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Digging the carpet might not make any sense to us humans, but it’s one of those things dogs love to do.
To be honest, my pooch looked hilarious the first time he scratched the carpet, but things stopped being funny when I discovered that he’d ripped the carpet fibers to shreds. If your pup is anything like mine, you’re probably wondering why in the world dogs dig at the carpet.
Hearing the sound your dog’s nails make while they are tearing into the carpet fibers may give you chills, but there are many reasons why dogs do this.
It may be as simple as your pooch trying to dig out a crumb of their favorite treat that got stuck between the fibers. Or they might just be trying to create a cozy spot for their afternoon nap.
By the time I figured out why my dog was digging the carpet in the first place, he had ditched the carpet for the bedding. Now, he is scratching the blankets and pulling the bedding left and right every night while my cat sleeps in the super cozy dog bed.
This was just a preview of what your life might look like if you don’t figure out why your dog is digging the carpet and address the issue right away.
To help you get to the bottom of your dog’s digging problem, I’ll share all the reasons why dogs like to engage in this type of behavior. Continue reading if you’re fond of keeping your carpets the way they are!
Why Does My Dog Dig At The Carpet?
As I already mentioned, there are many explanations for this type of digging behavior. While your dog’s fascination with the carpet might seem random to you, there is a logic behind everything our canine companions do. So without further adieu, let’s dig into all the possible reasons for your dog’s carpet-digging obsession:
1. Digging Up Crumbs
Even if you like to keep your home tidy and have a powerful vacuum for pet hair, there is still a chance that you missed a few crumbs here and there. Thanks to their powerful sense of smell, dogs can sniff out a single crumb buried in the carpet fibers and will try to dig it out.
If there is even the slightest chance that your carpet can serve as a buffet table to your pooch, don’t be surprised if they start digging and scratching at the carpet as if their life depends on it. If this seems to be a likely cause for your dog’s digging activities, take out your vacuum and clean the entire house thoroughly.
While tedious, try to spend more time vacuuming your carpets and rugs to remove all food crumbs and any trace of dog treats and other goodies. If your dog stops digging the carpet after you’ve cleaned it, your problem is solved!
To prevent future digging attempts, vacuum your carpet regularly and don’t let your dog chew and munch any treats on the floor. This way, you will minimize the risk of any specks getting stuck in between carpet fibers.
2. Making A Cozy Sleeping Spot
Some dogs, mine included, like to set up their sleeping area by digging and turning around in circles before lying down for a nap. This type of behavior goes way back to when dogs lived in the wild and didn’t have cozy orthopedic dog beds.
In the wild, dogs had to make their sleeping area safe and comfortable by stomping grass and digging up the dirt, and rearranging the surface of the ground.
Although our dogs are living in much cushier conditions now, and don’t actually need to rearrange their beds to make them more comfortable, this is a natural behavior and some dogs do it out of habit. Your own dog may dig the carpet for the exact same reason.
If this is the reason for your dog’s carpet-digging behavior, you should get them a comfortable dog bed and encourage them to sleep in it.
And when you catch your dog digging the carpet, say “NO” and take them to their bed. Praise your dog and give them treats when they go in their bed instead of trying to dig the carpet and sleep on it.
3. Enticing Smells
You know how some dogs, while outside, like to dig and then roll in a particularly smelly patch of grass or dirt? If your pooch is like this, they may also try to dig and scratch your carpet if they sniff a new and enticing smell.
You might not even realize that your carpet smells any different, but dogs have extraordinary scent receptors and can smell things a mile away.
Let’s say you went outside or worked in your garden a bit and, as you came back home, you transferred a bit of soil to your carpet. Your dog’s keen nose sensed a new smell, and they are now compelled to dig into the carpet and investigate.
If this sounds like the most likely reason why your dog digs the carpet, you’ll need a good carpet cleaner. Take a few minutes to locate the spots on the carpet that your pooch is most interested in and use the carpet cleaner to thoroughly scrub them of all smells.
Once the new and enticing odor is gone, your pooch won’t be so hell-bent on digging a hole through your carpet.
Sometimes dogs will dig and scratch the carpet frantically when they get extremely excited about something.
To you, it may seem like your dog is taking it out on the carpet for no apparent reason, when in fact your pooch saw a bird or a squirrel in the yard. Your pooch may also sense another dog outside, but since they are not able to go out, they may release all the pent-up energy and excitement on your poor carpet.
If your dog is easily excitable about seemingly random things, you’ll have to find ways to redirect their attention. To distract your dog from digging into the carpet, try playing with them or taking them for a walk.
If you are short on time, giving your dog puzzle toys or a stuffed Kong toy can be a great way to keep them occupied and less interested in destroying your carpet.
Dogs resort to all sorts of destructive behaviors out of boredom, and digging holes in your carpets can be just the thing that your dog finds the most entertaining. If your dog stays alone at home a lot or doesn’t have fun toys to play with, digging into the carpet can seem like the only way they can have fun while you aren’t around.
If you suspect that the lack of mental stimulation and exercise is causing your dog to tear into your carpet, provide suitable fun alternatives. If you work long hours, make sure your dog has access to a lot of different and fun toys they can play with while you aren’t around.
You should also consider hiring a doggy walker who will take your dog out for a walk and a romp in the park. This way, your pooch will have a chance to release pent-up energy and be more interested in napping than destruction while you are at work.
6. Separation Anxiety
Dogs with separation anxiety may start digging into the carpet to relieve their anxiety and stress when they are left alone. If your dog frequently digs the carpet and floor near the front door, chances are they are feeling anxious every time you leave the house.
If you fail to notice the first signs of separation anxiety, your pooch may come to the point of tearing up your carpeting or creating scratch marks in your hard floors. Most dogs with separation anxiety resort to destructive behaviors to find comfort and to forget that their owners aren’t there in the first place.
If separation anxiety is the reason why your dog is digging the carpet, you should make a plan and take steps to treat your dog’s anxiety. Bear in mind, curing your dog’s separation anxiety won’t happen overnight, and your dog may need professional help and medication.
No matter how long it takes and how hard it seems, take things one step at a time and be patient.
7. Hiding Things
While any type of carpeting won’t be thick enough to hide anything from plain sight, your pooch may still attempt to dig into it to hide their valuable treasures. Burying items of value is an instinct for dogs, and your pooch may attempt to hide toys, treats, bones, or food for later use.
The fact that nothing is really hidden or that you can clearly see your dog’s chew toy sticking out of the carpeting won’t deter your pooch from their efforts. If this is the reason for your dog’s digging, the only way to stop it is with training.
The best way to train your dog to stop digging the carpet to hide things is by using positive reinforcement techniques.
So, whenever your dog seems like they want to bury the toy into the carpet, ask them to bring it back to you. Praise and play with your dog for a few minutes so they can see that bringing the toy back leads to rewards and positive results.
8. Temperature Control
For dogs, digging is an innate behavior and something all of them do to some extent. This is mainly because dogs are descendants of wolves, which had to dig up dens that would shelter them and their offspring from harsh weather.
If your dog is digging into the carpet, perhaps they are feeling too hot or cold, and are trying to regulate their body temperature. Digging a cozy den is just the thing their ancestors would do to cool down or stave off the cold.
While most dogs will resort to digging holes in the dirt to control their temperature, when no dirt is available a carpet will do. too. If you think that your pooch is feeling too hot or too cold try to adjust the temperature in your home to make them feel more comfortable.
During the hot summer months, turn on the air conditioning and make sure your pup always has access to fresh, clean water. And during winter months or colder days, dress your dog in a sweater, get a heating pad, or add an extra blanket to their bed to keep them warm.
9. Seeking Attention
If you responded to your dog’s previous carpet digging attempts, they know this is a sure way of getting your attention. If your pooch feels ignored and just wants to play with you, they may start digging into the carpet just to provoke a reaction.
Your dog knows that you’ll say something, or interact with them in some other way, and that is exactly what they want. So, if the long working hours and the busy schedule have kept you from interacting with your pooch as much as you’d like to, now is the time to make some time.
Take your dog for a walk or a jog, play with them, or have a short training session to show them there is still time for them in your busy life. And to stop your dog from digging into the carpet, set out time every day to play, interact, and cuddle with your pup.
10. It’s A Breed Thing
While all dogs have an instinct to burrow, certain breeds were specifically bred to possess a strong urge to dig. Terrier breeds, for example, have been bred throughout the years to hunt, dig up, chase, and catch mice and other vermin living in the ground.
If you catch your fox terrier in the act of digging out a hole in your carpet, know that they are doing the thing they were bred to do. In this case, there isn’t much you can do, except to ensure that your terrier is properly exercised and has plenty of toys that may help curb their digging urges.
FAQs About Your Dog Digs At The Carpet
Why Is My Dog Scratching At The Carpet?
There are many reasons why dogs dig the carpet. It might be that your dog is bored, too excited, trying to dig up food, setting up a cozy place to sleep, or suffering from separation anxiety.
The only way you will ever stop your dog from scratching your carpet and making holes in it, is by figuring out what is causing this type of destructive behavior.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Digging Up The Carpet?
The best way to stop your dog from digging into your carpet is to clap your hands or make some noise when you catch your pooch in the act. But don’t yell or do anything that will startle your dog, since this will be completely counter-productive.
Once you have your dog’s attention, try to redirect their behavior by asking them to do some simple task. Tell your dog to “sit,” “lie down,” or “give paw,” and reward them whenever they perform well.
Why Do Dogs Dig At The Carpet Before Lying Down?
Some dogs dig at the carpet before lying down to set up their sleeping area and make it more comfortable. Scratching the carpet before lying down can also help dogs find the best and most comfortable sleeping position.
Digging into the carpet is an innate behavior for dogs, since it gives them a feel of burrowing into a cozy den, just like their ancestors did while living outdoors.
Why Does My Dog Scratch The Carpet In The Middle Of The Night?
The main reason why dogs scratch the carpet or bedding in the middle of the night is because of their inherited burrowing instinct.
Dogs want to feel comfortable and safe while they sleep, so they will scratch and dig the carpet to create a comfortable sleeping area for the night. Some dogs will also turn around in circles for a few moments before settling down for a good night’s rest.
Knowing why dogs dig the carpet can help you curb this undesired behavior and also save your carpeting before it becomes threadbare or riddled with holes. Digging is an instinct for all dogs, but most start scratching or digging into the carpet for one of several reasons. Some of the most common causes of indoor digging in dogs include:
- Setting up a sleeping area
- Boredom and separation anxiety
- Hiding food, toys, and treats
Figuring out what is causing your dog to sink their nails and dig into your carpet frantically is the best and the only way you’ll be able to stop this behavior once and for all. Keep in mind that some dog breeds were bred to burrow and dig, and they may have a stronger urge to scratch your carpet.
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We bought a new large rug as he was unable to jump up on the sofa as we have wooden floors in our new bungalow? He is tearing into this rug each time I go out! We know he is anxious but I tell him I will be back soon he immediately goes to the rug !
I have a 13 yr old dachshund/chihuahua mix who scratches on carpet or rugs, even after napping with me. Why?