As dog owners, most of us probably expect to encounter a pee-related accident in the house at some point in our lives. Whether it be from a new puppy who is still developing a good potty-training habit, from a dog who has gotten into a marking habit, or any dog who just decides they’d like to pee on something they aren’t supposed to, dealing with the cleanup and smell can be frustrating.
While there’s no miracle product to instantly stop these behaviors, there may be ways you can discourage your pup from peeing in places he shouldn’t when used in combination with good training techniques. The use of odors is frequently promoted as helping curb unwanted urination in dogs, or to even encourage a dog to pee in a specific area.
But what kind of smells do dogs hate to pee on?
It can vary by the individual dog but many dogs prefer to stay away from acidic smells, like lemon, or spicy smells, like peppers. Dogs may avoid areas where these smells exist, but to actually fix the peeing issue, training must be done to stop the unwanted urination and teach the dog where to pee.
Below we’ll look at some odors that may discourage your dog from peeing in a certain area or on a certain object. We’ll also discuss how the products generally work best when used on conjunction with training, and some tips on how to incorporate the odors into the house training process.
5 Smells That Dogs Don’t Like To Pee On
The scents listed below are generally smells that many dogs find unappealing in general, and thus could potentially be utilized to help discourage peeing in a specific area or on a specific object.
As stated previously, though, your mileage will vary depending on your individual dog and in some instances the scents may be a health hazard so speaking with your veterinarian about using any products not made specifically for dogs is a smart idea.
1. Peppers & Other Spicy Foods
One of the most common scents that are suggested to deter a dog from peeing are those of the spicy variety, such as hot chilies or other peppers. Dogs cannot actually taste the spiciness, but they can absolutely smell and react to the capsaicin in the peppers.
Dogs who are exposed to capsaicin may sneeze violently or rub at their face with their paws. Capsaicin should never be used in its purest form, and a dilution in water is safest for pets (though again, check with your vet first!).
Some dogs can have severe allergic reactions to capsaicin, too, so if you are using it make sure to monitor your dog for any signs of a reaction and definitely don’t let them eat it!
Certain dogs may also not react to the capsaicin in the same way as others, especially those who have reduce scent due to an injury or deformity in their nasal cavity.
2. Acidic Products
Another common smell that we humans tend to love very much, but that may deter a dog from peeing, is that of acidic foods such as lemons, oranges, and limes.
Lemon oils are especially popular in households for use in cleaning supplies and aromatherapy. However, many of these lemon oils are too potent for a dog and can cause severe respiratory distress when inhaled at full strength, and even death if they are ingested.
Actual lemons that have been infused into water are safer to use, though the smell might not be strong enough to deter a dog and the dog should still not consume any part of the fruit. As with the spicy foods, dogs are also unable to taste a lemon (at least not in the same way that we do), and concentrated lemon juice is too potent and could cause serious digestive upset due to the acidity level.
Also included in this acidic category is vinegar of all kinds, which is another popular choice for cleaning products, and which can also potentially deter a dog from peeing in a certain area.
As with other potent products, vinegar should always be diluted, and it should never be sprayed on live plants or in areas where dogs or other pets could drink it (the consumption of vinegar can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and damage to the throat and esophagus due to the high acidity).
3. Herbs, Cooking Spices, & Essential Oils
Some fresh varieties of herbs can potentially deter a dog from peeing in a certain area. Mint, Rosemary, and Basil varieties are especially potent and strong smelling, and are easy to grow.
The use of live herbs to prevent a dog from peeing is best used out in the yard if you have an area where you do not want your dog to go, and dogs may habituate (or get used to) the smell over time and it will lose its effectiveness.
In small quantities these plants are also generally safe if a dog eats them, but if they consume an excessive amount it could lead to digestive upset so if using these plants in your yard you should make sure your curious pup doesn’t take too much of an interest in eating them.
Certain cooking spices, such as Cinnamon or Clove, may also deter a dog but these must always be diluted if they are in powder form as they can cause severe respiratory distress or eye issues if the dog inhales the powder or gets it in their eyes. Some cooking spices can be toxic to dogs at any dose, whereas others are only toxic in large quantities and only if ingested.
With essential oils of any kind (including the lemon oil I discussed above), you always want to check with your veterinarian first before attempting to use them to keep your dog from peeing in a certain area.
Many essential oils that are made for human use are not safe for pet use, and can cause respiratory distress, vomiting, lethargy, neurological symptoms, or even death if inhaled or ingested. You can learn more about the risks of essential oils here:
A lot of these products are also safe for dogs, but deadly to cats who can have a much more severe reaction to their usage. If you have cats at home, it’s best to avoid using any type of essential oil even if it’s safe for use around dogs, unless directed by your veterinarian.
4. Alcohols, Nail Polish, & Cleaning Supplies
While your dog may not find this category of smells appealing and it may stop them from peeing in a certain area, they are not considered safe for use as a deterrent and should not be used, especially indoors.
The strong potency of many of these products can damage your dog’s nose, throat, and eyes and cause severe illness if ingested. Even “all natural” products could potentially be dangerous.
5. Wild Animal Urine & Blood Meal Products
This final category of smells that could potentially keep a dog from peeing in a certain area is one that is also not generally recommended, mostly due to mixed evidence on whether they actually work as well as the fact that there can be some unintended consequences with use!
The urine of mountain lions, wolves, and other large predators is sometimes promoted to keep away other animals (including dogs) who may smell it and become afraid and not want to be around the area with the urine. Bear urine in particular is often promoted as a deterrent to dogs, but as with any other scent product this depends greatly on the individual dog.
While this may work with prey animals such as a deer or livestock, it doesn’t usually work with dogs as they, too, are predators and it’s more likely they’ll actually want to investigate the urine smell more closely. The exception would be a dog who has had an actual negative encounter with one of these predators and is already afraid of being around their scent, and may stop peeing in an area where they think the predator is.
Owners who may have tried this method may also find that not only is their dog not deterred from peeing in the area with the wild animal urine, but they’re actually peeing in that area more because they are covering up the scent of this unknown animal with their own unique pheromones and scent.
Blood meal products are also sometimes used in conjunction with the wild animal urine, or even in conjunction with certain essential oils and live plants in the hopes the smell of blood will keep a dog from peeing in a certain area.
But just like with the urine, a lot of dogs find this smell appealing and will instead eat it (which isn’t good!) or will urinate or defecate around the area where the blood meal is.
Do Smell Deterrents Work?
Whether or not the smell deterrent works is entirely dependent on the individual dog and their tolerance to the smell. Different dogs may have different reactions to certain smells, and to some there may be no noticeable effect at all.
Some dogs may even have an adverse reaction to certain smell deterrents, so you should research all product warnings carefully and consult with your veterinarian before using any type of homemade remedy.
Many essential oils (a popular choice for smell deterrents) are actually toxic to your pup, and they should not be used unless directed by your veterinarian.
Training is still the better option when teaching your dog to stop peeing in unwanted areas and should be used on conjunction with any smell deterrent you may be using. Crate training and sticking to a good potty training schedule is the best way to help prevent inappropriate peeing in the first place, and will help you ensure that your pup is not peeing somewhere they shouldn’t when you can’t keep an eye on them.
The smell deterrent by itself, no matter how effective it may have seemed in the beginning, will eventually lose its potency and if your dog had no follow-up training to teach them a more appropriate place to pee, they’ll go right back to peeing in the original area you were trying to keep them away from.
How You Can Use Smell Deterrents To Aid House Training
No matter what type of smell deterrent you are choosing to go with, they are almost always applied as either a spray, a powder, or as a plug-in (though you may find some exceptions, such as the popular “pee posts” that are coated in a pheromone that is used to encourage dogs to urinate on it).
Once you’ve followed the directions on how to use the product you’ve chosen, you can start incorporating house training techniques to encourage your pup to pee in a more appropriate place.
To teach your puppy or adult dog to pee in the appropriate place, you can utilize a potty-training schedule or work on crate-training your pup when you are not able to monitor them to keep them from peeing in an unwanted area (such as your couch leg!). At the same time, the smell deterrent will be working to discourage your dog from peeing in a certain area.
However, as stated previously, individual results with any type of smell deterrent will vary and it may be a better use of your time (and money) to use another product, such as a baby gate to prevent access to whatever area your pup is peeing in.
Training is the bottom line, though, and should be used in all situations. Reward-based training using positive reinforcement is the method of choice for potty-training your pup, and with time, patience, and consistency you will have a dog who pees only where he’s supposed to!
While there’s no miracle product that will instantly fix your dog’s problem peeing and some dogs get so ingrained into the habit they’ll even pretend to pee when there isn’t any pee left!
However, there are ways you can use smell deterrents to help aid the potty-training process.
Your mileage may vary on their use as each individual dog has their own likes and dislikes, and none of them will replace actual training, but they might just work for you and your situation!