2 Ways Dogs Damage Hardwood Floors And What To Do About It

by | Dog Care

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If you’ve landed here, you’re wondering whether dogs damage hardwood floors…

Dogs can damage hardwood floors if they pee on the same spot many times and the urine is left to soak into the wood, or if the dog’s nails are long and jagged and the dog runs along the same path many times. This damage is easily prevented by cleaning up messes quickly and keeping your dog’s nails clipped.

The truth is that dogs and hardwood floors can pretty much live in harmony. But sometimes there are issues, so let me share my tips and tricks after living with two busy dogs racing around my house.

By the end of this post, you’ll know:

  • The signs that a dog is damaging hardwood floors
  • What hardwood floors to choose if you have dogs
  • How to stop dogs from damaging hardwood floors
  • How to fix hardwood floors that have been damaged by dogs

Signs of dog damage to hardwood floors

  1. Signs a dog is peeing on a hardwood floor

If a dog pees regularly on a section of hardwood floor, and the urine isn’t cleaned up but left to soak into the wood, the floorboards are likely to show some or all of the following signs:

  • A bad smell. The more urine builds up, the worse the floors will smell
  • The area could swell and rise higher than the rest of the floor, especially along the lines of the floorboards where urine soaks in
  • Stains start showing on the wood, where the urine turns the wood a different color
  • The area could turn black as urine builds up and mold starts growing        
  • The flooring could start rotting from the inside, where it stays wet with urine

2. Signs a dog’s claws are too long and scratching a hardwood floor

If a dog has long claws and runs along the same path on hardwood floors each day, you might notice the following damage to your hardwood floor:

  • The surface becoming dull as any protective finishing gets worn down with wear and tear
  • Scratches, which could be shallow on the surface and get deeper over time

The longer or more jagged the dog’s nails, and the more times the dog is allowed to run the same path, the deeper and more noticeable the scratches will become.

The best hardwood floors if you have dogs

If you are only doing research at this stage and still have a chance to choose the flooring, opt for harder woods such as hickory or white oak. Harder woods can withstand more wear and tear than softer woods.

Lighter woods don’t show scratches and dirt as much as darker woods, so I recommend choosing a lighter color for your hardwood floors.

How to stop dogs from damaging hardwood floors

Here are the best ways I’ve found to prevent my dogs from damaging my hardwood floors:

1.    Potty train your dog

Dog’s that pee on hardwood floors can cause a lot of damage, which is one of the many reasons why it’s important to potty train your dog.

Here’s how I taught my own dogs to pee outside:

  • Take your dog outside and let them sniff around. Taking them to a spot they peed in before, or where another dog has peed, can help them understand what you want them to do.
  • Now sit down and wait. You’ll need to wait as long as it takes for your dog to pee.
  • Once your dog pees, make a big fuss of him/her and praise them for the good job and for being a good dog.
  • Now take them inside and give them a cuddle, so they know they did a good thing.
  • After a few hours, depending on the age of your dog, take your dog out again and repeat the process.

Puppies need to pee every 1 to 3 hours and an adult dog, without health issues, needs to up to 5 times a day, so make it every 5 hours.

I slowly started standing inside the house and watching through the window, letting my dog back in when he had urinated.

I also have a key phrase that I say before I let them out – “Go make a wee wee.”

When they hear that phrase, they know they need to go out and pee, and that they aren’t coming back inside until they’ve done that.

Some dogs take longer to housetrain than others. My first dog pretty much had it in the first week. My second dog took a long time, and there were many cold nights when I was sitting outside in the middle of the night waiting for him to figure things out.

If your dog insists on going in the same spot, no matter what you do, block off the area with baby gates or close the door so your dog can’t get to it.

2. Coat your floors to protect them

Prevent scratches and scuffs, and keep your floors looking great, coat them with a tough finish to protect them.

You can use a wax or a stain, but many experts recommend something with a polyurethane finish because it’s tough, long lasting, and relatively cost-effective. This one is very popular and has high ratings on Amazon.

3. Keep your dog’s nails short

If your dog’s nails are short and smooth along the edge, there’s much less chance they’ll scratch the floors or anything else for that matter.

Take your dog to the vet or parlor for regular trims. If your dog’s like mine and won’t sit still for a nail clipper, use an electric nail file to gently file down the nails.

My little secret? I use a salon’s professional electric nail file for false nails on my old girl, and she doesn’t mind having her claws done these days.

4. Put down rugs, runners, and mats

Placing rugs and/or runners on the floor wherever your dog runs, jumps, or walks a lot is an excellent way to stop your dog from damaging the hardwood floors.

Door mats in entryways can also pick up dirt, mud, water, and anything else your dog might bring in that could stain or damage your hardwood floors.

How to fix dog damage to hardwood floors

If your dog has done something that could or has damaged a hardwood floor, here are the best methods and products from Amazon to fix it:

1. Clean dog pee immediately

It’s extremely important to clean up dog pee as quickly as possible. If left to sit, the urine soaks into the wood and slowly ruins the wood from the inside.

  • When you find a wet spot, soak it up immediately. Use something that’s absorbent, such as an old towel or cleaning cloth, and keep blotting the area until the cloth comes off the floor dry.
  • Now wipe the area with a clean cloth that’s damp with clean water, and dry it with another clean cloth.
  • If the urine has been sitting there for a few hours, wipe the area with a little diluted white to neutralize the smell of the dog pee.

I don’t recommend trying homemade concoctions or products that aren’t designed for wood on your hardwood floors, or you could end up with a discolored section. If you aren’t sure, always test the solution on a small patch of the hardwood floor that’s not in plain sight, to see if it damages the floor.

Things getting stinky? Try this Angry Orange to find urine hiding in your house with a UV light and get rid of the stench.

2. Hide or sand out scratches

Stain markers are great for hiding small shallow scratches in hardwood floors. Here’s one that comes in 8 colors, so you can find the perfect match for your own floors. Simply clean the area, then shake the marker and color in the scratches on the floor. Top it with a finish to keep it looking good.

If you have a large area that’s damaged or deeper scratches, you might have to sand them out and use wood filler. Here’s a great guide on how to do it yourself, or you can call in a professional to do the job.

3. Patch out affected wood

If the hardwood floor is severely damaged and sanding isn’t cutting it, your only option really is to patch the affected parts or replace the wood panel(s) entirely.

It’s better to hand this over to an expert, but if you want to do it yourself, here’s a complete guide on how to patch hardwood floors, from beginning to end.

I'm Monique. I love animals and everything about them. "Ayo" means happy, and this is where I share all I know about having happy, healthy pets so you can have happy pets too.

Ayo Pets participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, the ShareASale affiliate program, and other affiliate programs. This means that if you buy a product or service through one of our links, we may receive a small commission from the sale for referring you. Thank you for your support!


Monique has had pets all her life and will have them for the rest of it.

She currently has 4 adopted fur kids.

Monique loves researching and sharing what she finds out about taking the best care of animals.

Ayo is an African word for ‘happy’, which is why this site is called Ayo Pets (Happy Pets).


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