Why Do Dogs Scratch The Carpet

Why Do Dogs Scratch The Carpet? (And How To Stop It)

Does your dog often just tear at your carpet? It can be frustrating when a dog exhibits this kind of destructive behavior.

Why does this happen? Read on to find out.

Why Do Dogs Scratch The Carpet? 

Dogs may scratch the carpet for many reasons. It can be a way to release pent-up energy or ease any form of stress. It might also be a response to something interesting that they see in or on the carpet.

6 Reasons Why Dogs Scratch Your Carpet 

1.   To Ease Boredom

One of the most common reasons behind any destructive behavior from a dog is boredom. When not sufficiently physically or mentally stimulated, dogs build up excessive levels of energy that don’t get to be released.

This causes stress and they have to find ways to express and release the stress, which often means attacking, digging, and scratching at various items.

A carpet is an easy target for a bored dog’s stress. It’s on the floor, it has an interesting texture, and it feels easy to pull apart and dig at!

If your dog’s been cooped up all day and doesn’t have any toys to play with, this could be why they’ve taken to attacking your floors.

2.   To Get Attention

Many dog owners don’t realize that a lot of their dogs’ destructive behavior stems from their accidental reinforcement of that behavior.

For example, if you caught your dog scratching the carpet once and immediately ran to pull them off, your dog may have learned that scratching the carpet is a guaranteed way to get you to notice them.

For pets that want attention, even bad attention is acceptable to them.

You scolding your dog is still a form of attention, and if that’s what your dog wants, they’ll continue scratching the carpet until you stop responding.

3.   As A Symptom Of Separation Anxiety

Dogs who experience separation anxiety often need an outlet for those intense feelings. This typically manifests in destructive behavior, just like with boredom.

Your dog might try to tear up the carpet in desperation and panic.

Dog kissing owner's cheek

Separation anxiety is likely the reason for your dog’s behavior if your dog also becomes very distressed when you leave the house and sticks to you like glue when you’re at home.

If your carpet only gets destroyed when you’re away, your dog’s anxiety may be the root.

4.   To Dig Up Enticing Scents

Dogs use their noses to explore the world around them. They’re able to pick up the faintest traces of unusual or interesting smells.

Many dogs, especially breeds with a history of tracking work, will stubbornly follow those scents until they discover their sources.

Carpets easily pick up on many dirt and debris from our lives. This means they can carry many interesting smells that entice a dog.

If your dog sniffs at your carpet before scratching it, it’s likely trying to dig out the things that it smells.

The same is further exacerbated when it comes to something yummy! When your dog scratches the carpet, does it then appear to be chewing something?

Chances are that they’ve spotted some crumbs or other food morsels in the carpet and are trying to dig them up to eat. 

With their powerful noses, dogs can sniff out even the smallest remnants of food and treats. This is especially likely if you tend to eat around carpets or if your dog is allowed to chew on treats on carpeted surfaces.

5.   To Hide Things

A vast majority of carpets aren’t thick enough to hide anything inside of them, but that doesn’t mean that dogs won’t try it! Lots of dogs feel the impulse to hide things in the ground.

When kept indoors, the best options they have as outlets are soft places like beds and pillows – but carpets are fair game in their eyes, too!

6.   To Hunt Pests

If your dog is scratching a lot at the carpet, that could also be a sign of pests in the carpet. This is especially true for hunting dog breeds but can extend to any dog.

Dogs can track and locate pests and unwanted prey animals easily. This means that if they spot some in your carpet, they might attach and scratch at it in hopes of capturing the pests. 

How To Stop Your Dog From Scratching The Carpet 

To stop your dog from scratching the carpet, you have to first identify the cause behind its behavior. Only then can you apply the right solution to the problem.

The following are some possible solutions:

1.   Provide Sufficient Entertainment

Bored, anxious, and stressed-out dogs will benefit from getting enough stimulation and enrichment to avoid the need for destructive energy release.

To do this, make sure your dog always has some sort of toy or item that they can use, and swap them around regularly to create variety.

You should also make sure that your dog receives the right amount of exercise for its age and breed requirements. Getting tired from physical exercise will prevent pent-up energy that your dog may use to tear up a carpet.

Don’t forget to cater to a dog’s mental stimulation needs, too.

Puzzles, games, and training tasks will keep them occupied and engaged enough that it won’t feel the need to act out.

2.   Redirect The Behavior

When your dog starts scratching at the carpet, calmly redirect them to a more preferable activity that meets the relevant need.

For example, if it’s scratching as a form of play, you may give them a toy or game that allows them to express that playfulness. 

Once your dog redirects its attention to the correct behavior, give them the proper attention and praise. This will encourage your dog to focus on a better activity and will reduce the chance of any carpet-scratching in the future.

3.   Clean Your Carpet Well

If debris and food often get lodged in your carpet, you’ll need a better carpet cleaning routine to keep your dog’s scratching at bay.

Look up some recommended cleaning products and habits for your carpet’s material and texture and try some of those methods to see if they will get rid of the problem.

This also extends to pest control. Make sure that your carpet isn’t a breeding ground for pests! If it is, you might want to call in an exterminator to professionally resolve the problem.

Why Do Dogs Scratch The Carpet Before Laying Down?

You may have noticed that your dog scratches the carpet and other soft surfaces before it lies down. Usually, it might turn around a few times in circles before properly settling, too.

This behavior is linked to generations of dogs past when our canine companions lived in the wild.

Wild dogs don’t have the luxury of carpets! To create a comfortable and safe space to sleep in, they often stomp down the grass in an area and dig up dirt to create the right level of coziness.

This also gets rid of hard or sharp rocks and other debris that may disturb them.

Even though today’s domestic dogs really don’t need to do this, they still do it out of instinct!

A dog who naturally tends to scratch at the carpet will likely need to be trained to stop with redirection and proper reinforcement of more desired behaviors.

Should I Be Concerned About My Dog Scratching The Carpet?

A dog scratching the carpet isn’t usually a sign of a serious health problem. It’s usually a sign of excessive stress, distress, or other forms of discomfort.

Most of these issues do need to be addressed, but they’re usually not innately dangerous. Your concern should lie in addressing the root cause behind the behavior.

Do note that, when your dog scratches the carpet, you should make sure they aren’t ingesting anything they aren’t supposed to, like carpet fibers or unsuitable human foods.

Until you can trust that they won’t scratch the carpet anymore, keep an eye on them when they exhibit this behavior!


A dog scratching at a carpet is usually a symptom of a different problem, such as insufficient entertainment, separation anxiety, dirty carpets, or pest problems.

By addressing the real issue behind the behavior, you can teach your dog to stop ruining your carpets!