Why Do Dogs Scratch Indoor Carpeting?

He may scratch the floor as a response to stress.

He may scratch the floor as a response to stress.

If your dog scratches your indoor carpeting, it isn't a critique of your interior decorating skills. Dogs scratch at the carpeting for a number of reasons, and when you figure out why yours does it, you can stop the behavior and save your flooring once and for all.

Excess Energy

When your dog has too much energy and no way to get rid of it, he may adopt some strange and destructive behaviors. Digging and scratching at the carpet may be one of his ways of dealing with his pent-up energy, but you can give him a better outlet. Playing with your dog, going for longer or more frequent walks and giving him time-occupying toys all encourage him to spend his energy in more productive ways than tearing up the rug.

Anxiety and Fear

If your dog digs at the carpet in response to certain outside stimuli, it may be a response to fear or anxiety. For example, if he always does it during a storm or when strangers come over, he may be frightened and attempting to escape from the tormentor. Similarly, if he only does it when you leave the house, it's likely a response to separation anxiety -- working with a professional trainer can help break that habit and leave him more comfortable when he's home alone.

Physical Illness

Abnormal behavior like continuous carpet scratching may indicate a physical and/or mental condition that your veterinarian must diagnose. For example, if your dog has a thyroid imbalance, it could compel him to engage in destructive behavior like scratching the carpet. Similarly, brain tumors can inspire abnormal behavior in your dog. If you are concerned about your dog's destructive behavior, keep track of its frequency and ask your vet about testing for conditions that could cause it.

Obsessive-Compulsion

Dogs may develop compulsive behaviors that make them behave inappropriately or destructively. Other obsessive-compulsive (OCD) behaviors may include inappropriate chewing, pacing, mounting, licking and more, and they frequently develop because of his lifestyle. For example, a dog may develop this type of behavior because he is confined too much, exposed to a stressful environment or poorly socialized and/or trained. If you suspect OCD, consult a trainer or behaviorist for help.

 

About the Author

Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

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