Why Does My Dog Scratch The Floor?

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Why Does My Dog Scratch The Floor?

If your dog has a habit of scratching at the floor then you might be wondering why?

Some dogs will only do this occasionally whereas others will do it repeatedly, which can be quite frustrating if your carpet is getting destroyed in the process.

In this article, we will explore the reasons why your dog might be scratching and digging and ways you can help curb the habit.

7 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Scratching At Your Floor

There are many different reasons why your dog might scratch and dig at the floor.

Let’s explore each one in turn.

Why Does My Dog Scratch The Floor

Your Dog Is Bored

Your dog might scratch at the carpet or the ground out of boredom.

If your dog doesn’t receive enough mental stimulation or exercise, then he may resort to other ways to keep himself busy.

Many dogs enjoy digging and it gives them something to do.

Sadly, unless your dog has somewhere of his own to dig (like a large sandpit) then this may result in your lawn or yard being destroyed, or even your soft furnishings indoors.

Your Dog Has Anxiety Or Fear

Some dogs will scratch at the floor because they are feeling anxious or scared.

This is commonly seen in dogs with separation anxiety, but also in dogs that have phobias too.

Fireworks or thunderstorms are common triggers for many dogs.

They may be digging to try and escape from what it is that is scaring them, destroying flooring and doors in the first place.

Dogs with separation anxiety hate being left on their own, this is often seen with rescue dogs.

They may scratch and dig either as a way of trying to get back to you or as a way of relieving some of the stress they feel.

Dogs with this type of anxiety will often howl or cry when left alone.

They may chew and destroy things as well as pee inappropriately in the house too.

This Is Just A Dog’s Instinct

If your dog is scratching the ground, he may be doing it out of instinct.

It is a behavior ingrained in them that their ancestors in the wild would have done.

Wild dogs and wolves are known to bury scraps of food or carcasses, to save for later.

Covering them in earth stops the food from being exposed to the air and from going bad.

It also stops other scavengers from finding it too.

While your dog may not do the same thing with his dry kibbles, he might demonstrate this behavior with a chew or a toy, burying it in your yard to go back to later.

Wild dogs will also dig to make dens or depressions in the ground so that they can have shelter while sleeping.

Your dog may dig himself a cozy nest in your flower bed.

Your Dog Is Attention Seeking

Your dog may be scratching because he receives attention for it.

By shouting at your dog, or perhaps even laughing or clapping, you are inadvertently rewarding his actions.

Some dogs are not fussy about whether they receive negative or positive attention, they just want a reaction from you, particularly if you have been a bit distracted or ignoring them recently.

If you react each time they dig this can reinforce the behavior meaning he does it again and again.

Your Dog Is Territory Marking

Some people believe that dogs scratch at the ground to mark their territory.

Dogs have sweat glands on their paws which will leave traces of scent as they dig or scratch.

The physical marks that your dog leaves on the ground, as well as seeing your dog performing the action, will act as a signal to other animals that this is your pet’s territory.

It’s a visual display that tells potential intruders to back off or risk confrontation.

You may notice your dog doing this more when you have other animals come to visit or stay at your home.

Nesting Behavior

Some dogs will dig to try and get comfortable.

You might notice your dog scratching at his bedding to plump up his pillow or to move it around just how he likes.

You will notice this behavior even more in pregnant dogs that are trying to sort out a cozy, safe nest ready for their puppies to be born.

Some female dogs that are experiencing a phantom pregnancy may also show similar behaviors.

They Enjoy It

The very act of digging is thought to be pleasurable to many dogs.

The action and sensation of digging is thought to help relax some dogs, and they enjoy keeping themselves busy.

However, it can be frustrating if your possessions are getting destroyed in the meantime.

Should I Be Worried If My Dog Is Digging At The Floor?

It depends on why your dog is scratching and digging as to whether you should be concerned.

Dogs that are digging for pleasure or because they are trying to rearrange their bed are not a worry.

This is normal behavior and your dog will be just doing what comes naturally to him.

If, however, your dog is showing other signs of distress (like howling, chewing, and peeing in the house) or they are destroying your possessions, then this can be more concerning.

You should start to take measures to help your pet.

We will explore some practical steps below.

How To Get My Dog From Scratching The Floor

Depending on the reason your dog scratches at the floor, the following suggestions could help to lessen the behavior:

Give Your Dog Somewhere He Is Allowed To Dig

If your dog digs because he loves the sensation or enjoys hiding his toys, then consider setting up an area in your yard for him.

Usually, a large sandpit is the best way of doing this, though some owners will provide soil, but bear in mind this is messier and may cause confusion with your flower beds.

Encourage your dog to use the area by hiding treats and toys in there for him to find.

If he starts digging elsewhere then redirect him to this space.

Provide Your Dog With A Comfortable Bed

Give your dog a comfortable bed to lie on so that he doesn’t have to scratch at your carpet or flooring.

Soft beds are particularly important for elderly dogs with sore joints, so make sure he has somewhere comfy to relax. 

Make Sure Your Dog Has Plenty Of Exercise

If your dog receives an appropriate amount of exercise for his breed, then he is more likely to be a relaxed and settled dog at home.

The exact amount of exercise will depend on his age, physical ability, and personality.

As a general rule, a tired, happy dog is less likely to be a destructive one.

If you are struggling to give your dog enough exercise during the day then ask friends and family to help or consider employing a dog walker.

Give Your Dog A Variety Of Interactive Toys

Give your dog toys that help to stimulate him and encourage him to display other behaviors.

For example, a snuffle mat will help to give your dog’s nose a workout, as he sniffs between the bits of fabric to find kibbles.

Smearing wet food or peanut butter (avoid nut butter than contains toxic xylitol) in a rubber toy will give him something to lick and chew at for a while and distract him from digging.

Reward Other Behaviors

React to and reward behaviors that you want to see more of.

Positive reinforcement for dogs is important, so encourage your dog if he is playing nicely.

Try not to shout at him if he is doing something you don’t like, instead distract him, and redirect his focus onto something else.

Eventually, the message will sink in that he receives more attention for actions other than digging.

Seek Help From A Qualified Pet Behaviorist

If your dog is struggling with separation anxiety or noise phobias then it may be worth seeking help from a qualified pet behaviorist to help work through these problems.

Don’t ignore things as they are only likely to get worse over time.

A behaviorist will be able to help you with an appropriate training program for you and your pet to work through.

A trip to the vet may also be warranted if your pet is showing any signs of ill health alongside their behavior, like loss of appetite, lethargy, or weight changes.

Dog Wont Stop Scratching The Floor


Dogs love scratching and digging, and most of the time it is perfectly normal.

If, however, your pet is becoming obsessive with it or if they are showing other destructive behaviors, then you should to take some practical steps to help your pet.

Always speak to a vet or a qualified behaviorist if you are struggling.


Why does my dog scratch his butt on the floor?

You may notice your dog scratching or rubbing his rear end on the floor if he is irritated down below.

The most common reason for this is full or infected anal sacs, which contain scent-marking material.

Occasionally worms or skin irritations can also cause similar symptoms.

Why is my dog scratching the floor at night?

Your dog may scratch the floor at night if he is trying to get comfortable and settle.

However, he may also do this if he is feeling anxious about being apart from you, or perhaps if he can hear sounds that he is not happy about (like thunder or fireworks).

Calming appeasing pheromones may help your dog settle at night as well as a comfortable bed.

How to stop my dog from scratching my floor?

As there are many different reasons when your dog is scratching the ground, you may first of all need to try and work out why your pet is doing it.

If there is a wider behavioral issue then you could need some professional help, but otherwise just making sure your dog is getting enough exercise and play can help reduce destructive behaviors.

Dr Rebecca MacMillan

Rebecca MacMillan

Rebecca is a companion animal vet who lives and works in the UK. She graduated from The Royal Veterinary College (London) in 2009 and since then has gained a wealth of experience in all aspects of veterinary care. She has also recently completed a British Small Animal Veterinary Association postgraduate qualification in medicine, passing with commendation. Outside of work, she enjoys writing on a variety of pet health and behaviour topics, as well as spending time with her young family and her flat coated retriever, George.

Rebecca is currently a Veterinary Surgeon at Vets4Pets – Find her on LinkedIn

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