How to Protect Car Doors from Dog Scratches: 3 Interior Protection Tips

how to protect car doors from dog scratches

Dogs cause all sorts of problems for car interiors. They will scratch at the doors as soon as you get out of the car to see where you are going. They dribble on the upholstery, leave unsightly marks everywhere, and then there’s the fur. But today I mostly wanted to focus on how to protect your car interior from dog scratches.

So how do you protect your car doors from dog scratches? The long and short of it is there isn’t much use in trying to train them not to. I’ll discuss that in detail lower down the page. You are better off using preventative and protective measures than attempting to train them out of this.

By using a combination of car protective gear and keeping your dog’s nails manicured will be the very best course of action. Let’s dive into the details on how to protect a car interior from dog.

How to protect car doors from dog scratches

There are various ways protect your car door from dog scratches. Here are four solutions that I use and believe are the best ways to do this – my experience is, training is hard and probably won’t work.

1. Use a car door protector

Regardless of what else you do to protect your interior car door from dog scratches, always invest in a protector. It’s a foolproof way that will always help when all else fails.

It’s quite simple: a clip-on piece of durable fabric that covers your car doors. It will take any accidental scratches that your dog may cause in their excitement to be in the car or to jump up and look out of the window.

I use two different products in my car; one to protect the doors from scratches, and then a large piece of gear to place in the trunk to help with different scratches to the rest of the interior and dirt.

Depending on how you travel with your will mean which one you decide to purchase.

Car Door Protector (view Amazon prices)

This car door protector set is one of the best reviewed and popular amongst the doggy community. And with good reason! It is made of a very strong oxford material that is scratch proof.

Click the photo below to see the Amazon reviews.

The durability means that even the sharpest of dog nails can’t penetrate the tough exterior. The pack comes with 2 covers for each door.

It will stop your dog from scratching your car door handles and interior door panels.

Quilted Dog Cargo Cover (view Amazon prices)

If you want a car protector that will also be a savior to the upholstery in your backseat, this is a great option. For one, it is huge! It covers the entire trunk or backseat and sides of your car with quilted, imperishable fabric.

Click the photo below to see the Amazon reviews.

It is water-resistant, easy to fit, and even comes with handy side pockets for leashes, collars, and other walking equipment. It’s a really good choice to protect your back seat completely with one product.

2. Use a seatbelt for your dog

If your dog often scratches your car door because of the excitement of being in the car or being triggered by something they see out of the window, you may want to use a seatbelt for them.

This will keep them in place as they ride in the car and lessen the chances of them resting paws on your car doors.

This is easier and more humane (I think) than blocking out the windows of your back car seat. In some places, this is illegal to do anyway so it is not advisable to block out your car windows.

But beyond the legalities, it’s nice for your dog to be able to see outside. If your dog has issues with motion sickness or anxiety when traveling, being able to gaze out of the window will make your dog feel more secure.

A seatbelt won’t completely prevent them from scratching the door, but it will limit their mobility a bit, making car door scratches less likely.

For a seatbelt, I recommend:

Seatbelt Tether for Dogs (view on Amazon)

This is a bungee seatbelt that clips into the seatbelt clip you have in your car. It is best to use this with a harness for the best safety and security for your dog.

Click the photo below to see the Amazon reviews.

It is durable and stretchy so your dog can still make themselves comfortable in your car. A great, simple product that could help you reduce the risk of scratching the car doors.

If you get the length and comfort right for your dog, not only will they be safer travelling, but it will also help to protect your car door from dog scratches.

3. Clip your dog’s nails

Nip this habit in the bud…literally. Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed, clipped, and filed to reduce the damage of scratching on your car door.

Clipping your dog’s nails is a bit daunting as you don’t want to injure your dog. Your dog is unlikely to love the sensation of having their nails clipped anyway.

You can consult your veterinarian and/or have a professional groomer help you to clip your dog’s nails to keep them trim. As for recommended products, electronic nail grinders are really efficient to use.

Safe & Humane Dog Nail Grinder (view Amazon prices)

The Dremel Nail Grinder is the most popular nail grinder on the market. It is pretty easy to use because of the nail guard that protects you from being too overzealous as you file down your dog’s nails.

Click the photo below to see the Amazon reviews.

It’s also not too loud so it shouldn’t make your pup too anxious.

Can you train your dog not to scratch your car door?

Whenever I intend to train one of my dogs out of doing an undesirable behavior, I follow a specific process to see if the behavior is even worth correcting. The behavior in question needs to meet the following criteria:

Can the behavior be isolated?

Barking is an isolated behavior. Lifting an inconspicuous leg to pee on the couch is an isolated behavior. If your dog is barking and jumping and showing excitement, it is more difficult to isolate the behavior you are correcting.

This was exactly how my dog used to behave.

protect car interior from dog scratches
He looks innocent now, but as soon as that door shuts my dog will start scratching at the car interior.

As soon as I got out of the car, he’d jump up at the window and start scratching the door. I felt like I had a race against time to run to the other side of the car and get the door open before he completely ruined the interior door panels.

Can the behavior be separated from a natural reaction?

For example, if you have a puppy that pees a little whenever they are excited, it’s really difficult to train that away. It is a natural bodily reaction that would just confuse your dog if you started to show disappointment in them for doing it.

Dogs get excited in cars. Dogs will scratch your doors during periods of excitement and no matter how much you train them, there’s no guarantee you can completely eliminate the behavior.

Handy Hint: Dogs that do this will also be prone to jumping up and stealing food from tables, here’s how to stop the counter-surfing.

Is the behavior even worth training away or is it easier to change the environment?

Sometimes the behavior is just not worth isolating. The training would be too intricate and possibly unnecessary. Or your dog may be particularly stubborn and not respond to any lengths of humane training techniques to correct the issue.

In these cases, it may be better to figure out how to change the environment around them.

An example could be entering certain rooms. If my bedroom door is open, my dog is going to come in. There is no amount of training that will prevent your dog from walking through an open door. It may be easier to keep that door closed or install a baby gate at the doorway of “out-of-bounds” areas.

So, with all of these in mind, would I bother training my dog to not scratch my car door interior?

Honestly… no. Here’s why.

  1. The scratching cannot really be isolated because…
  2. It is usually by accident when they enter the car, spin around to get comfortable, or a natural reaction to barking and lunging at dogs or passers-by outside. They don’t realize they are causing damage and therefore won’t make a direct correlation with my commands and their behavior so…
  3. It’s not really worth my time attempting to train them to not scratch the car by accident. It’s far easier to protect the car from scratches using a protector or minimize the chance of my dog getting riled up by something they see out of the window.

My advice to you would be to protect your car door from dog scratches using products like the above, rather than teaching your dog not to scratch it.


I cannot be the only person who has a weird obsession with their car’s upholstery. I feel like the condition of one’s car is a window into their soul. I like mine to be clean, gleaning, and pristine.

Unfortunately, that level of godly cleanliness and perfection just isn’t possible when you have dogs. I love my dogs. I hate what they do to my car.

Car doors always suffer the most. My interior leather seating and fine trims were certain to be shredded if I didn’t protect them.

Since implementing the tips in this guide, I no longer worry about how to protect my car interior from dog scratches… it’s all taken care of.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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