What Scents Do Dogs Hate? (2024)

By Katie Zimmerman


As a proud dog owner, you know what makes your pup’s tail wag, but have you ever wondered, “What scents do dogs hate?”.

When you consider that a dog has 50 times the amount of scent receptors humans have, and their sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than ours (yes–you read that right!), it only makes sense to take your pup's scent-itivities into account when filling the room with your favorite aromas. If you’re as eager to please your pup as they are to play ball or go for a walk, then you’ll take note of these top scents dogs hate and replace them with ones they love.

What Scents Do Dogs Hate?

Hot Peppers & Ground Spices

While it may not come as a surprise, dogs aren’t big fans of hot peppers or spicy smells. The main reason is that hot peppers and spicy herbs contain capsaicin, a compound irritating to pups. While capsaicin isn’t necessarily toxic to dogs, it can cause burning, irritation, sneezing, and digestive issues (especially if they find your Taco Tuesday leftovers!). While your pup may not be sniffing the spice rack regularly, perfumes and home fragrance products may contain these spicy or pungent scents, so double-check those labels!


It’s hard to believe that dogs crave whatever’s rotting in the trash but can’t bear the smell of fresh herbs. However, it’s true! Pungent herbs like rosemary, mint, and basil are enough to make a dog crazy. Despite their distaste, these scent aversions can come in handy when reinforcing good behavior–especially when you want to keep your dig-happy dog out of your garden.

Citrus Scents

For many, citrus scents indicate a clean home. For dogs, citrus scents are the enemy. Citrus scents like lemon, lime, oranges, and grapefruit–especially in high concentrations often found in household cleaners or essential oils–can cause irritation to your pup’s respiratory tract, so keep any fresh citrus fruits out of your dog's reach. You know–just in case.

What Scents to Try Instead

We’re not fans of focusing on the negative. So now that you know what scents dogs despise, here are some uplifting facts about pup-approved scents you and your canine companion can enjoy together.


Mmm, vanilla–what’s not to love? If your dog could talk, he’d tell you vanilla is a sniff-worthy scent he can’t get enough of. How do we know? Because science said so!

A study published by Applied Animal Behaviour Science discovered that vanilla actually has a calming effect on rescue dogs. The study found these pups barked less and exhibited fewer nervous movements. So, go ahead and treat your pup (and yourself!) to the calm and luxurious scent of vanilla by popping a few of Happy Wax’s scented wax melt scents like Vanilla Orchid or Vanilla Bean Latte into your wax warmer!

Coconut & Ginger

Another scent dogs can’t get enough of is coconut. In fact, the aforementioned study also tested coconut and ginger on rescue dogs, and found both helped reduce feelings of anxiety, and improved sleeping behaviors. Even if your dog isn’t a rescue or spending time in a kennel, scents of coconut and ginger are two pup-approved aromas that also smell fantastic throughout your home.


Did you know that dogs are more likely to play with toys that smelled like lavender? While herbs and spices will have your dog turning up his nose, lavender-scented toys were actually found to significantly reduce stress-related behaviors and increase play with the scented toy. Aside from these findings, lavender is one of the most popular aromatherapy scents for humans and pets alike, helping to calm feelings of stress, fear, and agitation. Not to mention–it smells fantastic.

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What Scents Do Dogs Hate? (2024)


What smell do dogs absolutely hate? ›

For dogs, citrus scents are the enemy. Citrus scents like lemon, lime, oranges, and grapefruit–especially in high concentrations often found in household cleaners or essential oils–can cause irritation to your pup's respiratory tract, so keep any fresh citrus fruits out of your dog's reach.

What scent will keep dogs away? ›

Strong citrus scents are unpleasant for your dog and may deter them from digging up your plants or specific areas in the yard. You can also use this tactic for indoor plants that your dog is digging around in. Citrus scents are excellent for deterring your dog from areas you don't want them to get into.

What smell makes dogs run away? ›

Key Takeaways. Homemade dog repellents can include natural ingredients like citrus, cayenne peppers, vinegar, mustard oil and coffee grounds, each disliked by dogs for their strong smells or tastes.

What is the best homemade dog repellent? ›

Ammonia and vinegar are most often heralded as the best homemade way to keep the dogs at bay.

What scent will deter dogs from peeing? ›

Citrus. The citrus smell is arguably the best dog repellent there is. You do not have to do a lot. Simply peel an orange or a lemon next to your dog and you will observe it leaving the spot immediately.

Does vinegar keep dogs away? ›

Dogs don't like the strong smell of vinegar and thus will be deterred by it. As a bonus, a vinegar dog repellent also can help to neutralize urine odors, so passing dogs won't be compelled to mark over where another dog had previously peed.

What to spray an attacking dog? ›

Pepper spray is one of the best ways to stop an aggressive dog or pack of dogs from biting you, and SABRE Protector® Dog Spray is specifically formulated for use on aggressive dogs. It is compact and be easily carried on your belt, in a pocket or purse when you are walking, jogging, or riding a bike.

Is there a dog repellent that actually works? ›

Effective against a wide assortment of animal intruders – on land and in the air – the Critter Ridder® Motion-Activated Animal Repellent system senses animal movement up to 35 feet away. A harmless deterrent that doesn't do anything more than frighten off inquisitive animals, it simply uses a stream of water.

What can you put in your yard to keep dogs away? ›

Keep Unwanted Dogs Off Your Property
  • Plant lavender. ...
  • Spray vinegar. ...
  • Use a motion-activated sprinkler. ...
  • Build a fence.To keep animals like dogs from constantly coming in and out of your lawn, surround it with a sturdy fence.
  • Plant spiky shrubs.

What kills dog scent? ›

Vinegar. Vinegar is also an amazing natural cleaning option for more serious pet odors. Try using vinegar (diluted with a bit of water) in a spray bottle and spray on carpets or floors. Or use in combination with baking soda on cushions or bedding for an extra powerful, odor-eliminating punch.

What smell would scare a dog? ›

Similarly, there is general agreement around what dogs don't like. At the top of the list? Citrus. Most dogs can't stand the taste and smell of oranges, lemons, and grapefruit.

What would spook a dog? ›

Many dogs have sound phobias to loud noises like fireworks, thunderstorms, gunshots, and firecrackers. There is even research that suggests noise phobias can be inherited. According to Dr. Klein, herding breeds are particularly sensitive to noise phobias, perhaps because they're so attuned to their environment.

What happens if a dog eats cayenne pepper? ›

Cayenne peppers are not toxic to dogs but can cause health problems if they are eaten without supervision. The spiciness can cause a dog's mouth and throat to become inflamed, and it can also cause gastrointestinal (GI) issues such as stomach cramps, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Will coffee grounds keep dogs away? ›

Coffee grounds scattered throughout the garden will have a similar effect. Spicy substances work to keep dogs at bay. Spread a mixture of spicy mustard and red pepper flakes around plants for protection. Dogs have a similar distaste for coffee grounds and bitter orange.

Is there something I can put in my yard to keep dogs from pooping? ›

Dogs dislike the smell of vinegar, similar to lavender and citrus, and avoid those areas. Baking soda: Mix 1 cup of baking soda with 1 gallon of water. Spray this mixture around the edges of your yard. Citronella oil: Mix a few drops of citronella oil with water in a spray bottle.

What smells do dogs hate to stop chewing? ›

You can easily make a chewing deterrent spray using vinegar or citrus oil. Alternatively, you can rub some clove oil on items that are most “chewable.” The bitter taste will deter your fluffer from noshing on your things.

How to scare dogs away? ›

If the dog continues to approach you despite your attempts to back away and use a barrier, use a loud voice to try and scare them away. Shout "No!" or "Go away!" in a firm, assertive voice. This may startle the dog and cause them to retreat. If the dog attacks you, use whatever you have available to protect yourself.

Is vinegar toxic to dogs? ›

While vinegar is generally safe around dogs, you don't want them ingesting too much. Vinegar is highly acidic, so dogs with sensitive stomachs or other conditions might experience gastrointestinal upset.

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