6 Reasons Your Dog is Scratching the Carpet

Dog laying on rug
© N K/Shutterstock.com

Written by Amber LaRock

Updated: October 13, 2023

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Our canine companions can adopt many strange behaviors that get under our skin. Scratching the carpet is one of them. Scratching can cause serious destruction in your rugs and carpets, like fraying, fading, and holes.

To preserve your sanity, let’s help you get to the bottom of your carpet-digging pup’s undesirable behavior. We discuss common factors driving a dog’s carpet-digging behavior and offer some tips on how to stop them!

Let’s get started!

Why Do Dogs Scratch or Dig?

Dog digging in yard

Digging is an ingrained canine behavior that all dogs participate in, as it was once a key to their survival in the wild!


First, let’s get to the root of a dog’s desire to dig. Digging is an ingrained canine behavior that all dogs participate in. It was once a key to their survival in the wild!

Our pup’s wild ancestors dug holes for many different reasons. They chased burrowing prey, created safe dens for their growing puppies, and escaped the summer heat by resting in the cool soil. While our dogs may not need to fend for themselves any longer, their desire to dig still exists.

Your pup is not scratching or digging at your carpet in an effort to survive. However, their instincts are still driving the behavior. Understanding the underlying factors behind your dog’s scratching will allow you to put an end to the behavior moving forward! Now that you have some background on this natural behavior, let’s break down the potential reasons for your dog’s scratching.

Cute dog on carpet

Carpet scratching in dogs can cause serious destruction in your home.


1. It’s in Their DNA

All dogs are born with the desire to dig, but certain breeds are more prone to the behavior than others. In fact, some breeds were specifically bred to dig and chase prey out of their underground dens. This leads to them seeking out any opportunity to dig. These pups may dig wherever they get the chance, whether it’s in your living room or your backyard.

Some of the dog breeds that are known to dig the most include Jack Russel terriers, rat terriers, dachshunds, Scottish terriers, huskies, basset hounds, beagles, border collies, and cairn terriers. These breeds don’t always participate in destructive digging, but owners need to keep an eye out for these behaviors. You should also make sure these pups are getting enough daily exercise. Additionally, boredom will increase the risk of destructive digging.

2. They Are Bored

Digging and scratching are fun for some pups, so it’s not uncommon for dogs to engage in this behavior when boredom strikes. This is especially true if they do not have a regular exercise routine or plenty of toys to play with. If a dog is bored enough, they can scratch your carpet to the point of causing serious damage.

If you think boredom is the culprit, then it may be time to increase your pup’s exercise. You can do this by taking them on daily walks or hikes. Play sessions are also great; try frisbee or tug of war!

3. They Want Your Attention

Do you always engage with your dog immediately after you see them scratching at your carpet? Maybe you call them over to you each time in an effort to get them to stop. If this is the case, your dog could be scratching your carpet for attention. They might have learned that participating in this behavior gets your eyes on them. And you may be accidentally reinforcing the behavior.

If you think your dog’s carpet scratching is attention-seeking, then it is best to be careful about how you respond to this behavior in the future. The next time you catch your furry friend scratching at your carpet, we suggest simply walking away. Your pup will soon learn that this behavior will not offer them the attention they seek. When they make this connection and stop digging, you can reward them by re-engaging.

4. They Smell Something Interesting

Have you noticed your dog smelling the carpet on which they are digging? Are they only scratching at the spot in which they had an accident a week prior? If this is the case, they might be scratching at the carpet in an effort to investigate the scent. The best thing to do in this situation is to clean the area thoroughly and make sure there are no interesting scents left behind. We suggest using an enzyme carpet cleaner, as this is the best way to break down the bacteria-causing odor.

5. They Are Seeking Comfort

Does your dog only scratch the carpet right before he settles down in the same spot for a nap? If this is the case, then your dog is likely trying to make the area as comfortable as possible. You may also see your dog spinning in circles after scratching; this is just another way of settling in properly.

If you think your dog is simply trying to get comfortable, then we suggest buying a cozy dog bed. You may also want to add some soft blankets to their bed, as digging dogs love to burrow. Once they have a super comfy bed, they will no longer dig at your carpet.

6. They Are Anxious

Does it seem like your dog only scratches your carpet during moments of stress? Maybe they scratch when left alone when loud noises are present, or when other animals are around. Anxious digging is quite common among nervous pups. If they are not outdoors, then your carpet might be the only surface available to “dig.”

The best way to deal with anxious digging is by relieving their stress as much as possible. Try tiring them out so they do not have pent-up energy. Don’t leave them alone for long periods and make sure they have engaging toys to occupy their time. Playing soothing music during storms or other loud events can also be helpful. Reaching out to your vet for anxiety medication is also a viable option.

Why is my Dog Scratching the Couch All of a Sudden?

A basenji scratching and digging bed

Dogs, like this basenji, often scratch and dig at their bed before lying down.

©Yuri Kravchenko/Shutterstock.com

While it may be normal behavior when a dog scratches the couch they are doing so for a variety of reasons, just as they do with your carpet. It can be comfort or attention-seeking, due to allergies, nesting or burying treasures, looking for cool locations, separation anxiety, and even health reasons.

However, at times, it could also be a sign of a medical condition, as with older dogs who may have arthritis or other musculoskeletal conditions. Specifically on the couch, or wherever else they have decided to make their beds, they may simply be trying to find a comfortable position to lay in that lessens their pain.

Final Thoughts

The cause of your dog’s carpet scratching could be due to a wide variety of factors. We hope this article brings awareness to potential causes of digging behavior and helps make your situation a bit less frustrating.

Try to guess your dog’s reason for scratching and implement some of the resolutions mentioned above. You’ll be able to tackle this strange canine habit in no time!

Summary of 6 Reasons Your Dog is Scratching the Carpet

NumberReasons for Scratching
1It’s in Their DNA
2They are Bored
3They Want Your Attention
4They Smell Something Interesting
5They are Seeking Comfort
6They are Anxious
Summary Table of 6 Reasons Your Dog is Scratching the Carpet

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About the Author

Amber LaRock is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics surrounding pet health and behavior. Amber is a Licensed Veterinary Technician with 12 years of experience in the field, and she holds a degree in veterinary technology that she earned in 2015. A resident of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Amber enjoys volunteering with animal rescues, reading, and taking care of her two cats.

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