Why Does My Dog Scratch The Carpet

Every pet owner will cringe and feel destructive whenever their dog starts scratching and digging into the carpet. Interestingly, some doggie parents may find this behavior to be a little bit wacky or just simply funny. So, the big question that disturbs most dog owners is “why does my dog scratch the carpet?” Dogs may dig at the carpet for various reasons including anxiety, searching for that crump of food in the carpet threads, a reaction to a particular scent, or the innate dog behavior of preparing their bedding before lying down.

Therefore, the best approach in trying to remedy this annoying behavior is to get to the bottom of the carpet digging behavior. In this article, we highlight more about the behavior and find answers to the big questions:  Why do dogs dig at the carpet before lying down, and why dogs dig at the carpet when they freak out?

We also offer viable solutions to saving your expensive carpets without having to punish your furry friend every time you find your carpet shred into pieces.

Why Does My Dog Scratch The Carpet?

Your pooch might dig into your carpet for any of the following reasons:

1: Breed Type

According to the Humane Society of the U.S., the carpet digging behavior can also be associated with your dog’s breed type. For example, historically, terriers are trained to dig up, seek out, or hunt mice in the ground. So, if you have a Jack Russell terrier in your house, don’t be surprised if he tries to fulfill that innate urge of digging the ground, which in this case is your carpet.

2: Temperature Control

Your doggie may become obsessed with scratching your carpets or sometimes digging so hard at the carpets to find a softer place to lie on. That is mainly why dogs dig at the carpet before laying down.  Temperature control simply means the dog is either feeling too cold or too hot and is trying to fix the issue by digging at the carpet.

Interestingly, the digging behaviors experienced in canines have ancestral origins. Members of the dog family, including wolves, have been associated with this digging behavior; a wolf will dig up a warmer and comfortable den that can protect its young ones away from harsh weather. Dogs may also dig at carpets so as to “fluff off” their beddings or prepare them before lying down.

So, if your pooch keeps digging into your carpet, maybe your furry friend is feeling too cold or too hot and is struggling to find a better option. Although it’s normal for dogs to naturally dig into the dirt, the habit can be annoying if they dig into carpets and furnishings. The habit is often associated with most dogs that don’t have access to old-fashioned soil.

Dog scratching carpet

3: Entertainment

Sometimes, your doggie is simply bored and is trying to find some entertainment. This is often the case for dogs that are lonely most of the time and don’t have toys to play around with. Hence, the dog will try and find a way of blowing off some steam and get some exercise in the process.

Since there is no squirrel to chase, the doggie will keep barking and scratching the carpets instead due to the excess energy. If your dog doesn’t have a companion to wrestle with or chase around the house, the only remaining form of entertainment becomes digging at the carpets.

4: Burying

Members of the dog family such as wild dogs also possess an innate urge to hide their food or any type of possession in the ground. In the process of figuring out a way of hiding their food or toys and other accessories, they’ll dig into your carpet frequently.

This is a pretty straightforward and practical reason as to why dogs do dig at carpets. Your doggie may also be digging at the carpets because he is looking for that single crumb of food from yesterday that is hidden in the carpet threads or instinctively reacting to a particular scent.

5: Separation Anxiety

Some dogs may dig around into carpets simply because they’re excited. A lonely doggie will try to soothe his separation anxiety by digging into the carpet. The dog will simply dig around into the carpets in an effort to try and “find” his absent companion who may have moved away for further studies or other life-related commitments.

As weird as it may sound to new dog owners, a dog can also dig into carpets consistently because he is unhappy and wants to get out of a quiet home or an uncomfortable situation. In fact, your dog may decide to dig at the carpets if he realizes that the act makes him receive the attention he is not getting from you. Even a verbal reprimand is enough attention for your pooch, especially if you often call him away from the carpet scratching using a toy.

6: Territorial Claims

Although humans provide dogs with safe places to rest, in the wild, dogs didn’t have the luxury of sharing their spaces in such a manner. Therefore, they tend to claim their territories as a way of creating secure nests for resting or sleeping. A dog’s paws are capable of releasing a particular scent that is only unique to him alone. So, by scratching at the carpet or any other surface, the dog intends to leave a scent in order to mark his territory.

Dog lying on carpet

How to Altering the Carpet Digging Behavior

A dog digging on an expensive carpet may not be amusing for any dog owner. So, here are a few tips to help you alter this behavior:

1: Provide an Outlet for Excess Energy

It’s normal to find dogs digging at carpets to let out pent-up energy. If you notice that your dog is fond of digging around into carpets when he is idle or simply trying to get some exercise, then you can solve the problem.  Consider options such as taking out your dogs for walks or runs. In the long run, this will help you curb the habit.

2: Provide Comfortable Beddings

Dogs instinctively dig holes to find safe and comfortable resting dens. The habit of digging the carpet is a natural behavior associated with wild dogs and wolves, as well. To stop the carpet digging behavior, you should provide your little cutie with a comfortable pile of blankets or a warm bed for resting.

Simply place the warm blankets near the areas where he usually digs, and make him aware that the bed is his sleeping area. Use some treats and enticing toys to encourage him to frequent the bed area.

3: Ensure Your Dog Is Clean

Certain skin conditions in dogs can cause infinite itching, which may cause the pooch to scratch surfaces, including your carpets. To prevent your dog from scratching at the carpet or rubbing his skin on surfaces, you should regularly check whether he has fleas, skin rashes, or any other diseases. If you suspect anything, use an appropriate flea collar and bath your pup with a safe anti-flea shampoo.

4: File the Dog’s Nails

Always trim and file your pooch’s nails periodically. Wild dogs trim their claws by scratching surfaces and digging holes. Therefore, by keeping the nails of your doggie short at all times, he won’t cause much damage to your expensive carpets whenever he is playing. You can simply use a dog nail clipper or take your pooch to a professional groomer.

5: Train Your Dog Properly

It’s possible to teach your pooch to “stop it” without actually punishing him. Although it may seem like a time-consuming process, if you consistently teach your pup to “leave it” by using irresistible treats such as meatballs, you’ll eventually start making progress. Remember that the training will involve rewarding your dog for positive reinforcement.

6: Distract Your Dog

Learn how to distract your dog from digging at the carpet every time he tries to do it. However, you should be careful about how you do it to avoid making him afraid. You can achieve this by making a loud sound or calling his name so as to distract him from the act.

You can also try other approaches such as playing with your little cutie in the house with toys whenever he starts digging at the carpet. Use this time to start random training sessions such as reinforcing the come and sit command. In other words, all your efforts should be focused on distracting the dog from unwanted behaviors and reinforcing more positive ones. Always reward your pooch every time he switches from the frustrating carpet digging behavior.


Dogs can dig at the carpet simply because they’re anxious, especially when they freak out or due to a number of other reasons as outlined above. This dog carpet scratching and digging behavior may cause serious damage to your carpets in the long run. Instead of investing in new carpets from time to time or feeling frustrated every time you get home and find your carpets in ruins, consider finding out the underlying causes of the behavior.

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