Even negative attention can be a reinforcement to a dog who is bored and looking for attention. He paws and scratches you and it hurts, so you respond by yelling, pushing him away, or scolding him. Even though it is negative, some attention is better than nothing to many dogs. A scratching habit is created, which can be damaging to property, your stockings, and your skin. A dog that scratches can be particularly hazardous around small children whose faces are lower to the ground, and a scratch to the face, eyes or mouth can cause serious physical and psychological damage in a child.
Teaching your dog not to scratch will not only prevent damage to life and limb, but also to property. You will want to break the habit by removing the reward and/or replacing the behavior with an alternate behavior. This may take several days, and consistency on the part of everyone in your household, to establish that scratching will not be rewarded. Teaching your dog not to scratch when they are young before the habit develops is ideal, but even a seasoned scratcher can be rehabilitated. Read on for training methods to stop your dog from scratching.