What Smells Do Dogs Hate? – Be Careful What You Choose!

what smells do dogs hate

Dogs have a much stronger sense of smell than we humans do, so it’s only natural for them to be put off by certain smells that we might not even notice because they don’t affect us. Personally, I like to know exactly which smells my dog might hate just so that I can avoid him coming in contact with them, and to prevent him from feeling any discomfort.

So, I asked myself; what smells do dogs hate?

This is something that I’d like to share with all dog owners, so I’ve put together this list of 9 smells that dogs hate.

What Smells Do Dogs Hate – Top 9


For us humans citrus fruits smell great, and we often use them as a replacement for air freshener. This includes: oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes, pomelos, etc.

Most dogs cannot stand these smells, but this isn’t because they are dangerous or toxic or anything – I actually know some dogs that enjoy a piece of orange every now and then. It’s simply because the strong and sharp scent irritates their sensitive scent glands.

Depending on the dog, some people even use a citrus spray which is specially to stop dogs from going particular areas of the house, or to stop them from playing with certain items. Some dogs are more sensitive to citrus than others, so this doesn’t work on all dogs.


Vinegar is often used to clean with, and, as I’m sure you’re well aware, it’s very pungent. If humans dislike the smell of it and find it strong, I can’t even imagine how unbearable it must be for dogs!

The powerful smell is caused by the acetic concentration, and is sure to cause any dog to turn the other way.

Unlike with citrus smells, which some dogs might be able to tolerate, vinegar is disliked by all dogs. Many dog owners use vinegar as a means to restrict their dogs from access to certain places. However, whereas citrus can be used indoors, vinegar is best used only for outdoor restriction.


Did you know that dogs can actually accurately tell the difference between a number of different types of pepper, and they will avoid the hotter ones?

My dog will instantly run off if he sees me take out a chili pepper or jalapenos. He sniffed one once and since then has learned to keep away.

Whether the chili pepper is in any of its forms: cooked, fried, or powdered, dogs will shy away immediately.

If the dog happens to be a puppy, he won’t know any better as he’ll still be getting used to the acute sense of smell and experimenting, but he will learn quickly to avoid chili because he will be left with a burning sensation afterwards.

Even though chili peppers are not toxic for dogs, they can cause sneezing and other respiratory issues.

Chili pepper can even cause irritation in dog’s eyes, so no matter what this shouldn’t be used as a repellant (like how citrus can be used as one).


Alcohol contains a certain percentage of ethanol, and this chemical compound is what gives it its distinct odour and taste.

Whether it’s alcohol as a beverage or rubbing alcohol, being exposed to the smell can cause both dog and human a headache. The smell is so strong that if your dog accidentally gets a whiff, he’ll surely run off.

Cleaning Products

I always try to use animal-friendly cleaning products so that I don’t accidentally cause any discomfort to my fur babies. The chemical compositions of most cleaning products are what irritates our dog’s noses. Ammonia and vinegar are often used as common disinfecting agents.

The ones with a lot of ammonia in them are probably the worst, because this can cause your dog to think that it’s another animal’s urine, which not only will make your dog uncomfortable but might even cause him to pee because he would be thinking that there is another animal in his territory.


Body sprays and cosmetic products as a whole each have a unique smell. From all of them, perfume is the worst for dogs because they consist of several chemical compositions that make up the fragrance.

Personally, I am quite sensitive to certain perfumes so luckily my dog never has to put up with strong smelling perfume because it would make us both unable to stop sneezing.

Just like people, some dogs really don’t like certain smells of perfumes, where as some won’t mind as much. Since perfume usually masks the natural smell of a dog’s owner, this is the main reason they won’t like it.


Mothballs are small balls of chemical substances, and deodorant, which are used when storing clothes to prevent moth and mold.

Mothballs are actually very toxic not just for dogs but humans too. Anything that is toxic for dogs, they have an instinct to avoid and dislike.

If your dog accidentally eats one, this can cause serious health problems, so it’s really important not to misplace them and keep them out of reach from dogs.

Nail polish

Out of all of the cosmetic products out there, dogs hate nail polish and nail polish remover the most. Simply because the smell is so strong, which is caused by the alcohol content and chemicals. Some of the chemicals are formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate and toluene.

Certain nail polish fumes can even be toxic for them.

The smell of those chemicals can even cause irritation in your dog’s nostrils, as well as sneezing and itching.

Onions & Garlic

Onions and garlic belong to the Allium family, and contain thiosulphates which can be toxic for dogs if ingested. As mentioned earlier, dogs will always avoid anything that they know from instinct to be toxic. Plus, onions and garlic just have a very strong smell which irritate dog’s nostrils. For other foods that are toxic to dogs check this article – 20 Foods that Your Dog Can’t Eat.

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