Five Smells That Dogs Don’t Like

November 10, 2015

dog smells joaquinBy Laurie Darroch

When 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

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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  1. arcelia says:

    I was wondering if you can help me with my dog she pees all over the house. and she thinks she is the boss. I have displine and nothing seem to work. also poops and exiccssive barking,please help me!!

  2. arcelia says:

    Iam having trouble with my dog.I put her to sleep at regular routine.She starts to bark.I take her out for potty break and she comes back in and drinks water.In a little while she begin to bark. As soon as I get closer to her she wanted be to get her out.I talk to her and I help her get back to bed.Is there anything that I could to stop the barking? sometimes I cant stand her crying and I bring her to bed with me She likes to pee and poop all over the house.I take her to the bathroom every hour.Maybe she thinks that the house is all her territory I tried vingar? Do you have any suggestion? I cant stand her peeing on my room.

  3. Antionette Brown says:

    Sorry I meant pees

  4. Antionette Brown says:

    Are 16 month old golden retriever puppy,Chance is about on his last chance.Ive tryed everything the thing is he goes to the door and he sometimes scratches the door are he barks by the door so why does he pre right in front of the door way to my bedroom? My husband’s side of the room.And I’ve taken him out on schedule he does this about 2 am then he will poop.I wake up to that.Any body know why he would do this?are have any suggestions any advice would be greatly appreciated thanks

    1. Jim Handy says:

      English classes for one. And he’s trying to convey a message. Your job is to, either give up or find out why he’s doing it. Its not just bad behavior. Talk to a vet.

    2. Angel says:

      What works for me is taking his food and water away around 6 pm the vet told me to do that. As a result mine is 6 mths old sleeps all night and does not go out until 6am or later.

    3. Christina says:

      Kennels work wonders, as much as we love for our dogs to be able to roam free while we’re sleeping they also need a safe zone to sleep in, good luck!

  5. John Owens says:

    Can you tell me something to put on my couch to keep my dog from jumping on it?

    1. Edward says:

      Hi John, you can use a pet deterrent mat.. You can buy one in Amazon 🙂

    2. Bob says:

      Ypu can place aluminum foil sheets on couch to train your dog to stay off. Eventually they won’t lay there and you can remove foil.

    3. Hooters says:

      Get a floor runner thing people use in hallways or under their chairs in offices. Put it on your couch upside-down so the “spikes” are sticking up.

  6. Doesn’t the alcohol evaporate quickly? Like… in minutes?

  7. Ryan says:

    Neem oil works well too. Only thing I found to keep my dogs out of the garbage.

  8. Diane Kozel says:

    Cayenne pepper works really well. I live in a townhome & people walk their dogs on a leash & let it poop every where 7 don’t pick up after them. So I started putting down the cayenne pepper & found that it really works well but you have to reapply if it rains.

  9. Jenny Melville says:

    i have a lady living near to me that feeds feral cats. unfortunately for me they do their business in my garden. i have a dog that has an absolutely disgusting behaviour of eating it. what things can i put in my garden to stop either or both that will stop this cycle of events please.
    regards Jenny Melville

  10. John says:

    My dog started linking the lemon..and she looked at me like ahhhh lemonade

  11. ANIRUDDHA DEY says:

    some stray dogs keep my house front mess and dirty by relieving themselves at night.Thus keep the place unhealthy for us. how to get rid of?

    1. Ellie says:

      Dogs don’t like hot peppers..

    2. TONY CARREON says:

      like a previous poster stated. Cayenne pepper works, but need to reapply after it gets washed off (sprinklers, rain, etc..)

  12. Chris Brown says:

    My dog keeps breaking into the fridge and I’ve tried all manner of smells including rubbing strong hot sauce onto the exterior of the fridge only to find her licking said fridge the smell of thieves extract worked for about a week now no effect any other ideas that won’t hurt her?

    1. Terry says:

      What is thieves extract? Never heard of this! Is this something I can use safely in my yard to deter the neighbor’s dog?

  13. Christian says:

    Thanks For The Info.

  14. JE says:

    vicks vapor rub. watch when you let your dog take a whiff

    -Anything that have eucalyptus smell

    1. Trudy says:

      My dog doesn’t like dog treats that contain eucalyptus oil, i.e. Twizzlers. Must be the smell of the eucalyptus! Her best pal refuses to eat them too! Will have to bin them!

      1. Terry says:

        Probably because eucalyptus is toxic for cats and dogs. Do more research before you poison your pets.

      2. John says:

        Thanks for the tip, can’t wait to try it!

  15. karen says:

    My dog keeps doing his business on my floor will this help her from making a mess.

    1. Ms. J says:

      Actually…. taking the time to properly house train your dog will take care of the problem. If you don’t teach your dog where it can and cannot relieve itself, it will do what comes naturally and go wherever the need strikes him/her.

      1. Cathy Bryan says:

        I have two male dogs that go out side I have a doggie door but they still pee on my. Furniture and floor

  16. wayne bessell says:

    Hi my dog keeps scratching but has no sign of flees wat could be causing it .

    1. Alessia Raguseo says:

      Probably Mosquitos they can get bites too

    2. Terry says:

      Could possibly be his food! I had this problem with my dog a while back and I changed to an all natural food (used one specifically for skin problems) and it cleared right up! My dog had an area on his underside that was red and some areas even looked bruised. Couldn’t believe how quickly a change in diet cleared it up.

    3. kj says:

      Dry skin, or whatever shampoo or tick repellent you may use

    4. Ms. J says:

      You might consider having your dog checked for allergies. My dog had the same symptoms and it turned out to be seasonal allergies. My vet subscribed 25m of Benadrly (pill form) and it worked.

  17. Vera Grubb says:

    I love these suggestions. Products are cheap and easy to find. I will let you know how they work.

    Thank you.


  18. Nick says:

    Thanks friend