13 Reasons Why Dogs Suddenly Scratch the Carpet

Two of the most frequent reasons your dog scratches the carpet are an invitation to play or an indication of frustration. But this is not always the case.

Why do dogs scratch the carpet? Other reasons dogs scratch the carpet are:

  • Natural instinct
  • Wanting attention
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Boredom
  • Communication
  • Nesting
  • Searching for food
  • Sickness
  • Presence of pests
  • Looking for comfort
  • It’s fun
  • Setting boundaries

Carpet scratching in dogs often goes unnoticed. However, if this act gets to the point where your carpets get torn, it’s time to take things seriously. Here’s a deeper look into carpet scratching in dogs.

13 Reasons Why Dogs Suddenly Scratch the Carpet

1. Natural Instinct

As much as dogs have evolved from their Gray Wolf ancestors, they still have natural instincts that neither evolution nor selective breeding has removed.

Dogs scratch the carpet as an innate response to try to prepare a cozy sleeping area. Thousands of years ago, dogs would choose a leafy spot on the ground.

They would use their paws to arrange the leaves until the area was fluffy enough to make a bed/den.

Dogs scratch the ground instinctively during warm weather, looking for a cooler spot where the temperatures are slightly lower.

The dog’s next best alternative is the carpet with no dirt, leaves, or hard ground to scratch.

2. Attention Seeking

Dogs are very creative when it comes to seeking attention. It doesn’t matter whether your reaction to them scratching the carpet is positive or negative; the fact is they got your attention.  

If you want your dog to stop scratching the carpet, you have to teach them an alternative behavior to carpet scratching that allows them to get your attention.

3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a common psychological condition in dogs.

The symptoms of OCD develop as a reaction to a series of problems. The top among them is confinement.

Dogs need both mental and physical stimulation to live their best lives. A dog that is couped up with nothing to do can develop OCD.

OCD can present itself with harmful and destructive behaviors like excessive chewing, licking, scratching, and tearing the carpet and other furniture up.

4. Boredom

Watching TV with your dog does little to satisfy their mental and physical demands. Letting your dog roam around the compound on its own doesn’t cut it either.

If you have a busy schedule, it may be hard to provide your dog with the physical and mental stimulation it needs. Aim to make lifestyle changes that make time for your dog the same way you would schedule time for your human friend.

Is your dog particularly intent on scratching the rug you just bought? Dogs are born detectives wanting to investigate everything about any new person or item you bring home.

Your dog may circle the new rug before getting comfortable enough to walk on it to avoid boredom. Dogs want to touch, smell, and scratch it to discover what this new thing is.

Compare it with the new toy you brought home. Your kid will likely stare, turn knobs, play with it, and refuse to let it go until their curiosity is satisfied.

5. Sparking Communication

Even without words, dogs are great communicators. How your dog reacts when you talk to them tells you that they can understand.

Studies show that dogs share the same intelligence level as a two to a 2.5-year-old human child and can understand well over 150 words.

If your dog starts scratching the carpet in your presence, it could be their clever way of sparking a conversation. Such a habit is super common with new dogs.

Scratching the carpet could be your dog telling you that they need to go to the bathroom.

6. Nesting

Is your dog pregnant? Before they are about to give birth, bitches prepare a comfortable place for the new pups.

Dogs would find a hollow tree, dig a trench, or find a cozy shrub for birthing in the wild. It’s instinctual to create a safe space where the pups are not vulnerable to injury, harsh weather conditions, predatory animals, or other dangers.

While it’s unlikely for such hazards to exist in your dog’s home space, they show their untamed side by nesting just as they would in the wild.

7. Anxiety/Fear

Many dogs are afraid of loud noises like gunshots, fireworks, and thunderstorms. While other dogs hide away until the trigger is gone, some dogs scratch the carpet to relieve stress.

Common fear or anxiety triggers for dogs may also include:

  • Moving to a new place
  • A visitor in the house
  • Separation anxiety
  • Construction or ongoing renovations in the house

The act of carpet digging is the dog trying to find an exit to escape the scary trigger.

8. Food Crumbs

Dogs have an incredibly sharp sense of smell, and being on a constant lookout for food sources is another instinctual behavior.

You can clean the carpet as much as you want, but the chances are that your dog will still find little morsels of food if it is persistent.

9. Sickness

Instead of crying or calling for help like humans do, dogs may suddenly start to scratch the carpet when they are sick or in pain. Scratching, in this case, works as a coping mechanism as the dog finds ways to relieve its symptoms.

According to experts, illnesses that set off scratching include brain tumors, arthritis, Thyroid imbalance, skin allergies, or a thorn in their paw.

Call your vet if you notice strange behavior, such as your dog experiencing difficulty standing up, licking their paw, and turning aggressive when you stop them from scratching the carpet or themselves.

There have been cases where dogs scratch themselves or the carpet to the point of bleeding.

10. Pests

Terriers and Dachshunds are bred to track vermin. If you own these dog breeds, it’s no surprise to see them scratching the carpet if pests are in your house.

These dogs can sense roaches, ants, rats, and other pests from a mile away. If your carpet has a pest problem, your dog may scratch and paw at it.

11. Seeking Comfort

Dogs like comfort, and they will rearrange your carpets to their liking to be comfortable.

A dog experiences physical discomfort when the weather is too hot or too cold. In response, the dog will try to eliminate the discomfort or dig a virtual den by digging into the carpet and moving pieces of furniture.  

12. Fun Experience

More often than not, there’s no particular reason why your dog is scratching the carpet. It could be that “dogs’ just want to have fun.”

Scratching the carpet is super satisfying for a dog, and they get a little adrenaline boost from it.

If the dog is bored, sad, lonely, or irritable, they’ll scratch the carpet because it’s fun!

13. Setting Boundaries

Is there a new dog at your neighbor’s house? Did you bring another dog home? If yes, carpet scratching could be your dog marking its territory.

Dogs’ paws have sweat glands that release a scent when they scratch. To humans, the smell is undetectable. But to dogs, it’s an assertion of ownership.

Get Your Dog to Stop Scratching the Carpet

Given that excessive scratching may lead to injury or destruction, It’s better to encourage your dog to quit the behavior. Get your dog to stop scratching by using these tips below.

Contacting the Exterminators

If the awkward scratching results from a pest infestation, the only way to stop it is by removing the pests. Spraying insecticide is a temporary solution. On the other hand, calling the exterminators guarantees that the pest problem will be eliminated once and for all.


Train your dogs by giving them a treat for not scratching the carpet. Smacking your lips is another effective training technique that discourages your dog from scratching the carpet.

Scheduling Time

For a few hours every day, find ways to let your dog blow off some steam. If long hours at work or with the kids barely leave a moment for playtime with your dog, consider alternative ways to keep your dog active.

For example, do you love going to the gym? Newer yet effective ways like exercising your dog on a treadmill are innovative ways to exercise and spend time with your dog.

Bonding with your dog is an easy way to discourage carpet scratching. Bond with your dog by going for regular walks/runs, playing with toys, talking to them, or having cuddle time before sleep.

You may also buy or build your dog a sandbox where he can dig and scratch all he wants.

Temperature Control

If your dog is scratching the carpet out of discomfort, turn on the air conditioning and set it on low during summer when the weather is too hot. During winter, turn the heat on or place heating pads in the dog’s sleeping/resting spot.


A home without a carpet appears dull and anything but cozy.

Understanding why your dog is scratching the carpet is the first step in finding a solution to stop it.

If you can eliminate the trigger for the behavior, it’s much easier to train your dog to do something else besides ruining your carpet.

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