Why Is My Dog Scratching the Carpet?

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 02/15/22 •  11 min read
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Why Is My Dog Scratching the Carpet

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Has your dog started scratching the carpet? Isn’t that what cats do? Why on earth would a dog scratch carpeting? That’s a great question that we’d like to help answer!

We’ve put together some information on the different reasons a dog may scratch carpeting. Near the end of this article, we’ve included some things you might try to keep your dog from scratching the carpet. Let’s get started!

Why is My Dog Scratching the Carpet?

Here are several reasons a dog may start scratching the carpet!

1. Fear & Anxiety

Dogs can easily become afraid and anxious, with some dog breeds more prone to anxiety than others. When these feelings strike, some dogs don’t know what to do. So, they may become destructive as a way to ease these feelings. That’s why a dog may start scratching the carpet.

So, if your dog has started scratching the carpet, it’s important to notice what seems to be causing his stress and anxiety. Some common causes for stress and anxiety in dogs include:

The dog may be trying to relieve his feelings of fear and anxiety; however, some dogs may be trying to dig and run away from what’s scaring them. So, it’s possible your dog is trying to dig his way out and escape what’s causing his fear and anxiety.

2. Boredom

Boredom is another common cause of dogs scratching the carpet or otherwise being destructive. The reason for this is the dog may have a ton of pent-up energy. So, he’s releasing it by digging in the carpet!

So, if your canine companion all of a sudden starts digging in the rug, it’s time to pay attention. See if you can tell what’s causing him to dig like this. Have there been recent changes in your life? Are you working longer hours and not spending as much time with your dog? Are you taking him for walks or spending time playing with him outside regularly? If not, then this may be causing his boredom.

When dogs have too much energy, they have to release it somehow. That’s why some dogs chew up everything in sight, dig in the carpet, and more. They’re releasing energy that’s built up because they’re not getting enough exercise and have become bored. Your fur baby needs something to do!

3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Dogs, like humans, can suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This can develop for several reasons. For instance, if a dog doesn’t receive enough exercise, they may have too much energy and become stressed. This may lead them to develop OCD. Dogs with OCD may dig, scratch, lick, or chew.

So, ask yourself if your dog is spending too much time locked up. Is he spending too much time alone? Does he seem to have too much energy? Has he started obsessively licking, chewing, or scratching the carpet? If so, then it’s time to consult the vet.

4. Looking for Attention

Another reason dogs scratch the carpet is because they’re looking for attention. This may also go along with boredom.

Have you ever been around young children? We don’t mean to say they’re like dogs; however, there are some similarities between young children and dogs. For instance, a child may try to get a parent’s attention by doing something they shouldn’t. A child may draw on the floor with a crayon, for instance. They do this only because they want attention. Even negative attention is better than no attention. It can also be the same way for dogs.

Dogs may try to get your attention by doing something they know they shouldn’t. Instead of drawing the floor, your fur baby may chew or scratch up the carpet! Or they may do something else that they know will quickly grab your attention. And just like a young child, the dog may be searching for any kind of attention, even negative attention.

What’s more, dogs learn quickly. If they know being naughty grabs your attention, they’ll do more naughty things. Your dog may choose another area of the rug to scratch, or he may go on to destroy something even larger. It’s hard to say. But one thing is certain—your dog’s trying to get your attention through being naughty.

5. Digging Up Crumbs

Another common issue is that dogs have very sensitive noses. This means they can smell even the tiniest tidbit that may fall into the carpet. While you may keep your home and carpet immaculate, the vacuum cleaner doesn’t pick up everything. So, it’s possible your dog has smelled something good and is trying to dig it out of the carpet!

So, pay attention to where your dog is digging. Is this area often used for meals or snacks? If so, you may want to vacuum it more often. When you notice your dog is digging in a certain spot, it’s a good idea to vacuum the area right away.

In addition, it may be helpful to spend more time vacuuming, especially those areas where food is eaten regularly. The goal is to remove the crumbs your dog finds so enticing! After you vacuum, pay attention to see if your dog returns to that spot. Does he start digging again? Then you may need to re-vacuum the area.

6. Illness

Some illnesses may cause your dog to start scratching the carpet. This may sound a bit strange, but it’s true. Scratching is a method dogs may use to release a feeling such as pain or other issues. Some common illnesses that may cause a dog to dig in the carpet can include:

If your canine companion has started digging in the carpet and you can’t find the reason, then it’s best to call the vet. Definitely call the vet if you notice your dog:

These could be signs of a health issue, so be sure to call your vet right away if your dog is showing these symptoms.

7. Making a Place to Sleep

Another reason a dog may scratch the carpet is to make a comfortable place to sleep! Many dogs love digging up the area they sleep in and then turning circles before finally lying down. This behavior has carried over from our dog’s wild wolf ancestors. Those canines will work hard to make a comfortable den where they can sleep. After all, they didn’t have comfy dog beds like our fur babies do today!

In addition, our dogs’ wild ancestors dug wholes in the ground to stay cooler in summer or warmer in winter. Wild canines still do this today.

Some dogs may try to dig up the carpeting as a way of making a comfy place to sleep. In addition, a dog may dig up the carpet trying to get cooler or warmer.

If your dog starts digging a place to sleep in the carpet, especially if he’s older, it’s a good idea to call the vet. It could be your dog is suffering from a painful condition such as arthritis.

8. Pests

Something you may want to consider is that your canine companion is digging up the carpet to get at pests! Certain pests, such as rats and insects, may find the carpet an inviting place to hide or travel around your home.

When a dog hears, smells, or sees these pests in the carpeting, he may try to dig them out! This type of behavior is very strong in dogs originally bred to hunt rats and other small animals.

9. Something Smells Good

Your carpet may also harbor smells that entice your dog. As a way to get to the smell, your fur baby may dig right through the carpeting! Dogs love to get at things that smell good to them. However, some of the smells they prefer aren’t so great to us. Some dogs love nothing better than rolling in dead things or trying to get at another animal’s poop, and more. Yuck!

If your carpet happens to contain an enticing odor, it’s entirely possible your canine companion may try to get at it by digging.

Here, again, you may want to try vacuuming the area. If that doesn’t work, it may be necessary to clean the carpet with a machine and carpet-safe detergent. Chances are, once the smell is gone, your dog will stop digging there. So, investing in a good carpet cleaner may help solve the problem.

10. Excitement

When some dogs become excited, they may try to dig. This may be digging up dirt outside or digging carpet in the house! It may seem as if there’s no rhyme or reason to your dog’s digging. But we guarantee that he has a very good reason for digging! He may be very excited about something!

Some dogs are more excitable than others. If your dog tends to be this way, you may want to try distracting his attention to something else. You could try an interactive toy or treats to distract him. Another option is to take your dog for a walk. These are some ways to help reduce your fur baby’s excitement and get him to stop digging up your carpet!

11. Hiding Things

Another common reason dogs may dig in the carpet is to hide something. Does your dog try to dig and hide things in your houseplants? If so, he may also try to dig and hide things in the carpeting.

Dogs may try to hide bones, toys, and more in a hole in the carpet. They may try to keep another pet in the home from getting these treasures!

12. Some Dog Breeds are Natural Diggers

Finally, some dog breeds are natural diggers. They love nothing more than simply digging for the fun of it, whether that’s outside or inside digging the carpet!

Some dog breeds, such as terriers, were bred to hunt and dig small animals from their dens. About the only way to curb this behavior is through plenty of exercise and providing your fur baby with a bunch of toys he loves!

How to Stop Your Dog from Digging the Carpet

So, what can you do to keep your dog from digging the carpet?

Spend Time with Your Dog

One of the best ways to get your fur baby to stop digging the carpet is to spend time with him. If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety or boredom, being with him more can help. You might try these methods to spend more time with your dog:

Training

Another way to stop your dog from digging the carpet is to spend time training him. When your dog starts scratching the carpet, try to get his attention by making a sound right away. You might try whistling or snapping your fingers, for instance.

You might also try tempting him away from the digging spot with a treat. But make sure you’re taking him away from the scratching zone.

If these methods don’t work, you may want to consult with the vet or a professional dog behaviorist. They may have better ways to stop your dog from scratching. The vet may also check your dog for any health or behavioral issues your canine companion could have.

Call an Exterminator

If you have pests in the home and/or in the carpet, then it may be time to call in an exterminator. Calling in a professional means the job is done correctly and thoroughly. Trying to get rid of pests on your own can poison everyone in the home, including your dog. Or you may not use the right methods to get rid of the pests you have.

So, it’s best to call in a professional exterminator if you have a pest problem.

Summing It Up

When your dog is scratching the carpet, he may have a logical reason for what he’s doing. However, your job is to see why he’s digging in the carpet and then find the best way to help him stop this behavior. It may mean consulting with a vet or other professionals, but it’s best to solve the problem right away. You and your dog will be happier for it!

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Julie

Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.