I love my dog unconditionally. Nobody ever gets so excited to see me and nobody else can make me smile after I’ve had the worst day ever. We go for long runs, watch (or chase) ducks at the pond, and sometimes we both sprawl out on the couch and watch television. He’s not really supposed to be on the couch, but he always looks pretty comfortable, and we are both into the Discovery Channel, so I usually let him hang out there.
Most of the time things are great. But sometimes they’re not.
My dog has what is known as separation anxiety. When he’s left alone, he’s prone to misbehave. If he sees another dog across the street or outside the window, he has a very hard time controlling himself, from chewing on chairs to freeing the couch of its cushiony interior to gnawing on window sills and doors.
But there’s no sense crying over shredded furniture. I’ve become extremely proficient at fixing dog-induced mayhem. I’m afraid the futon and the chair were mortally wounded and had to be put down, but we tried.
Claw and tooth gouges on the doors and windows are another thing. Here’s what I’ve learned by fixing them:
If you have a pet that scratches at the door to be let in or out, or you want to have your doors protected before you introduce a new animal into your household, definitely check out the door shields they make specifically for this purpose. They are basically clear plastic or Plexiglas covers for your doors that are also available for window sills.
These handy covers are inexpensive and easy to install, and will save you the trouble of fixing a problem that could have been prevented. But if you do have door and window damage (like me), don’t fret.
Scratches Light and Scratches Deep
Not surprisingly, fixing lighter scratches is easier than fixing deeper gouges. Painted doors are also easier to spackle and repaint, but natural wood can usually be fixed with stain and varnish.
* Start by sanding the damaged area lightly. Use steel wool for light scratches and sand paper or an electric sander for deeper marks. Always be sure you are sanding along the grain of the wood and try to feather the damaged wood towards the undamaged areas.
* Wipe away all dust.
* For filling large scratches, use wood filler applied with a plastic putty knife. Let the filler dry thoroughly before sanding off the excess filler. Wipe away all dust before varnishing.
* If using a stain, brush it over the sanded area with a dry brush, mixing the colors to match the old finish.
* It is a good idea to buy a piece of matching wood to experiment with. Remember to start with a lighter stain as you can always darken it as you blend.
* If the stain looks a little dull after it has dried, lightly spray it with a clear finish and then work the finish into the surrounding area.
Some marks may be too deep or too severe to hide, but do your best. It takes a little practice and some experimentation, but you can make a big difference in the appearance of your doors and windows. Always be patient, persevere, and shower your critters with love.
Do you know an animal with separation anxiety? Have you ever had a pet do something you just couldn’t believe?
Angelo DiGangi is a Home Depot on-the-floor sales associate in the Chicago suburbs and a frequent contributor on DIY door topics on the Home Depot website. Angelo provides tips on both interior and exterior doors for Home Depot.