How to Stop Dog Scratching at Door (7 Strategies that WORK)

“Scratch, scratch, scratch!” Does that sound all too familiar? Your dog’s door-scratching habit can drive you up the wall, not to mention wreak havoc on your poor door.

Your canine companion is simply trying to say, “Hey, I’m ready to go out!” or “Let me in, please!” But let’s be honest – there has to be a better way for your furry friend to get the message across.

If you’re tired of playing the guessing game and want to put an end to the door destruction, then you’ve come to the right place. Get ready to engage with our paws-itively effective tips and tricks for stopping your dog’s door-scratching habit for good!

how to stop dog scratching at door
How to stop dog scratching at door (7 approaches that can ACTUALLY work)

The good news is, you can stop your dog scratching at the door. But this means giving them an alternative way to communicate. Therefore, you must approach this carefully so that you don’t make your dog forcefully come in or leave, or worse, replace the unwanted scratching behavior with another bad behavior.

1. The obvious fix – Install a Doggy Door

cockapoo puppy dog door
A Cockapoo puppy sits patiently near a front door.

Installing a doggy door and teaching your pet how to use it is one of the easiest (and most obvious) ways of stopping them from scratching at the door. Just ensure the door is big enough for your dog to get in and out comfortably. 

However, you have to watch out for wild animals such as coyotes and raccoons potentially getting in through this pet door or other indoor pets or kids trying to leave through it.

2. Put Up a Barrier

Use a barrier such as a baby gate, a lawn chair at the outer side, or an ottoman at the inner side to prevent your canine friend from reaching the door. 

You can provide them with a location to always sit when they want to go out or come in. A place such as a carpet square will help train your pup to avoid scratching at the door. 

After the dog gets accustomed to the location, you can remove the temporary barriers.

But keep in mind a barrier has its drawbacks, one being, your dog may see it as another thing to scratch at to reach the door. Therefore, ensure you train them to sit at the designated spot without touching the barrier.

a long haired chihuahua
A long haired Chihuahua living its best life outdoors

3. Have a Doorbell or Jingle Bell at Your Door

The first thing I did to stop my dog from scratching at the door was to install a doorbell. 

All I had to ensure was that the bell was within their paw or nose’s reach. Then, the next step was to train my dog to use the bell anytime they wanted to come in or leave the house.

To make the training easier, give your pup a treat anytime they touch the bell successfully. Also, praise them every time they use it for its intended purpose. This will help reinforce the new behavior. Positive reinforcement is essential and treats are the easiest path for a dog owner to get a dog trained quickly.

Alternatively, you can install jingle bells, which will work the same way.

4. Get Help for Anxiety

If a dog is anxious, it may develop the habit of scratching at the door. That means no matter how much you try to stop the behavior, your dog cannot. 

If this is the case with your furry friend, visit your vet to check whether anxiety is the problem. Sometimes, your vet may refer you to a behavioral specialist who can help establish the root cause of your dog’s problem.

5. Protect Your Doors

Door guards can be a short-term solution while you train your dog to stop the behavior or before you can find a long-term solution. Try no-scratch door guards or plexiglass. 

You can also try using no-scratch repellents and sprays around your doors. However, these may deter your canine friend from getting near doors even when they’re in dire need to get out or come in.

If you have a glass door, consider DIY installing some window tint. It is really easy to do! We did this for my dog Max (mostly to block out the sun) on his favorite windows. It is also durable and fairly scratch resistant. It is an easy and budget-friendly door protector – that you can replace yourself if needed. Perfect for a rental too as it is reversible

6. Introduce a Routine

Creating a schedule for your dog can help stop your dog from scratching at the door. 

Learn about your dog’s behavior so that you can anticipate when he leaves or comes in and open and close the door at the time. This will help curb the scratching behavior. So you don’t wait for them to communicate but act in advance.

For example, if your dog normally leaves 15 minutes after eating, you can always take them to the door at that time. Similarly, you can always anticipate the time when your canine friend comes in before dusk and keep the door open before they can scratch.

shaggy dog looking through door
A shaggy dog peeks through a door.

7. Get Down to Training

Although all the methods mentioned above on how to stop dog scratching at the door can be effective, the best and most effective one is to train your dog to abandon the behavior. 

Training methods depend on your dog and why it scratches. One of the best training methods is the firm or strict correction method.

This method requires you to be very firm when correcting the scratching behavior. It involves:

  1. Shut the door and stand outside to listen as your dog is about to start scratching at the door.
  2. Once he starts scratching, open the door fast so that you can catch him in the act. Ensure you’re looking directly into your dog’s eyes so that he can realize your seriousness. Let him know you’re the parent and pack leader.
  3. Immediately after opening the door, firmly reject their request with a ‘No.’ It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t shout to avoid terrifying him. Just be firm so that he gets your message of disapproval loud and clear.
  4. Give your dog some time as you remain in the same position of disapproval. They will calm down, give you an apologetic face, and stop the scratching. In fact, all he wants at that time is to get your attention back.
  5. Then have your pup sit so that you can reward them with a treat. Responding positively after the dog backs off is vital. The dog learns about how you react to their positive behavior and also the negative habits.
  6. To ensure the behavior stops forever, you must practice this daily for about two weeks. With time, your dog will scratch at the door fewer times. The less the scratching gets, the less you should treat him, so they no longer rely on rewards to behave well. Finally, you’ll bring the scratching behavior to an end.

Why Do Dogs Scratch at the Door?

Anytime you hear your dog scratch at the door from outside, they’re trying to get your attention. All they want is to get back inside and be with you. They will also scratch the door from inside when they want to go out. 

I’m a dog lover, and I know what our days look like. It involves a lot of taking the dog out, back inside, and then out again. That’s our life.

Sometimes you will be inside with your dog, and they will rush to the door and start scratching. That may be for the following reasons: 

  • They want to go out to poop
  • They have been inside for a long time and is already bored
  • They may have heard some noise outside and want to go and investigate. Dogs are always alert.
  • They want your affection and attention—petting
  • He’s suffering from separation anxiety.

No matter the reason for scratching at the door, it’s bad behavior that you should not tolerate in your dog.

Which Breeds Scartch Doors the Most

We surveyed our OodleLife email list and got 1000+ results. Here are the door-scratching results per breed!

Please note that the tendency to scratch at doors can be influenced by a dog’s individual personality, training, and environment. However, some breeds may be more prone to this behavior due to their energy levels or natural instincts. Here’s a table of common dog breeds known for scratching at doors, along with a “destruction rating” out of 5:

BreedDoor Scratching/Destruction Rating (out of 5)
Labrador Retriever★★★☆☆
Border Collie★★★★☆
German Shepherd★★★☆☆
Golden Retriever★★☆☆☆
Siberian Husky★★★★☆
Australian Shepherd★★★★☆
Jack Russell Terrier★★★★☆

This table should not be seen as a definitive guide to a dog’s behavior, as individual dogs within a breed can vary greatly. Proper training, socialization, and providing appropriate outlets for physical and mental stimulation can help mitigate destructive behaviors like door scratching.

why does my dog scratch my bed sheets
Why does my dog scratch my bed sheets? (9 Reasons)

Why a Dog Scratching a Bedroom Door is Trickiest

Dealing with bedroom door scratching can be one of the trickiest challenges for dog owners. But why is this seemingly simple issue so difficult to address? The answer lies in our dogs’ deep-rooted instincts and their perception of us as part of their pack.

Most dogs are social animals that thrive on companionship and interaction. They see their human families as their pack, with the bedroom often symbolizing the den – a safe and comfortable space where the pack comes together to rest and bond. As pack animals, dogs feel a strong need to be close to their family members, and being separated from the “den” can cause feelings of anxiety or distress.

When a dog scratches at the bedroom door, it’s often a sign that they’re seeking the comfort of their pack and their safe space. So how can we, as loving and responsible pet owners, balance our need for privacy with our dogs’ desire for companionship and security? The key lies in understanding their instincts and finding the right balance of training, socialization, and creating a comfortable environment for them in our homes.

Wrap Up

Naturally, we all want to protect our homes against damage. Moreover, we want to protect our dear pets from injuries. Therefore, it’s great that we’ve learned how to stop dog scratching at the door. After all, it’s a behavior that may damage our doors and even injure the dog. 

Luckily, you can train your dog to communicate in other ways, such as a doorbell, introducing a routine, a pet door, or even train them to stop scratching. You can also protect your doors by installing a barrier or no-scratch door guard.

Whichever method you opt for, keep in mind that the primary goal should be to stop the behavior once and for all.