What Taste Do Dogs Hate [Use These as Repellents]

Most dogs hate the taste of citrus, peppers, fresh herbs, ground spices, bitter apple, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol. These scents and tastes work great as dog deterrents. However, it’s important to use them cautiously and never spray these items directly at your dog. 

It’s rare for a dog to be a picky eater. No matter the food, the amount, the texture, or the taste, it seems that dogs will eat just about anything. But are there any tastes that dogs dislike?

Dogs experience taste through their nose. If something doesn’t smell good to them, then it won’t taste good.

Dogs hate the smells and tastes of citrus foods, vinegar, peppers, bitter apples, rubbing alcohol, ground spices, and fresh herbs. These are all foods with a strong scent that deter dogs.

Owners will often use this information to keep their dogs from chewing on their items or getting into things they shouldn’t be.

Though dogs seem to enjoy almost anything, a little spray of any of the above-mentioned scents will keep your dog at bay. This will keep your dog from accessing certain areas or from chewing on your slippers again.

This article will explain the fascinating biology behind taste and smell in dogs and list some smells and tastes that deter them.

The Biology Of Taste And Smell In Dogs

When it comes to taste and smell, dogs have very different biology than humans. Though they lack the number of taste buds that we have, they make up for it with the number of olfactory receptors.

This section discusses the fascinating biology of smell and taste in dogs and how these two senses are connected.

Number Of Taste Buds

This fact may come as a shock, but dogs have a fraction of the number of taste buds than humans do!

Humans have about 9,000 taste buds, but dogs only have around 1700. They can still distinguish the four primary taste classifications (sweet, salty, bitter, and sour). However, their sense of taste is diminished due to the smaller number of taste buds.

They also have unique taste buds for water (humans do not have this) which become sensitive after eating sweet or salty foods.

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How Dogs Taste Through Smell

After reading the last paragraph, it may seem understandable why dogs eat almost anything. If they don’t taste food very well, then anything can seem appealing.

However, dogs make up for their lack of taste buds with their abundance of olfactory receptors. While humans have about 5 million olfactory receptors, dogs have around 220 million!

Why does this matter? This is important because dogs taste their food mainly through smell, not taste buds. Dogs taste through smell because they have a unique organ called Jacobson’s organ. Jacobson’s organ, or the vomeronasal organ, is an olfactory chamber located at the bottom of the nasal cavity that allows dogs to smell and taste simultaneously.

Puppies use this organ to locate their mother’s milk. Dogs also commonly use this when smelling pheromones in other animals.

Jacobson’s organ allows dogs to experience the world around them through smell. When looking for food, this organ will enable dogs to “taste” the scent of food. Therefore, anything that smells good to a dog will taste good to a dog.

On the flip side, when looking for foods that dogs hate, you need to look for foods that may smell bad to a dog. Since dogs are rarely picky eaters, this can be a challenge. However, the list in the next section is full of common foods and other substances that smell/taste horrid to dogs.

Tastes/Smells That Dogs Hate

The list below shows common foods that dogs hate. Many of these foods are bitter, sour, or spicy, showing that dogs are reluctant to eat foods in those categories.

Any of these items will make an effective spray or deterrent to keep your dog in line.


Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, you name it. Any citrus fruit will deter dogs. Citrus is often found in a variety of home products, including cleaners, candles, and deodorizers.

The oils found in the skin of citrus fruits cause irritations in the respiratory tract of dogs. This makes it an effective deterrent, but caution is warranted.

Citrus is often used in sprays to deter dogs. You can either use the juice from the fruit or buy citrus oils. To discourage your dog, spray the item or area you want your dog to stay away from.

You can also place the skins of citrus fruits in the area you want your dog to avoid, but you will have to clean them up at some point.

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The spice in peppers creates a tingling sensation that dogs hate. This taste is entirely foreign to them and sends them running immediately. Even just holding a pepper near them does the trick. The smell of peppers is so strong that they immediately run away from it.

Spices can cause respiratory issues in dogs, so make sure to never feed or spray spices or pepper on them.

Fresh Herbs

Plant fresh herbs to keep your dog out of your garden. Fresh herbs such as mint or rosemary are a natural deterrent. You can also create a spray with oils from the herbs and spray areas or items you want your dog to avoid.

Ground Spices

Ground spices are an effective way to keep your dog out of your garden or from digging in your yard. The spice from ground chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, ground mustard, or similar spices is foreign to dogs, so they will run the other way when near these spices.

To keep your dog from digging in your yard or garden, just sprinkle some of these spices on the soil. This will have no harmful effect on your plants but will keep your dog away.

Make sure to never blow these spices in your dog’s face as they can cause burning and irritation in his nose.

Bitter Apple

Bitter apple is the classic product that owners use to deter their pets. Dogs are incredibly sensitive to anything bitter, so they will avoid any area with this scent. Bitter apple sprays can be easily found in pet stores and are designed with this specific use in mind.

As with many other items on this list, make sure never to spray bitter apples on your dog. Only spray the area or object you wish for him to avoid.


Standard white vinegar is an excellent deterrent. Furthermore, it’s cheap, safe, and non-toxic, making it a better option than some other items on this list.

However, the acidic smell of vinegar also bothers humans, so only use this if you want your home or items to smell like vinegar.

Rubbing Alcohol

The pungent smell of rubbing alcohol is an instant dog deterrent. To keep your dog away from certain areas, place cotton balls of rubbing alcohol around the room. Higher concentrations of rubbing alcohol have more pungent smells.

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However, you should never bring a dog in contact with rubbing alcohol as it can hurt your canine’s skin.

A Word Of Caution

When using these sprays and products, it’s essential to use them on the area or item you want your dog to avoid.

Never spray these at your dog. Some of these sprays can hurt your dog, which is why he avoids them in the first place.

Spraying in certain areas to deter misbehavior is fine; spraying them on your dog as punishment is abuse.

Using These Scents/Tastes as Deterrents

If your dog is chewing your items or urinating in specific areas of your home, any of these deterrents should do the trick.

There aren’t many smells or tastes that dogs hate, but the foods and products listed in the article are exceptions. These items are too much for your dog’s incredible sense of smell, and he will avoid them at any cost.

Spraying any of these products in certain areas of your home or on your items will stop your dog’s misbehavior for good.

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