How to Keep a Dog From Clawing Up a Screen Door

Your screen door has the simple job of letting in a nice breeze while keeping out bugs and animals. Keeping crazy canines from ripping it to pieces it does not. Calming your pup down a bit and introducing some positive reinforcement can save your screen door from a shredded death.

Give the screen a shield of sorts with a screen door protector. Door protectors usually come as a metal or polyester grill, keeping the benefits of the screen door but throwing out all the bad side effects, like a ripped screen. Whenever those big paws and sharp nails slap at the door, the protector absorbs all of the force, keeping your screen completely intact. You can use them on the inside and outside of your door.

Teach your pup door manners. Most canines see the door as their gateway to a place where holes can be dug and grass needs peed on, and they don't care if they ram their paws through the screen to arrive at their destination. Instead of letting your little guy bash in the screen, show him that being calm is more rewarding. Each time you're ready to let him out, tell him to sit right by the door, then feed him a treat when he does. Keep doing this over and over again, and in a few days you'll likely have a canine who would much rather sit and get a treat than rip open your screen. Do the same when it's time for him to come in.

Make going out way less fun. Saying something as innocent as "Let's go out" can trigger the excitement bell in your dog's head, the likes of which will result in you buying a new screen in the not-so-distant future. Don't give him a cue and don't speak in a lighthearted voice. This is especially important if you have to fiddle around with a collar or if you have to attach a leash to him before he goes out. If he runs around, barks, jumps or acts too excited, stop what you're doing and turn your back. Show him that there isn't going to be any fun around the house until he settles his butt down.

Teach him the "off" command. This works well for those stubborn pups who still get too excited and thrash about when waiting to go out. You can practice the "off" command in a bunch of situations, from telling your pup to get off the screen to making him get off of people when he jumps. The concept is simple: anytime he jumps, you say "off." The second he removes his paws from the screen -- or anything he jumps on -- reward him with a treat and a pat on the head. As you keep doing this, he'll eventually learn to jump less often and maybe even not at all, and that hearing "off" means he better get all four paws on the ground for a reward.

Try alternatives to your regular screen door. A heavy-duty mesh screen door can usually last through the abuse of jumping dogs, even those bigger canines. And you can bypass the door concept entirely by getting a mesh screen that closes and opens with magnetic tabs. It still keeps the nasty bugs outside, but it allows you and your pup to push through without a problem. The downside to this is that any other person or animal can push through, and your dog can rush out the door anytime he wants, so an enclosed backyard is required.

Items you will need

  • Screen door protector
  • Treats
  • Leash

Tips

  • The first few times you try teaching your dog to sit at the door -- either outside or inside -- you may want to leash him, if you don't already. You'll have an easier time making sure he doesn't rip open your door while he's learning.
  • If your pup claws at the screen while you're gone, crating him is the best option. If he destroys his crate, consult your vet -- he may be suffering from separation anxiety.

Warning

  • Smacking or yelling at your pup will not lead to positive results.
 

About the Author

Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.