Why Are Dogs Afraid Of Hardwood Floors? Reasons and Solutions To Help Your Dog

For the most part, dogs are known to be fearless and protective companions. There are even certain dog breeds that are famous for their courage.  Despite this well-deserved reputation, not every dog is fearless.

Some dogs are scared of things that make sense to us, like thunder and fireworks. Other dogs are afraid of things that we wouldn’t think they would be afraid of.

We have two dogs, and each is scared of at least one silly thing.  Our female dog is scared of trash bags.  Every time we change the kitchen trash out with a fresh bag she growls and runs away.

Our male dog is afraid of babies. Whenever friends or family come over with a baby in tow, he’ll hide behind us until he can make a clean break for our bedroom or out of the doggy door.

Being afraid of strange things doesn’t make our dogs any less lovable. As responsible dog parents, we need to take the time to learn what scares our dogs and why.

So, what about hardwood floors?  Why is your dog afraid of hardwood floors? There are a number of reasons why dogs might be afraid of hardwood floors.  The top reasons are:

  • They fear slipping (again!)
  • They’ve been punished for being in an area that has hardwood floors
  • Hardwood floors are new for them

Why Hardwood Floors Can Be Daunting For Dogs

While you and I may appreciate the aesthetic of hardwood floors, dogs look at them in a much different manner.  They are more concerned about function rather than looks.

Let’s take a look at why your dog is likely scared of your hardwood floors.

They Are Scared of Slipping

Dogs are more prone to slipping on hardwood floors than we are.  To an observer, this might not seem like a big deal, but dogs don’t like it for many reasons.

No Control Over Their Bodies

Dogs don’t like slipping on hardwood floors because they have no control over their bodies.

It’s a lot like when you walk on ice and suddenly slip. Even if you don’t get hurt, it is a terrible feeling.  Your body feels out of control, and it is very scary.

They Have Hurt Themselves in the Past

Another reason dogs fear hardwood floors is that they have hurt themselves in the past. It’s funny when a cartoon dog, like Tweety Bird’s pal Hector the Bulldog, spins out and crashes.  It is different when a real animal does it.

Dogs don’t want to injure themselves, and if they have hurt themselves in the past, they are likely to be nervous around whatever caused that injury.

If your dog was running too fast on hardwood floors and crashed into your dining room table, slipped, and fell, or hurt themselves in any other way, they will likely be more cautious around hardwood floors if not avoid (and seem scared of) them all together. 

They’ve Been Punished For Being in an Area That Has Hardwood Floors

If you are taking the time to research this topic it probably wasn’t you, but rather a previous owner.  However, it is possible that your dog was punished for being in an area that has hardwood floors.

Maybe their past owner wanted your sweet pooch out of the kitchen or some other room that had the only hardwood floors in the house.  Your dog is smart and when tried to figure out why they were punished and banished. Maybe they concluded that the hardwood floors were the problem instead of whatever the real reason was.

Dogs have amazing memories and can remember things for a long time. If they were once scolded or hit for “being on hardwood floors”, they will likely be scared of them because they associate hardwood floors with punishment.

Hardwood Floors Are New For Them

Dogs don’t approach everything with gusto. If they aren’t familiar with something, they will likely be more cautious.

This is also true with puppies or dogs that have never been in a house with hardwood floors before. It’s all new to them and they don’t know what to expect.

They might have seen you walk across the hardwood floors and think “that looks easy enough”, but when they try it for themselves, they realize that it’s much more difficult than it looks.

To us, these dogs appear scared of hardwood floors, but they are just trying to figure out how to walk on them.

Why Do Dogs Slip On Hardwood Floors?

Dogs don’t have the same type of traction that we do. Their paws simply aren’t made for slick surfaces. 

Instead, they evolved to tackle dirt, mud, rock, and most anything else the outdoors can throw their way. Putting a paw on something foreign, like a slick surface, can make your dog slip and slide around.

Besides not being ‘made’ for hardwood floors there are also other reasons dogs may slip on them.

Foot Hair And Nails Are Too Long

If your dog’s nails are too long, they will have a difficult time gripping the hardwood floor and are more likely to slip. The same goes for if they have too much hair on their feet.  If their hair is too long, it can push out between their toes making it even harder for them to grip a slick surface. 

For dogs, either of these issues would be like you and I trying to run around in socks on hardwood floors.  It wouldn’t be long before we slipped and fell!

Old Age

As dogs age, they often lose muscle mass and the pads on their paws can thin out. This makes it harder for them to grip the floor and they are more likely to slip and slide around.


Dogs that suffer from arthritis often have a hard time getting around like they used to. This can make them hesitant to walk on hardwood floors because they are afraid of slipping and falling.

Vestibular Dysfunction

This is a condition that can affect a dog’s balance and cause them to feel dizzy. Dogs with vestibular dysfunction often seem scared of hardwood floors because they are afraid of falling.

Thyroid Problem

A thyroid problem can cause all sorts of issues including muscle weakness in dogs. This can make it harder for them to grip the floor and they are more likely to slip.

Hip Replacement

Dogs that have had hip replacement surgery often have a hard time getting around. This can make them hesitant to walk on hardwood floors because they are afraid of slipping and falling.

How To Help Your Dog Walk Safely On Hardwood Floors

Everyone wants their lovable best friends to have a high quality of life.  If your dog has self-banished itself from a large part of your home odds are their quality of life is suffering as well. 

If your dog has a physical problem that is keeping them off the hardwood floors there are things you can do to help.

Check With Your Vet About Medical Conditions

If you think your dog may have a medical condition that is causing them to be afraid of hardwood floors, the first thing you should do is talk to your vet.

They will be able to help you figure out if there is a medical reason for your dog’s behavior and, if there is, they will be able to provide you with treatment options.

Get Vet Approved Nail And Hair Clippers

If your dog’s nails are too long, they will have a difficult time gripping the floor and are more likely to slip. The same goes for if they have too much hair on their feet.

If you’re not comfortable trimming your dog’s nails and hair yourself, you can take them to a groomer, and they will be able to do it for you.

Make sure to get special nail and paw hair trimmers that have been designed specifically for dogs. These can be found at most pet stores and online.

Consider Products To Help Your Dog Have Better Traction

There are products on the market that can help your dog have better traction on hardwood floors.

These products can be placed on your dog’s paws and nails to help them grip the floor better.  Once you can get your dog to wear them, you should see immediate results.

There are also mats that can be placed on hardwood floors that will provide your dog with a more slip-resistant surface to walk on.

Help Your Dog Get Over Their Fear Of Hardwood Floors

If your dog’s fear of hardwood floors isn’t due to a physical condition and is more in their head there are various ways you can help your dog get over their fear.

Slowly Walk With Your Dog

Don’t force your dog, but if he will allow it, ease him into walking on the hardwood floors.  This is basically a face your fears approach. 

Start by walking with your dog next to the hardwood floors. Once they seem comfortable with that you can then try slowly walking on the hardwood floors with them.

Do this until they are comfortable walking on the hardwood floors by themselves.

There is a chance this could backfire though, that is why you cannot force your dog into this at all.

Use Treats And Food

Food is a big motivator for dogs.  Using either treats or their regular meal, start by giving your good boy treats (or dinner) near the hardwood floors.

Once they are comfortable with that, start giving them treats on the hardwood floors.

You can then start walking with them on the hardwood floors while giving them treats until they are comfortable walking by themselves.

Dig Out Your Training Tools

When we trained our dogs we used a clicker and beef lung.  Even though that was years ago now, to this day if that clicker comes out or we buy a little beef lung for a treat, our dogs are like putty in our hands.

No matter what tools you used to train your dogs, get those tools out and use them to show your dog that hardwood floors aren’t so bad. 

You can use the positive reinforcement training your dog is used to to get them to slowly walk on your hardwood floors.

Use Playtime

Start in an adjacent room that your dog isn’t afraid of and play with your dog.  Keep moving closer to the hardwood floors while your dog is distracted by all the fun you two are having.

Once you’re on the hardwood floors give your good girl treats as you continue playing.  You want your dog to associate the hardwood floors with some very good experiences. 

Get Some Runners

While they might not be the decorations you had in mind, runners can help your dog feel more comfortable walking on hardwood floors.

You can find runners at most home décor stores, and they come in a variety of colors and patterns to match your home perfectly.

Place the runner along a path that you want your dog to take when they need to go from one room to another. 

This will provide them with a slip-resistant surface that they are used to walking on and can help ease their anxiety about walking on hardwood floors.

Why Is My Dog Suddenly Afraid Of Hardwood Floors?

When dogs have a sudden shift in behavior it can be alarming to us.  Especially if there is no obvious reason. 

Here are some issues could have caused your dog to suddenly become scared of hardwood floors.

Medical Conditions

If your dog developed any of the medical conditions mentioned above, hardwood floors may suddenly be difficult for your dog to walk on. 

Other serious medical issues can also cause dogs to drastically change their behavior in strange ways.  If you suspect a medical problem is affecting your dog call your vet to discuss setting up a check-up. 

Your Dog Recently Hurt Himself On Hardwood Floors

If your dog recently hurt himself while walking on hardwood floors, that could be the reason he is now scared of them. 

It is possible that your dog slipped, fell, and hurt himself while running through a room with hardwood floors.  This would cause him to be hesitant about walking on them again. 

In this case, you may just need to give your dog some time to get over it.  Try some of the tips above to help ease your dog into being okay with hardwood floors again.

There Has Been A Change In The Household

A change in the household, such as a new baby, another pet, or even just temporary visitors can cause dogs to act out in strange ways. 

If there has been a change in the household, and your dog is suddenly scared of hardwood floors, he may be just feeling insecure.

In this case, try to give your dog some extra attention and reassurance.  Let him know that everything is okay and that he is still loved. 

They Think They Are No Longer Allowed On Hardwood Floors

Maybe you scolded your dog for something else while he was on hardwood floors or shooed him out of the room one too many times, but for whatever reason, your dog thinks he is no longer allowed on hardwood floors.

In this case, you need to show your dog that he is still allowed on the hardwood floors.  Use some of the tips above to help him feel at ease walking on them again.

Summary: Why Are Dogs Scared Of Hardwood Floors And How Can I Help?

Dogs can be afraid of hardwood floors for a variety of reasons.  It could be a medical condition, they may have hurt themselves on hardwood floors before, or there may have been a change in the household. 

There are some things you can do to help your dog feel more comfortable walking on hardwood floors.  Try training your dog with positive reinforcement, using runners, or playing with your dog on the hardwood floor.  If your dog is still having trouble after trying these things, call your vet to set up a check-up to rule out any medical conditions.

There are also products available to help dogs who have problems walking on slick surfaces. Don’t expect your dog to get used to every product right away, sometimes learning how to walk with toe grips or shoes on can be daunting in their own right!

Be sure to give them time and proper training if your lovable pal has problems with his traction on hardwood floors.

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