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How to Dog Proof Hardwood Floors: 6 Ways to Save Your Hardwood Floor

How to Dog Proof Hardwood Floors: 6 Ways to Save Your Hardwood Floor

Love the gorgeous and elegant look of hardwood but are not sure if it will work out with your fur baby? Well, we have good news. You too can enjoy the classic hardwood flooring without the fear of your dog damaging it.

The most important part of dog proofing hardwood floor is picking the right hardwood and the right finish. Training your dog not to damage the hardwood and keeping their nails trimmed can also help protect the floors. It is also essential to set realistic expectations when dealing with dogs and hardwood. 

Dog proofing your hardwood floor starts with your flooring choice and ends in regular maintenance and training your dogs — all of which we will cover in this article. So, let’s get into it. 

Do Dogs Damage Hardwood Floors?

Do Dogs Damage Hardwood Floors
Do Dogs Damage Hardwood Floors

Dogs can damage hardwood floors in two main ways — either by having a little mishap on the floor or scratching the surface with their nails. The first one is not very concerning if you have a moisture-resistant seal and clean up immediately. However, the second one can damage the top layer of hardwood or even chip the wood. 

Dogs simply walking on the floor will not damage your hardwood floor. It is usually the hyper runs and jumps that scratch up the surface. Also, smaller dogs are less likely to damage the floor when compared to larger breeds such as Labradors, Bernese Mountains, or even Siberian Huskies. If your dog has large nails and is very active around the house, you will have a higher chance of scratching and denting the hardwood floor. 

Can You Dog Proof Hardwood Floors?

The main question people have when it comes to hardwood flooring in a house with dogs is, can hardwood floors and dogs exist in peace? Or does one have to go? So, can you really dog proof hardwood floors? 

The answer is yes — it is possible for you to share the gorgeous look of hardwood flooring with your dog. And you don’t need to leave your fur babies outside to dog proof hardwood floors. Dog proofing hardwood flooring starts with picking the right hardwood to begin with, and, of course, the right finish. Having a polyurethane finish can also help protect the hardwood. 

Another critical aspect of dog-proofing hardwood floors is training your dog to be more compatible with hardwood. This includes regularly trimming their nails and behavioral training to prevent them from being hyperactive and jumping around the house. However, it is also crucial to set realistic expectations. After all, hardwood is one of the most high-maintenance flooring options out there. Even cleaning hardwood with water can cause damage, so you can expect your furry friend to cause minor damage every now and then. 

What is the Best Hardwood Floor for Dogs?

What is the Best Hardwood Floor for Dogs

Dog proofing your hardwood is not something you do post-production. Instead, you need to consider it before you pick your flooring. The color, wood species, finish — everything should be a part of your consideration. 

So, what pet-friendly choices should you make when picking the best hardwood floor for dogs? Let’s get into it! 

Robust hardwood

First thing first, the wood species you opt for ultimately determines the durability of your hardwood flooring — so it should be of utmost concern. You can find hardwood made of soft wood species, for instance, American Cherry, and hard wood species like Brazilian walnut on the opposite side of the spectrum. Instinctively, harder wood species with firmer grains will give you durable hardwood that will not dent or damage as easily — hence, ideal for dog-proof hardwood floors. 

You might also want to consider the Janka Hardness Rating, a scale that indicates the hardness of a given wood species, applicable for domestic and exotic wood. Refer to this scale and pick a wood species scoring higher than 1450 for a heavy foot traffic area and households with pets.  

Prefinished hardwood flooring

For the wood finish, you get two options – prefinished or onsite finished hardwood flooring. From a durability point of view, prefinished or factory-finished hardwood is preferable as it offers a few benefits. You will get a much more durable and more rigid Aluminum Oxide finish with prefinished hardwood, which is less likely to scratch up. Also, the finish is usually cured in UV light, which adds a layer of strength.   

Lower sheen finish 

A glossy or shiny finish will magnify and highlight each and every detail on your floor, including the dents and scratches. Regardless of how careful you are with your hardwood, scratches are inevitable down the road, even more so in a household with pets. Although a lower sheen finish will not protect the floor from scratches and dents, it will make it easier to conceal the wear and tear. 

Distressed hardwood flooring finish

Distressed hardwood flooring makes it low maintenance and more compatible in a household with pets for two reasons. First, in the distressing process, a wire brush tears out the soft fibers in the wood to create a more textured surface. Removing the softer fibers and texturing makes the wood more durable and low maintenance. Second, the textured finish makes the dents and scratches less noticeable, keeping it looking flawless for longer. 

Two-pass flooring finish

The two-pass finish is a unique finish where the boards are stained completely black and refinished and stained a different color afterward. Other than providing a rustic look, which is trendy and chic on its own, the two-pass flooring gives you an advantage. Since the boards are stained in black, the scratches or even the chipped parts give a textured wood appearance and make them less noticeable. 

Engineered hardwood flooring

Engineered hardwood consists of multiple layers, including wood laminate, making it more durable and hard than solid hardwood. It’s easier to maintain as it can withstand moisture and spills better — a property crucial for dogs and other pets. 

Lighter color

Lighter colors conceal scratches, dents, and other imperfections on any surface more than their darker counterparts. It is a natural phenomenon as the light colors reflect more light, creating an illusion of a more even surface. So, light hardwood flooring is the way for pet owners.

How to Dog Proof Hardwood Floors

How to Dog Proof Hardwood Floors
How to Dog Proof Hardwood Floors

Now that you have considered all the different colors, grains, and finishes for the best hardwood flooring for dogs, let’s look at things you can do to dog proof hardwood floors after installing them. 

Use a durable finish 

A tough and robust finish will protect the hardwood surface from scrapes and scratches. For a household with dogs, polyurethane is one of the most durable and preferred hardwood finishes. You have two choices in polyurethane finish – water-based and oil-based. For maximum protection, water-based polyurethane is the best option.

Also, consider a waterborne finish which is catalyzed with cross-linkers that create a tougher bond, making it harder to penetrate or wear through. Although a bit more costly than other finishes, you will save more in the long term in maintenance. 

Consider multiple coats of finish

Multiple layers of finish mean more layers of protection which can contain scratches. The scratches on the plastic finish are easier to deal with and can be fixed with a topcoat or polyurethane. 

Go for a matte finish

As mentioned previously, a lower sheen finish will make the imperfections less noticeable — therefore, preferable for dog proof hardwood flooring. You can also pick a satin finish, which comes with the same benefits as the matte or lower sheen finishes. 

Place rugs over hardwood

Although rugs are more of an aesthetic choice, they are also a great tool that can help you manage your hardwood floors better. Consider area rugs for high foot traffic areas such as entryway, hallway, or kitchen, where your dog wanders around the most. If you have an indoor playing area or a separate room for your dog, you might also want to consider carpets to protect the hardwood underneath.

Keep touch-up kits handy

If you have hardwood flooring in your home, investing in a touch-up kit is always a good idea — even more so if there are pets in the equation. You can touch up any visible scratches using these kits to make your finish last longer. 

Use a penetrating oil finish

If you are not a fan of multiple coats of finish as it can look unnatural, penetrating oil is an excellent alternative. These finishes last up to 3 months and are easy to apply, ideal for DIYers. Besides protecting your floor, they also make your hardwood look more natural and make the existing scratches less noticeable.

How to Hardwood-Floor Proof Dogs

How to Hardwood-Floor Proof Dogs

The relationship between hardwood and dog is a two-way street — meaning your furry friend also needs to come on board to living with hardwood. Here are a few things you can do to make your dog more compatible with hardwood floors or “hardwood-floor proof,” if you will.

Trim your pet’s nails

Your dog’s nails are the biggest culprit behind scratches and dents. Also, excessively long nails hit the ground when dogs walk, which is uncomfortable for them as well. Keep your dog’s nails short at all times for the sake of your floor and your pet’s health. If you can’t do it yourself, you can take your pets to professional groomers. Consider using a dog nail grinder since they are safer and give a smooth finish. However, consider buffing the nails to smooth them out if you are using a clipper.   

Train your pet

Having a well-trained dog will make your life easier with fewer accidents, destruction of properties, and spills around the house. A “good boy” will listen to your commands and play in its designated area only, leaving the rest of the floor unaffected. Potty training is also crucial for indoor dogs as the accidents can significantly damage hardwood if left too long.

Consider nail caps

Nail caps are a great alternative to trimming your pet’s nails. They are also fun and versatile as they come in many colors. You can find them at your local pet store or easily purchase them online. They usually come with adhesive and are easy to put on. 

Consider doggie booties

Even though doggy booties are a great alternative to nail trimming or nail caps, they don’t work with some breeds. Doggie booties are available online and in-store in most places. However, they might not be ideal for prolonged wear if your dog doesn’t find them comfortable.

Setup dog gates

If you have installed hardwood floors in selective areas of the house, setting up dog gates is an excellent way to protect them. Dog gates are an excellent tool for pet owners anyway, as they can help with training or protecting your furniture.

Set realistic expectations

As mentioned earlier, it’s essential for the well-being of your dog and yourself to keep your expectations realistic. You need to find the right balance where the hardwood and your furry friend can coexist perfectly. Do not let the minor setbacks discourage you, and keep up with the ways mentioned above to dog proof hardwood floors to maintain the best shape possible.

Dogs are more than pets; they are our companions and family members. With the right choices and mindsets, your dog will not come in the way of creating your dream interior. 

Do you have any questions on how to dog-proof hardwood floors? Comment below and let us know!

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