Five Smells That Dogs Don’t Like

November 10, 2015

dog smells joaquinWhen your dog is getting into everything, you can use particular smells she doesn’t like to help keep her out of trouble. If she is in a hyper pestering mood, ruining your personal belongings, digging in your yard or messing up any other area, there are smells you can use to deter her. It’s natural behavior for a dog to chew and dig, but with the help of their sensitive sense of smell you can train them to stay away from places or things you don’t want them getting into.


Chili peppers get their kick from capsaicin, the main ingredient that gives them their spicy flavor and smell.  The spicier the pepper is, the more likely your dog will not care for the smell.

My dog hates jalapeno peppers. When she is being a pest, all I have to do is hold one up in front of her to make her back away. It works like a charm and as an added bonus, there is no mess. If she wants attention when I can’t give it to her and tries to get on me or in the middle of something I’m working on, I simply hold up the pepper and she stays away until I’m done. It doesn’t hurt her. Watching her stick her hind quarters in the air and make faces at the dangling pepper always makes me laugh, but it works.

Pepper, such as chili pepper in ground form, is very irritating to your dog’s nose. She won’t like the smell or burning sensation the pepper causes. Some commercial dog repellents use it as an ingredient. The all natural peppers won’t poison your dog and she is likely to back off or dart away to avoid contact with hot pepper in any form. Sprinkle some around the areas you want to keep her from if you need to, such as outdoor and indoor plants you want to protect or that are dangerous for your dog to ingest.


Not all dogs will be as adverse to citrus as they are to other smells, but the strong smell of lemons and oranges may be a natural, safe way to keep them away from unwanted areas. Try cut up citrus fruits placed strategically around anything you need protected. It smells fresh and clean to humans. You can fill a spray bottle with the juice as well. Some dogs try to chew the edges of wooden tables, chairs or coffee tables. The strong smell and taste of citrus oil may help curb the chewing impulse on those items.


You can use vinegar straight from the bottle to sprinkle it or spray it.  Do not use it directly on plants as it can damage them. Spray it nearby or put it on bits of fabric or cotton balls.  Although the acrid odor of vinegar may not be appealing to humans either, it is another natural smell that your dog probably won’t like. If you can tolerate the smell, it can help your dog understand she is doing something that is not acceptable.

Rubbing Alcohol (Isopropyl)

Put some rubbing alcohol on bits of scrap fabric or on cotton balls. Place them in the areas you are trying to keep your dog from. You may have to freshen it periodically to keep it intense.


A moth isn’t the only creature that doesn’t like the smell of mothballs. Mothballs are extremely pungent, particularly in a closed in area. Don’t leave them on the floor or within reach where an overly curious dog might try to eat them. Put them up high enough or in a vented holder that lets the smell permeate the area you are trying to keep your dog from smells tina

Smells and the tolerance to each can be an individual thing for every dog. Finding smells that deter your dog may take some experimenting. If your nosey dog is nearby trying to see what you have, you will know right away if the odor is too much for his sensitive nose to tolerate. Dogs do not understand the obnoxious sensation of an overly potent smell, but it will do the job to keep them away.

Remember, a dog’s nose is much more sensitive to smells than our human noses are. If it is potent to you, chances are it is much more so to your dog. Some dogs avoid the smell, react vocally, or run to another area to get away from it. The overly dramatic reactions are sometimes quite humorous to see, but you will know for sure what smells your dog does not like. That handy bit of information can be helpful in situations such as preventing chewed items around your home, or delicate plants that need protecting from a foraging dog.

One caveat – you should never spray any of these directly on your dog. These items can burn their eyes, nose or throat. The mere scent and closeness of the smells your dog does not like, placed strategically in the needed areas, should be enough to repel the dog.


Top photo by Joaquin Uy/Flickr
Bottom photo by Tina Sherwood Imaging/Flickr

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