How To Stop Your Dog From Scratching At The Door?
[Last Edition]

By kropek2021. • Updated June 28, 2021

Are you confused by the fact that your dog is scratching at your door often? We have received this query from several pet parents over the years. Although they love their pups beyond words, frequent damage to the home property can be frustrating.

To devise a plan to stop this door scratching, first, you need to understand the causal trigger behind this unwanted behavior. Once this step is taken care of, you can chart out your bespoke plan to prevent your puppy from exhibiting it later. The issue and your door will remain free of damage.

We will address these problems in this article by describing the reasons behind the behavior and ways to avoid them in the future. Let’s get to the topic at hand.

Reasons Why Dogs Scratch The Door

There can be numerous reasons why your dog performs door scratching. We will list the main ones in this section:

    • They want to go outside, and for that, they wish to grab your attention.
    • They have heard a sound outside and desire to investigate.
    • Lack of mental or physical stimulation causing boredom
    • Signs of separation anxiety
    • Fear or other forms of discomfort with the environment inside your home (An animal or a strange guest can be some triggers in this case)

Your focus should be on finding a method for the dog to communicate the issue that does not involve scratching the door or damaging any other home property.

The damage is two-fold. Apart from the structural deterioration of the door, scratching can physically harm the dog too. They could have their nails cut or paws tore in the process. By chance, if they swallow the wood during dog scratches, they can face major digestive or intestinal problems.

Therefore, whenever your dog faces some trouble and scratches your door, never ignore the situation and try to think of a remedy.

Once you have recognized the reason behind this, you can apply a preventive strategy as the next step. Let’s go through them in the upcoming section.

The damage is two-fold. Apart from the structural deterioration of the door, scratching can physically harm the dog too. They could have their nails cut or paws tore in the process. By chance, if they swallow the wood during dog scratches, they can face major digestive or intestinal problems.

Therefore, whenever your dog faces some trouble and scratches your door, never ignore the situation and try to think of a remedy.

Once you have recognized the reason behind this, you can apply a preventive strategy as the next step. Let’s go through them in the upcoming section.

Proven Ways To Stop Dogs From Scratching The Door

As a loving pet parent, it is your responsibility to decide the best mode of communication between you and your canine buddy. For instance, if they feel the urge to use the bathroom, think of a better way for them to reach out to you instead of dashing straight to the door. Learning to decode their body language will help you a lot in the long run.

Dogs scratch doors due to many reasons. Some of which are given as follows:

Install A Doggie Door

They can be a convenient option for your dog to traverse in and out of the house at will. But this option is not the best for all dog owners. If you live in areas where there are raccoons, coyotes, or other wild animals, there may be cases of unwanted entries. 

Also, if the door leads directly to the main road, there is a risk that your dog can go missing or lost.

Build An Intermediate Barrier 

You can try to construct an additional barrier like a small screen door that prevents your dog’s access to the main entrance or bedroom door. Indeed, it can be helpful to bring down the expenses involved in repairing your costly wood

But do bear in mind that this gives your buddy another surface to scratch.

Identify The Dog’s Routine  

Try to draft a schedule for your dog. If they scratch your door for urination or potty at night, note down the usual time, they display the urge. Once you have this chart, you can easily anticipate when they will start scratching and plan accordingly. 

Dogs cannot read the time of the day, but they do follow a routine when it comes to their daily affairs. Having a written pattern will make things simple for both you and your buddy to stop scratching.

Pro Tip:

Make use of scratch/door protectors or door shields on your main door frame. Sometimes even a well-trained dog can scratch due to separation anxiety issues while you are away from home for a considerable duration.

Negative Reinforcement

Make it crystal clear to your dog that scratching the door is an undesirable act. The next time you notice a dog scratching, leave or walk away from the room. Dog’s will sense your disappointment and will think twice when they feel the urge to scratch.

Having said this, never use any forms of anger, violence, or assault to prove your point. Please pay close attention to their emotions and body language. Try to remain calm instead of acting recklessly. Shouting or beating the dog can only make things worse, and it can ruin the love and trust they have in you.

Sometimes they scratch the door while outside as an indicator that they want to come inside. If they are looking at you, you can move to a location where they can’t see. This action makes them understand that scratching the door will not get them in.

Once the dog is calm and stops the scratching, open the door and bring them inside. Feed them treats and reinforce this behavior.

Obedience Training

Teach your dog a command to stop scratching. It may take a few repetitions for them to master it. But reward them with tasty treats or comforting words each time they heed to the training.

Positive reinforcement while you train your dog can accelerate their learning process like anything. Teaching the “Stay” or “No” command while you are leaving home or going to work can prove helpful to stop the scratches at the door. Also, giving them some treats when you return can help keep their minds away from loneliness and anxiety.

Providing Objects Of Distraction

Each time you leave home for work or travel, leave them with some dog toys or clothes that smell of you. It will keep them occupied, and your scent on the clothes will ensure they do not miss your presence much.

A good stuffed toy is a sufficient pass-time object for dogs. 

Avoid Sources Of Over Excitement

Many dogs scratch or jump around doors due to their excess energy. You can always tone the extra point by engaging them in regular physical exercises or cognitive stimulation games/ dog puzzles.

That will keep them hooked and distracted for hours. Also, regular outdoor workout will keep their energies at optimum levels. After consulting with a professional dog trainer or a registered veterinary doctor, create a workout plan for your dog. Then, implement it as prescribed. 

Lack of physical or mental stimulation can build up stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions in your doggo. This, in turn, can act as a trigger to showcase unwanted behavior like scratching of doors or a dog jump.

These were some of the commonly used techniques to avoid door scratching by dogs. Apart from these, some dogs perform repetitive behavior if they have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This is a severe medical condition and should never be taken lightly. 

If you notice this behavior to repeat often without any significant reason, we strongly recommend you to seek the help of a vet and get it treated at the earliest. OCD is not something that can be cured in a day. Wait, strictly follow the remedial measures and medications prescribed to notice the benefits gradually. Self-treatment is never a proper solution and must be avoided. 

Occasional socialization with other dogs can also work. Enrolling them in doggy daycares can help keep their tensions and separation anxiety in control if you are away the whole day.

Dog therapies can also prove beneficial to your dog. Jimmy, the labrador in our training center, had this exact issue of door scratching. Three months of therapy along with obedience training brought down his OCD symptoms to a great extent. Now he rings a bell each time he needs to go out through the door.

Wrapping It Up

We hope you received some valuable insights into why dogs scratch the door and how it can be avoided. Each dog has their causal trigger, and getting the know-how on the same is a crucial first step. Pay attention to their body language and get a hold of their routines to anticipate and study your dog’s face and decide what they are trying to convey to you, the owner.

Based on a dog trainer’s guidance, devise a training program that will help limit or avoid this scratching behavior. The focus should be on creating an alternate behavior that will help the dog convey their needs. 

Implement a positive reinforcement strategy each time they show some improvement to the training activity. This measure will make them understand what you consider as good behavior. With proper training and consistent effort, you will be able to gain encouraging results soon.