It’s great chilling out in the sun on the deck with the family dog. However, dogs come with claws and teeth – which aren’t so good for decking – so how do we stop our beloved hound from doing lasting damage?
There are three main ways to stop your dog from scratching the deck: make your dog wear booties, change your deck material, or train your pooch. Trex and composite decking will still scratch, but will show the scratches less visibly than treated wood decking.
Let’s look at those three ways to protect your decking from scratching hounds in more detail – and also consider how to stop your dog from chewing your deck too…
How Do I Protect My Deck From Dog Scratches?
As I said – it’s lovely hanging out on the deck with our faithful, four-footed friends: but how do we stop those claws from scrabbling and scratching at the wood? There are three main ways to make sure your deck isn’t damaged by scratches: make your dog wear booties, change your deck material, or train your pooch.
Now, most pet parents reading this will have already recoiled in horror at the idea of getting booties onto their dog’s paws. You may be lucky and have a chilled-out pet who doesn’t mind wearing booties outdoors, and if you do, that’s great. This has the added big benefit of preventing those pads from getting too hot in warm conditions.
However, not all dogs will like the strange sensation of wearing doggy socks. The alternative is to make sure your decking is robust enough to cope with canine scratching. Hardwoods are far tougher and much more resistant to claw marks. You’ll also be rewarded with a beautiful and durable deck.
Of course, this comes with a cost, and switching up your decking is a significant yard project. So, that leaves us with the third (and our favorite) option: training your dog not to scratch the deck.
Use whatever method usually works for your dog (often a combination of clear commands and rewards). If your dog starts to scratch, firmly remove them from the deck. Do this every time you see them start to scratch, and they’ll soon get the message.
Reward periods spent outside without scratching with some favorite treats or a game. Don’t leave your dog unaccompanied on the deck until you’re sure they won’t scratch.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Chewing On My Wood Deck?
As well as scratching your wooden deck, your dog may also try to chew it. Dogs, especially puppies, can have a powerful urge to chew, and wood clearly feels great to them.
You can get no-chew sprays from pet stores. It’s a bitter-tasting formula that dogs hate, but it’s harmless. DogLab tested some no-chew spray top brands to see which were the most effective. Anti-chew spray doesn’t act as a dog repellent, so you won’t have to worry about upsetting your dog. But one quick lick or nibble, and they’ll soon realise that the deck is off the menu.
If you’re using spray, remember that it won’t last forever. Read the instructions to find how how often you need to apply it to keep it effective.
You can also try leaving favorite chew toys on the deck: if your pup or dog decides they need a chew while they’re outside, they are likely to go for these instead. And again, there’s always the training approach. When your dog starts chomping on the deck or rails, tell them to stop, and if they do, give them the chew toy. If they start chewing the toy rather than the deck, reward them.
What Wood Stain Is Best To Treat Dog Scratches?
Of course, by the time you’ve bought the booties and watched the training videos, it may already be too late and there are scratches on your wooden deck. What’s the best way to treat these?
For a good-looking finish, the best way to treat a scratched wooden deck is to lightly sand it back (use an orbital sander to speed up the job). Then, treat it with a couple of maintenance coats of your original stain.
If you prefer not to sand the deck, you can try using a tough wood floor stain on the scratches. But, a word of warning here: a stain that’s thick enough to mask scratches will also hide any nice textures in the natural wood (more like paint than a stain). A light sand won’t completely remove the scratches, but it can help them blend in with the wood grain.
Can Dogs Scratch Trex or Composite Decking?
Sorry – dogs can scratch anything! If your pooch has a scratching habit, they will be able to cause some damage to your composite deck. It’s tougher to scratch than wood, but equally, not as easy to treat.
New-generation Trex is better than older-style decking materials. We checked with the Trex website, which claims that its latest-gen deck is “scratch resistant”. This is different from scratch proof; however it does suggest that it will stand up better to claw marks than older versions.
So, we’re back to training and booties. There are other preventative measures you can take. One is to have a selection of outdoor rugs on your deck, and encourage the dog to pick these as their favorite spot. If they scratch by the door to be let in, install a mat there.
It may be that you don’t choose to chill out in the decked area with your dog (there are plenty of other spots in your home and yard that can become pet-friendly places). In that case, think about enclosing your deck and creating a humans-only space (then watch the cat troll the dog by leaping over it…).
Is Trex, Treated Wood or Composite Decking Bad For Chewing Dogs?
Composite deck contains plastic, so isn’t the best dog food! Also, the chemicals used in the paint, stain or varnish for wood treatment could be harmful for dogs.
As well as the problems caused by ingesting harmful substances, your dog could hurt themselves by swallowing splinters. Arguably, Trex and composite decks splinter less than wood, but it’s still far from ideal.
We mentioned anti-chew sprays earlier, and these can be great. They have a nasty sour taste that dogs hate, and they certainly won’t be back for second helpings! The sprays won’t harm your dog, and it won’t discourage them from hanging out on the deck. So, if you want to keep your dog off the deck completely, you’ll have to find another method.
If you want to use a no-chew spray, simply squirt it where you think the dog might chew (around the edges or along the deck rails is a good place). The problem with anti-chew spray is that the dog has to try it before it works. This is fine if they just take a lick, and less fine if they take a big bite. However, one nibble is better than a chewed deck edge, and it should hopefully discourage any more biting.
Again, if you have a chewing dog or a young pup, make sure there are plenty of chewy toys available. After all, a favorite chew toy is more fun than the floor (we hope), and you can always bribe your dog with some exciting new toys.
You can also use a chew toy to train your dog. If he starts chewing the deck, firmly tell him to stop (using your usual commands). When he stops, offer him the chew toy, and praise him lots if he takes it and starts biting on that instead.
It’s also worth thinking about why your dog is chewing your deck. Sometimes, dogs will chew if they’re bored, so extra playtime or diverting new toys could put an end to this damaging habit.
We’ve got a wooden deck at home, and I must admit we’re considering changing to Trex or a similar composite because it’s all started to look a bit tatty.
And sure – the dog doesn’t help with those claw scratches.
As Trex decking will no doubt scuff up a bit too – maybe we should also invest in some of those dog booties too. I can just see the disgruntled look on our dog’s face now. 🙂