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8 Smells Dogs Hate More Than Anything Else!

Dogs have one of the most impressive senses of smell of any animal (their ability to sniff things out is far more impressive than our human noses). But are there any smells dogs hate?

Yes! Dogs have incredibly sensitive noses, and that means that when they dislike a smell, they are going to let you know about it. And while every dog is different, there are certain things that dogs hate the smell of much more than others.

In fact, any first-time dog owner should get to know what these smells are because they are perfect for use in training.

Keep reading, and discover which smells dogs absolutely abhor! 

The Worst Smells Dogs Hate 

Dogs have an exceptional sense of smell, and humans have taken advantage of their exceptional noses for centuries. Dogs are trained for tracking, for sniffing out drugs and contraband, and may be able to sniff out viruses and diseases!

This keen sense of smell is one of the most practical attributes of a dog, but have you ever wondered if there are smells that dogs dislike too? With such an impressive nose, those bad smells must be seriously amplified if the dog hates it. 

Different smells trigger dogs in different ways, but interestingly, there are a number of different aromas that dogs are more likely to be wary of. Some of these occur naturally, others are man-made, and many of these are found around the house. The smell of citrus, for instance, is a pet hate for many dogs!

A savvy owner can figure out which smells their dog likes and dislikes, and they can use these smells to help train them. 

How Can I Use my Dog’s Sense of Smell for Training? 

It might seem harsh, but using a dog’s sense of smell against them is a common form of training.

  • The first step is figuring out the scents your dog actively dislikes. That’s why we’ve listed the 8 most common smells below, so you can start establishing what they hate sniffing!
  • Bad smells can make a super-effective deterrent. If there are areas of your home or garden that you want to keep dog-free, then as well as employing traditional methods such as stair gates or a bed ramp for dogs, you can control their movements with aromas. 
  • If your dog hates the smell of citrus, for example, then spray citrus air freshener over the couch or start planting lemon trees in the garden to stop them from digging up the flowers.
  • Equally, you can use the smells in dog deterrent spray. This tried and tested method of training teaches your dog to associate certain actions with the spray and the bad smell. For example, if your dog keeps jumping up on people, spray them with the smell they dislike to deter them. Soon enough, they’ll stop!

8 Smells Dogs Hate the Most

Like we said, every dog is different, so while one dog might run away from apple cider vinegar, others might love the scent. 

The following aromas are known to be generally disliked by dogs, however, so start with these smells when investigating what your dog likes and what they hate. 

Here are 8 things that dogs hate the smell of!

Citrus fruits 

One of the biggest smells that dogs hate is citrus. Citrus fruits are almost always guaranteed to be a turn off for pet dogs!

We aren’t just talking about lemons, but every conceivable citrus fruit that you could find in the fruit aisle:

  • Dogs hate the smell of lemons.
  • They’re also disgusted by oranges.
  • Also, they're seriously put off by grapefruits. 

Why do dogs hate citrus? There are lots of theories. The acidity could burn the nose, or it could also be that certain vitamins contained in fruits are harmful in large doses.


Vinegar has a strong smell, and even our weak human noses are more often than not put off by the smell of vinegar (although, for some reason, we love it on fries). 

Dogs, with their super-sensitive noses, just don’t enjoy the smell of vinegar.

It’s perfectly safe for dogs, however, to ingest vinegar. For training, that makes this a great ingredient to leave lying around the house as a deterrent!

Rubbing alcohol 

Dogs are put off by the strong smell of alcohol, particularly concentrated alcohols (like rubbing alcohol). 

Of course, alcohol isn't safe for dogs (or humans) to drink in its concentrated form, which is why we both dislike the smell.

What you can do is dilute rubbing alcohol and soak cotton balls with it to use for training. 


Ammonia is another chemical that’s dangerous to dogs and humans, but when used with cotton balls or in extremely diluted concentrations, it’s a great and safe deterrent. 

  • Ammonia has a strong smell, and it can remind dogs of the smell of dog urine.
  • Being territorial in nature, dogs stay away from this sort of smell as it brings on all sorts of wild and natural instincts (dogs think of danger!), especially if they aren’t sure where the “urine” has come from. 

Chili pepper

Very few species actually eat chilli pepper for pleasure (humans are one of them). Dogs are one of the majority of animal species that do not enjoy chilis. 

  • The smell is enough to put them off trying to eat them, and they’ll keep away from fresh chilis or chilli powders, such as cayenne pepper powder. 
  • Dogs also can’t stand other types of spice, including the likes of paprika, mustard, or black pepper. If it’s spicy, they aren’t going to enjoy it.
  • So, if your dog is in need of a little deterrent to stop them from causing trouble around the house, then it’s a good idea to raid the spice rack and see what they don’t like!

Fresh herbs 

Perhaps surprisingly, dogs aren’t keen on the smell of fresh herbs. This is one that varies from dog to dog, and while your dog might love rolling around in your rosemary plants outside, they could also hide in the corner when you’re chopping cilantro. 

If you’ve discovered which herbs your dog does dislike, you can use these to your advantage in the garden. If you have a problem with your dog digging holes in the flower patch, plant a few herbs in there to scare them off!


Mothballs are used to keep away moldy, damp smells. We usually use them to keep clothes or furniture fresh. 

Dogs hate the smell, though, so mothballs work as a particularly effective deterrent if you leave them lying around the room. Just make sure the dog can’t actually get to them. 

Beauty products

Dogs hate the smell of unnatural chemicals that they aren’t used to. While we find the smell of deodorant or shower gel pleasant, dogs are not big fans of these aromas!

Many beauty products that you’ll have in the house will work well as deterrents, including the likes of nail polish or nail polish remover. If it’s got chemicals in it, your dog isn’t going to enjoy it! 

Smells Dogs Hate: Final Note

A dog’s sense of smell is one of the most exceptional in the animal kingdom, so if your dog hates a smell, then they are going to stay far away from it!

Every dog has its own likes and dislikes, just like people. It might take a little while for you to understand which smells your dog loves, which they tolerate, and which smells are going to make them run far, far away!

Why not bookmark our guide to the smells dogs hate, so you can start to better understand your pet’s behavior?

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