“What smell do dogs hate to pee on?” is a common question when dogs are peeing indoors or if dog pee is destroying your lawn. Dog pee is pungent and full of compounds like ammonium, uric acid, and nitrogen. These are devastating to carpets, green grass, or wooden floors.
Sadly, dogs soiling the house regularly is a common reason for frustration, even for dogs ending up in a shelter. Having a good pet urine remover is vital if you have a dog peeing in areas they shouldn’t.
And if you are having trouble with this, it’s essential to look at the health reasons dogs may leak urine and be aware of how long your dog can hold their pee if you keep them indoors. That said, let’s look at smells dogs hate and see what we can do to deter dogs from peeing where they shouldn’t.
What smell do dogs hate to pee on?
Almost no smells will reliably stop a dog from peeing in a specific area. Scents dogs hate are better for preventing problems like chewing, and unfamiliar scents can sometimes encourage dogs to pee in the same spot to mark it. However, certain scents, like citrus and mint, can sometimes repel dogs.
The truth is that no smell specifically stops a dog from peeing on something, but some scents can repel dogs from an area entirely. With this in mind, many products on the market are meant to do the same, especially to keep dogs off furniture or from peeing on lawns and making brown spots because of the excess nitrogen.
If you have tried these products, you may or may not have much success. Several studies have tried to solve the issue of keeping dogs away from an area with livestock. Again, dog repellent does not specifically stop a dog from peeing, it only aims to repel dogs permanently from an area.
And here’s the truth: the only reliable and completely effective canine repellents are extremely volatile chemicals like chloroacetyl chloride that smell terrible, are toxic when inhaled, and are extremely dangerous.
Cinnamaldehyde, a food additive taken from cinnamon, is also unsafe for dogs to ingest in their food (or treats) but is moderately effective in keeping them away.
However, it’s not all bad news; there are some smells dogs hate that can be pretty effective. Although keep in mind male dogs still like to mark strange smells sometimes, even if they don’t like them.
So let’s look at what smells dogs may hate enough to avoid (and the best way to keep a dog from soiling in a specific area).
6 Homemade Dog Urine Repellents
First: a word of warning about using strong smells against dogs
One has to be extremely careful using essential oils and spices around dogs. Many (even most) are toxic to dogs if ingested. We need to start with this warning because not all dogs avoid these smells, and if your dog has a chewing problem, they may chew and swallow an object sprayed with these oils, leading to poisoning.
Some of these are even toxic when inhaled. So when using these scents to discourage your dog from peeing in a certain area, be careful to dilute them and ensure your dog doesn’t swallow anything. Also, never spray these directly onto your dog.
Some of these scents can cause skin irritations and reactions, but with a dog’s highly sensitive nose, being sprayed with a smell a dog hates is just cruel and inhumane. And when it comes to essential oils dogs hate, the answer is most of them. Only a few, like lavender, may have a calming effect.
You can also read about whether catnip affects dogs.
Since the smells don’t go away immediately, it means the dog is left with something assaulting their nose for hours. Imagine the worst smell you can imagine, times it by 10 000 to 100 000, and then imagine being forced to smell it on your skin for hours. Exactly.
1. Mint and peppermint
By far, one of the most effective scents that keep dogs away is really mint and peppermint. Growing these fresh herbs in your garden can help keep your dog away from specific areas. Inside mint plants are compounds called pulegone and piperitone and these have been patented because they are so good at repelling canines.
So the answer to “do dogs hate the smell of peppermint?” is yes, many dogs do. And so, using the scent may make a good homemade dog repellent. But keep in mind; the ASPC warns that mint is toxic to dogs, and the compound pulegone can cause liver failure.
2. Citrus Fruits
Many (but not all) dogs hate the smell of citrus, so using citrus smells like citronella, lemongrass, lemon, and even bergamot can repel some dogs from an area. You can use these smells in scented candles or sprays to see if it keeps your dog away from an area where you don’t want them peeing.
You can also scatter peels in an area to try to repel your dog, as this is one of the natural smells dogs hate.
Once again, keep in mind many citrus compounds are toxic to dogs; examples include citronella and limonene, a compound found in citrus oils.
3. Rubbing alcohol
Alcohol is a very strong, sharp, and unnatural smell. Dogs will not like this smell, so applying ethanol to an area may make them avoid a certain spot. It may also help eliminate any existing urine scent, although it evaporates fast, so it’s not a long-term fix.
It goes without saying that dogs should not ingest alcohol.
A similar scent that dogs hate is nail polish, which contains alcohol and formaldehyde. These are strong, unnatural, and repulsive scents to dogs, often causing them to sneeze. However, applying nail polish to areas to stop peeing is not practical.
4. Capsaicin (spicy peppers)
Naturally, dogs hate anything that burns, so cayenne and chili peppers in an area may repel them. Be careful not to use too much, as any burning spray (like pepper spray) is unbearable to dogs.
Arguably, capsaicin may work better to keep dogs from chewing on items, although the burning sensation is a little inhumane. A better option is an extremely bitter anti-chew spray.
5. Coffee grounds
Dogs don’t like the scent of coffee grounds, possibly because caffeine, too, is toxic to them. Some people have had success throwing it over their soil to keep dogs out of certain areas in the garden where they don’t want them to pee.
6. Ground spices
We may love the scent of nutmeg and cinnamon, but that does not mean that dogs do. Mixing nutmeg, ginger, garlic, mustard, cinnamon, and chili powder in water to spray in an area can make a potent mixture that dogs may avoid.
Make sure to dilute them in water and not sprinkle the spices so that a dog may inhale or ingest them. Many spices are poisonous to dogs, especially nutmeg.
What smell do dogs love to pee on?
Dogs love to pee most on the scent of urine, especially dog urine. This is why cleaning products containing ammonia to clean up pee stains does not help potty training, as it smells like more pee to the dog. Male dogs also love marking most new scents in their territory.
As established, few scents are 100% reliable to make dogs not want to go close enough to pee on them. So the real question is how to remove the smells of urine that tell a dog, “this is where I should pee.”
Typical internet advice relies on the standard mixtures of vinegar (either apple cider or white vinegar) and baking soda. A standard example is one cup of water, a teaspoon of baking soda, and a cup of water mixed together and scrubbed on the urine.
But we want to add the advice of Catherine Tomlinson, who specifically wrote two papers on dealing with dogs peeing in inappropriate places. Removing the smell of pee from an area is an essential first step to stopping your dog from peeing there again.
- It’s best to use an odor remover specifically for pet stains, and an enzymatic cleaner. You can also use a solution of 10 parts water and one-part biological washing powder.
- Once the area is dry, spray it with surgical spirits to kill any remaining bacteria.
- If the area has been repeatedly peed on for a long time, then you will need to consider removing it. Unfortunately, this could mean pulling up the carpet, replacing the hardwood floors, and even skirting boards. Any remaining smell of poop or urine hidden in cracks in the floor can encourage a dog to pee or poop there again.
- Simultaneously, the dog will have to start potty training over, preferably by being taught where the correct spot is to pee and poop
What smell do dogs hate to stop chewing?
An extremely potent bitter apple scent spray is the best smell to stop dogs from chewing on inappropriate items. The bitter taste should be enough to stop a dog from mouthing on furniture without causing them any harm.
Perhaps the most reliable smell to repel dogs are products that contain mint extract, although we should always be careful of the toxicity of certain substances. Discouraging a dog to pee in a certain area works best when we restart house-training and properly remove the scent of urine and poop from the area.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.