Inside Dogs and Hardwood Floors


“How should I look after my floors when I have dogs?” or “How do I stop my dogs from scratching the hardwood floors?” are questions we regularly get asked. Dog lovers and hardwood floor lovers are constantly trying to find a balance between enjoying their lovable pets and caring for their pristine floors.

Dogs and Hardwood Floors

Maybe you’re in the same situation.

So what steps can you take to ensure your wood floors and dogs can coexist together?

Well unfortunately, no matter what finish you use or what type of wood you install, there’s no magic formula to make your hardwood floors absolutely bulletproof. But we do have quite a few common sense suggestions you can implement that we’ve listed below…

1. Keep your dogs nails trimmed

The first suggestion is probably the most obvious but it’s also the one thing that we see the most neglected. If your dog’s nails are long, sharp and pointy then it’s only natural that it’s going to be much easier for them to scratch or indent your floors, so… you need to make sure you keep them regularly trimmed.

And while it’s obviously important for large dogs to have their nails regularly trimmed because of the weight per square inch they exert on the floor, small dogs that scurry around can do a lot of surface damage with their pointy little nails too. The majority of the time when a dog “scratches” a floor it’s actually indenting the wood instead of scratching right through the finish – but either way it’s not good for the longevity of your floors.

Dog Scratches in Wood Floor

Yes it costs a bit of money to keep your dog’s claws in check, but remember – it will cost A LOT more to refinish your floors (sooner) down the road if you don’t.

Optional Suggestions: Many dog owners rave about a product called Soft Paws®. We have no experience or affiliation with this company but it would definitely be worth checking them out. Soft Paws are vinyl nail caps that glue on to your dog’s nails to keep them blunt and harmless to your wood floors. You can see their website here:

Another option that looks a bit goofier but in theory should also work, (again we have no experience or affiliation with this product) are dog socks called Power Paws®. They can be found here:

2. Keep your wood floor clean

Dogs can drag in lots of dirt and grit on their paws between their regular rounds from inside to outside. Many breeds also shed a lot of hair. When grit, dirt and hair are walked on it acts like sandpaper and scratches up your floor. So it makes sense that if you keep you floor swept and cleaned regularly they’ll last longer.

Dog on Dark Stained Floor

It’s also good practice to put down good mats inside and outside their doggy door entrance and wipe up after any mess they make with a recommended cleaner .

3. Limit type of inside play

Dogs naturally have lots of energy and love to play and skid, slip and slide around. It can be hard to resist a game of tug-a-war or a game of fetch when your best canine friend’s in a playful mood. But these activities are really best left for outside play time, or for areas of your home that are tiled or carpeted.

That sideways power slide down the hall as your hyper pup chases a tennis ball doesn’t seem as fun when you see the scratch marks they’ve left behind!

4. Minimize water and urine damage

Apart from scratches and indents, you also need to take care that your dog doesn’t spill and splash water all over your floors, or pee on them. Water and urine can do huge damage to wood floors, especially if it’s left standing for a long time.

Water Spills

If you have no other choice but to put his food and water bowls on your wood floors, then find the best rubber mat, with a spill proof lip, that you can to put them on. That way when they splash and spill outside of the bowls, the water will be contained.

If your puppy has urinary incontinence, then you will need to keep a close eye on him or her and make sure to clean up after the mess is made.

Below is a repair we had to do on a wood floor that their dog continually urinated on…

Dog Urine Stain

Once the stain is this bad, we need to replace the damaged boards with new ones as it won’t sand out.

And finally, if you live in an area that’s rainy or snowy for months at a time, you’ll need to get good at being consistent with wiping and drying your pooch’s wet paws after their walks before they come inside too.

5. Consider dog free areas

If you don’t have hardwood floors throughout your home and some areas are carpeted or tiled, you may want to think about limiting the time Fido spends scooting all over the hardwood.

You could either train him to keep off the hardwood floored sections, or if he’s not as obedient as you’d like, install baby gates to limit which areas he has access to.

6. Regular preventative maintenance

Whatever you do to try and protect your floors, if you allow your dogs to run around inside, they’ll eventually get damaged and scratched up in areas. But, you don’t want them to get too scratched up and damaged so they’ll need a complete sand and refinish prematurely.

We suggest a Clean, Screen and Recoat for your hardwood floors before they get too far gone. That way you’ll be able to extend the life of your floors and save a whole bunch of money in the long run.

7. Better types of finish and stain colors

When you have hardwood floors are in dire need of a re-sand anyways, then you have a bit more flexibility in the choices you can make for dog-proofing your floors. There are definitely professional finish systems available that will resist your dog’s best attempts to destroy them far better than cheap big box store finishes.

You can read the in-depth article we wrote about choosing between different finishes and which ones are the toughest here:

You’ll also have the option of stain colors and finish sheen when you start with bare wood.

Darker stain colors will show scratches way more if a dog’s nail penetrates through the finish to the lighter wood surface below. For this reason we recommend lighter and more neutral colors for dog owners.

Dog Lying on Wood Floor

We also don’t recommend high gloss floors if you share your home with your pooch as they will show scratches much more in the light (because of the optical reflection) compared to satin or matte sheens.

In Conclusion

With a bit of forethought and some preparation and patience, you can enjoy your wonderful dogs and your beautiful hardwood floors together.

Dog on Hardwood Floor

Sure your hardwood floors would be better off without a dog running all over them, but we know that’s not going to be realistically possible in many homes – especially if your dog is a well-loved member of the family. Although if you have a 100lb + pooch in your family we would strongly advise against letting them loose on your floors.

But if your dog is average to small in size, you take care of the basics above and you can accept that your floors will need maintenance sooner than a dog free floor, then your home can be filled with both gorgeous hardwood floors and lots of canine love.

If you have any other questions or concerns feel free to ask away in the comment section below.

Updated Jan 2023

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Thank you for the good post!

You’re welcome Leonardo

I know it says to keep dogs nails trimmed but my situation is that I have taken him to get his nails trimmed professionally but they won’t do it because my dog gets nippy when his paws are messed with and I have no clue what to do. I have tried to do it myself but I get nervous and am afraid to cut them too far down so I only end up getting the very tip and they are so long that I am never going to get anywhere with them. I have tried the nail caps and he chewed them off and they left marks all over my floors. We just bought a house 8 months ago with hard wood floors and when someone knocks at the door he goes tearing down the hall to the door. He also gets into these wild playful moods and decides to run through the house. I don’t know what to do but he is ruining my floors. HELP!!!!!

If your dog like to chase after a ball try throwing where the dog has to run on the driveway, the concrete will file his nails. I also have a Bike-Tow-Leash for my bike and while peddling the dog is running at a slow jog. This also files the nails, I never have to trim his nails. Obviously, heat, pavement temperature, fitness of the dog, and speed need to be carefully considered.

Train him to have his nails cut. Our 120 pound corso/rotti was extremely nippy at first and it just got worse when doing his nails:( we’ve brought him to groomers but they couldn’t even do it. So, I sat down and every time he let me touch his nail I gave him a treat. This took a few days to get all the nails done, but eventually I did! He let me do all of them, no growls or nips or anything. When he let me cut one I threw a big party and gave him a ton of treats right away!

Hi Cheri,

Sorry to hear of your troubles. I don’t know what else to say other than if he was mine I’d be keeping him off the hardwood floors for sure… probably outside too. Sounds like he’s going to do a number on your floors.

I hope he settles down soon. Let us know if you discover anything elsethat will help other than what we wrote about above.


Hi Cheri,
I’ve had border collies and Aussies forever and although I’m not an expert I have a couple of ideas you can try. First, take your puppy to the vet to get their nails trimmed. If he’s “nippy” they can sedate him just enough so no one gets hurt (including him). It’s important not to let the nails get too long because the nail quick gets longer and the blood supply “grows out” too. Once it happens, cutting the nails shorter is limited because i think it does hurt them, AND because of the bloody mess it makes…!
After the nails are trimmed up, start playing with his feet every day. I had one dog who acted the same way when his nails and ears were touched. So I played with his ears and feet a little bit during play time regularly and within a month he stopped. Finally, try training. My last dog was almost 7 when I got him and he was killer mean towards other dogs (he spent his previous life in a cage) but I was given a video called “training through sanction and stimulus” and he did a 180 within just a few weeks, 30 min a day. And yes, there were days we were practicing at midnight because that’s when I got home from work. It was absolutely worth it! You may be able to break the habit of reaponding to the front door. Good luck with everything! :). Whew!

Thanks so much for the great tips Jens, I’m sure they’ll be very helpful to our readers.


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