Updated at: 24-12-2021 - By: petexpert

‘Why is my dog scratching the carpet?’ If your dog has always scratched beds, rugs, or carpets, then the behavior isn’t new. But if the scratching begins all of a sudden, it can be confusing or alarming to a pet parent.


Has your dog been scratching at your carpet persistently? While this behavior is not a critique on your decorating skills, you start to be frustrated with carpet after carpet being ruined. You’ve tried reprimanding your dog, but it doesn’t seem to be effective in stopping your dog. You’re at your wits’ end trying to figure out how to stop your dog, but you may have failed to recognize the real reason why your dog is engaging in such destructive behavior. In this article, we’ll take you through some possible reasons and what you can do to finally stop your dog from scratching out yet another carpet!

Why Is My Dog Scratching The Carpet?

The reason why a dog might scratch the carpet is due to an instinctive reaction to a scent. Many dogs scratch before laying down to fluff up the carpet or rug. It is an innate behavior. Other reasons include boredom, anxiety, territory marking, to find food crumbs, or roaches.

Reasons Why is My Dog Scratching the Carpet ?

1. An innate reaction to a scent

Dogs are well-known for their strong sense of smell. They have powerful olfactory receptors in their noses which makes them so good at detecting scents that human noses cannot.

If the carpet has a scent, (it could be the dog owner’s scent, another pet’s scent, or a visitor’s scent), then a dog might scratch at it. It could also be a food scent that can be very tempting to your dog. This is a completely natural, innate or instinctive behavior – a dog simply has to do what it is genetically wired to do.

So, there is nothing to worry about if your dog starts scratching the carpet all of a sudden. In the subsequent sections, we have some tips that can help you distract your dog from excessive or obsessive scratching.

2. Natural digging instinct before laying down

According to the experts at AKC, many dogs have a bedtime ritual of digging or scratching the carpet before lying down to rest.


Digging behavior can occur due to numerous factors ranging from hunting instincts or genetics, stress-relief, and boredom.The AKC experts further mention that scratching and digging behavior isn’t really an issue and that dog owners should even expect it if they have a hunting or terrier dog breed.

The digging also helps your dog fluff up the rug or carpet to get a cushioning, comfier bed! The scratching also helps warm up the carpet a bit and that could be what most dogs are after. Therefore, dog owners need not worry if their pet only digs or scratches just before laying down on the bed, rug, or carpet.

3. Boredom or loneliness

In fact, Dr Youens states that a dog’s emotional range is comparable to that of a young child’s. They are capable of missing companionship and can show signs of loneliness. Digging or scratching activity gives some solace to your dog. So, if your dog scratches at bed linen or carpet when you are not at home, then the reason could be boredom or loneliness.


4. Anxiety or stress

Dr. Malcolm Weir DVM of VCA Hospitals attributes excess carpet scratching and other destructive behaviors to stress or anxiety in dogs.

Dogs that are stressed or anxious tend to show ‘displacement behavior’ meaning that they do one action because they are forbidden from doing another. The scratching of carpet helps provide some solace from stress or anxiety and that is why a dog may do it repeatedly.

5. Marking territory

Dr. Debra Horwitz, DVM of VCA Hospitals believes that dogs often scratch new rugs and carpets to mark their territory. This can explain most of the isolated incidents of carpet scratching.

For example, many dogs scratch carpets or urinate inside other people’s homes when visiting. They may also mark their territory by scratching newly renovated floors, or recently purchased area rugs, throws, furniture upholstery etc.

Dr. Horwitz states that mostly it is the unneutered male and female dogs that indulge in such territory marking. It is due to hormonal influences, sexual arousal, and sometimes due to stress and anxiety. Neutering can significantly curb this type of scratching behavior.

6. For food crumbs

Dogs are basically scavengers and they will always look out for food. A carpet is often a dirty place because it contains food, leftovers, spills from the party the night before, and so on. If you have kids at home, then the rugs and carpets will have a variety of foods and beverages on them.

When a dog scratches a carpet, it may be due to the food’s smells. Digging and scratching brings up the food bits that are embedded deep into the carpet where the vacuum cleaner may have missed. A dog could easily bring those crumbs out for eating.

If you suspect your dog is searching for food crumbs, try vacuuming more frequently or place heavier mats or rugs to protect the carpeting.

Marking Their Territory

There are glands at the bottom of your dog’s paws that secrete an odor that they use to mark their territory. The scent is enhanced even more by the action of scratching, so this may explain why your dog ‘attacks’ the carpet. This can be intensified if your dog has other canine siblings that can pose a danger to their ‘territory’.


To Get Comfortable

You may have noticed that your dog tends to scratch at the ground just before they settle down to sleep. This is because dogs use this to either cool down or warm up the sleeping area (depending on the temperature of the environment which they want to neutralize) and to find that comfortable position that they can rest in.

If your dog is doing this because they feel hot or cold, you can adjust the thermostat accordingly. Take into consideration these cues because your dog’s comfort matters too.

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