Sunday, April 10, 2016

Dogs Scratching Doors

Door scratching is a common behavioral problem in dogs and may occur for a variety of reasons. Your dog may be bored or want to go outside. Similarly, dogs that suffer from separation anxiety or have too much pent-up energy may scratch at the door. Several strategies exist to deter this behavior.


    Many dogs scratch at the door when they want attention. For example, if your dog is outside because you have guests in your home, your dog may scratch at the door so that it can come inside to receive attention from your guests. Opening the door for a dog that is scratching reinforces this behavior, telling the dog that anytime it scratches on the door, the door will open and it will receive attention. Whenever possible, ignore your dog's scratching, or let it in through a different door. Alternatively, find ways to deter the dog from scratching through negative reinforcement. This may include making a loud noise when the dog scratches the door or placing something in front of the door that the dog does not like.

Separation Anxiety

    If your dog is scratching doors because of separation anxiety, it may display other behaviors while you are away from the house, such as defecating in the house, ripping the carpet or destroying the furniture. Try leaving the house through different doors: If your dog sees you going out of the same door each morning, it may scratch to try to get to you. Leave the house as quietly and quickly as possible, and try distracting your dog with a treat or toy so you can leave the house undetected. Leave a radio or television on so that your dog will hear voices and not feel so alone. Consider getting a second dog so that your dog has a canine companion to keep him company.

Training and Toys

    Your dog may scratch at the door from boredom. Training your dog will keep its mind occupied and allow you to use commands to keep your dog from scratching at the door. Try simple commands such as sit, stay and come. After your dog masters those commands, try teaching it tricks. Toys will also keep your dog from being bored during the day. Purchase a few puzzle toys that hold treats to keep your dog busy. Leave a few toys around the house and rotate them frequently so that your dog does not become bored with the same toys.


    Give your dog plenty of exercise to release pent-up energy and help it stay calm during the day while you are gone. Dogs with too much energy may scratch at doors, pace the house or destroy your belongings. Engage your dog in a long and strenuous exercise session before you head out in the morning so that it will rest during the day while you are gone. Take your dog for a run or throw balls for it to retrieve. Engage your dog in activities it enjoys.

Other Options

    If your dog continues to scratch at the door, it may have problems that require additional care or treatment. Consider crate training your dog if other methods do not succeed. If your dog acts out from separation anxiety, try taking it to doggy daycare each day. This experience will allow your dog to interact with other dogs and humans and enjoy its day instead of destroying your home. Dogs that suffer from extreme nervousness or anxiety may need medication. Talk to your veterinarian about medication options, costs and side effects.

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