Dogs can display a range of strange behaviors. It could be staring at you, sitting on top of you, running in circles, digging, or chasing its tail. You will be left in a daze, trying to figure out what the dog wants.
Today, we will focus on one such behavior – scratching the floor and carpet.
There are many reasons your dog behaves so. For example, the canine could be just plain bored. Some dogs are highly energetic. They require plenty of exercises. They will explore other strange activities to keep themselves entertained if this need is ignored.
Serious concerns like stress, anxiety, or health issues can also trigger the behavior.
The article will examine why dogs scratch the floor and carpet. We will also explore practical solutions that can help stop the behavior.
- Why Do Dogs Scratch the Floor and Carpet?
- How to Stop the Dog from Scratching the Floor and Carpet?
Why Do Dogs Scratch the Floor and Carpet?
Art from the actual behavior, the timing is also essential. For example, if the dog scratches at the floor during bedtime, it is looking for a comfortable sleeping position. It scratches the carpet only in your presence; it might want your attention.
So, let us look at common reasons behind your dog’s floor and carpet scratching behavior.
1. It is an Instinctive Behavior
Scratching and digging at the floor is an activity that can be traced to your pet’s wild ancestors. Before dogs were made a part of human society, they lived in the wild fending for themselves.
They would dig to find warmth, store food, and for protection. Pregnant dogs would dig while giving birth to keep the little one safe.
Experts believe that such behavior is hard-coded into the dog’s DNA. So, suppose the dog’s needs are met, for example, fed, exercised, mentally stimulated, and has a safe place to live. In that case, you can chalk the behavior to instincts.
2. The Dog is Bored
Dogs can resort to destructive activities when they have nothing better to do. Scratching the floor and carpet can be the dog’s way of entertaining itself.
Some dogs are highly energetic. For example, dogs like Border Collies, Bull Terriers, Siberian Huskies, and Retrievers need more than an hour of exercise daily. They also need an additional playtime session to meet their mental engagement needs.
If the dog is left alone at home for long periods with no fun toys, it is bound to get bored. It has this burst of energy but no outlet to spend. So, it can end up scratching the floor and carpet.
If you do not have time, consider enrolling the pet in doggy daycare. Or hire a dog walker for walks and play sessions. The dog is more likely to behave when its physical and mental stimulation needs are met.
3. The Dog is Showing Attention-Seeking Behavior
Dogs enjoy being around their human companions. Some breeds like Beagles, Retrievers, Pugs, German Shepherds, and Poodles can be extreme people pleasers.
They expect you to spend time with them. This could be teaching your dog new tricks, involving them in social settings, or simply cuddling on the sofa. And this is different from exercise and playtime sessions.
Suppose you do not spend enough quality time with your pet. In that case, it will indulge in behaviors that attract your attention. If scratching the carpet gets your attention, that is all the dog wanted in the first place.
It would help if you were careful here. If you react to such behavior, be nice, and coddle the dog, you encourage the behavior. The dog will learn that scratching the floor or carpet equals getting your attention.
4. The Dog is Stressed or Anxious
Other than boredom, dogs can resort to destructive behaviors when stressed or anxious.
Scratching on the floor and carpet is a repetitive action. This repetitive pattern can help the dog calm down. But the activity should not be encouraged. It can lead to ripped-up carpets and deep scratches on hardwood flooring.
Try to identify the root of the behavior. For example, does the dog resort to scratching when it is alone, when strangers enter the house, or when it hears loud noises? If yes, the scratching of floors will not stop until you remove the trigger from the dog’s environment or train the dog to deal with the trigger.
Please consult the vet, as the dog may require medication and therapy to overcome its triggers.
5. The Dog is Trying to Get Comfortable
This reason extends instinctive behavior. The dog’s wild ancestors would dig and rearrange the grass and mud surface to create a cozy and comfortable sleeping environment.
You may have seen dogs turning around in circles, stomping at the ground, and finally laying down in a curled-up position. It is the dog’s way of getting comfortable.
If the floor is cold, scratching at it is the dog’s way of making the sleeping surface more hospitable. During winters, a fluffy carpet makes for a more excellent place to sleep than cold hard floors.
If the dog scratches the floor and carpet only when it is trying to sleep, the reason could seek comfort. You need to look into its sleeping conditions and provide better alternatives.
6. The Dog is Marking its Territory
Do you have many pets in your place? Does your dog get protective or possessive of you when other animals are around? If yes, then scratching the floor could be the dog’s way of marking its territory.
Dogs commonly exhibit territorial behavior, but some have more robust territorial responses than others.
For example, Bull Mastiffs, Doberman Pinschers, and Rottweilers can be territorial as they have been trained to be guard dogs for ages. This, though, should not be looked at as a generalized view of the breed; there can, of course, be exceptions.
Dogs sweat through their paws. The sweat contains scent pheromones, which dogs used to identify one another.
So by scratching the floor and carpet, the dog is trying to spread its scent and let other animals know they are in its territory.
7. The Dog is Looking for Food Crumbs
You may do your best to clean up the house, but there are chances of small food crumbs making their way into the carpet and staying there. If your children run around the house with their snacks or the dog eats wherever it likes, this can be a persistent problem.
As you know, a dog’s smelling sense is far more powerful than ours. If we are to put the power into perspective, the dog can smell a single teaspoon of sugar mixed with the water from two Olympic-sized pools.
Suppose the scratching of the carpet is near the areas you eat. In that case, you need to pay better attention to vacuuming. So, if food crumbs are stuck in your carpet, trust your dog to dig them out.
8. The Dog is Suffering from Health Issues
If scratching the floor and carpet is a sudden and recent behavior, the cause could be a medical issue. The dog could be in pain, and the scratching could be its way of seeking comfort.
Your dog may not be feeling alright, but it may have been unsuccessful in communicating the same to you. The situation can be frustrating for the dog. It may already be uncomfortable with no respite in sight.
As mentioned above, repetitive action can be a good stress reliever.
Keeping an eye on the dog and noting any unusual behavior or symptoms is vital. It can help the vet figure out what is wrong with the pet.
How to Stop the Dog from Scratching the Floor and Carpet?
Now that we have gone through why dogs scratch the floor and carpet, let us look at some solutions that can help.
1. Ensure the Dog Gets Enough Exercise
The right amount of physical activity can help maintain the dog’s digestive health and lower blood pressure. Exercise is one such activity that can do wonders for your pet’s physical and mental health. It can also aid in building muscles and strong bones.
Similar to humans, dogs also release endorphins after a good workout session. This naturally helps make them happy.
For some dogs, a 30-minute walk is a good exercise, while other dogs may require over an hour of exercise daily. For example, Bulldogs and Shih Tzus do not need much exercise. But dogs like Retrievers and Huskies are the complete opposite.
If you are unsure about the type and frequency of exercise, please consult the vet. Dogs that use their energy well are less likely to spend time in destructive activities.
2. Ensure the Dog Gets Enough Playtime
Apart from exercise, ensure that the dog is kept busy during the day in meaningful activities.
According to AKC, dogs like Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, and Dalmatians have mental stimulation needs. Without engaging tasks, the dogs can indulge in behaviors like scratching the floor and carpet.
You can take the dog out for hikes, swimming, or to a dog park or a play center. Here the dog will be participating in activities different from its usual routine. You can hide treats around the backyard and let the pet go on a treasure hunt.
If the dog stays alone at home during the day, ensure it has enough fun toys to play with. For example, you can invest in interactive puzzle games. You can find several toys suited for small to big dogs.
When the dog is engaged, it has meaningful activities to look forward to; it will leave the floor alone.
3. Give it a Comfortable Place to Sleep
Sleeping on a cold, hard floor can be discomforting if your dog is aging or suffers from bone and joint issues. It may worsen the dog’s condition. If the dog scratches the floor at bedtime, then you need to invest in a quality bed for the dog.
The circular bed with raised edges is the one-bed design popular among dogs that show nesting behavior.
The bed imitates the feeling of sleeping in a dug-up hole but is much more comfortable and cozy. The raised edges can also act as pillows and provide additional support to dogs.
You can explore the range of orthopedic dog beds available for dogs with joint issues. These beds have a soft upper layer and a thick, firm lower layer that provides increased support.
4. Spend Time with the Pet
One of the reasons why dogs display attention-seeking behavior is that they genuinely do not receive enough attention from their human parents. They will need more attention than other dogs. Then there are dog breeds like Huskies, Retrievers, Border Collies, and Jack Russell Terriers.
Firstly, try to spend quality time with your pet. You can play together, go for a social date, talk to your pet or give it some belly rubs.
If the dog still scratches on floors to get your attention, you need to stop encouraging the behavior. So the dog scratches; ignore it. If it stops, praise it or give a small treat.
If it does not stop, turn away or leave the room. You can also seek help from professional behaviorists.
5. Investigate Why the Dog is Stressed or Anxious
As mentioned above, if stress or anxiety is the reason for destructive behaviors in dogs, then you need to address the root cause.
If your dog is not okay meeting new people, do not force it to take part in social situations. Instead, introduce it to one friend, let it get comfortable, and then slowly introduce other people.
If loud noises like thunderstorms and fireworks are an issue, give the dog a safe place to relax. Using blankets or cuddling the dog can help. You can also look at noise-canceling headsets for pets that can be used in any loud noise situation.
If the dog seems too stressed, it is best to consult with the vet, as it may require medications.
6. Time for a Vet Visit
If you suspect the dog is behaving differently or in discomfort or pain, it is best to take it to the vet.
You can contact the vet and tell them about your dog’s behavior and changes in its diet or routine. The vet can then determine if the situation demands a clinic visit.
Why do dogs scratch the floor and carpet? There are several reasons dogs resort to destructive behaviors.
The dogs could be bored, stressed, or anxious. They could try to get comfortable, mark their territory, or trying to earn a reaction from you. The behavior could also be the dog’s way of relieving pain.
Ensure the dog gets enough exercise and is engaged in meaningful activities. Also, try to spend quality time with it. These activities make your dog happy, and they will be less inclined to indulge in destructive behaviors.
Suppose the cause is stress, anxiety, or a medical issue. In that case, you can seek help from professional behaviorists or the vet for further treatment.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.