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What Smells do Dogs Hate?

What smells do dogs hate?

What smells do dogs hate?

You wear your favorite fruity perfume as you get ready for a party. Your dog comes running to hug you but as soon as he gets a whiff he starts sneezing and dashes out of the room.

Oops…you forgot that your pooch hates this and almost every other perfume.

Why do dogs hate certain smells? Are these scents toxic to your pet? Is it safe to use certain fragrances around your pooch? What smells do dogs hate the most?

That is what this post is all about.

Which Smells do Dogs Hate? 15 Scents That Dogs Dislike the Most

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Dogs roll in the foulest smelling stuff and often come home smelling worse than a skunk!

Many dog owners have to bathe their dogs almost every other day because their pooch rolls about in yucky-smelling stuff.

Then why is it that dogs hate certain smells that we humans love but love the scents that we humans hate? The answer could lie in their deeply ingrained animal instincts. Stuff that smells foul to humans simply smells amazing to canines and vice-a-versa. If you want to keep stray dogs away from your yard or simply want to know what smells dogs hate in order to avoid using those around your house, here is a handy list:

1. Citronella

Did you know that there are training collars which spray citronella scent when you press a button on a remote? Dogs simply hate the scent of citronella and one whiff is enough to stop them from barking or indulging in other obnoxious behaviors like rolling in duck poop. Citronella incense also repels mosquitoes and fleas which is a good thing! However, there is something about this herb that also repels dogs.

2. Lemons, limes, and oranges

Dogs also hate citrus scents like lemon juice, limes, and oranges. We must not forget that a dog’s sense of smell is 1000 to 10,000 times better than that of humans.  So, just one whiff of lemons or oranges is enough to send a dog away.

If you wish to repel dogs from marking their territory, make a spray using citrus peel. Spray it in all those areas where you don’t want dog/s to pee in.

3. Spicy peppers

Dogs also dislike the scent of spicy foods like chili peppers, hot pepper, etc. Never feed these to your dog and also avoid making your pet inhale their aroma.

4. Alcohol

Many foods are extremely toxic to Chihuahuas even though they are safe for human consumption. Find out which foods to never feed your Chi.

When you bring home your new puppy, avoid wearing colognes and after-shaves. They contain alcohol – which most dogs hate the smell of. So, even though you might be trying to get close to your new puppy, your scent might be repulsive to it. Avoid wearing perfume/colognes/ after-shaves or choose ones that have low-proof scents.

5. Vinegar

Most dogs hate the scent of vinegar. If you want to stop your dog from chewing up furniture or peeing on your carpet, then make a spray of vinegar and water and spray it all over these areas. Your dog will stop peeing on these sprayed areas due to this ‘offensive’ vinegary odor.

You can use either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Most dogs hate both.

6. Ammonia

A vast majority of dogs hate the pungent scent of ammonia (although some are attracted to it!). This is why people use it in areas where they want to repel dogs. Also, many dog urine cleaners contain ammonia for the same reason. The strong scent of ammonia prevents a dog from marking the same spot.

Be careful not to use ammonia on plants when you want to deter dogs from peeing in your garden. Ammonia can burn the leaves.

7. Mothballs

What smells do dogs hate

Dogs and cats hate mothballs as much as flies and worms do. Spread mothballs in areas you don’t want dogs to enter. Mothballs are ideal for spreading in garden areas where you do not want a pet dog to dig.

8. Menthol

Menthol is a great pain-reliever – for humans. However, dogs hate its strong scent. Unfortunate-because menthol sprays could relieve arthritis pain in elderly dogs.

9. Eucalyptus

My dog hates the smell of eucalyptus. However, fleas hate this smell too which is why I make a mixture of eucalyptus oil and coconut oil and rub it in my dog’s fur to repel fleas and ticks naturally. Unfortunately, the scent drives my dog crazy as well. Needless to say, I have stopped using it.

10. Coffee grounds

What smells do dogs hate

Did you know that burglars use coffee grounds to mask their scents so police dogs cannot trace them? Most dogs also hate the strong coffee scent which is why gardeners spread coffee grounds over the soil where they do not want dogs and cats to enter.

11. Coleus canina

Coleus canina is also called the Scaredy Cat plant. It is an effective cat repellent and gardeners plant it to keep cats out of their gardens. Dogs also hate the scent of coleus canina plant so you can plant it if you want to keep stray dogs out of your yard.

12. Nail polish remover

Nail polish remover contains acetone or solvents like ethyl acetate – most dogs hate its smell. If you want to keep a dog away from an area, place cotton ball soaked with nail polish remover in that area.

13. Scented candles

What smells do dogs hate

Most dogs hate strong scented candles. If you have a dog at home, avoid scented candles containing fragrances like lemon, orange, citronella, eucalyptus, lemongrass, tea tree oil, wintergreen, cedar, and pine. These scents may be pleasant to humans but could be too strong for a dog’s nostrils.

14. Peppermint oil

Not all dogs hate peppermint oil scent. In fact, this is an ingredient that many homemade tick and flea repellent spray contains. In case you plan to use such a spray, first check if your dog is okay with peppermint scent. Soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and place it around the room. If your dog seems to be repelled, avoid use.

15. Air freshener sprays

What smells do dogs hate

Avoid using air freshener sprays with lemon or orange scents around your home if Fido hates them. As such, most dogs hate strong scents and air fresheners can be extremely strong. Their fragrance also lingers for a long time which could be irritating to your dog’s sensitive nostrils.

What Smells Will Keep a Dog Away?


Dogs hate the smell of citronella and citrus fruits the most.

Spraying these around a room can keep dogs away. You can also light scented candles of citronella if you want to keep a dog away from certain parts of your house.

Hot spicy scents like hot pepper can also repel dogs. You can also place moth balls and coffee grounds to keep a dog from digging your garden.

What Smells Can Deter a Dog From Peeing?

To keep a dog from peeing and marking territory, use the following scents:

1. Bitter apple

Grannick's Bitter Apple Liquid 1, 8 oz Chewing Deterrent Spray, Anti Chew Behavior Training Aid for Dogs and Cats; Stops Destructive Chewing Licking of Bandages, Paws, Shoes, Fur, Doors and Furniture

Dogs hate the scent of bitter apple sprays. You can spray it on rugs, carpets, shoes, etc. to deter chewing and also stop your dog from peeing in the same spot and marking its territory. Such sprays are also beneficial during house training.

2. Vinegar

This is one scent which dogs hate the most. To prevent your dog from peeing in a spot it has peed upon, wash the area with diluted vinegar. This will get rid of the urine odor and prevent your pet from peeing over it again and again.

3. Ammonia

This is another dog pee deterrent. Clean your rugs/carpets with ammonia (test a small area to ensure that the rug is not damaged by it). The strong ammonia scent will repel your dog from urinating over it again.

4. Enzymatic cleaners

You can also use strong enzymatic cleaners for keeping your dog from peeing on the carpets. The enzymatic cleaners work by breaking down urine molecules and completely eliminating the smell. This prevents your dog from peeing over the same spot again.

ANGRY ORANGE 24 oz Ready-to-Use Citrus Pet Odor Eliminator Pet Spray - Urine Remover and Carpet Deodorizer for Dogs and Cats

Try this Orange scented Enzymatic Cleaner. Dogs hate the scent of orange which further deters them from peeing in the same spot.

What Smells are Toxic to Dogs?

What smells do dogs hate

1. Bleach

Many dogs and cats are attracted to the scent of bleach. However, its strong fumes could kill our pet animals. Take care not to use bleach for cleaning around pets. The strong bleach scent could cause toxicity in your dog/cat – younger pets are especially more vulnerable.

2. Household pesticides

Many household pesticides designed to kill gophers, rats, roaches, bed bugs, termites, etc. release toxic gases like phosphide in the air. These can be harmful to your dog and could cause toxicity symptoms like lethargy, confusion, and vomiting. In extreme cases, a small dog could even die from inhaling these toxic fumes.

3. Certain essential oils

Many essential oils are downright toxic to pets. These include oils like penny-royal, peppermint, tea tree oil, pine, citrus, etc.

Inhaling these fragrances could lead to symptoms of poisoning in dogs. Unfortunately, many air fresheners, scented candles, liquid potpourri, and bug repellents contain these essential oils. So, please exercise caution and avoid using them around small and vulnerable pets.

How Do You Repel Dogs Naturally? DIY Homemade Dog Repellent Spray

When you want to repel dogs from your porch, patio, or garden, use the following natural DIY dog repellent spray:

  • 20 drops of citrus essential oils like orange, lemon essential oils
  • 10 drops of eucalyptus oil
  • 20 drops of tea tree oil
  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • ½ cup lukewarm water

Mix all the ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray it in areas where you do not want dogs to come.

Additionally, use the following tips for repelling dogs out of your yard:

  • Neuter/spay your house dog. This will prevent stray dogs from coming in.
  • Increase the height of your fence
  • Use lockable garbage cans or place the bins in locked sheds.
  • Use covered composting pits.
  • Remove uneaten pet food from porch.
  • Plant dog repelling plants like lemongrass, citronella, etc. in the garden.

FAQs on What Smells do Dogs Hate?

1. Will apple cider vinegar repel dogs?

Apple cider vinegar could repel dogs from peeing in a spot. You can also use apple cider vinegar on your dog’s coat to prevent fleas and ticks and give it a natural shine.

2. Will coffee grounds repel dogs?

Only to an extent. Not all dogs hate coffee grounds. However, most dogs dislike its strong scent and will not dig in the area where you have sprinkled coffee grounds.

3. Does white vinegar repel dogs?

Yes. Dogs dislike the smell of white vinegar. A mixture of white vinegar and water sprayed on the rug/carpet could keep dogs from peeing there.

4. Is cinnamon smell bad for dogs?

Cinnamon isn’t toxic to dogs. But do not sprinkle too much of it on your pet’s food.

5. Do dogs like the smell of bleach?

Yes, many dogs are attracted to the smell of bleach. However, bleach fumes can be toxic to your pet so avoid using it in concentrated form for cleaning purpose.

6. Is it bad for my dog to smell Vicks Vaporub®?

Vicks Vaporub® contains menthol, eucalyptus oil, and other ingredients that are not safe for dogs. Avoid using Vicks Vaporub® on your dog and most dogs hate the smell of menthol and will run away from it.

7. What should I use to get rid of dog smell?

Use baking soda and vinegar to sprinkle on your carpets, upholstered furniture, and bed linen. Let the mixture sit for a while before vacuuming it.

Baking soda will neutralize doggy smell. You can also bathe your dog to get rid of the strong doggy odor. In between baths, use baking soda and vinegar to wipe your pet’s coat. This will eliminate the stench and keep your pet smelling good.

Also read: How to make a dog smell good without a bath


What smells do dogs hate? Dogs typically hate the smell of citronella, citrus fruits like orange and lemons, and also certain essential oils. They especially hate the smell of menthol, coffee grounds, hot peppers, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol.

We hope this guide helps you keep stray dogs out of your yard and also avoid the use of scents which your house dog hates.


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