Why Do Dogs Scratch The Floor? Stopping It Can Be Easy

Dog scratching is about as synonymous with pet ownership as shedding and noise. It is one of those things you have to take to balance out the companionship that our furry best friends bring into our lives.

While things like scratching at furniture and upholstery can be relatively normal, it may be a bit unsettling to find your dog scratching at the floor.

Dogs scratch floors mainly out of boredom. However, there are many other reasons why your dog may be trying to dig a hole into your home’s foundation, with some being normal and others worrisome.

In the upcoming sections, you will learn both the typical and bad reasons why your dog is scratching at your floors. And if you are tired of this naughty behavior, you will also get tips to help you put an end to the habit.

Here is all you need to know about dogs and their obsession with scratching the floor.

Why Is My Dog Scratching The Floor?

More often than not, dogs scratch the floors because it is fun for them to do so. It could also be to satisfy some primal instinct buried deep in their subconscious. Here is a bit more on all these reasons why it is normal for your dog to scratch the floor.

Boredom

Dogs will do anything to entertain themselves, and in the case of floor scratching, you will end up literally paying the price. Scratching is fun for dogs as it gives them something to focus on.

Therefore, if your dog is not sufficiently physically and mentally engaged, they are very likely to turn to destructive habits like scratching your floors to entertain themselves.

Hyperactivity

Scratching the floor could be a full-on workout for a determined dog with the time. If your dog has extra energy to spare, they will find ways to use it, in which case scratching the floors is a convenient and effective outlet.

Marking Territory

Dog’s paws have special glands that produce secretions bearing the dog’s unique scent. Your dog could therefore be scratching at your floors simply as a way to mark their territory in your home.

Curiosity

Most dogs are curious creatures. Digging is one way they explore their environment. Therefore, your dog could be scratching your floors out of curiosity as they try to figure out what fun treasures are laying under your carpet, tiles, or floorboards.

Burying Instinct

Dogs instinctively bury things that they value and wish to keep hidden from other animals. If you have other pets in your home or a newly-adopted dog, they may scratch your floors in an attempt to dig a hole in which to hide their treats and toys.

Nesting

Another possible reason that your dog is scratching your floors senselessly is that they are trying to create a safe and cozy place to relax. This nesting behavior is especially common with pregnant dogs that are close to giving birth.

Should I Be Worried If My Dog Is Scratching The Floor?

Image from Instagram:@nicandryan

While most reasons why your dog is scratching the floor are innocent, there are a few that should have you worried. These can be broadly classified as psychological and physical distress.

Psychological Distress

Psychological distress in dogs can be anything from post-traumatic stress disorder to separation anxiety.

In these cases, the dog may be scratching at the floor as a way to get some psychological release and feel safe. You will also notice other bizarre behavior like increased vocalization, panting, reduced appetite, and changes in their overall mood.

Physical Distress

When your dog is in pain, they will do whatever they can to distract themselves from it. Sometimes this comes in the form of scratching at anything they can reach, including the floor.

It is not fully understood why they do this but it happens enough times to be considered a possible reason why your dog is scratching your floors.

Why Do Dogs Scratch The Floor Before Eating?

Dogs scratch the floor before eating, mainly out of habit. Here are some of the reasons why this habit arises.

Looking For A Place To Hide The Food

Dogs in the past used to hide food to either eat later or to hide their tracks from other predators who may try to steal it from them. This instinct stuck, which is probably why your dog tries to scratch the floor before or while they eat.

Excitement

Dogs love food, and this is not a secret. If your dog is excited enough about their mealtime, they could end up scratching your floors to redirect all their elation. These dogs also display habits like barking or growling while they eat, as well as eating very quickly.

Warn Off Competition

Finally, your dog could be scratching the floor before eating to scare aware anyone or any other pet in the house that the dog fears will try to take their food. By scratching the floor around the food, the dog is basically marking that entire territory as their own.

The scratching behavior also makes them appear menacing to potential competitors or fierce rivals.

Why Do Dogs Scratch The Floor After Peeing?

Dogs may scratch the floor after peeing as a way to try and bury the pee to hide their scent. However, this behavior is not very common, especially with socialized dogs that feel safe and comfortable in their homes and adoptive families. 

Why Do Dogs Scratch The Floor At Night?

Your dog may be scratching the floor as a result of its nesting instinct. This is common with floors that are carpeted or strewn with clutter. As the dog scratches, they will pull the material together to the perfect little pile for them to rest on.

Dogs also scratch floors at night out of anxiety. This is common with dogs prone to separation anxiety either due to breed predisposition or exposure to traumatic events. The scratching here is a way for the dog to help reduce their anxious energy.

How Can I Stop My Dog Scratching The Floor?

The best way to stop your dog from scratching your floors is through consistent training as well as giving them alternatives to let out their energy on.

Here is a bit more on tips that will pretty much guarantee that your floors no longer face the risk of complete annihilation at the hands, or paws, of your pooch.

Ensure Your Dog Gets Plenty Of Exercises

Exercise is a great way to engage your dog both physically and mentally. By extension, you will spare yourself the trouble of having to deal with annoying habits like having them scratching your floors.

Most dogs need about an hour of exercise every day, while others may require as little as 30 minutes or upwards of two hours. Do some research on your specific dog breed’s energy requirements and figure out a schedule that works for you.

Image from Instagram:@rourkeflooring_

Training

With time, patience, and the right training techniques, you can teach a dog to do anything. In this case, you can teach your dog to stop scratching your floors.

Negative reinforcement will more likely work in these cases. If your dog scratches the floor in your presence, warn them firmly but not too harshly to stop.

On the other hand, positive reinforcement with treats could be tricky and might backfire as your dog may take scratching the floor as a way to let you know they want treats.

Provide Your Dog With A Comfortable Resting Spot

Sometimes all your dog needs are to feel safe and comfortable so they can stop trying to scratch at your floors. Giving your dog a cozy spot to sleep or just hang out will help stop floor scratching for reasons like nesting and anxiety.

Keep Your Floor Clean And Tidy

Dogs are more likely to scratch floors that are dirty. This is because the smells and stains may appear to the dog as soft earth that they can easily dig on.

Clutter also makes the floor more attractive to a scratch-hungry dog as there is something to move around as they scratch. It may help to get rid of carpeting only if it is a feasible option for you since dogs like scratching the carpets and digging into fabric.

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