Why do dogs scratch carpet?

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Dog’s scratching at the carpet is likely to be the same reason why they scratch at their beds before settling down.  Initially, the reason is evolutionary and harks back to when dogs were wild.  It’s an instinctual behaviour that’s also an habitual behaviour.

There are, however, a few other reasons why dogs scratch or dig at the carpet.


Your dog may be bored. Dogs often require a lot of mental stimulation. When dogs don’t get the stimulation they need, they find ways to entertain themselves.  Those ways could include pawing at and chewing carpet.


A dog that is unsure of itself and its place in the home may scratch at a carpet to scent it and mark it as their space.  This is also sometimes the reason for urinating on the carpet.  By scratching an area and leaving their scent, they have marked a place as a territory or a place to reassure them that they belong somewhere.

Lack of Confidence 

A dog who lacks confidence and is shy will try and become invisible; instinctively, a way to do that in the wild would be to dig a burrow to lie in.  In this example, digging at the carpet replicates digging a burrow.

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An anxious dog will instinctively burrow as a way to get away from or hide from what is scaring them. This reaction primarily manifests in dogs who are scared of fireworks, thunderstorms, or other loud noises.  They do what they can to escape and hide.


It may be that the hot water pipes run under the floorboards where the dog is digging at the carpet. They are trying to get as close as possible to the heat source.

Unexpected Visitors

There are occasions when there are mice, rats or bats under the floorboards that the dog is trying to get to.  Terriers are specifically good at knowing when there are some unexpected critters in their home. 


Just like a horse will paw at the ground when they have pain, it’s something that some dogs do as well.  Your dog’s discomfort may be that they are too hot or too cold; they may be itchy or have real pain somewhere.  In the wild, dogs would eat soil, roots and berries for pain and bellyache.  They’d dig up what they could find to comfort themselves.  Digging at the carpet is the modern equivalent for dogs who find themselves indoors when they are in pain. 


Occasionally, scratching at the carpet is an attention-seeking behaviour.  If a dog is rewarded with attention from people whenever they dig at the carpet, then they will continue to dig at the carpet to attract the attention they crave from people.

We hope you enjoyed reading about why dogs scratch at the carpet.  The instinctive behaviour and modern reasons.  If your dog scratches at the carpet, figuring out the reason why will be a step in the right direction of solving the problem.

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