“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.
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…
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.
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: http://www.softpaws.net/
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: http://woodrowwear.com/power-paws/why-socks-for-dogs/
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.
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 .
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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With a bit of forethought and some preparation and patience, you can enjoy your wonderful dogs and your beautiful hardwood floors together.
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