Dogs are such wonderful life companions, and they can make us smile even on our worst days. But, the same way they can make us happy, they can also sometimes make us go crazy with their odd behaviors.
You just got into bed after a long day at work, and you are so thrilled about finally having a good night’s sleep. But, it seems this will not happen tonight – your dog won’t stop scratching the door!
What is happening? Why is my dog scratching the door? Is he in pain or in discomfort?
Don’t worry, because we have all the answers to your burning questions. Dogs are emotional animals whose behavior always has some root and some explanation.
So, first we will explain what could be causing this behavior in your dog, and, afterwards, we will explain the best ways how to stop dog from scratching door.
How To Stop Dog From Scratching Door?
When you notice a particular unwanted behavior in your furry friend, you must be trying to figure out how to solve this problem. You don’t want to be too harsh on your dog, but still, you want to show him that he cannot behave this way.
A dog excessively scratching the door is an unpleasant sound you would want to stop immediately. Training a dog is the best solution on how to stop a dog from scratching the door. Just like with any other undesirable behavior, the sooner you start with the dog training, the results will be better.
However, before we go on how to stop dog scratching the door, first, we will need to discover the reason for this behavior.
Finding the cause is half way to solving the problem!
Why Does My Dog Scratch The Door So Much?
By scratching the door intensively, your dog is trying to tell you something. Even if the cause is not so severe, all dog owners need to know the leading causes of this behavior.
Just like barking, whining, or chewing all kinds of stuff, a dog’s scratching might be telling you a lot about your dog’s mental condition. Maybe it is time to change something significantly for your dog to be a happy and healthy dog again.
So, let’s start and learn useful things about the reasons why a dog would scratch the door.
No matter if you have a medium-energy dog breed, or a dog needs plenty of exercise on a daily basis, every dog can sometimes get bored. This is not good, because when this happens, a dog might show unwanted behaviors, such as – scratching the door.
Why would my dog be bored?, you are asking. Well, maybe he got tired of the same routine every day, or maybe he needs some new toys.
Perhaps you have been quite busy recently and have neglected playing and walking with your pet. Dogs feel this, and need a lot of physical and mental stimulation to keep them healthy and happy.
So, boredom is a prevalent cause of dog scratching at the door.
2. A Dog Needs Something
A dog does not have to scratch the door just because he is bored; he might actually need something, but you need to know your dog and his body language so well to be able to distinguish these two.
Maybe your dog is hungry or thirsty, or he lacks physical exercise and he wants you to take him outside. Maybe your dog is sick of the same interactive toys and he needs some new activities to entertain with.
Before getting a new furry friend, you need to know the specific dog breed you intend to buy. All dogs are different and have different energy levels and socialization needs.
If you have already owned a dog, and now you have a totally different dog breed, you might notice your dog seems unsatisfied with his daily routine. This might be due to your treating him in the same way you treated your previous dog.
Maybe your new dog needs more activities and time outside. You just need to figure out what your dog is lacking and what you can do to change this.
3. Separation Anxiety
Dogs can get anxious, and the leading cause of their anxiety is separation from their owners. If you have just recently welcomed a new puppy into your home, he is likely to get sad when you leave him. But, some dogs suffer from separation anxiety even when they are all grown up.
Certain dog breeds are known to whine a lot, but any dog suffering from separation anxiety might also whine, bark, and scratch the door to show you he doesn’t like it when you are away.
Even if you are not there to see the dog doing it, you will see the dog’s nails marks on the door when you get home. When you leave a puppy home alone for the first time, you probably expect him to be stressed over this. But, some dogs continue to be sad for a longer period of time.
This is because dogs get used to our presence and they might feel like you are leaving them for good when you leave the house. Dogs are emotional and pet parents should not leave them alone for more than 4 hours, no matter their age.
A dog scratching the door intensively might be under stress, and there are many reasons why a dog could be stressed.
Dogs might get stressed by some change in their routines, such as moving to a new home, or having a new person in their life. Some loud noises like thunderstorms, or even vacuum cleaners might upset your pooch.
These are just some examples of stress triggers in dogs; there are plenty of other occurrences that might put our dogs in discomfort, and every dog owner needs to dig deeper to discover the exact cause of stress in their dog friends.
5. A Dog Saw Something
If your dog started scratching the door in the middle of the night, he might have seen something outside.
This could be another animal, or a person walking by, or he might have heard a car engine and this won’t let him calm. When this happens, all dogs want to go outside and check what is happening on their property! If you have a small guard dog that lives indoors with you, this could happen often.
The dog will not be peaceful until he goes outside and makes sure everything is okay. Having a guard dog is an awesome thing, but it also might mean a dog reacting to every sound, no matter how harmless it is.
6. Learned Behavior
Sometimes a dog scratching the door might be a learned behavior. This could also mean that the dog’s owners, unknowingly encouraged the dog to behave this way. How did this happen?
Well, probably every time your dog scratched the door you got up and went to him. This way you let him know that the door scratching is a good way to get your attention.
When you have reacted to this behavior several times in a row, there is a good chance that the dog will continue with it in the future. Sometimes it is even better to ignore such attempts to attract attention, of course, if we are sure that everything is fine with the dog regarding health.
7. Potty Time
When you welcome a new puppy in your home, you should be prepared for a lot of training. The potty training, which can get quite challenging, is one of the essential steps of dog training.
There are some general rules regarding dog’s potty breaks, like; first thing in the morning, after every meal, before going to sleep, etc. However, many dogs will need to go potty in the middle of the night, for example, especially if you have just started with the potty training.
If you are in the bed, your dog will try to tell you he needs to go potty, and one of his ways of doing this might be scratching the door.
8. Health Issues
Unfortunately, a dog scratching the door might mean that the dog is in pain. There could be an underlying health problem behind this behavior.
Sometimes, you won’t even be able to see any changes in your dog’s body, but he would look like he is in pain, which you can see from his body language. This is the time when you need to visit a veterinarian to discover what is going on with your furry friend.
How Can I Get My Dog To Stop Scratching The Door?
Now we have learned some of the main causes of dogs scratching doors, it is time we get into the problem on how to prevent dogs from doing this.
There are a couple of things you can do to cope with this problem; we cannot say these are all simple steps, but we believe all dog owners will successfully overcome them, and encourage good behavior in their dogs.
1. Ignore The Scratching
We are aware that our dogs won’t scratch the door for no reason, but sometimes they will show this bad habit too often. We even might encourage this behavior by always reacting to it right away, so, sometimes, the best way to manage it is to simply – do nothing.
This, of course, does not mean we should ignore our dog’s calls to go outside, but all dog lovers should be aware that our pets are intelligent, and once they figure out you immediately react when they start scratching the door, they will use this behavior on a daily basis.
When you ignore a dog scratching the door, he is more likely to stop the behavior.
Once he has stopped doing this, this is the moment when you should approach the dog and start figuring out what your dog actually needs. Maybe he wants to go for a potty break or he just needs some time outside.
2. Dogs Basic Needs Need To Be Satisfied
If a dog is hungry, thirsty, needs to go potty, or needs to take a walk, he might scratch the door to point his owner to this. Therefore, a way to prevent and stop dog’s scratching the door is to satisfy its basic needs.
This means your dog should have his daily routine; regular meals, potty breaks, exercise time, and socialization time. Try not to skip any of these parts of a dog’s schedule and you might notice that the dog does not scratch the dog anymore.
Of course, in some cases, you will be entirely sure that your dog is not missing a thing. In this situation, there is some other reason for this behavior in your dog.
Many dogs will scratch the door when left alone at home. But still, we all have to go out every day, to work or to run our errands, and, inevitably, we will all have to leave our dogs alone at home for several hours.
Here it is good to know how to distract the dog, and how to keep him entertained while you are at work or away from home.
For example, leaving a tv or radio on is a good way to distract your dog from outside noise; this way, your pooch will feel safer even when you are not at home with him. Soft music coming from the radio can significantly reduce stress and anxiety in dogs.
Also, it is a good idea to leave some treats and new chew toys that will be interesting for your dog and keep him busy while you are away.
4. Positive Reinforcement
So, just like we should ignore the dog’s bad behavior, we need to reward our dogs when they are well-behaved. Using a positive reinforcement method means giving a dog his favorite dog food, toy, or taking him for a walk to show him he is doing just right and that you are satisfied with his behavior.
Praise is also a great way to encourage a certain behavior in your dog – you can use words such as: good boy, that is right, good job. Also, you should pet your dog every time you praise him.
So, this is what you should do when your dog stops scratching the door. This way, a dog will learn scratching the door will not get him what he wants, and that this is an unwanted behavior.
5. Dog Door
A pet door is great, as it will allow your dog to get in and out of the house when needed. So, you will be able to sleep longer in the morning, since your dog will be able to go out and defecate on its own!
Also, the dog door significantly reduces the possibility of the dog scratching the door.
However, dogs will probably need help figuring out how to use a dog door on their own. They may even be afraid of them, therefore, it is essential to help dogs understand what this door is for and to train your dog how to use it.
Here you can also use praise and your dog’s favorite treats, once he gets through his door. When choosing a door, it’s essential to make sure the door is large enough for your dog to fit through easily.
Also, it is vital to consider that a dog can gain weight significantly as it ages, especially those dog breeds that are prone to obesity.
If you are afraid that some intruders could also use the doggie door on your house, it is a good idea to install a plastic door that comes with a lock that you can manually lock.
Also, today there are electronic gates with a chip on the dog’s collar that are only open for the dog wearing the chip.
If your dog is a severe scratcher and you have been struggling with this behavior problem for a long time, we suggest you install a heavy-duty dog door, which is robust and sturdier than regular dog doors.
6. Door Protector
A dog scratching the door might not seem as a big deal initially, but this behavior might have a severe background.
Also, a dog intensively scratching the door might damage its nails, and the door itself. Intense scratching might break a dog’s nails or a dog might even get wood splinters in their paw. This could be the reason why your dog’s paws have turned red.
This is why it might be useful to buy a door protector. If you have a larger dog, it would be a good idea to get a more durable, thicker protector, since these dogs usually have thicker, sharper nails that can damage the protector if it is thin.
You should choose the material of the protector in accordance with the material of your door.
Some protectors will work better on wood doors, while others will be a better choice for glass doors. It is also useful to study which door protector will be the easiest to clean and maintain, and which will not damage the paint on the door.
You should consider installing a pet gate if you want to prevent your dog from even getting to the doors.
7. Healthy Socialization
Socialization is one of the key factors of dog training, and you should start socializing your puppy from the moment you start your life together. This means exposing him to different people and different animals from your surroundings.
Establishing a quality puppy schedule includes dog’s socialization from their early age. In the first weeks, you and your family members will probably be the only people your puppy will be seeing.
But, after some time, usually when a dog is about 6 months old, it is the right time to start socializing a dog with other animals and other people.
Even when you are away from home, this does not have to mean your puppy needs to be alone. I am sure each of you has somebody, like a friend or a relative, that will be glad to visit your dog just for a few minutes while you are away.
Another good idea is sending your pup to a doggie daycare. This can be occasional, maybe once a week, or once in two weeks. This way, your puppy will get to spend some time with other dogs and learn how to behave in this situation.
This is a form of healthy socialization, and also a form of healthy separation of your dog from you – this way, your dog will get to hang out with other people, but will still be thrilled when you get back home.
A socialized dog is less likely to show bad behavior such as scratching the door. Dogs are social creatures who need company just as much as we do and should not spend too much time alone or isolated.
8. Crate Training
When a dog has his own safe and comfy place inside the house, he is less likely to scratch the dog due to fear or anxiety. This is why crate training is essential and why all dog owners should teach their dogs how to get used to spending time in their crates.
You should expect a dog will not get used to a crate quickly; you will need to be persistent and patient while undertaking this training. For starters, you should try to get your dog to spend 5 or 10 minutes in a crate while you are in the room with him.
With time, you should increase your dog’s time inside the crate. A good thing to do is to put a dog’s blanket, and some of his favorite toys inside the crate, so he will feel as comfortable as possible in it.
Many adult dogs always sleep inside their crates, and this is usually the case with dogs that got used to their crates when they were very young. A well-trained dog will feel safe inside his crate while you are away and he is less likely to show unwanted behavior.
9. Firm Correction
If ignoring a dog scratching the door is not working, you will need to use the firm correction method. This, of course, does not mean you should yell, or even worse, hit your dog, but to simply show him dominance.
So, how should you use this method? The best way is to wait for a dog to start scratching the door and then approach him, and say No. This method will work on dogs that have gone through the basic command training.
While saying No you should look your dog straight into his eyes and do not look away. Your dog will probably look like he has done something wrong, which is a good sign, since he has understood that you are upset about something he has done.
When the dog stops scratching, you should reward and praise him. The firm correction method will probably not be successful after only one session; you need to be persistent and try up to 10 times to ensure your dog’s bad behavior has been corrected.
This is an excellent way to teach a dog self-control, and to show him he has to obey you. You will still be your best friend and your dog will not resent you, you just have to find a perfect way to be firm, but yet gentle!
10. Consult A Professional Dog Trainer
If you have tried everything, but none of it seems to be working with your dog, maybe it is time to consult a dog trainer. Although a dog scratching the door doesn’t seem like a severe problem, unfortunately, this behavior might be a sign of some severe problem in your dog.
Dog trainers deal with the correction of unwanted behavior in dogs, and, if you cannot discover what caused this problem in your dog in the first place, a dog trainer will surely be capable of doing this.
So, do not despair, since this problem has a solution! There is no dog behavioral issue that a professional dog trainer would not be able to solve.
A dog scratching your door intensively might be quite annoying, and, together with this, dog owners might even get worried if their dogs show this behavior for a longer period of time.
As we have seen, there are many reasons for a dog to scratch the door, such as boredom, some kind of a need, anxiety, or even a health issue. When you have discovered the exact cause of this behavior in your dog, your next step is finding the best way how to stop dog from scratching door.
This might be a challenging task, but we are sure you will be successful with a positive reinforcement method, distraction techniques, and valuable tools such as dog doors and door protectors!
If nothing works well with your furry friend, remember you can always ask a dog trainer for help. With a lot of effort and professional help, your pet can get to be a well-behaved and happy dog.