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It seems like a nightmare waiting to happen. You install gorgeous hardwood flooring in your home, and when the family dog runs across it excitedly, she starts to slide and digs her nails into the boards to stop herself. Your beautiful new floor has now been initiated with several long, glaring scratches.

Hardwood floors are popular. So are dogs. When they coexist in the same space, it can be a recipe for disaster for your floors. What do you do?

Get rid of the dog? (Not likely.)

Not have wood flooring? (You look at the dog and reconsider option 1…)

Here’s the good news: You actually don’t have to choose between the dog and your floors. With a bit of planning and forethought, you can minimize the risk of damage from dogs and other animals, and you can mask their appearance if and when scratches do occur. The following tips should help.

Avoid Glossy Finishes

High-gloss or shiny finishes make scratches nearly impossible to hide—and not just from your family pets. Even a few stray bits of dirt and sand attached to shoes or socks can be enough to cause a scratch. Unless you want to have the floors buffed every couple of weeks, try choosing a duller satin to make scratches less noticeable. These finishes are popular and fashionable, and you’ll sleep better at night.

Choose a Denser Wood

Generally speaking, the softer the wood, the easier it scratches. Most wood floors are considered hardwood, but some have a higher hardness rating than others. If you have large dogs, especially, harder woods like white oak or hickory will resist scratching much better than pine, cherry or walnut.

Choose a Rustic or Distressed Look

Here’s another thought: Eliminate the risk by making scratches part of the look itself! Distressed wood finishes are highly popular, drawing from the notion that the weathered look adds character to the room. With a wire brushed or hand scraped finish, the blemishes and inconsistencies become part of the overall beauty, and any new nail scratches blend in to the look seamlessly.

Keep the Dog’s Nails Trimmed (and Buffed)

It goes without saying that keeping your dog’s nails short will minimize the risk of scratches, but that’s only half the battle because freshly trimmed nails can actually be sharper than longer, weathered nails. Don’t just have the dog’s nails trimmed—have them buffed, as well, to take off the sharp edges.

Clean Up Accidents Quickly

Of course, scratches aren’t the only damage a dog can do to your hardwood floors—ahem. If your pet has an accident on the floor, get it cleaned up as soon as possible to prevent the acids from damaging the finish or causing stains.

As you can see, wood floors and dogs can coexist without the floors becoming a casualty. It just takes a bit of planning and being proactive. For more advice and tips on installing dog-friendly wood flooring for your next home improvement project, call Renaissance Hardwood Flooring in Tulsa at 918-298-4477.