We recently moved house and the entire back of our house has these amazing black bi-folding doors which lead out into the back yard. Unfortunately, our Cavapoo Rosie has started scratching at the door when she wants to go out. Although it is great that she has learnt a new way to communicate with us, the door frames are starting to become ruined, thanks to her sharp little claws.
When it comes to knowing how to stop your dog from scratching the door, you need to understand why they are scratching, so that you can implement a positive training programme to prevent the habit, ignore unwanted behavior and invest in good door shield protectors if necessary.
Whilst we may feel that our dogs are being destructive when they are scratching at the door, what they are actually trying to do is communicate with us. Here we explain more!
Why do dogs scratch doors?
Unfortunately, when it comes to dogs, door scratching is a symptom of a range of behavioral problems. Although the most common reason is often cited as separation anxiety, dogs will also scratch doors when they are bored, inquisitive or seeking attention.
We have a Cavapoo who can’t bare to be left alone, and gets anxious from the moment we reach the school gates and drop the kids off at school!
This fear of abandonment is born out of a natural desire to be part of a pack (that and the result of having a puppy during lockdown!). From the moment you take your dog home, you become their new family – in fact your are their everything.
Therefore the moment you step out of sight from your dog, they may start to worry that they will never be reunited with you again. And when anxiety kicks in, your dog will do anything to be with you – including scratching and jumping at the the door in order to go outside.
If your dog is shut in all day they are likely to scratch doors out of boredom. A scratched door becomes a fun activity for your dog and a good form of entertainment.
If you do need to leave your dog for prolonged periods of time, then make sure that you provide them with plenty of toys to stimulate them as well as treat dispensing trays so that they are not tempted to scratch at your doors.
A curious mind
Dogs are inquisitive by nature and like to know what is going on at all times. Our Cavapoo even follows us to the toilet to check they are not missing out on something exciting!
Therefore, a closed door only makes a dog more curious – after all, what could possibly be behind this barrier? In order to find out, your dog scratches at the door.
In our case, it isn’t the fact that our dog can’t see what’s on the other side, that is the problem. Oh no, it’s the fact that she can see the lush green grass that is waving in the wind and she can watch the cats mocking her as they tip toe past the glass, that causes the scratches down my door.
If your dog is house trained then they will have been taught to toilet outside. And this means waiting for someone to open the door to let them out…right?
But often people are busy and don’t spot the signs of a sitting or a pacing dog, so sometimes scratching is the only way to alert us that they need to go outside.
Tips on how to train your dog to stop damaging your doors
Prevention is always better than cure, so if you want to stop your dog picking up the habit of scratching doors, then you need to teach them using various methods.
You need to train your dog to understand that doors aren’t meant for scratching. If you have a puppy, then it should be relatively straight forward for them to respond positively to the training, although more patience and persistence will be required if you are teaching an older dog.
There are a few techniques that you can try to stop your dog from scratching. Some people recommend that you spray your dog with water or use a shock collar to teach them to leave, but we personally prefer other methods of training.
Ignore the scratching behavior
Whilst it may disturb you to see your dog clawing at the door, the best thing that you can do is to ignore the behavior. The moment your dog starts to scratch at the door, you should not acknowledge them or give in to their demands, and instead you should choose to walk away.
This will show your dog that scratching the door will actually make you disappear rather than giving them the attention they desired.
Positive affirmation to stop scratching
Ideally, as stated above, you want to ignore any unwanted behavior, but if that doesn’t work you could try giving positive praise for the good behavior instead!
Although we would never recommend punishing and yelling at your dog, firm commands and words such as ‘NO’ will help your dog to understand right from wrong.
When they are not scratching at the door to get your attention, then you should reward them with plenty of treats and some extra playtime.
Substitute toys to help with separation anxiety
If your dog is scratching the door whilst you are out of the house, then this is a sure sign of separation anxiety. In order to combat this, you could place them in a safe space, such as a crate or a pen, that is surrounded with familiar toys, blankets and smells.
Try leaving them for short periods of time to begin with and gradually extend this over time. You could even try some white noise as another way of calming your dog when you are not around.
If this still doesn’t work they may need to consider some third party help such as a dog behavioralist or even a doggy daycare, so that your dog gets used to being away from you whilst still getting to be surrounded by people.
Dog accessories that can assist with training
We all know that a bored dog is an inquisitive dog and rather than deter this, you should try to nurture it by channeling their curiosity in the right way.
This is where dog puzzles and treat dispensing trays can really help distract your dog from partaking in undesirable behavior – such as scratching on doors.
Here are a couple of products that we love and can highly recommend.No products found.
According to the CEO behind this Swedish-based puzzle,“dogs have four legs and one head, and all five need activity in different ways—every day – to prevent boredom.” For this reason she took it upon herself to design a simple, yet ingenious ‘hide n slide’ mental puzzle toy for dogs.
This interactive puzzle requires dogs to use their cognitive brain to learn a combination of actions that enable the toy to release a tasty treat.
This puzzle toy will have your dog entertained for hours, so you can feel at ease when you are away from the home, knowing that your dog is entertained without needing to scratch the door.
No products found.
This was one of the first toys we ever bought for our Cavapoo, and I will be completely honest, I didn’t love it at the time due to the amount of noise it made whilst rolling around our wooden floor. Rosie, however, absolutely adores it.
What is great about this treat ball is that once stuffed it can keep your dog amused for hours, allowing you to rest easy knowing that there won’t be any extra scratches on your door. Using either their paws or their nose, they simply push this ball around the room until the treats fall out.
And, if your dog finds that too easy, then you can adjust the difficulty level making it harder for your dog to retrieve the reward, keeping them actively engaged for longer.
If you are looking for some paw-some toys that will keep your dog’s attention when you are not able too, then check out our reviews of the best dog toys available.
Solutions to stop your dog from scratching the door?
If you are sick of the sight of scratched doors and no amount of treats, toys or training are working, then you may want to invest in some reinforcements to stop your dog from scratching.
There are many ideas and products on the market which can help you solve the problem, that are easy to install and will prevent further damage to your house doors.
These include:No products found.
A doggy door is just like an oversized cat flap, and is great for dogs that scratch to let you know they want to go outside to the bathroom, as it allows them the freedom to come and go as they please.
We particularly like this one from PetSafe as it is easy to install on any door and comes in a variety of sizes, depending on the breed of dog. It also comes with a closing panel, that allows you to control your pets access in and out of the house. This is particularly good for at night when you don’t want to be up and down to the stairs to put your dog outside to toilet.
No products found.
A cheaper solution than a doggie door, however, is to use a door scratch protector. These durable sheets are generally made of vinyl or plastic and can be cut to size to suit your door. These scratch shields are then placed onto the offending door using adhesive, and are generally strong enough to withstand the most aggressive door scratchers.
Out of all of the products available, the In hand Clear door scratch protector has the best reviews and is highly recommended for its durability. The only drawback to any of these door protectors, is that when taking them off, they tend to peel a layer of paint which can cause further damage to your door.
The dangers to dogs who scratch at the door
Whilst cosmetically, there is nothing worse than walking into a room and seeing a paint stripped door, it is important that you train your dog to stop scratching the door as they can cause some serious damage to their paws.
If your dog scratches at the door then it could result in the following problems:
- Cracked nails
- Splinters in their paws
- Bloody paws
Although most dog owners resign themselves to living in a home with damaged doors, you don’t have too. Thanks to some simple training techniques and plenty of patience, you can teach your pet that jumping and scratching is not tolerated behavior.