How to Stop Your Dog from Scratching the Door When You Leave

By John Martin - May 17, 2021

Dog waiting at door for owner

It’s a moment when your little canine friend tugs and pulls the strings of your heart, especially when it happens for the first time. To get out that door and keep going when you can hear your dog scratching on the door, pining for you is a difficult thing to do.

If you’re here, you are obviously thinking of ways to fix this problem. And the good news is, there are ways to do it.

The Fundamentals

The simple answer to why the dog does it is because they want in. They want to come to you and sometimes it is also just because they are seeking attention.

Firstly, and this is not hard, you need to keep a check on their behavior. See which doors they are often scratching.

If they are doing it to doors as you are about to leave, then you can confirm that they want you to stay. This is typically referred to as separation anxiety.

If they are doing it to doors that lead them outside the house, they might be bored and want to go out to play. If they are doing it to the bathroom door, they obviously want to pee.

But before dismissing it as a tantrum you must make sure that they are not scratching the door because they are uncomfortable in the space that they’re in.

It has been found that the scratching of a door could be a sign of anxiety about something. When it is left unaddressed, sometimes dogs act out in the form of whining, barking or destroying the furniture.

The first reason, as it is in most cases, is to understand why they are scratching a particular door. The second step, unless the reason seems to be very troubling, is to protect the door itself.

If you have wooden or glass doors, you might want to attach a plastic sheet to protect the material from the paws of your furry little friend. This is also helpful because sometimes figuring out the reason behind the scratching might take time and meanwhile, you want to minimize damage to your property.

Don’t feel guilty for thinking about the door as long as you don’t give property damage more attention than the needs of your pet.

Related: How to Stop Your Dog From Peeing on the Couch

Brain Training for Dogs

Dog Behaving Badly?

Brain Training for Dogs

Brain Training for Dogs uses a series of specifically designed course modules that include games, training videos, and more to eliminate troublesome behavior.

Created by a professional CPDT-KA certified dog trainer to give you the obedient and well-behaved dog you always wanted.

First Things First

Now, you need to figure out whether they are anxious and want you back or are bored and want to play outside or want to go to the bathroom outside or are curious about a sound or creature they have seen outdoors.

Whatever the reason, your first move should be to not reward the behavior by letting them get what they want. You need to make it very clear to them that the temper tantrum of scratching the door is not the way to ask for anything, no matter how adorable those puppy eyes are.

If they want to go out to play and you have a safe backyard or balcony space, you might want to install a dog door and let them out. You might also think about getting them some toys beyond standard chew toys that will keep them occupied for a longer period of time.

But before doing this, consider the kind of dog you have. Consult a trainer (or sometimes the internet) to understand the level of exercise they need and see if you need to make more time to play with them. Sometimes it is as simple as that.

Another solution is to get a dog bell and put it next to the door. Train them to ring the bell when they want to go out. You may also want to think about getting a dog walker who can take them out and keep them engaged.

This helps when your dog is bored and you can afford a sitter. If it is a case of anxiety, you need to proceed with a little more caution.

Make sure the space they are in is not causing them discomfort. Investigate that.

If it is a case of separation anxiety, you need to find ways of reassuring your dog that you will be back. But be mindful about not stepping back everytime they scratch the door.

That conveys to them that the door scratching is an effective way of stopping you. Instead, you want to consult a dog trainer and get some tips and tricks about making a plan with your dog when you are about to step out that door.

The universal solution to this problem is to train your dog before the anxiety issues kick in. But since every dog has a different way of processing anxiety, it is difficult to give a one-solution-fits-all kind of answer.

Separation anxiety, when left untreated, can lead to disastrous results. In trying to escape its pain, dogs are known to go to an extent where they hurt themselves physically.

When you consult a vet or a trainer, they will help you make a plan that involves desensitizing the dog towards the concept of your exit. The idea is to develop a few counter-conditioning techniques that will make it easy for them to handle the event of you stepping out that door.

There are also ways to ensure that they are relaxed and happy when left to their devices. This is to make sure that they have an environment, physical and psychological, which is entertaining to them when they are left alone.

Your trainer or vet might also help you prepare physical and mental activities for the dog that will help them calm down emotionally and make them less worked up about your absence.

It might also help for you to have the dog area of the house slightly more open as opposed to being barricaded. It is possible that the lack of it gives them a sense of being caged and is causing or adding to the anxiety.

Your vet might also prescribe anxiety medication to help ease the situation. This, of course, is not the first recourse but a solution after a thorough assessment of the level of anxiety your dog is experiencing.

This is also helpful if you are a single person and you need the situation to be under control when there is no one to take care of the dog after you leave the house. For those who fall under this category, there is also the option of installing cameras in the house to monitor your dog’s behavior when you are not home.

In fact, with or without anxiety issues, it might be a good idea to get cameras installed to make sure everything is alright at all times. Thanks to technology, there are many companies which give you the option of live monitoring too.

Taping your dog will also give you evidence that you can take to the trainer or vet for them to see any signs that you might have missed. Remember that it could have been exacerbated if you were late in your response.

You will also know if there is something happening during a particular time of the day that is adding to the anxiety. Thank you timestamps.

Parting Thoughts

Dogs clawing on the door relentlessly is not something to be taken lightly. Professionals have often pointed out that this is a major red flag. You need to do due diligence and observe their behavior. You must try to find out what is the root cause. You must consult a professional to get your pet the relief they need.

If the reason is separation anxiety or anxiety due to other factors, get behavioral tips from a professional on making the act of you leaving the house less intense.

If it is boredom, get them toys that are more stimulating or spend more time with them. Whatever it is, put in the work.