How To Dog Proof My Hardwood Floors?

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For many homeowners across the world, there’s a certain appeal to hardwood floors. Not only is this flooring option stunning and durable, but it’s also relatively easy to maintain. However, when you add dogs into the mix, you might be worried about them damaging your hardwood floors. 

The best way to dog-proof your hardwood floors is by choosing durable hardwood to begin with, and apply a polyurethane finish. Using nail caps, booties, or regularly trimming your dog’s nails can also help protect your floors. You can use touch-up kits to deal with scratches on your hardwood floors.

In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about dog-proofing hardwood floors. From factors to keep in mind when choosing a pet-friendly hardwood to dog-proofing existing hardwood floors, we’ll guide you through all of your different dog-proofing options!

Is It Possible to Dog Proof Hardwood Floors?

There are many advantages to having hardwood floors in your home. From the durability of hardwood floors to the elegance they bring to any home, the list goes on! Hardwood floors are a pricey investment, and you’ll want to protect them at all costs – especially when it comes to pets!

Firstly, there’s the inherent risk of your pets – particularly dogs – scratching your hardwood floors. After all, many dogs are highly energetic and playful. There’s always the chance that your pristine hardwood floors will get caught in the crosshairs!

Then, of course, there are accidents. Hardwood floors are somewhat susceptible to spills, which can be absorbed into the wood when not dealt with immediately. If your pet has an accident on your hardwood floors, it could potentially damage your floors. After all, even wet mopping can damage hardwood floors!

While you want to ensure that your hardwood floors remain in excellent condition, it’s essential to have realistic expectations when it comes down to having both pets and hardwood floors. In time, all hardwood floors will become dented and scratched.

Due to this, it’s unrealistic to expect that your hardwood floors will remain in the same condition forever. Whenever people in a home walk across hardwood floors, their shoes bring in rocks, sand, and gritty debris that can scratch hardwood floors.

Countless factors can impact hardwood floors over time, from the furniture on your hardwood floors to the way you sweep your floors. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t strive to keep the scratching and denting to a minimum!

When it comes to protecting your hardwood floors in the presence of pets, there are different ways to accomplish this. For those unsure about getting hardwood floors due to their dogs, you can take measures when choosing your hardwood floors to ensure they’re as dog-proof as possible.

Then, of course, there are additional steps that you can take to further dog-proof existing hardwood floors. We’ll take a look at the different ways you can protect your hardwood floors from pet-related damage in the following sections of this article. There may even be a way to hardwood floor-proof your dog! 

How to Pick the Right Hardwood for You and Your Dogs

When you’re renovating your home, you not only want to update your style, but you want to improve the overall efficiency of your home in some way. To successfully do this, you need to keep all the occupants of the house in mind – even your furry friends!

Are you worried about getting hardwood floors due to your pets? Well, as we briefly mentioned above, there are pet considerations that can be kept in mind when choosing suitable hardwood floors for your home. Let’s take a look at them!

1. Consider Factory Finished Hardwood

The finish of your hardwood floors is always an important aspect to keep in mind. While you can plenty of finishes to a pre-installed unfinished floor, the best option is often a factory-finished hardwood floor – particularly where dogs are concerned.

Factory-finished hardwood floors are known to be more durable. This is primarily due to the numerous staining and sealing processes that they undergo, which results in a highly durable finish. When there are pets around, a factor finished hardwood is a great option!

2. Consider Engineered Hardwood

When it comes down to hardwood, you have the choice between engineered hardwood and solid hardwood. Engineered hardwood consists of numerous layers, including wood laminate, making it more durable and stable than solid hardwood planks.

Furthermore, there is less expansion and contraction with engineered hardwood floors, further protecting your floors from spills and accidents. If you have pets, you’ll definitely want to consider the advantages of engineered hardwood.

3. Consider a Lighter Hardwood

It’s a known fact that lighter materials hide scratches better than darker materials. Think about a scratch on a white car as opposed to one on a black car! The same logic applies to your choice of color for your hardwood floors. Lighter hardwood floors are known to hide scratches better, which is perfect for pet owners!

4. Consider a Textured Finish

If you don’t want a lighter hardwood, you can always consider a textured hardwood floor! From distressed hardwood to hand-scraped hardwood, there are plenty of textured flooring options. Due to the rougher, more rustic appearance of these floors, scratches are less visible!

5. Consider the Hardwood’s Janka Rating

When deciding on the type of hardwood to get, your options will have a hardness rating. The Janka test is done to measure the ability of wood to withstand wear and denting. Once the test is done, a Janka rating is assigned.

You can use these ratings to find a hardwood that ranked high on the Janka test. When there are pets in the equation, the hardness of your floor is an important consideration to make. From Hard Maple to Brazilian Cherry, there are plenty of great options!

6. Consider Hardwood with a Stronger Grain

Another important aspect to keep in mind when deciding on hardwood floors is the grain of the wood. Specifically, how strong the grain is. Red Oak is a great hardwood option with a strong grain. In fact, Red Oak is the hardwood flooring industry’s median for hardness. The stronger the grain of your hardwood, the less visible scratches and dents caused by dogs will be!

How to Dog-Proof Your Hardwood Floors

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Now that we’ve looked at pet-related considerations to make when choosing a hardwood floor, it’s time to look at how you can protect an existing hardwood floor from pets. Keep reading as we explain the different ways you can dog-proof your hardwood floors!

1. Use a Stronger Finish

As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of finishes that can be applied to pre-installed hardwood floors. When choosing the right finish to protect your hardwood floors from your furry friends, you want to ensure you choose a tough and durable finish.

One of the most popular and durable hardwood finishes is polyurethane. When it comes down to polyurethane finishes, there are two main types: oil-based and water-based. For maximum protection against scratches from pets, a water-based polyurethane finish would be your best bet!

2. Use Multiple Coats of Finish 

When applying a finish to your hardwood floors, it would be a wise decision to apply numerous coats. This will ensure that your floors are adequately protected against scratches and dents caused by pets.

With multiple finishing coats, scratches will only penetrate the finish and not the actual hardwood floor. Furthermore, you can add another layer of finish whenever needed to repair scratches to the surface.

3. Use a Matte or Satin Finish

When choosing a finish, you’ll notice ones that are matte, satin, and glossy. When it comes to scratches, glossy hardwood finishes are more likely to show scratches and dents. To dog-proof your hardwood floors, we’d recommend you choose a matte or satin finish! 

4. Use an Oil Finish

There’s an alternative to using multiple coats of one finish. Instead, you could use a penetrating oil finish to protect your hardwood floors. Not only will this type of oil finish protect your floors, but it will also provide a great, natural look. However, you’ll need to touch up the penetrating oil finish every three months.

5. Use Rugs on the Hardwood Floors

If you want to show off your hardwood floors, this may not be the ideal solution for you. However, using a rug or runner (or a combination of both) on your hardwood floors is a great way to prevent scratches and dents caused by playful pets.

6. Purchase a Touch-Up Kit

There are plenty of nifty hardwood floor touch-up kits that are readily available online. When your hardwood floors and pets are in the same equation, investing in a touch-up kit is a fantastic idea. With one of these practical touch-up kits, you’ll be able to address scratches directly!

That’s because these kits are typically equipped with specialized markers. Essentially these markers are used to fill in scratches on the surface of hardwood floors. Having one of these kits handy can be a floor-saver when you have dogs in your home!

How to Hardwood Floor-Proof Your Dogs

Now that we’ve looked at the different ways you can dog-proof your hardwood floors, let’s look at the ways to hardwood floor-proof your dogs. Let’s take a look!

1. Keep Your Pets Nails Trimmed

When pets scratch your hardwood floors, it’s typically because their nails have grown too long. One of the best ways to combat this is to ensure that you regularly trim your pet’s nails. If you don’t want to do this yourself, you can always ask a professional grooming service to do it for you.

By routinely trimming your pets’ nails, you can prevent future damage to your elegant hardwood floors. While this solution is mainly for dog owners, even cat nails can scratch hardwood floors. However, there are also a few alternatives to trimming their nails!

2. Consider Nail Caps for Pets 

Instead of trimming your beloved pets’ nails, you could always consider the use of nail caps for your furry friends. Nail caps are readily available online and are an efficient, cost-effective way to minimize damage to your hardwood floors from pets. When you purchase nail caps, usually an adhesive for applying the caps is included!

3. Consider Shoes for Your Pets 

It is common to ask visitors to remove their shoes when entering a house in many cultures and places. As we mentioned earlier, it is possible for us to damage our own hardwood floors due to the dirt and debris we trek into our homes.

However, ‘asking’ your pets to wear ‘shoes’ can be an effective way to protect your hardwood floors. There are plenty of booties available online for pets. This is a great alternative to trimming a pet’s nails or using nail caps. As to how long your dog will keep their booties on, that’s anyone’s guess!

4. Train Your Pets

At the end of the day, the training of pets is essential to maintaining order in your home. Scratches aren’t the only concern when it comes to protecting hardwood floors from dogs and pups. When your dog has an accident on your hardwood floor, it could cause lasting damage to the floor.

Of course, you should clean up these spills as soon as you spot them – but what about that accident you don’t spot? For this reason, potty training (and training in general) is a crucial element to protecting your hardwood floors. You could even teach your pet that playtime doesn’t happen on the hardwood floors.

5. Create a Pet-Free Area

The viability of this option ultimately depends on the extent to which hardwood flooring is used in your home. If your hardwood floors are confined to certain areas of your home, you could always consider creating a pet-free area.

There are many ways to go about this, from training your pets that certain areas are off-limits to using barriers to keep them out of specific areas. If you’re truly worried about your pets damaging your hardwood floors, then this is a great option to consider!

6. Keep Your Expectations Realistic (But Your Standards High)

As we mentioned earlier in this article, it’s important to keep your expectations realistic. Every hardwood floor will show signs of scratching and denting in time. However, this doesn’t mean that you should let your hardwood floors be damaged.

It’s crucial to find the right balance. Using the methods discussed in this article, you can take preventive measures to protect your hardwood floors. Keep your standards for your hardwood floors high but your expectations realistic!


This article looked at all of the different methods you can use to dog-proof hardwood floors. First, we took a look at factors that should be kept in mind when choosing the right pet-friendly hardwood. We then took a look at ways homeowners can dog-proof their hardwood floors and ways they can hardwood-floor proof their beloved dogs!


Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.