Claws on a Wood Floor: How to Keep Dogs from Scratching Hardwood Floors

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Libby “Here Comes Trouble” Pu

Claws on a wood floor is something I have been working with a long time. As someone who has had a plethora of pets over his lifetime, I think I understand the challenges of dogs and hardwood floors as well as anyone, and I understand how to keep dogs from scratching hardwood floors. I want to share my views and information I have collected to enable you to enjoy your pets and protect your wood floors.

Dogs Scratching Hardwood Floors

Claws on a wood floor, they leave marks.Take the weight of the dog, put it all on the sharp points of contact of his/her nails, toss in a bundle of energy and you have a critter that is going to leave marks. The first thing I did with our dog Jessie was to take her to obedience school. If the dog understands that running through the house is unacceptable, and as long as you don’t promote it by heaving a tennis ball around, the problem diminishes. Don’t waste your time thinking the problem is the finish. It is the animal and its behavior. Treat the problem, not the symptom. Many people have told me this is the better option. I did it with our dog and I have no regrets.

Removing Pet Stains from Hardwood Floors

Animal urine: With more than 40 years in wood floor work, I have seen more damage to wood floors from animal urine than termites, fire and water – combined. Animal urine contains ammonia nitrate and this powerful chemical quickly and permanently turns oak flooring dark. If you notice puddles on a floor after your pet has been in the room, clean them up quickly. Cats are the most chronic offenders. They have a tendency to mark a spot and then they repeat the action over a period of time.

The degree of damage is greatly exacerbated by wall-to-wall carpeting or area rugs. The urine becomes trapped in the material and held in direct contact with the floor for prolonged periods of time. I don’t recommend bleaching the floors since this can structurally weaken the wood. I typically remove and replace the damaged wood. If a pet doesn’t have the option of going outdoors for relief, then you need to provide the facilities. Kitty litters are mandatory. For dogs, you may need to confine them in a room without wood floors or carpeting. Several homeowners rely on their laundry rooms for this purpose. Aging pets usually compound the situation so I recommend taking the precautions I have already mentioned and consult your vet for other options.

Cleaning your Floor of Pet Debris

Dirt, debris and hair: With animals, these are all natural byproducts. I always recommend that you have a runner that your pets (and people!) have to walk over when they come in the house. Since dogs tend to carry dirt in their fur, go to your local pet store and get a pad or pillow that they will head to and have a dog biscuit on it waiting for them when they come inside. Make sure it is conveniently located and be prepared to either wash it or toss it and replace it when you can’t stand the sight or smell of it. You will also be doing more cleaning.

Vacuuming is still your best method of cleaning pet debris. There are several good cleaning kits for most contemporary finishes, especially polyurethanes. Make sure you always have the proper cleaners and equipment on hand and have at it!

Even though pets make for great company and don’t talk back when we talk to them, they’re still animals. Get them outdoors as often as possible. They love it. Encourage good indoor behavior with positive reinforcement. A simple food treat can do wonders. And take pictures of them whenever possible!