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 a 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!
Too Much Energy
If your dog engages in destructive behavior like scratching the carpet, then this might mean that it has excess energy that it needs to use up. While it’s absolutely necessary that it gets rid of this excess energy, you have to find it a better, more productive outlet than destroying your carpet. You can engage your dog in play time, more or longer walks, and provide it with toys that can occupy its time and attention. In short, distract it and take its attention away from the carpet!
Fear or Anxiety
If you notice that your dog starts scratching or digging at your carpet in response to a certain stimulus, then it’s possible that the scratching is a response to anxiety. If it happens when a stranger arrives at your home or when there is a loud clap of thunder, then the scratching may be a manifestation of your dog trying to ‘escape’ the situation.
Separation anxiety can also manifest in this manner and can be observed better if the carpet scratching occurs almost exclusively by the door of your home. You can work with a professional trainer to help make your dog calmer in these situations, to help it cope and help break the habit.
A physical or mental illness may also be the reason why your dog is acting like this. A thyroid imbalance, for instance, can cause your dog to behave destructively. Brain tumors can also be blamed for unusual behaviors in dogs. If the frequency of your dog’s destructive behavior increases, consider asking your vet on how to rule out illness as a reason for it.
Dogs can have Obsessive-Compulsive behaviors too and this means that they will engage in inappropriate and destructive behavior like scratching, chewing, licking and more. OCD can develop in your dog due to the environment that it is in. This can be brought on by stress, poor training, and socialization or excessive confinement. If your dog is engaging in destructive behaviors because of this disorder, you can consult a training or a behaviorist to address it accordingly.
If your dog scratches at the carpet just before laying down on it, then you can attribute the behavior to natural instinct. Wild dogs used to dig in order to have a nest or a den (for expectant mothers) that they can rest securely in. They may also have done this to scare away any critters on the ground that they’re about to lie on. Despite the fact that your dog is domesticated, it may have still retained this instinct from its ancestors. All dogs practically have this habit and the next four reasons are also associated with this.
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.
Just For Fun
For us humans, scratching the floor may not be our first idea of fun. But if your dog is particularly bored, then it may start scratching the carpet to alleviate this boredom. Dogs keep themselves entertained with actions like scratching or digging, just so they have something to do. Again, it’s important to give your dog something more productive to spend its time on if this is the case.
It’s Their Nature
Some breeds have a higher propensity of being diggers than others. For example, terriers are quite known for being such diggers. This can also be exacerbated by the fact that rodents may live under your house (terriers are vermin hunters).
Of course, this doesn’t relieve you of the fact that your dog is destroying pricey items in your home. As such, you can seek ways to keep your dog occupied and make sure its energy well spent, just so it won’t have the chance to destroy any more carpets. Also, you may want to address the rodent issue, if that’s what it is.
If you had just handed your dog a treat or a toy right before it started digging, then this may be explained by their desire to bury the cherished item for safe keeping. Obviously, this is another retained instinctive habit of dogs as we all know carpets don’t act like soil where one can actually bury things in!
You can address this by keeping the treats to an easily consumable minimum and giving toys that will grab their attention immediately so they wouldn’t want to hide it for later.
If you haven’t been around all day and your dog has missed the attention that you usually give, then the scratching may be to grab your attention. Never mind that the reprimands you give are of the negative sort of attention, any kind of attention is good enough for a dog if you’ve been neglecting it.
Spend more quality time with your dog to avoid this from happening, and make it feel appreciated so it won’t resort to destructive behaviors just to catch your attention.
How To Stop It
Know The ‘Why’
Understanding why your dog is being destructive is the first thing that you have to do in order to stop the scratching. As mentioned previously, there can be quite a lot of reasons as to why they are doing this. As such, there may have to be a certain process of elimination to effectively pinpoint the real cause of the behavior.
Address The Reason
Now that you know the possible reason, the next step is then to appropriately address it. If this means getting rid of something (like rodents), then do it. If it means seeking the help of your vet or a behaviorist, then, by all means, do so.
If it means offering your dog a better alternative, then you better get cracking. All of these reasons have an effective way of being addressed, and you just have to find the right ‘how’ depending on the ‘why’.
Constant Commands and Reinforcement
It would also help if you are consistent in reminding your dog to ‘leave it’ or to ‘stop’. In order to get your message across, you must train your dog to stop doing the behavior at your command in exchange for any form of motivator.
This may be food for some, or quality time with belly rubs, even a game with a favorite toy. Be consistent in what command you will give to your dog, and reward them accordingly and consistently if they cease the behavior.
There are a variety of possible reasons why your dog might be scratching your carpet. Some are purely instinctive, some are out of habit and some are out of a response to anxious emotions. Whatever the case, if you want to prevent your next carpet from being ruined, get down to business and try to find out what the cause is so you can quickly address it.