What is it about a carpet that seems to make a dog interested in scratching through it? If you have carpet or rugs in your house, how often have you heard them trying to dig through the material? This destructive behavior may seem cute at first, but easily becomes frustrating. You may be wondering why does my dog scratch the carpet?
The answer to this question isn’t one single reason. Different breeds and personalities all play a part in this behavior. In order to resolve this behavior, it may be helpful to find the root cause as well.
Why Does My Dog Scratch The Carpet - Possible Reasons
Energy To Burn
If you have a high energy dog, then he or she is looking for a way to be active and use up some of that exuberance. When this happens, your pet will sometimes exhibit strange behavior. For example, some dogs run furiously around the house for no apparent reason.
Other times they may dig or scratch at the carpet. This is more common in larger breeds of dogs or ones that are naturally high energy. Keep note of whether your dog starts to do this when he gets rambunctious.
Nervous or Scared
When it comes to stress and anxiety, dogs need an outlet for their feelings. If your dog starts to dig at the carpet in response to a stimulus, then it may be for this reason.
For example, you may notice your dog has a fear of storms and always does this during thunder. Some dogs who are afraid of strangers may do this when someone unknown comes to the house.
This can also be done as a symptom of separation anxiety. Have you noticed that you come back to a scratched carpet every time you leave the house? This is a fairly common symptom when determining why your dog scratches at the carpet.
Change in Household Circumstances
Sometimes changes in the routine of the house can impact on the anxiety of your dog similarly to the scenarios in the previous section.
This may be an addition to the household whether that be extra people and or a new dog. This jolt to the normal status quo can sometimes cause anxiety. Other changes such as building work, layout changes etc. may also be a factor.
Dog Has an Injury or Ailment
Abnormal behavior like constantly scratching the carpet may in very rare cases indicate either a physical or mental condition.
It is likely this will only be able to be diagnosed by a veterinarian but it can happen. For example, thyroid imbalances can lead to destructive behaviors. When this occurs, your dog may scratch obsessively.
Also, brain tumors can cause strange behaviors. Take note of your dog’s behavior and its frequency. Talk to the vet about this in order to test for any causes.
Obsessive or Compulsive Behavior
Some dogs may develop obsessive behaviors that make them behave in an inappropriate or destructive manner.
Dogs are creatures of habits and these are not always desirable ones. This may result in carpet scratching but they often is exhibited in other behaviors as well.
For example, you may notice that the dog is chewing, pacing, or licking to a strange degree. Dogs may develop these types of behavior due to their lifestyle and may tie back into a need for exercise. This is more common in certain types of breeds as well as certain types of living situations.
All of these causes may be challenging to take note of, making it difficult for you to determine the root cause. The best way to find out what’s causing the behavior is to take note of when it happens and how often. Talk to your vet about these worrying behaviors. A vet may be able to help you by providing expert advice or recommending treatment options moving forward.
How Can I Stop My Dog From Scratching The Carpet?
Once you have a better idea of what’s causing this behavior, you’ll be able to find an effective treatment option. The solution will likely depend on the root cause but these are some of the options to tackle the ‘scratching’ issue.
Discipline and Training
To stop your dog from scratching the carpet you should first let them know that this is a behavior you do not want to see. A firm ‘no’ should suffice. If you have started training your dog they should recognize this command.
Allied to exercise and simulation discussed later training your dog (clicker training explained) to be calm and to redirecting them to more desirable activities will help. Simple things like getting your dog to settle with a chew toy will occupy them and relieve boredom. Introduced effectively they will re-divert your dogs attention.
Provide an Outlet for High-Energy Dogs
If you find that your dog scratches due to boredom, then you need to make sure that your pet it stimulated and has an outlet for his energy.
Sometimes this behavior can be resolved simply by taking your pet on walks or runs. Playing with your dog is also a great option to tire your dog and also stimulate mentally.
If you have a busy schedule and don’t have time, then you may want to hire a dog walker or dog sitter. Doggy daycare often has a good outlet for pent-up energy. Consider which option will work best for you and your pet.
Make Sure They Have Good Bedding
Dogs usually want a comfortable place to sleep. Digging a hole is actually an instinctive behavior in most dogs. A dog will dig a hole in the ground in order to make a bed that is cozy so they often scratch the carpet to make a more comfortable space.
This may be resolved by getting your dog a comfortable bed or providing with a pile of blankets. In order to reinforce good behavior, consider putting the bed or blankets in the area where the dog scratches. It may also be a good idea to put some treats there to encourage your pet.
Consider a Dog Behaviorist
A dog behaviorist or therapist can help dog owners reinforce good behaviors and eliminate undesirable ones. Although you may be trying to curb this behavior on your own, a behaviorist is an expert in finding effective solutions.
Depending on the reason for the behavior, your behaviorist may recommend certain training techniques or other therapies.
If you notice any worrying behavior like excessive carpet scratching, it’s always a good idea to discuss this with your vet. Most vets, especially family vets, are familiar with any number of dog behaviors. They may be concerned about medical reasons for scratching.
Your vet can diagnose or rule out some health causes with blood or similar tests. Depending on the symptoms your dog is displaying, you should discuss this with your vet and then perform any recommended tests. If the behavior has a cause such as a thyroid problem, then it may be able to be treated with medication.
Resolving Dog Carpet Scratching
The key to keeping your carpet free from excessive scratching is making sure that you find the cause of this behavior. Take note of this habit in your pet as well as any other unusual or concerning behaviors. Talk to your vet as one of the first steps and you may be able to find the root cause.
The good news for most pet owners is that the cause is often anxiety or boredom. Some simple changes to your routine may be all that’s needed to treat this behavior.
Author: Matt Short
Enthusiastic Poochon/Bichpoo/Bichonpoo (how many names) Owner. Husband, father and dog walker extraordinaire.