Karen B. London
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Most Dogs Hate the Smell of Citrus
Does yours?
The odor of an orange to most dogs is like the odor of trash to most humans--ugh.

Typically, dogs like going for walks, eating chicken, belly rubs and chasing squirrels. Sure there are exceptions, but these truths apply to most dogs. Similarly, there is general agreement among canines about what is undesirable, or even repulsive. At the top of that list is the smell of citrus.

Dogs’ distaste for oranges, lemons, grapefruit or the smell of same can be useful. Many dogs can be deterred from chewing on items that have been treated with citrus odors. (To be fair, a small percentage of dogs just consider these flavors to be the icing on the cake, so to speak, and are even more likely to go after any object covered with such an odor. This is nature’s way of preventing any of us from ever feeling confident that we know what is going on.) To see how your dog feels about these fruits, peel a messy orange so that your hands are covered with the sticky juice and put your fingers near your dog’s nose. If your dog backs away, making a face, then you’ve got a member of the citrus-hating majority. If your dog licks your fingers, then you don’t.
If your dog dislikes the smell of these acidic fruits, it may be possible to use the scent or juice of them as a deterrent. However, be mindful of using these odors to scent your home for your own pleasure. You may inadvertently be making your home smell as bad to your dog as a trash dump would to you.
This video shows Aspen turning away from an orange. She is among the citrus-hating majority of dogs.


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

Photo: left-hand, Flickr

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Submitted by Anonymous | June 21 2010 |

Whenever my wife or i peel an orange, our one dog (a mix) sits planted on floor behind us hoping for some. Needless to say the store bought "no chew sprays" which taste bitter didn't work so well when she was a puppy.

Submitted by Alison @ Merry ... | June 21 2010 |

My dog loves oranges too - he stares at me while I peel them and loves to share one with me. He sits patiently waiting for each section, and we have half each.

Submitted by Dog Beds | November 5 2010 |

Yes come to think of it my 2 dogs don't like citrus either. I would never have thought of using it to deter them from an area though. They like chewing the chair legs, so I will try putting some lemon on there. Thanks for the tip!

Submitted by Leslie | June 21 2010 |

My Boston Terrier loves lemons.....he'll bark at the lemon tree until I give him a lemon. If I don't respond fast enough he jumps and jumps until he can grab one. He's pretty intense about it. Then he plays with it like it's a ball until it's in several pieces. His lemony kisses are quite refreshing!!

Submitted by Sara Rocha | May 18 2011 |

We recently discovered that our boxer HATES citrus. Intrigued we peeled an orange for our Boston and... He loved it! Silly Bostons- it seems they're usually the exception to the rule.

Submitted by Carolyn | June 24 2010 |

Interesting. So I'd take that a step further and say that most dogs would then hate citronella based flea/tick repellents. I've had some success with them but if the dog absolutely hates the scent then you'd hate to use it on her.

Submitted by Anonymous | September 7 2010 |

There is a particular area in the backyard that I dont want my pitbull to do his business. Is there something that is check and that works?

Submitted by CJ | August 18 2011 |

so your saying that if i put the smell of a lemon on my dog's bandage, she will stop trying to chew it off? (she hates the taste of lemons).

Submitted by Karen London | August 18 2011 |

It could act as a deterrent to chewing, depending on the degree of motivation she has to try to remove the bandage and how much she hates lemons. Be sure to check with your vet before trying this as the acid in the lemon could hurt if it touches an open wound, and the lemon juice could potentially interfere with the bandage and the injury. It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to medical issues. Best of luck to you. I know it can be very frustrating to try to stop a dog from chewing on their own bandages.

Submitted by Anonymous | September 15 2011 |

Great Tip!! My Boxer/Lab mix has an amazing sense of smell. Just recently he knocked down our industrial-sized trash can to get to a beef roast and roasted chicken carcass I threw out (he has not done this before). We have a grapefruit tree in our backyard that has way too much fruit and lo and behold, when I rubbed it on my hands he can't stand the smell of it!! So we just smothered the trash can with grapefruit juice and threw a a half dozen into the bottom for good measure. Hopefully this will keep him out of the trash!

Submitted by ladygirldoggie | January 24 2012 |

my ladygirl,i came here to find out why she was litterly freaking out on me when she smelled my orange peel, she went balistic on me. NOW i know why!! teeth showing,jumping around. wow!! thanks for the info!!

Submitted by Anonymous | October 13 2012 |

My dogs liked the orange smell, they even tried to eat the orange slice when I gave it to them.

Submitted by raven2001 | January 8 2013 |

I have Jack Russells who think if it is not eating them it is food. They eat all citris as I do just a slice or 2 I have the rest. When pealing veges they are at my feet waiting for a drop. they pick their own cukes dig carrots and beats, pick corn peel it eat the kernels and leave the cob on the lawn. If I shoot a squirel it rarely hits the ground before the war is on for the bigger half. In 8 years no sick or lay arround dogs. One year I was planting potato's and looked back to see them eating the seed as fast as they could.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 2 2013 |

This did not work on my dog who is bull mastiff cross, in-fact she started licking my hands :/

Submitted by Jen | April 10 2013 |

Ms. London My dog is Pit terrier mix and she LOVES the scent and eating oranges. She will fight me for mine or attack the bag when I come home from the store. She loves to play with the orange peel as well. she jumps around and goes crazy rolling around over the peels.

Submitted by AlphaOmega | April 18 2013 |

My dog, Buddy is a Doberan Pincher, and he has a nasty habit of eating...feminine sanitary items out of our barhroom trash can. Just wondering if there was any way to cause some sort of repelling smell that would make him not want to go near it, nevertheless eat anything. Thanks for this article!

Submitted by mel | May 20 2014 |

Yes. My dog loves oranges and the legs of my furniture. My friend suggested Vicks Vapor Rub as dogs do not like the smell. I wiped a small amount on the legs. She sniffed it and did not bother the furniture again. The smell goes away quickly and house does not smell like Vicks.;) Also just on corner of rugs and rugs saved!

Submitted by Anonymous | June 25 2013 |

my obnoxious little pomeranian loves all citrus fruits. and green peppers. and broccoli.

Submitted by Jim | August 1 2013 |

OK, so some dogs hate the smell of citrus and others like it. What other smells do your dogs hate? Maybe not every dog is the same, but the idea of using scent as a behavior modifying is solid stuff.

Submitted by Livi | August 3 2013 |

I'm so glad I found this article! My puppy always barks at my orange if I'm eating one, I thought he might be begging so I put a segment near his nose to see what he would do and he jumped away! I think I definitely have a citrus hating dog!

Submitted by mum to pudge je... | September 9 2013 |

hello, i am hoping someone can help me with a few small problems that i have come across with my 3 dogs
the biggest one being the dogie litter box i made the cat uses it but the 3 dogs still do their business all over the floor, and i cant seem to get them to use the litter box
the second being my kelpie x wont stop trying to eat the cat business or next doors chook waste

the final one is that the kelpie x seems to always be looking for food, even after she has had a big meal, so people don't like to visit me.
please im hoping for some very helpful tips to try because at night i cant leave them outside.

Submitted by Kat | February 22 2014 |

My dog hates the smell of oranges so much that she will start rubbing her nose against her doggy bed to (I'm guessing) get rid of the smell... It was quite amusing to watch the first time I found out.

Submitted by Duke | June 29 2014 |

I put a bottle of lemonade by our black lab and he walked away to the bathroom .

Submitted by terry | July 11 2014 |

I have a pug who acts like grapefruit is the most delicious food on earth. When I start eating one, she is relentless about gimmie some or I'll just die, She acts like it is a t-bone steak or something. I told her she is an embarrassment to her phylum...

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