I'm installing a new solid-core wood door in one of my bedrooms. I want the door to have a natural wood look. However, I have a dog who will scratch at the door to open it looking for me / squeaky toys / a quiet place to chew said squeaky toys.

What type of finish should I use to minimize -- or eliminate, if possible -- the damage from pet scratches?

  • 1
    start watching the "Dog Whisperer" on TV. lol,sorry Dec 22 '10 at 15:28
  • There's always this solution: softpaws.net (smirk)
    – Doresoom
    Dec 22 '10 at 20:30

Hey Niall, Several coats (4-5?) of a good oil based urethane is gonna be the best protection, but even that is gonna show dog scratches eventually and won't protect the raised panel details that will get rounded over by Fido. Short of a protective barrier, like a piece of thin plexi, I don't know of a thing that will hold up to repetitive scratching, sorry.

  • would the floor-rated polyurethanes be more durable in this case?
    – Niall C.
    Dec 21 '10 at 18:55
  • Yes they would to some degree, but still concerned that the soft wood and details on a raised panel door won't hold up to a eager dog no matter what you put on it. Would have to look at my records to get a brand name, but if go get it at a hardwood flooring specialty store, it is the best you can get. They only sell it in quarts now because of the new VOC rules and is very expensive. Dec 22 '10 at 15:26

I've had friends who have put up metal kick/decorative plates and their dog/cat has still managed to scratch it up over time. Your best bet is to do something that is easily replaceable, whether that be painting or a quick changeable kickplate. Like shirlock said .... your dog is gonna scratch it .... dogs are persistent (yet lovable) in that way.


Finish? You might try stainless steel. Sorry, but a wooden door is quite a bit softer than your dog's nails, and if that door is like many, it is made of a relatively soft wood anyway. There is no paint, varnish, etc., that will stand up to a determined pet, because the wood underneath the surface coating will dent. Once the wood underneath dents/deforms, the surface coating is toast.

Better is to teach the pet not to scratch at doors. No, it is not always an easy thing to do. Like a small child, a bored dog looking for attention will even do things it knows to be wrong, as any attention is better than none. My approach was to give our previous dog a spot to curl up under my desk. He would happily fall asleep as long as he was touching my feet. Then later when I did have time, it was walk time or play time, and he knew it.


As the other answers have mentioned, I don't think there is a real solution. Our dog would scratch/chew at the bedroom door (solid wood, probably original from 1926) when we are gone and would take chunks out of it along with big scratchs. Luckily it was painted white so we were able to just use wood filler to patch it and repaint and you can't see the damage. We have done this a few times, now we just leave the door open and let her go in the room when we are gone.

  • Pets (especially cats) will always win the closed door battle. Dec 21 '10 at 16:45
  • I've had a dog win the closed wall battle, too. Sep 1 '11 at 23:17

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