So you have bought a puppy thinking, oh well, at least my carpets are safe from being ripped apart (unless it was a cat). But, you suddenly discover that it wasn’t true, and your fido is scratching its nails into it. The carpet is done for, and you are now in big trouble.
This behavior continues, and now there is a big hole inside your carpet. It has become a habit, and your dog is now taking it out on the cushion. The cycle continues unless checked and sorted.
Dogs are wonderful family pets. They love their home and their owners. But, sometimes, for many reasons, your dog starts chewing or digging into household carpets, cushions, beds, etc. The reason could be a small crumb stuck in the carpet fibers or just trying to make a comfy place to sit. But this happens, and there is nothing serious to worry about.
The problem with your dog digging behavior into the carpet is that it isn’t only limited to the carpet. The issue aggravates as habit develops, and your mutt will move on to other things at home.
To help you understand better, keep reading to learn more about why dogs scratch carpets and how to help them stop.
Dogs enjoy strolls and are playful. The dogs are good at socializing with their owners, family, and neighbors.
Reasons Why Dogs Scratch Carpets
As mentioned above, the reasons your dog scratching a carpet can be a lot. There is no knowing what goes inside your mutt’s head. Canines, however, have a logical reason for everything they do. The following are some of the most common reasons why dogs scratch carpets.
Dogs are playful and love going out for strolls. They have a knack for socializing with their owners, family, and neighborhood dogs. They are always up to something, which is why they are one of the most popular and loving pets.
As a dog owner, you must be busy with your personal life. And hardly ever have time for your fido. As a result, your dog stays locked inside the house all day and doesn’t get any mental or physical stimulation. The frustration keeps building, and as there is no other way to stimulate the pent-up energy, your fido takes it out on the carpet.
Boredom is one of the most likely culprits if your dog scratches carpets. A dog with the habit of daily strolls and exercising when stopped will mostly grow frustrated. It will try to find new sources of entertainment to stimulate the stored energy. It will find new things to play with. And during this, your carpet becomes the target.
If you suspect boredom is the likely cause, you need to give your dog the exercise and training it needs. The lack of socializing and energy buildup is showing its effects, and it’s best to take some time out for your fido.
It is most likely that your dog scratches carpets because of boredom. Dogs who are used to daily strolls and exercise when stopped will mostly become frustrated.
Dogs crave their owner’s attention. If you are busy in your life with personal stuff and your dog is not getting the treatment it needs, then frustration builds up. The frustration and lack of attention make your dog do stuff to get your attention forcibly. And your mutt might start scratching the carpet to get it.
The reason your dog scratches your precious carpet to get attention is simple. It needs a response, and will likely get it by scratching the carpet. Whether positive or not, as long as your dog gets a response, it will be happy to get it.
What you can do is take time out for your dog. Take it out on exercise and walk around the park. The problem will gradually fade away as soon as it gets the attention it seeks. You should also opt for positive reinforcement training and reward him for good behavior when you stop him from damaging the carpet.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Normal behavior that becomes so repetitive that it becomes abnormal is called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Canine Compulsive Disorder. It significantly impairs a dog’s ability to function normally. The most common behaviors that can become compulsive in dogs include chasing their tails all day, snapping at flies, chewing their toys all day, or any behavior that influences their daily activities.
A dog showcasing OCD may show destructive behavior. It will try to chew on its toys, dig the carpet, scratch a pillow, etc. Most often, it results from your dog’s stress or anxiety, absence of mental or physical stimulation, or lack of attention.
Care is needed for dogs showing OCD. You should contact your vet immediately if you suspect compulsive behavior in your dog.
You must have noticed your dog jumping or barking whenever it sees another neighborhood dog or cat. There’s not much it can do about being locked inside the house. So, instead, it starts scratching the carpet to show its excitement.
Dogs scratching carpets or fabrics can be traced back to their training as a pup. Dog owners that let their dogs positively express themselves hardly face this issue. Your dog needs daily outdoor strolls and a trip to dog parks. A dog confined in a household all day without fresh air often manifests feelings by scratching a nearby soft carpet or ground.
Anxiety & Stress
Stress and anxiety are among the leading causes of destructive behaviors in dogs. The anxiety could be the result of separation or fear of something. If your dog starts digging up the carpet as soon as it sees you leaving the front door, it is probably separation anxiety.
Dogs love their owners and love spending time with them. They get attached quickly and hate to see their owners gone for 7 to 8 hours a day. With being locked all day inside and nothing else to do, they wait all day for their parents to return. They spend quality time with you around, and as soon as you start leaving, they manifest their feelings by digging up the carpet or ground close to the front door.
Apart from separation anxiety, your dog could be stressed or has a fear of something. The reason could be thunderstorms, earthquakes, a neighborhood dog, or if a stranger comes over.
There is a reason behind your dog’s every behavior. Instead of showing aggression every time it digs up the carpet, try to understand the cause. If your fido is stressed, comfort it, and show care and compassion. Try to remove him from the stressful situation. Try spending time with him if it is separation anxiety. Most of the time, understanding and care can solve half of the problems related to stress and anxiety.
In addition to separation anxiety, your dog may be stressed or fearful. Storms, earthquakes, dogs in the neighborhood, and strangers could all be to blame.
Searching for Crumbs
No matter how strong your vacuum cleaner is, dogs have the unique ability to smell out the smallest of crumbs stuck in your carpet. And, if it’s their favorite piece of the meal, expect a hole in a couple of minutes.
Dogs are curious and will start digging if they smell something to their taste, whether it is a carpet, ground, or bed. Even if it isn’t the crumbs, anything they find worth exploring, they will start digging as if their lives depended on it. And, if that’s the case, you need to get a powerful vacuum cleaner.
If you suspect that your dog is carpet scratching because of food crumbs, you must thoroughly clean the carpet. Avoid feeding it on the floor, and make sure your family doesn’t either. Your dog will leave the carpet alone if it doesn’t suspect or smell anything.
Making a Cozy Spot to Sleep
Dogs nowadays are living a life of comfort. But unfortunately, this wasn’t the case a couple of decades ago. Many dogs had to survive in harsh weather and conditions. They developed strong instincts to help them survive. And one of them was digging up a hole and making themselves comfortable wherever they sat.
Weather hugely influences the digging instinct of your dog. Like yourself, in cold weather, you tuck yourself inside a blanket. The same goes for dogs, who start digging a hole to keep themselves warm. And unfortunately, they sometimes dig the carpet to make themselves feel comfortable.
This problem is often seen in some old dogs who scratch the carpet to make themselves feel more comfortable when sitting.
Although our dogs now live in very comfortable and suitable conditions, they still turn around in circles and dig the place before sitting. The best solution is to get them a comfy bed and train them to sleep on it.
Dogs have a strong sense of smell. For example, if they smell something out of the ordinary, like a cat, they grow overly suspicious. That is completely normal and part of their protective instincts.
You must have noticed your dog run off around the park or in the local neighborhood and start digging. It smelled something. The same goes for your carpet. The smell won’t be obvious to you, but for your dog, it is. It could be a cat laying there, or you dropped your fido’s favorite food and cleaned it up later. The reasons could be a lot. And, if it suspects something, it will start digging through the fibers.
If you suspect this is the case, get a good carpet cleaner. Make sure your carpet is thoroughly cleaned so that no odor remains. Dogs are curious beings and will get to the bottom if they suspect something. So, it’s best not to give them a chance.
The smell is one of the strongest senses in dogs. They grow suspicious if they smell anything out of the ordinary, such as a cat. Instinctively, they do that as a form of protection.
Defining Their Territory
If you have multiple dogs at home, there is a chance that a power struggle might ensue. That is not only limited to peeing; some dogs scratch or bite things to mark their territory. And in this case, your carpet could very well be the victim.
It is hard to diagnose a power struggle between dogs. But, if there are multiple of them in a single household, it is likely the case. Most dogs tend to dominate other dogs and mark their territory to declare it.
How Can I Stop My Dog From Scratching The Carpet?
There could be several reasons why your dog is scratching the carpet. Getting to the root of the cause is necessary to help your dog quit its habit. Once you understand the cause, it is easy to manage from there.
Proper and adequate training is one of the most fundamental steps in a puppy’s growth. Dogs are lovely pets and rarely ever show aggression. But, sometimes, your dog could manifest aggressive or destructive behavior due to a lack of proper training.
If it is scratching the carpet out of aggression, try redirecting your dog’s attention elsewhere. Try using positive reinforcement training to influence its behavior. Instill obedience, and reward it for good behavior. Train your dog to manage stressful situations. Care and support are needed in stressful situations or if your dog has anxiety.
Dogs have a very strong sense of smell. They can sniff out even the smallest crumbs stuck in your carpet’s fibers. They will not hesitate to dig if they suspect crumbs of their favorite food on the carpet.
Most owners spill wine or drop a piece of food on the carpet and casually clean it. For them, the smell isn’t apparent. But it is for dogs. Thoroughly clean the house with a good vacuum cleaner, and ensure no crumbs or odors are present. A clean carpet will stop them from digging through the carpet, looking for crumbs.
Don’t Punish Your Dog
Most dog lovers get frustrated when they see their pet digging a hole in their favorite carpet. They don’t bother understanding the cause. They rebuke their dog and punish him unnecessarily. That doesn’t solve the problem but instead creates a vicious cycle.
If your dog asks for attention by scratching the carpet, it will want your care and love. But instead, if it gets punished for that, it will only do it more, just like how children are.
Punishing a dog for this behavior instead of getting to the root cause will not solve the problem. It will only aggravate it. Help your dog, try to understand the reason, and instill obedience. Use positive reinforcement to teach discipline and reward it for good behavior. If your dog sees you reacting positively to good behavior, it will only want to do more to please you.
Why Does My Dog Scratch The Carpet at Night?
Dogs have an innate burrowing instinct that forces them to make the place comfortable to sleep in. Even if their bed is comfy, they will turn around in it before finally lying down.
Dogs nowadays are living a comfortable life. But, a couple of years ago, that wasn’t the case. They used to dig up the ground to make it comfortable to spend the night or keep themselves warm in chilly weather. Dogs scratch the carpet at night to set the place before sleeping.
Why Do Female Dogs Scratch The Carpet?
Female dogs scratch the carpet when they are nesting. They do it to ensure a safe place to birth their pups. They may look for a safe and warm place to give birth and keep their pups. And thus, dig up the carpet to secure a place. It is their way of designating a territory to give birth to their pups.
Why Is My Old Dog Scratching The Carpet?
Old dogs scratch the carpet to make themselves more comfortable. They are at the age where their old sleeping carpet isn’t that comfortable anymore. Their body gets sore and starts aching. The best solution is to get your old dog a comfier bed.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.