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How to Fix a Dog Scratch on a Wood Door: Step-by-Step Guide

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 3, 2024 by Dogster Team

How to Fix a Dog Scratch on a Wood Door: Step-by-Step Guide

Dogs are incredible creatures, bringing love, purpose, and security into our lives. However, finding claw marks on a freshly painted door is no fun! If you’re a dog owner, you already know that dogs often choose the front door as their “training dummy” and attack it with sharp nails until it’s completely ruined.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take a degree to fix a door, no matter how damaged it might be. To lend you a helping hand, we asked our experts to put together a step-by-step guide on how to make the door look brand-new. We’ll also talk about the most common reasons behind your dog’s scratching habit and how to make it stop. Here goes!

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Before You Begin: Getting Everything Ready

Getting the right tools and supplies is 50% of the success. We’re talking about sandpaper, a pair of gloves, rags to clean up the mess, and paint, filler, or crayon, depending on the damage. Take a look:

Tools Required Products Needed
Putty knife Wood filler
Scratch repair pen Can of paint/stain
Wax filler crayon Hardwood cleaner
Sandpaper/sponge Sheet of blankets
Paintbrush Towels and rags
Protective gloves A pack of tack cloths

Step-By-Step Guide for Fixing a Dog Scratch on a Wood Door

1. Start With Damage Assessment

Before you do any fixing, check the door to know exactly what you’re dealing with. Hopefully, the dog didn’t completely ruin it. If the claw grooves are deep, a single layer of paint won’t cut it; instead, you’ll have to buff it out first and then cover the scratches with wood or wax filler. While you’re at it, check the frame as well. To see everything clearly, grab a rag or towel, apply some hardwood cleaner to it, and get to work.

man checking wooden door
Image Credit: Odua Images, Shutterstock

2. Carefully Sand the Door

Grind the door with sandpaper. This is done to level the wood, remove the blemishes, and get the door ready for painting or staining. Fine or medium-fine grit sandpaper (100–150 grit) is a great place to start when working on doors. It won’t “eat away” too much of it, yet you should be able to remove most scuffs. And if the marks are deep, don’t be afraid to use coarse grit (60–80).

Once the scratches are gone, switch back to finer grit and gently go over the surrounding areas. Be very patient and choose the right sandpaper grit.

3. Next, Clean Up the Sawdust

Don’t let all that dust from the sanding settle on the floor. For picking up dirt and sawdust particles, we recommend using a piece of tack cloth. It’s specifically designed to have a “spongy” effect and soak up the debris. Or lay a large piece of cloth on the floor before you get started with the door and cover everything else in the room with sheets and blankets.

man cleaning hardwood floor with microfiber cloth
Image Credit: Stokkete, Shutterstock

4. Scratch Repair Pen for a Quick Fix

If the dog only chipped away the top varnish or paint layer, use a scratch repair pen. It’s a highly intuitive tool that delivers quick results. Plus, you can buy a whole repair kit for cheap. It will normally come packed with scrapers, markers, brushes, and various filler products. It won’t be able to fix deep scratches, though, no matter how much effort you put into it.

But the repair pen will still come in handy if you’ve got old, worn-out cabinets, closets, or chairs with tiny scratches here and there.

scratch repair pen for wood

5. Wax Filler Crayon to the Rescue

So, the repair pen doesn’t have enough “oomph” to get the job done? Opt for a wax filler crayon. For the best results, warm it up a bit and carefully go over the damaged areas with a scraper to distribute the filler evenly.

man fixing wooden door
Image Credit: amedeoemaja, Shutterstock

6. Wood Filler for Deep Scratches

Alternatively, you can arm yourself with decent-quality wood filler and a putty knife. This is a hard-hitting combo that easily fixes the deepest scratches. And it works very similarly to wax fillers. You just put some of that product on the damaged areas and spread it out with the knife.

And what about resin? Is it a good match for wood? Yes, epoxy resin is quite effective at filling holes in wood.

Gorilla wood filler

7. Sand the Area One More Time

Give the wood filler an hour or two to dry up (up to 10–12 hours if the scratches are really deep), and go over it with sandpaper. The filler won’t be able to blend with the rest of the door without it. As for the grit, treat the wood filler with coarse sandpaper first and then switch to the finest one in your collection. And don’t forget to cover the floor and the whole room once again to tackle the sawdust.

If you skip this part, the dust will settle on your furniture, gadgets, and clothes, plus make it harder for the stain/paint to stick. Use a tack cloth to clean the door.

man sandling wooden door
Image Credit: Kristen Prahl, Shutterstock

8. Choose the Right Stain Color

We’re almost there! All that’s left to do is pick the right stain color. Now, the darker the tone, the easier it will be to cover the filler and all the tiny imperfections. On the downside, if the shade is much darker than the rest of the door, the scratched-then-fixed spots will have a hard time blending in. So, a lighter stain might be more appropriate.

9. Apply a Layer of Paint Instead

If you’re not sure about the stain, go with a good old can of paint and put it on the entire door, not just the repaired parts. Do that, and you won’t have to spend hours trying to find the perfect stain that matches the door’s natural color yet doesn’t make the filler “pop”. Lastly, top the paint off with a polyurethane finish and open all the doors and windows for proper ventilation.

man painting wooden door
Image Credit: GagoDesign, Shutterstock

10. Make the Door Dog-Proof

Tired of having to fix the door every time the dog leaves scratch marks? Well, why don’t you install a doggie door? Designed with pups in mind, it gives them quick access (in and out) and takes some of that stress away. You will have to teach the pet how to use it, though. Scratch screens are another great idea. They don’t last forever, of course, but can, indeed, protect the door.

Pet gates work as well, but only from the inside. Also, remember to trim the four-legged bud’s nails once or twice a month to minimize the damage.

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Why Do Dogs Scratch Doors?

There are a few reasons why dogs scratch on doors. Let’s explore them below:

  • It needs to get inside ASAP. This desire can be triggered by several reasons. We’re talking about chilly weather, loud, scary sounds, or an urge to get its fair share of hugs and kisses. Pups can be incredibly affectionate and miss you dearly after 30 minutes of playing outside on their own.
  • Maybe the dog wants to leave. If the four-legged bud is scratching the door from the inside, that means it needs to go out for a potty break or to investigate something it heard or saw. This is normal behavior for puppies; adult canines, however, need to learn how to use their voices (barks).
  • Hunger or thirst is to blame. When a dog is hungry or wants a bowl of water, scratching is often how it tries to communicate with its human parents. It could be that you frequently get back home from work with a delicious snack, and that’s why the furry family member is associating the door with food.
  • It has to do with separation anxiety. Tiny pups can’t stand staying away from their favorite humans. Even mature dogs don’t like to be left alone or neglected, especially when they have a strong bond with their owners. So, this is a clear signal that you’re not spending enough time with the pet.
  • The dog is burning off energy. Some dogs like being couch potatoes, while others have lots of built-up energy. And, unfortunately, they often ruin the front door to burn off some steam. This usually happens when the pet doesn’t get enough walks, runs, or games.
  • The dog is restless or anxious. This doesn’t mean it’s in pain, just a bit moody. Sharpening its claws on the door seems like a fun activity to some pups, although it’s not as exciting as fooling around with their human friends. Try to give the pet more attention, and this behavior might stop!


Dogs like to take their anger out on doors. And it doesn’t matter how expensive it is: if the doggo wants to scratch it, that’s precisely what’s going to happen! They do it because of anxiety, boredom, hunger, and lack of attention. Or maybe the pup wants to go outside right now to do its business.

The important part is if you watch closely and find the root of the problem, that can help minimize the scratching. It will take time, though; in the meantime, you’ll have to get that front door fixed. So, put on your work gloves, free up your schedule, and use the tips and tricks from our guide to get it done!

Featured Image Credit: Andry_S, Shutterstock

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