Tips & Tricks

Why Do Dogs Scratch The Carpet? And How To Stop It

cute dog making mess

As dog owners, we all dread that telltale scratching sound – the unmistakable noise of our furry friend ripping away at the carpet fibers. It’s infuriating, perplexing, and can leave your once pristine floors in tatters.

But before you lose your cool, it’s important to understand why dogs scratch the carpet in the first place. Only then can we tackle the problem effectively.

So let’s dive in!

Reasons Why Dogs Scratch The Carpet  

1. Excess Energy

Is your dog a boundless ball of energy? If they don’t get enough exercise and playtime, all that pent-up vigor has to go somewhere. And sadly, that “somewhere” often ends up being your poor, unsuspecting carpet.


2. Boredom/Attention-Seeking

Just like naughty children, sometimes our dogs act out simply because they crave attention and stimulation. When understimulated and bored, scratching the carpet becomes an easy way to get a rise out of you and score some well-needed playtime.

high angle dog making mess

3. Instinct and Breeding  

For some breeds, the urge to dig and scratch is simply hardwired into their DNA. Terriers, for instance, were originally bred as “ratters” – tasked with hunting out small rodents from tight spaces and burrows. So when your terrier eyes that lush carpet, those ancestral instincts kick in, and they simply can’t resist the temptation to scratch and burrow.

dog puzzle toys game

4. Nesting Behavior

Ever noticed your dog scratching at blankets or rearranging cushions? That’s their nesting instinct at play. Dogs, like many animals, have an innate desire to create a cozy, sheltered space to relax and sleep in. Unfortunately, that plush carpet looks awfully inviting to your nesting-crazed pup.

dog making mess with tissues high angle

5. Anxiety and Stress

When scared or stressed, some dogs resort to scratching as a coping mechanism. It could be triggered by loud noises like fireworks or thunderstorms or even by the rambunctious college kids next door. In their minds, scratching is a primal response to “dig” their way out of perceived danger.

high angle sad dog playing with toilet paper

6. Nail Maintenance  

You read that right – sometimes, our pups are just looking for a little nail trim! If their claws have grown uncomfortably long, scratching the carpet can be their way of filing them down. Of course, a professional groomer is the safer (and carpet-friendly) option here.

Now that we’ve uncovered the “whys,” it’s time to explore the all-important “how” – as in, how do we put a stop to this maddening carpet carnage?

human s hand dog s paw handshake

Pro Tips To Stop Your Dog From Scratching The Carpet

1. Dealing with Excess Energy

The saying is true: a tired dog is a happy dog (and a carpet-friendly dog!). If your pup seems like they have endless energy, the answer is simple – burn it off! Take them for more walks, longer runs, and have some epic playtime sessions. If your days are jam-packed, consider hiring a dog walker to give them a mid-day energy blast. But exercise isn’t everything! Mental stimulation is key too. Keep their minds occupied with puzzle toys and training sessions. A tired pup with a happy brain is less likely to turn to scratching as their go-to activity.


2. Dealing with Boredom and Attention-Seeking

The solution here is simple: engage and stimulate your dog! Invest in a variety of durable, sustainable toys that’ll keep them entertained for hours. Rope toys are great for tug-of-war and satisfy their chewing urges. Puzzle toys and treat dispensers provide a fun, challenging way to keep their minds sharp. And don’t forget the classics – balls, frisbees, and plush squeaky toys never go out of style.

The key is rotating their toy selection regularly, so they don’t get bored. And of course, set aside dedicated playtime each day to shower them with the attention they crave (in a good way).

3. Dealing with Instinctive Scratching  

For the hard-wired diggers and burrowers, positive reinforcement training is your best bet. Establish a strong “leave it” command, and reward them handsomely (think high-value treats) every time they obey. With patience and consistency, they’ll learn that scratching the carpet is a no-no, and they’ll be rewarded for leaving it alone.

girl feeding her dog treat

4. Dealing with Nesting Behavior

The simplest fix for nesting tendencies? Provide them with cozy, designated nesting spaces! Scatter old blankets and cushions around the house, and they’ll happily scratch and rearrange those instead of your precious carpet. Think of it as giving them a constructive outlet for their nesting needs.

dog making mass with plant pot indoors

5. Dealing with Anxiety and Stress

If anxiety is the root cause, you’ll need to identify and address the specific triggers. Perhaps it’s loud noises or changes in routine that set them off—in those cases, providing a safe, quiet space for them to retreat to can help immensely. You can also try calming supplements, pheromone diffusers, or even consult an animal behaviorist for more severe cases.

dog enrichment matters

6. Dealing with Nail Maintenance

Regular nail trims are the easiest solution here. Schedule grooming appointments every 4-6 weeks to maintain your dog’s nails, and your carpet will thank you. You can also invest in nail-filing tools and teach your dog to accept at-home nail trims as a part of their routine.

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1. How can I tell if my dog is scratching the carpet out of anxiety?

If your dog scratches the carpet out of anxiety, you may notice the behavior occurring more frequently during stressful situations such as fireworks or thunderstorms. You may also notice that your dog exhibits anxious behaviors alongside the scratching, such as panting, pacing, or trembling.

2. Can training help prevent my dog from scratching the carpet?  

Absolutely! Dog training is definitely an effective method in preventing your dog from scratching the carpet. Basic obedience training will help to establish boundaries and discourage unwanted behaviors. In addition, training provids much-needed exercise and mental stimulation that will redirect their energy and prevent destructive behaviors like carpet scratching.

Final Words

With a little patience, love, and some strategic changes, you can absolutely stop this frustrating behavior. Focus on providing your pup with plenty of enrichment, training, and exercise, and watch as your carpet (and your sanity) makes a stunning comeback.


About Zelda D.Nelson

As a lifelong dog lover and proud mom to two energetic rescue pups, I know firsthand how important puzzle toys are for providing dogs with much-needed mental and physical stimulation. After over a decade of experience raising well-adjusted, happy dogs, I joined the Loobani Pet team to help other pet parents discover the joy and benefits of dog puzzles. Through my work at Loobani Pet, I've become an expert on the ins and outs of various interactive dog toys. My goal is to simplify the selection process so you can easily pinpoint the perfect puzzles to match your pup's needs and lifestyle. Whether you need a toy to challenge your brainy breed, keep your power chewer occupied, or simply provide some rainy day fun, I've got you covered.