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Dog scratches

What are the characteristics of dog scratches on car paint? Can their claws scratch the paint down to the base coat? I have an unfortunate dispute with a neighbor. He says my dog scratched the hood of his Chevrolet Traverse (2009/2010?) and wants me to pay for repairs. I’m not trying to shirk my responsibility, but I don’t think my dog is responsible and will not pay. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures for you (it’s not my car). The scratches are on the hood, driver’s side near the windshield, in a random pattern; some straight, some kind of swooping, some deeper than others, covering an area of about 12"x8". I have an 85 lb golden retriever and we have proven that he can not reach the area of the scratches. His reply is that the dog was in a frantic state at the time (of which I do not agree). My reply is that if the dog was so frantic, why is there no other damage, either to the car or anything else in the garage? I do not want this to ruin a friendship, how do I gracefully back out of this? -

measure the space and width of your dog’s nails.
Measure the scratches.
probable ?
or not even close ?

any other traces like paw prints to compare ?

I could see such occuring if the dog were up on the hood franticly grasping for traction.

There are no scratches parallel to each other, or looking like claws. Honestly, to me it looks like something was set on the hood like a box, and pulled off. But that’s pure speculation on my part.

Not speculation when you compare hard evidence.
Test scratch your dogs paws on anything that will show.
Carry that to the hood and compare.


Important questions

Other than the dispute about the scratches, do you get along with your neighbor? Have there been other incidents in the past?

Okay, I realize you don’t think your dog was responsible, but it’s always possible your neighbor is telling the truth. It’s not very nice to question somebody’s honesty.

Anyways, here’s an idea . . . get an estimate to repair the damage, and then think about it.

Here’s something else to think about. If your neighbor is a decent guy and truly thinks your dog is responsible (even if he’s wrong), and you don’t do anything, it’s possible your neighbor will make life unpleasant for you.

In answer to the question “Can their claws scratch the paint down to the base coat?” The answer is yes…depending on the dog. I have 2 Labs who are brother and sister. The sister can take the hide off of a water buffalo with a single swipe. The brother has claws that are always rounded.

There were no paw prints anywhere on the vehicle. The golden in question has rounded nails, but I do admit his dew claws are pretty sharp.
There is no way that fat dog could get all the way on the top of an SUV car, no matter how frantic, and if he was that close, there would be more widespread damage than two hand widths. What we did to see if he could reach the area was place a towel across the car, and told him to jump up. He got very excited and jumped all over, pretty high, and just barely reached the edge of the scratches. But in the attempts, we could see that his back feet were pretty close to scratching the car too, and there were no scratches in that area.

This is not my next door neighbor, but a few doors down, and a good friend. Our kids play together a lot. He is a decent guy and I honestly believe he thinks my dog is responsible. They lease the vehicle, and is concerned about getting charged for the damage, which is why he brought it to my attention. He is going to take it to the dealership next week to see what they say about it. My husband suggested rubbing compound to minimize the damage. I’m afraid he may try to talk it up to the mechanics to make sure they say yes, it needs a new paint job.

Also, to be clear, he hasn’t come right out and said “I want you to pay for this” and I haven’t clearly said “I will not pay for anything.” It has all been hemmed and hawed around. I guess we’re both waiting to see what the dealership says.

IMO, unless someone actually witnessed your dog doing the damage to the vehicle, your neighbors claim is just speculation. Your neighbor is the one that has to prove your dog did the damage to the vehicle. It’s not your responsablilty to prove that the dog didn’t do the damage to the vehicle.

And any court would agree.


@Tester makes a good point. If your neighborhood is anything like mine…dogs are everywhere.

I hope this doesn’t go to court and your dog is forced to testify. If your dog is related to Duke, on the Bush Beans commercial, he’ll spill the beans for sure.

A dogs claws will not scratch the paint down to bare metal. They will leave a mark that easy enough to buff out. However, the pads on a dogs paw can and often does pick up various types of grit and that can scratch right down to bare metal.

But the neighbor still needs to provide evidence of the deed, not just an accusation. Even if he can prove that the dog was trying to climb on the hood in a panicked state, what caused the dog to panic. If a person did something to panic the dog, then that person could be held responsible. But then, are you violating the leash law? That could be a factor too. This is how lawyers get rich.

The incident happened while I was there for a visit. They want no pets in the house (allergies), so we shut the dog in the garage with the car, while we were in the house. He barked and scratched at the door for a few minutes, but quickly quieted down. When we opened the garage door to leave about 45 min later the dog was excited, but happy, tail wagging, and in no apparent state of distress. The following afternoon is when they approached me about the scratches, saying he doesn’t remember them being there before we were over.

@Mom_Slaby–your last post puts a different slant on the situation. My brother and his wife have a golden retriever who is beautifully behaved except when he is frightened by a thunderstorm. He broke through their bathroom door when my brother and his wife were away from home in order to hide in the bathtub. I think it is possible that your dog was really frightened by being alone in a strange place and might have jumped up on the hood. Dogs also have adrenalin glands.

Although not allowed in the house, the dog has been in their garage and yard countless number of times playing with the kids. It is definitely a familiar and friendly environment.

If there was any jumping I would have expected it to be to the shelf with the dog treats.

The neighbor is concerned about lease liability, If the car is black I had good luck with Turtle Wax color magic. I cannot vouch for the other colors they offer.

You have not said why your neighbor thinks it was your dog. If he is a friend and a good guy and he witnessed your dog why would you disbelieve him? If he told you the same thing about someone else’s dog would you believe him then?

It looks to me that your friend isn’t sure if your dog caused the scratches but suspects that it did because he doesn’t remember seeing the scratches prior to your dog being locked in the garage with the car.

I can only tell you what I would do if this were my good friend. I would offer to pay half of the cost of the fix since nobody is sure and the evidence is weak but could be correct.

On the other hand, if I were the car owner and I wasn’t absolutely sure when the scratches occurred, I would not expect you to pay anything.

If someone accused my dog of doing this, I would probably believe the person. My dog is a real sneak. He was so full of energy as a pup, and we were working at the time, that we took him to a dog day care two days a week… Even though we are retired, the dog seems to know the days he should go to the dog day care and begs to go and be with his “friends”. The dogs get a one hour rest period at noon and the attendants put dog biscuits in the dogs’ cages. My dog slipped away from the pack and was caught slipping his paw into the cage and retrieving the treats. On his next visit, he and another dog slipped away. The other dog’s paws were too big to fit between the wires on the cage, so my dog retrieved the dog biscuits while his buddy barked when the attendant came around. You wouldn’t have to lock my dog in the garage. If he wanted to, he would open the door himself and go in and scratch the car.

Does your neighbor has some specific cause to believe your dog caused the damage?

With respect your neighbor, it is possible that he/she has scatches on the hood and on a leased vehicle he/she would get charged for them and he/she is looking for a way to get them repaired without cost. I don’t know your neighbor, and I may be way out of line here, but sometimes people behave strangely when faced with an unexpected expense.

By the way, have you considered a fence?