Your interior doors are some of the most important items in your property. Not only do they serve an important function, but they also contribute hugely to your home’s décor. But this latter effect is undermined significantly when your dog gets distressed and scratches at the door.
But what are we to do about this problem? Let’s look at the behaviour, starting at the root.
In order to prevent a dog scratching your door at night-time, or when you’re out of the house, we need to understand why they’re doing it. Door-scratching is a symptom of a range of behavioural problems, but the most common culprit is something called separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety occurs when a dog is split up from their owner and worries that they’ll never be reunited. To prevent this, they’ll try to break down any obstacle in their way – including a door.
Door Scratching – A Common Problem With a Solution
Good behavior is the number one thing we want to train our dogs from day one. As pet owners, we do our best to make sure our dogs are well-behaved. Sometimes, however, dog training can slip off the rails.
Everyone has a certain lifestyle. Sometimes, it can get in the way of correcting bad behavior in dogs. It’s understandable! We’re all busy people.
What if I told you there was a way to get everything under control again? It takes commitment, but you’re going to be happier and your dog will stop destroying your doors.
Before we get into the best solutions for dogs scratching doors, it’s important to understand why it happens in the first place.
Most of the time, it boils down to anxiety.
Many dogs are prone to anxiety. In fact, it’s likely the number one reason your dog is scratching at doors.
Anxiety is a complicated response to a number of triggers. Everything from thunderstorms to the sound of a motorcycle can trigger anxiety in dogs.
Sometimes, anxiety is triggered by underlying disease. Dogs with severe anxiety should be seen by a veterinarian. In some cases, certain medications and underlying disease can cause changes in behavior.
If there’s a medical cause, the veterinarian should be able to help get your dog back on track.
After a veterinarian has ruled out an underlying cause for anxiety, it’s up to you to determine the triggers.
Common triggers of anxiety in dogs include:
Dogs are often afraid of loud noise. Thunderstorms and fireworks are two of the most common.
Believe it or not, the worst thing you can do for your dog in these situations is to over-protect him/her.
Making a lot of fuss and over-protecting your dog may confuse and encourage more anxiety. Listen to your voice. Does it get higher in pitch? What about your gestures? Are you a little frantic in trying to calm your dog down.
The best thing to do is try and get ahead of the anxiety with calming supplements (or a prescription from the veterinarian). Act as if the noise is just an everyday occurrence without getting too wound up. Eventually, your dog will see that it isn’t such a big deal
Dogs with separation anxiety often display their fears in the form of destructive behavior. They may shred paper, break lamps, dig into furniture, chew shoes, or continuously scratch at the door.
The reason dogs do this is because they are insecure, bored, or afraid. Dogs are pack animals and like to be with their pack leaders – the pet parents. Naturally, we can’t be with them 24/7. We have to go to work, get groceries, etc. Addressing separation anxiety through training is important for your dog over the long-term.
There are plenty of good reasons for limiting where your dog can go in your house. You may want to keep a pet-free area for guests, entertaining, or to protect furniture. Maybe you have a guest coming over who’s allergic to pet dander.
Whatever the reason, it’s understandably difficult for a dog. This is especially true if he/she isn’t used to being in a room alone.
If your dog can still hear you on the other side of the door, he/she is going to get pretty excited. Naturally, they want to be with you. You don’t like missing out on the fun and neither do they.
What they don’t understand is that digging and scratching at the door isn’t going to win them any favors.
As your dog gets older, you quickly get into a bathroom routine with your pup. In the early stages, however, your puppy may not understand how to communicate his/her needs.
Your puppy may start doing things to get your attention. This might include scratching at the door, jumping on your lap, raising his/her paw to you, and vocalizing/barking.
The best thing to do is create a regular schedule so that you’re letting your dog out every three hours or so. Keep in mind that puppies will need to go out more often.
As they get older, they’ll be better able to hold their bladders for longer periods of time.
Generally speaking, 5 hours is about the longest length of time a dog should have to hold it in. Of course, many of us work and the reality is that time can extend beyond that.
7 Common Reasons Why a Dog Scratches a Door
If your dog is scratching the door from the outside, the most likely causes are the following:
If your dog is scratching the door from the inside, one of these might be the reason:
Now let’s see the solutions, one by one:
This method is on the top of the list for a reason: it’s a highly effective, simple, and affordable way to protect any door from pet scratches. While this is a DIY solution, it does not require any special skills.
All you need is
If you have a metal door, you can also use magnets to fix the door shield.
As you can see, you can choose from several methods to mount the acrylic sheet. In most cases, I prefer using double-sided adhesive tape.
FYI: Don’t worry if you don’t have a glass cutter or a utility knife: you can ask the staff at your local hardware store to cut the plexiglass according to your needs.
Pro Tip: If you want to use screws, keep in mind that plexiglass can crack easily during drilling, so always drill slowly and carefully. Start with drilling a tiny diameter pilot hole and then gradually increase the size of the hole. Always wear safety gloves and goggles.
Instead of plexiglass, you can also use any other kind of plastic sheet such as a vinyl plastic floor protector (the one you use on carpets) or Lexan which is more durable but also more prone to scratches.
Here’s the full process step-by-step in a short video:
I suggest you cover the full width of the door. The height of the protector depends on how high your dog can jump. If the door protector reaches the doorknob (because you have a larger dog), you need to cut a circular hole in the Plexiglas.
Also, it can be used on both exterior and interior doors, such as bedroom doors. In most cases, it prevents damage even from aggressive scratching. It’s a really powerful and easily customizable way of protecting doors from dog scratches.
To be honest, it’s my favorite way to prevent a dog from scratching a door. While it’s a great solution to protect the door itself, unfortunately, you can’t use it for the jambs. If you want the door frame to remain scratch-free, check out the next method on the list.
Save Your Doors and Your Sanity
You might be a little overwhelmed when looking for something to protect your doors. Dog paws can cause serious damage to your doors and to your dog When a dog scratches at the door it can result in cracked nails, splinters in the paw, loose or chipped teeth, and damaged gums.
The type of door protector you need will depend on the cause of the problem. For example, if your only scratches to go outside, consider installing a doggie door.
Pet doors allow your dog access to the outdoors without damage.
Before heading to the store, have a look at your door to determine what type of protector you’ll need. For example:
Look for heavy-duty door shields that can stand up to the environment. Conditions like extreme cold, hot sun, and high humidity should be taken into consideration.
If you’re trying to protect a screen door, you will want a protector large enough to fit all three sides of the doorframe.
Sliding doors require a protector that attaches to the door with adhesive tape. For a sliding door, you don’t want a protector that covers a doorknob.
Sticky tape and adhesive may damage the paint on a wooden door. If you’re looking for a protective shield for a wooden door, make sure the product is compatible.
Saving a door jamb usually requires a full cover that fits both the frame and the door. You may also want to look at a customized option if available.
How do you cover dog scratches on a wood door?
Even a trained dog may scratch at a door if he or she experiences separation anxiety. So, a CLAWGUARD shield can come in handy, both while training and while you’re away from home.
Can dogs scratch steel doors?