How to Train a Dog to Scratch at the Door


Training your dog to scratch at the door is a great way to communicate with your pet and alert you when they need something – whether it be going outside, food, or just attention. To begin training your dog, start by teaching him how to respond to basic commands such as “sit” and “stay.” When he has mastered these commands, you can get started with teaching them how to scratch at the door. This can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks depending on how quickly your pup learns.

To train your dog, keep a command leash on him during this time and provide lots of positive reinforcement for any progress made. Start by commanding him to sit and stay near the door. As he waits patiently by the door, praise him while lightly scratching the door yourself. This will help associate the sound of scratching with good behavior in his mind so that he will learn to do it himself when needed. Once your pup has gotten used to the sound of scratching at the door, start rewarding him with treats each time he follows through with scratching himself. If done properly and consistently, in no time you should have a happy pooch that knows exactly how to communicate what they need without having to bark or whine!

Why Train Your Dog to Scratch at the Door

Training a dog to scratch at the door can provide a quick and effective way for owners to communicate their needs to their dogs. This type of behavior teaches dogs to share their wants and needs, which is an important part of well-rounded communication both between the owner and dog. Moreover, teaching a dog to scratch at the door can help decrease unwanted behaviors like barking or jumping up, as it redirects the attention from less desired behaviors and towards more desirable ones.

For example, if a dog scratches at the door when it needs to go outside for potty time, then it has provided its owner with valuable information that would otherwise likely come in another form (barking/whining). This method can be replicated for other desired behaviors; for instance if a pup wants its dinner then scratching at the door is an appropriate way for it to make its demand known. This fee could even be used in response to visitors coming into the home – rather than barking or jumping up on guests, scratching at the door is seen as polite behavior. Ultimately, training a dog to scratch at the door offers many benefits both to owner and canine alike – by teaching this desirable behavior you can help your pup better make known its needs as well as promote good manners!


Before you start training your dog to scratch at the door, there are some supplies you will need. The most important requirement is patience and consistency from the owner. You have to reinforce desired behaviors continuously throughout the training process. Also, having high-value treats close at hand can be beneficial as an incentive or reward for the responses you want your dog to make. Additionally, a clicker or beeper can help shape behavior by providing a quicker reward – it can also serve as a sound cue when initially teaching a new behavior. Finally, optional items such as a Kong toy filled with something tasty like peanut butter or wet food can help keep their attention on the task so they don’t become easily distracted.

Preparing the Space

When training a dog to scratch at the door, it is important to first create an environment that will make learning easier for the animal. To do so, you should start by making sure your dog has ample space to practice and move around comfortably. This can be accomplished by using baby gates or closing off certain rooms with a pet gate. If practical, add a mat, rug or bed in front of the desired door. This will reduce the risk of damage while teaching your pup how to scratch without leaving scratches on the floor.

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Another way to help prepare the space is by selecting different types of surfaces for your dog to scratch against. For example, if you are training outdoors you can use a piece of plywood soaked in apple cider vinegar which has a slightly rough texture for your pup’s claws to grab onto. Artificial grass also works great indoors since it provides traction and doesn’t leave paw prints on floors. Lastly, use treats as rewards when training – small pieces of high reward snacks such as chicken jerky or freeze dried beef livers can be given while practicing scratching at the door which will help strengthen the behavior and make it easier to learn.


Training your dog to scratch at the door doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Engaging with your dog in a way that encourages positive behavior is key to successful training. Clicker-training, positive reinforcement, and treats can all be used to help lure your pup towards the new behavior or command you are looking for. For example, when trying to teach your dog how to scratch at the door on cue, you may use a clicker and treat each time your pup takes the appropriate action. This will make it easier for them to learn what’s expected of them. Utilizing positively phrased commands (e.g., “Good scratching!”) as well as physical affection also helps reinforce good behaviors in your pet. Additionally, consider creating an environment which provides ample amounts of physical stimulation and mental challenge such as providing puzzles or tasks that engage their mind and make them work for rewards like treats or playtime. With patience, consistency and lots of encouragement, you’ll eventually have success in training your furry friend to scratch at the door on cue!

The Training Process

1) Place a treat on the door and command the dog to “touch.” Use the treats as a reward for any successful behaviors.
2) When he touches the door, offer him a treat and praise him for his obedience. Repeat this step several times so he can get used to it.
3) Command your pet to “scratch” at the door when you are ready to move onto a higher level of training. As he starts scratching, reward him with a treat.
4) After repeat this step until he reliably scratches at the door each time you give your command.
5) If your dog loses focus or is having difficulty understanding what you want him to do, go back and practice using simpler steps like touching or pawing at the door before advancing further in training.
6) Practice calling your pet from another room in short bursts of about five seconds. Reward them each time they come back and scratch at the door till you let them in.
7) Increase these intervals over time to around 30 seconds, making sure that they still scratch at the door after coming back till they’re let in. Only reward them if they successfully complete this part of their training session.
8) Once your pup has mastered pressing and/or scratching on demand every time you call them, slowly increase distance between rooms or engage other distractions like treats outside of windows or doors when practicing “come” commands so your dog will always be prepared when expected situations arise requiring him to press/scratch upon returning after being called away!


When training a dog to scratch at the door, it’s important to keep them motivated. One way to do this is to vary the type of rewards given, as well as when they are given. For example, when rewarding your dog after they scratch at the door successfully, you could give verbal praise and/or treats. Another motivational strategy is known as intermittent reinforcement – this means providing rewards at unpredictable times, which makes the dog more likely to continue performing behaviours in anticipation of another reward. Games such as tug-of-war or fetch can also help keep your pup motivated while practicing their scratching skills. Additionally, it may be beneficial to gradually decrease the amount of treats or praise provided over time; instead of giving a treat each time they respond correctly, you could reward them with a smaller portion half of the time instead and allow them access to their fave toy for five minutes every other try and so on. As always with positive reinforcement training methods, consistency and patience are key – be sure not to become frustrated if progress is slow and remember that rewards should always be contingent on correct behaviour!

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If you’re having any difficulty training your dog to scratch at the door, here are a few tips to help you troubleshoot.

1. Start small. Begin by rewarding your dog for just looking towards the door when commanded. Gradually increase the expectations and reward them for scratching at it.

2. Keep the sessions short and frequent . Training should be kept to 5-10 minutes intervals several times throughout the day once you have a good grasp of the basics.

3. Use positive reinforcement . Ensure that you choose methods of positive reinforcement such as verbal praise, treats or toys for successful attempts at scratching at the door.

4. Be patient. Dogs will not learn a new behavior overnight so owners need to ensure they remain consistent in their training regime while also being understanding if mistakes are made or progress is slow.

5. Seek help if needed . If despite your best efforts, you find that training isn’t going quite right then do not hesitate to seek help from an animal behaviorist or other professional pet services provider like a certified trainer or canine behavior consultant if necessary


It can be difficult to train a dog to scratch at the door, but with patience and consistency, it can be achieved. Once your dog has mastered the command and learns to recognize scratching at the door as nothing more than an indicator for someone’s approach or one’s own behest for fresh air or a bathroom break, you will have found a reliable means of communication.

Most importantly, keep in mind that training takes time and effort and there will be times where your dog doesn’t get it right away. There will also be times where distractions take precedence over the task at hand. However, persevere through such scenarios by continuing to reward your pup’s positive behaviour when they do get it right. Your patience and persistence will be rewarded so long as you remain consistent and keep up practices that promote positive reinforcement. Soon enough your cute little companion will never again leave you wondering who’s ringing your bell!

Ultimately, when training a dog to scratch at the door, the key takeaway is patience and consistency. Remain patient while giving proper rewards when desired behaviour occurs, providing plenty of opportunities for practice along the way. And although keeping cool – even during challenging moments – is important; keep in mind that your beloved four-legged companion needs loving guidance too! Ensure their progress is directionally correct by constantly monitoring their cues and talking them through any development steps as needed.

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