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Why Does My Dog Scratch the Carpet and Floor?

Dogs are our best friends, of course. Yet, our canine companions can sometimes exhibit some infuriating behaviors. Tearing apart the house by scratching and chewing is one of them. Have you ever seen your dog scratching the carpet and floor like it’s digging a hole outside in the dirt?

If you’ve ever wondered why your dog does this, read on to find out:

  • Why dogs dig holes
  • Why dogs scratch the carpet and floor
  • How to stop dog from scratching the floor and carpet
  • Things to consider about your dog

Why Dogs Dig Holes

If you’ve seen your dog scratching at your carpet or flooring and have thought that it resembles when dogs dig outside, you’re on to something.

When dogs scratch at the floor, they are essentially enacting a digging behavior that comes naturally to them, just like wagging their tail, sniffing, or barking.


Digging is an instinctual act for dogs, as it comes directly from their wolf ancestors. For wolves or other wild dogs, digging has always been a way to make a shelter of sorts.

Wolves will dig holes in the ground to sleep in because it means that they’re not just sleeping out in the open (and therefore are vulnerable).

Digging holes to rest in is also done by wild dogs to keep themselves cool when it’s hot.

Hiding Things

If not for sleeping, another reason for wolves and dogs to dig is to bury their food to hide
any trace of them being there. Hiding their tracks is another way for wolves to circumvent
being hunted or endangered by others.

Prey Drive

There are also types of dogs that were bred specifically to dig for prey. For example,
dachshunds were bred to dig and wrangle up rabbits and badgers that hide underground.

Their short legs and elongated torso help them wriggle through the holes that they dig. If your dog was bred as a hunter, it might be more likely to dig (whether outside or inside ).

Claiming Territory

Dogs will also scratch at the ground without actually digging. You may see your dog scratch at the grass after going to the bathroom, or you may just see an increase in scratching at the ground when you and your dog are out and about.

That’s because dogs have pheromones in their paw pads. When they rub their paws on the ground, it’s leaving their scent there and essentially, claiming territory over that spot.

Reasons Why Your Dog Scratches the carpet and Floor

So why do dogs have the urge to reenact this digging instinct indoors? Here is more insight to help clear things up:

Separation Anxiety

Your dog might be scratching at the carpet and floor when he’s left alone at home. It’s how he deals with fear and anxiety. That’s why it’s important to train your dog to stay home alone.

Alternatively, you can hire a pet sitter or leave him with his favorite toys to keep him entertained until you get back home.

Getting Comfortable

Since dogs have that instinctual pull to “make a bed” via digging, you may find that your dog scratches at the floor to mimic that notion.

If you see your dog scratching into the carpet before laying down, that natural instinct may just be extra potent in your dog.

Territory Protection

Similarly, your dog may be scratching at the ground to claim its territory. Even though a dog will feel safe in its home when it’s with you, the urge to claim territory still may be present if your dog has an alpha-type attitude.

Obsessive Behavior

Your dog may have some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Dogs’ OCD can appear in many forms, such as spinning, tail chasing, self-mutilating, circling, etc. Speaking of circling in dogs, learn how to stop your dog from circling you.

But sometimes OCD behaviors can be scratching the floor and carpet, which is the case here.

To stop this behavior, try to redirect him to other activities in order to distract him. If he becomes aggressive and won’t listen, you need to see your vet immediately for help.

Your Dog Is Bored

Unlike the previously mentioned instinctual reasons for scratching at the floor, there might be other reasons causing this behavior. If your dog is bored, it might very well resort to trying to dig its way through your carpet.

Excess Energy

Many dogs who desperately need to get energy out will resort to some pretty interesting
methods. Digging may just be a way for your dog to distract itself and get some activity in.

This is especially common in high-energy dogs who are living a low-energy lifestyle. If their lifestyle is not conducive to their breed type, they’ll resort to entertaining themselves indoors.

How to Stop Your Dog from Scratching The Carpet and Floor

Just like humans, exercise releases endorphins in dogs and makes them feel more content.

If you’d like to try and curb the floor scratching behavior, try taking your dog out for more exercise and play.

When the dog feels well and happy, it’s less likely to be obstructive and obsessive. It will put its mind at ease, so it’ll be less likely to go looking for stimulation in all the wrong places.

Spending plenty of time outdoors may also satisfy your dog’s instinctual urge to scratch or dig.

If your dog gets to dig outdoors, as well as scratch the ground to claim territory, it might be less likely to do it in your house because it’s done a satisfactory amount of this behavior outside already.

If that’s not enough for your dog, consider getting it some interactive toys that will keep its paws busy and out of the carpet.

There are interactive toys that you can buy meant to give your pup a challenge as well as a chance to dig at something.

You can get ones with squeaky toys that the dog has to burrow out, such as this one. There are also ones that have treats, such as this one, but your dog has to figure out how to get to them on their own.

Closing Thoughts on Your Dog Scratching the Carpet

Any behavior that a dog will exhibit can be either natural or something that would provoke
concern. It doesn’t matter so much as to what the behavior is, but more how it is done, such as how often or in what manner.

It’s up to you as the owner to decipher if it’s something that you can simply train your dog to do differently or if you need further assistance in addressing it.

If you notice your dog scratching at the floor obsessively, it could also point to anxiety, stress, or compulsive tendencies.

It’s essential to look at other behaviors that your dog exhibits to see if you can piece together whether this is a concerning behavior or not.

Try and see if your dog behaves this way at certain times of the day or if the digging is paired with another worrisome behavior.

Photo of author
Lisemaine is a dog lover. She currently owns two Frenchies and enjoys working with and training them. She'll share her best tips with you to keep your Frenchie happy, healthy, and active.

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