your lawn. 

It's safe, non-toxic, and relatively affordable. Simply pour it in a spray bottle and get to work.

The downside with vinegar is that it doesn't really have the best smell, even to us humans. It's acidic and very strong. As a result, you may want to reserve vinegar to outside applications.

#6. Mothballs

These tiny white balls have a very distinct smell that you will instantly recognize if you have used them at some point in your life. They're designed to keep stubborn moths away from clothes.

 Mothballs act as both a pesticide and a deodorant that keeps the moldy smell at bay. Due to its chemical composition, moth balls are very dangerous to both dogs and humans.

If you plan on using mothballs to keep your dog out of a room, make sure that the balls are completely secure. If your dog eats even one mothball, they're at immediate risk for death.

To ensure that issues don't occur, you can keep mothballs out of reach or utilize a specially designed holder. As long as the strong smell of the mothballs is able to permeate the room, it'll do its job.

Standard rubbing alcohol has a smell that's very off-putting for dogs. You can spray some alcohol on cotton balls and place them throughout the area you want to keep your dog out of. 

The effectiveness of alcohol will depend entirely on its concentration. The higher the alcohol percentage, the stronger the smell will be.

As with any other chemical, it's crucial that you stay safe. Never spray it on your dog. Many veterinarians don't even recommend using rubbing alcohol on a dog's skin after injury, so it's important to avoid all canine contact.

Also, alcohol is very flammable. Keep that in mind when you're placing alcohol-soaked cotton balls around your home.

#8. Household Cleaners

toxic household cleaners

Has your dog ever left the room when you started cleaning the kitchen counters or floors? It's not because they're being a courteous house companion. 

It's because they absolutely hate the ingredients within common household cleaners.

Many products utilize chlorine or ammonia. Furthermore, some have added citrus scents, making the smell even worse for your pup.

You should never use cleaning products as a direct repellant for your dog, especially if it contains strong chemicals like ammonia. Inhaling ammonia can cause burns and irritation inside your dog's throat.

It's always recommended that you keep your dog outside whenever you're cleaning an area that they frequent. While it would be dangerous to use household cleaners to deter your pup, you could simply keep the room clean. 

For example, many owners don't want their dog to go into their bathroom. So, they just clean it regularly. After the strong fumes have faded away, your dog is not at risk for harm. However, that small amount of odor that stays behind will be enough to make them not want to enter the room.

#9. Perfume or Cologne

Perfume and cologne contain a number of ingredients that dogs will avoid. It's not uncommon for pups to ignore their owner the moment a fragrance is applied to the skin. This is because perfume products contain chemical compounds, essential oils, and alcohol.

All of these ingredients have strong smells that dogs hate. Not only that, but fragrances mask your natural body odor. The first thing dogs use to identify you is your unique smell. Even if you don't feel that you have a strong odor on you, you have a scent that identifies you.

When you mask it with strong perfumes, your dog won't like it. While perfumes and colognes are scents that dogs hate, you should never use them as a repellant, no matter how effective it is.

#10. Beauty Products

Nail polish, hair sprays, and other beauty products are filled with chemical compounds. Think about how familiar these types of products smell.

Most adults can easily identify these products without even looking at them, especially if its something they're familiar using. If it's a strong odor to you, it's going to be practically unbearable for your pup.

You should never use beauty products as a deterrent. If you plan on using them for yourself, keep your dog in a well-ventilated area that won't be affected by the fumes. Alternatively, you can opt to buy natural beauty products or those that are free of harsh chemicals.


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