7 Effective Ways to Stop Your Dog From Scratching the Door

Scratching the door dog
© A-Z-Animals.com/AZ Animals

Written by Maura Hoff

Published: November 11, 2023

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Are you struggling with your dog incessantly scratching your door? While this is frustrating behavior a dog can develop, there are ways to stop your dog from scratching the door.

Why do dogs scratch doors?

Before we dive into how to stop your dog from scratching the door, you need to understand why it’s happening in the first place. Scratching at the door is generally anxious behavior or a dog’s attempt to get their owners attention. If you’re dog scratches at the door, it may be experiencing separation anxiety from you and your family.

In addition to separation anxiety, scratching can occur if your dog is bored or attempting to get outside. Dogs are easily distracted, so the desire to get outside and investigate noises or chase squirrels and rabbits may trigger the urge to scratch.

Tips for Repairing Pet Scratches on Your Door

Once you’ve learned how to stop your dog from scratching the door, fixing the existing damages is simple. For lighter scratches, wipe the door clean and add some touch-up paint. If painting is not an option, try furniture polish or scratch remover. Deeper scratches require more effort. Sand off the door paint on and around the scratched area, and fill the scratch with wood filler. Once dry, sand it the treated area smooth and repaint or stain.

Note, if your dog’s scratching isn’t a new behavior, it will be harder to train them. Take your time, and be patient with your dog. Consider installing a door guard as a temporary solution during your training. The door guard won’t stop your dog from scratching, but it will protect your door in the meantime.

We put together seven effective ways to stop your dog from scratching the door. Read on to learn how to help your family, your dog, and your doors.

1. Train And Bribe Your Pup

puppy with soft chew toyu

As puppies lose their teeth, their chewing desire is strong. Always keep chew toys and bones around for your puppy.

©Jolanta Beinarovica/Shutterstock.com

Before attempting a training tactic, observe your pup to understand why it is scratching the door. If the scratching seems random and is coupled with chewing the door frame, it is likely your dog is bored or teething. Puppies are especially prone to this behavior.

Always keep toys, stuffed animals, and bones available for your puppy to chew during the teething process. If you notice your puppy is chewing or scratching the door, correct them and replace the door with a toy. As always, positive reinforcement is key to helping your dog understand the house rules.

2. Install a Pet Door

Black and White dog looking out doggie door.

Pet doors give your dog the opportunity to freely enter and exit your home while giving you peace of mind.

©VictoriaG1988/Shutterstock.com

If your dog is consistently scratching to request time outside, consider installing a pet door. Pet doors give your furry companions the chance to freely move in and out of your house without bothering you.

Pet doors mitigate accidents inside the house and help maintain cleanliness. They stop your dog from scratching the door because the door allows your dog to make independent choices. A pet door will also give you peace of mind as the dog owner. If your job demands extensive time away from home during the day, your dog can still potty outside without stopping at home during work.

3. Take Long Walks With Your Dog.

Pregnant woman walking her dog

Most dogs require a lot of exercise. A high-energy dog will become destructive in your home if it doesn’t get enough activity and mental stimulation.

©thka/Shutterstock.com

It’s no secret that dogs are a major responsibility. Most dogs need a lot of exercise to maintain a happy and healthy life. Your dog will become destructive in your home if it doesn’t get enough daily activity and mental stimulation.

Scratching the door is considered destructive behavior. Whether your dog is anxious or bored, properly exercising your dog can help stop your dog from scratching the door. Incorporate daily walks into your routine, but also add some longer walks during the week. You will personally benefit from the exercise, and you will strengthen the bond between you and your pup.

4. Prioritize Playtime

German shepherd puppy licking hands of smiling boy at city park. Joyful child playing with his little dog during sunny days outdoors.

Playtime for puppies and dogs is a natural instinct. A willingness to play also displays a sign of trust with their owner.

©Serhii Bobyk/Shutterstock.com

Similar to walking your dog, playtime is just as important. If your dog scratches your door throughout the day, consider tiring them out before you leave the house. A tired dog typically leads to better behavior. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise, so consider a combination of exercise and enrichment activities. Toys and activities that challenge their minds help with development and behavioral issues.

If your dog understands the fetch command or has a retrieval instinct, throwing the ball is a great way to make them tired. When your dog chases a ball, they benefit from the physical activity and are mentally stimulated by using their nose to find the ball. Consider adding these fun activities to your dog’s life. A happy, tired dog is less likely to scratch your door.

5. Install a Glass Door

Dogue de Bordeaux or French Mastiff with young woman at outdoor park meadow.

All dogs communicate differently. Sometimes scratching is perceived as bad behavior, but your dog might be trying to communicate something else.

©Max4e Photo/Shutterstock.com

Trying to stop your dog from scratching the door is a frustrating situation. If you have exhausted training options, consider installing a glass door. Glass doors are durable and won’t show scratches as easily as a wood or metal door.

Remember, your dog’s scratching might be an attempt to communicate with you. A glass door gives your dog the opportunity to look outside. This can lower anxiety and also provide mental stimulation throughout the day as your dog watches your yard and neighborhood. If you leave the house, a glass door helps them see you walking toward the door and slightly lowers excitement levels.

6. Use Positive Reinforcement

woman trains with two Australian Shepherd dogs on a dog training field

Positive reinforcement is a popular training tactic by using treats as a reward while training your dog basic commands and obedience.

©Christian Mueller/Shutterstock.com

During obedience and behavior training, use positive reinforcement. This technique uses treats, toys, and praise as a reward for good behavior and an appropriate response to a command. If you notice your dog scratching the door, acknowledge this behavior immediately. Use a command such as no, leave it, or off. Once the command is given, wait for your dog to react. When they respond to the command correctly, reward them with a treat or toy and a lot of praise.

Dogs respond well to positive reinforcement, and they will eventually learn that good behavior results in praise and a reward. Try not to react to your dog’s scratching with anger or scolding. Negative reinforcement will cause more anxiety in your dog, and potentially more scratching.

7. Ignore the Door Scratching

puppy training to fetch toy

Sometimes dogs use bad behavior as a way to seek attention. This is a sign they need more activity in their life.

©iStock.com/K_Thalhofer

This may sound counterproductive, but try initially ignoring your dog if it scratches the door. Bad behavior is sometimes a sign your dog is seeking your attention. If you notice your dog start scratching the door, don’t acknowledge it at first, then reward them for future good behavior.

Your dog will learn what behavior is rewarded, and what behavior is ignored and unnecessary. This may also be a sign your dog needs more physical and mental stimulation throughout the day.

Summary of the 7 Effective Ways to Stop Your Dog From Scratching the Door

NumberWay to Stop Your Dog From Scratching the Door
1Train and bribe your pup.
2Install a pet door.
3Take long walks with your pup.
4Prioritize playtime.
5Install a glass door.
6Use positive reinforcement.
7Ignore the door scratching.

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About the Author

Maura Hoff is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is dogs, travel, and hiking. She has been writing for over 10 years and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Pennsylvania State University in 2016. When Maura isn't writing, she spends time with her husband and two Golden Retrievers, Basil and Sunny, in the Colorado mountains. Her passions are cooking, reading, music, and quoting her favorite show, The Office.

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