Do Dog Nails Scratch Wood Floors?

dog on a wood floor but not scratching the floor

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If you’re like me you love your furry friend more than some of the humans in your life!  Dogs are loyal, happy, and cuddleable.  But, even though we love them, sometimes our pets can be a little messy and damage our things.   If you have an active dog and hardwood floors, you might start to wonder;

Do dog nails scratch wood floors?

Yes, dog nails can scratch hardwood floors.  Luckily you can prevent this by keeping your dog’s nails trimmed short and ensuring they get plenty of exercise.  You can also protect your hardwood floors with rugs and protective wax coatings.  In worst-case scenarios, real wood floors can be sanded down to remove any scratches!

Let’s take a look at how your dog can damage your floors and what you can do about this!

Can Dogs Damage Wood Floors?

If you have real hardwood floors, you probably already know that they aren’t indestructible.  Even though hardwood is more resistant than softwood to scratches, it can still get wear and tear over time.  All types of real wood floors are susceptible to defects!

One of the things that can cause damage to your floors is a dog.  So, how can dogs damage hardwood floors?  There are two main ways!

Dog Nails Can Scratch Wood Floors.

Dog nails are tough, thick claws made of keratin.  Unlike human nails, dog nails can be used for digging, climbing, and of course scratching!

Years ago, in the wild, dogs used their long strong claws as tools.  Claws and toes were essential for survival.  Some dogs, like Great Pyrenees, even adapted to have extra toes and toenails to help them navigate especially rocky terrains.  Even though dogs don’t use their claws in the same ways they used to, these claws still grow in fast!

It’s not likely that your dog’s nails will scratch floors when they are just walking over them.  However, if you play with your dog in the house or if your dog runs around in the house for any reason, expect to see some marks on your floor.

Hardwood maintenance is a lot of work and although this news about dog nails can be discouraging, there are plenty of workaround to this issue!

There is one other way that dogs can damage wood floors that we want to mention.

Dog Urine Can Stain Wood Floors.

If you have a puppy that isn’t potty trained, an older incontinent dog, or just a dog that has accidents, be very careful of your wood floors!

When left on wood floors, urine can burn through protective seals and stain the wood itself.  Urine will usually leave a deep black stain that can be really difficult to remove.  If your dog does have an accident on your wood floors, make sure to clean it up ASAP.

The best way to avoid urine stains on wood floors is to focus on potty training your dog and to keep them confined to a smaller area with different flooring while you’re away.  Prevention is the best treatment for this issue because once the urine has soaked into a wood floor, it can be difficult to remove it.

Let’s get back to the issue of your dog scratching wood and see what we can do about it!

How To Prevent Dogs From Scratching Wood Floors

There are two approaches to keeping your wood floors scratch-free!  You can either focus on your dog or you can focus on protecting the floors themselves.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your dog from scratching up your floors!

Keep Your Dog’s Nails Trimmed

The number one way to prevent scratches is to keep your dog’s nails short.

In reality, dog nails should always be kept so short that they don’t touch the ground when they walk.   This is equivalent to about every 3 – 4 weeks for most dogs.   When nails are left to grow out, they can cause discomfort and lasting injury to your dog.

Short nails mean that as your dog runs around your house, they might not be able to sink their claws into wood floors.  It also means that when they take hard turns, or jump up onto their back feet, most of the weight will be on their paws and toes, not on their nails.

How Do You Trim Your Dog’s Nails?

So, how do you keep your dog’s nails short?

Well, one option is to get your pup’s nails trimmed by a professional.  You can take your dog to a groomer or a veterinarian.  If your dog is comfortable with this it’s a good option!  However for some dogs, it can be stressful, and it can get costly.  If you’d like to see price comparisons, check out our article where we compare the costs of doing it yourself to the cost of paying a groomer or veterinarian to trim your dog’s nails.

The cheaper and potentially less stressful option is to trim them at home.  It could take a while for your dog to allow you to trim its nails, and you might have to start with just one nail at a time.  Make sure you are never cutting their nails to the quick and that you are reinforcing their cooperation with treats.

A great way to get comfortable starting to trim your dog’s nails is to take a short class on it.  This master class can teach you how to give your dog a manicure without any stress or injury for either of you.  If you’re interested, check out the class by clicking here.

Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed short will not only protect your wood floors but will also keep your dog happy and healthy!

Take Your Dog Outside To Play

Another good tactic to keep your wood floors scratch-free is to make sure your dog gets plenty of stimulation outside of the house1

If you own an active breed dog, you have a responsibility to get them exercise during the day.  Not only will this benefit your dog but it will also benefit you by tiring them out!  When dogs don’t get enough exercise, they can become wild and unruly inside.  Many dog breeds, like huskies, are even banned from living in apartment complexes because of their destructive tendencies.  Because medium and large-sized dogs tend to have plenty of energy, if they aren’t tired out they will start to play in the house and chew on inappropriate items.

You can imagine a hyper dog versus a tired dog and the effect that will have on wood floors.  The hyper dog will want to play, will run around on the wood, and could leave small scratches on it.  The tired dog will just lie in their bed, get up to eat, and probably lie down again.

Help to prevent your dog from scratching up your floors by taking them on daily walks and taking them out to play until they’re pooped!

So, if you’ve done these two things, and you’re still finding scratches on your wood floors, is there anything you can do?

How To Protect Hardwood Floors From Dogs

Luckily, you can take the approach of protecting your wood floors from the inevitable dog nail scratch.  Protecting them right away and then preventing scratches is the best overall approach.

Here are two ways to prevent damage to your wood floors.

Invest In Some Rugs Or Carpets

You have wood floors for a reason!  They’re easy to sweep up, and they look beautiful and sleek.  But, to protect these beautiful floors, you should consider adding an area rug or carpet to your home.

Carpets protect wood floors from scratches, stains, and even sun damage.  They can help you to maintain the value of your wood floors, and they can be cleaned or replaced over time.

Ar you worried about your dog slipping and sliding on the carpets since they’re placed on a slippery wood surface?  Don’t worry!  You can get special mats to go under your rugs and carpet to keep them in place.  Placing the rugs strategically in areas where your dog might run or take a sharp corner is a smart idea.

If you don’t want to ruin the look of your floors as they are with the addition of rugs, there is one last thing you can do!

Use A Protective Wax Coating On Your Floors

Wood floors will always be at risk for scratches!  That’s part of why they are so special because they are indeed real wood.  Unlike synthetic material or concrete, wood degrades over time and is not indestructible.

A protective coating is a must for wood floors!  Keeping wood floors clean and waxed can save them from a lot of wear and tear.

Not sure how to wax your wood floors?  You can hire a professional or learn how to do it yourself.  This video explains the DIY process.

Can Scratches From Dogs Be Removed From Wood Floors?

Luckily there are plenty of ways to remove scratches from real wood floors.

Cleaning the floors, sanding and buffing the floors, and even walnuts are some of the many methods you can use to fix scratches on your floors!  If your dog does leave a large scratch on your floors, don’t stress too much.  They didn’t mean to do it and it’s something that can be fixed and prevented in the future.

Final Thoughts

Scratches and wood floors are two peas in a pod!  You can’t really have one without the other!  Adding a beloved pet to the mix just makes the scratches a little harder to avoid!

While dogs can sometimes take on more active destructive behaviors like scratching the walls or the carpet scratching wood floors is often simply an accident for dogs.

If your dog is scratching your floor, make sure to keep their nails trimmed short and to make sure they get plenty of exercise every day.  A tired dog is much less likely to wreak havoc in your home!  You can also protect your floors by purchasing rugs or carpets and by waxing them regularly!  If you do find some scratches on your wood floor, don’t fret, there are plenty of quick fixes!

You don’t have to decide between a pet and having nice wood floors, take the time to prevent and protect against scratches and you should have a happy dog and beautiful polished wood floors!