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Why Do Dogs Dig at the Carpet?

Dogs are a man’s best friend and give us countless fun moments and memories to cherish. But our furry friends can also be an owner’s worst nightmare if they begin to damage furniture and house fittings. Dogs digging at carpet is a situation that dog-owners, unfortunately, know all too well. How often have you left your dog alone in a room for a certain amount of time, and before long you start to hear a distant but well-known sound? The sound of your dog digging inside the house. You return to the scene of the crime, but it’s too late. Your dog has already done the damage and the carpet is pulled up at the sides or on some occasions, spoiled beyond repair. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of owning a dog, and flooring that has been dug at as though your pet pooch is trying to create a hole in the ground can be costly to fix. So, why do our canine friends love to dig at carpet? There are several reasons, ranging from instinctive behaviour to dogs seeking attention from their owners. Below are the main reasons for this inconvenient habit, and ways you can dissuade your dog from digging at your carpet, and causing irreversible damage to your house.

Food Crumbs or an Interesting Smell

An interesting theory for dogs digging at carpet is to do with food. This may sound strange and you might think, how is food connected to dogs destroying carpet? But you’d be surprised to learn that dogs dig at carpets if they can smell morsels of food that’s caught in the fibres of the flooring. This is a fitting explanation given that dogs are used to digging up food from outside, in the form of small bugs. Assuming that your house is insect free, then perhaps you ate a piece of food earlier and accidentally dropped some crumbs on the ground. Your pooch picks up on the scent and then becomes desperate for a taste, causing him to dig incessantly at your carpet!

Another similar reason for carpet-digging is interesting scents. New smells on carpet can intrigue dogs to the point that they burrow at the floor. Dogs are curious creatures and if you’ve had new guests or animals visit your house in the past few days, it could be that your dog can smell their scents, is inquisitive, and wants to investigate these strange smells.

If you think food droppings and foreign scents may the problem, an easy solution is to simply vacuum clean your carpeting, in the areas where your dog is digging. Another great idea is to use a strong liquid carpet cleaner, that can give your flooring an intense scrub, removing all traces of food and odd smells.

Preparing a Space to Sleep

Have you ever noticed that your pooch digs at the carpet right before he lies down to sleep? This is very common and something that most dog owners have seen their furry friends do. Although dogs are very much domestic pets, they still retain their animal instincts, much to the delight and despair of owners. As owners, we provide our dogs with comfortable surroundings, spending money on dog beds and all their accessories, to ensure our pups have a great night’s sleep. But the truth is, dogs can pretty much sleep anywhere and this instinctive nature is still alive in our pet dogs today. In the past, wild dogs would dig at the floor before they lay down to sleep, clearing an area of any bugs or debris that could irritate their skin. If you’ve ever seen a wild dog in the moments before taking a nap, you’ll know this to be true. So, this could be the reason why your dog is digging at the carpet before going to sleep! Your pup’s instinctive nature is causing him to behave in a manner that doesn’t quite suit twenty-first-century homes and our lush carpet fittings.

One way to deal with your dog’s predisposed nature could be to interrupt him in the middle of this digging and circling routine and offer him a treat. Just like pet owners train dogs to sit, roll over and do fun tricks, you can train your furry friend to break this bad habit if it is caused by his sleep routine. If you do this successfully, eventually your dog will stop damaging your carpet each time he wants to take a nap.

Your Dog Feels Hot

Just as digging before a snooze is an instinctive action for a dog, so is digging at the floor when a dog is feeling hot. Wild dogs who live in sunny climates will usually dig a hole in the shade so as to have a place to claim as their territory, and a spot to rest and cool down in. As mentioned above, our pups haven’t lost all of their wild predispositions since becoming domestic household pets. So, if you notice that your dog is attacking your carpet more frequently during the warm summer months, consider that this could be due to him feeling a little hot and bothered. Your dog is trying to create a cool space for himself to lie in, and retreat from the heat.

If you live in a warm climate, you can prevent your pet pooch from digging at the carpet by learning a few tricks. Firstly, keep your dog’s water dish full so that he stays hydrated. If you have air conditioning or a fan in your house, turn those on and make sure your pup can position himself closely to one in order to enjoy the cool air. If you don’t have air conditioning, open windows inside your house, and allow your dog to enjoy the natural breeze that blows in from outside.

Burying Prized Possessions

Dogs are playful creatures, and that’s why we as owners love them. We get to explore a playful side of ourselves vicariously through interacting with them, and a dog’s spirited personality is charming and sweet. But the playful side of your dog may also be the explanation as to why he is ruining your carpet. When dogs play outside, it is common for them to dig holes and hide treasured possessions inside them, such as a bone or a toy. When dogs are digging at the carpet in your living room, it can sometimes be for this exact same reason. They value their toys so much and don’t want anyone else to play with them. Therefore, they look for a place inside the house where they can safely store these objects. It just so happens that this place is your carpet!

To stop your dog from doing this, it is a good idea to buy your pup a toy that is so captivating (like an interactive ball), that he will want to keep playing with it and not bury it. If your dog loves to chew on bones and then hide them in a safe place for later, it’s better to buy smaller bones which are consumed faster, so that your dog doesn’t try to rip up your carpet in a bid to hide his half-eaten treat.

Feeling Excited

The most common reason as to why dogs dig at carpet is because they are excited and full of energy. Dogs are one of the most energetic pets, and they require a lot of physical and mental daily activity. If you work full-time and your dog hasn’t had much human stimulation or been outside for a walk, then he may resolve to dig at carpet in an effort to get rid of the extra energy he has saved up. Some days dogs simply wake up feeling extra energised, and this can be problematic for an owner if their canine friend doesn’t have a way to expel their extra energy. Dogs are resourceful creatures, so they will look for ways to entertain themselves inside the house. By digging at the carpet, your dog is doing an action better suited to outdoor activity. Digging can sometimes be the only form of entertainment for a dog that is kept inside all day, especially if they feel bored and don’t have an appropriate outlet for their energy inside the house.

So, what can you do? If you feel as though your dog is digging at the carpet because he has a displacement of energy, the best thing to do is to take him out for a walk or let him go outside in the garden. If you aren’t able to allow your dog outside, make sure to provide him with stimulating toys to play with inside the house. In other words, make sure you don’t leave your dog sitting inside all day, feeling fed up and bored, or you may return home to discover frayed carpet edges and big gaping holes in the floor.

Feeling Anxious or Scared

Dogs are intuitive creatures, who feel a lot of emotions akin to human sentiments. For this reason, we love having them as companions, as they can offer us emotional support and we often sense as though they understand our feelings. Just as dogs support us, we must understand that they sometimes need comfort as well. A major reason why dogs dig at carpet is due to feelings of fear and anxiety. For example, when pet owners leave the house, often dogs may feel confused and anxious and begin to bark or whine. Other dogs take this anxiety, of not knowing where their owner has gone or when they will return, and put it into physical activity, such as digging at carpet. This anxiety-driven action can also be triggered by feelings of fear. For example, if your dog is scared of loud noises such as fireworks or thunder, then he may start digging at carpet to calm his nerves.

So, what can you do to help settle the nerves of your dog when he feels anxious, in order to prevent him from digging at your flooring? If you leave your dog at home, a great idea is to leave an old item of clothing that smells like you in the house, and then he can play and sleep with this. An object carrying your scent will calm him down slightly and distract him. If small actions like this don’t work, then it may be advisable to recruit the help of a professional dog trainer. A trainer can offer some tips and tricks that could help your dog’s feelings of anxiety when he is separated from you.

If your dog is digging due to feeling scared, as an owner you can comfort him by giving plenty of belly rubs and cuddles, sitting next to him on the floor, and giving him a treat. Show your dog that you are close by and your presence alone will make your furry friend feel safer and calmer, resulting in better behaviour.

Finding a Solution for You

There are many reasons why a dog may be digging at carpet. It’s important, therefore, to first work out the reason for your dog’s bad habit by observing when he digs up the carpet. Does he dig up the carpet during the day when you’re at work? Then the chances are your pet pooch is bored and full of energy that he needs to use up. Maybe your dog digs at the carpet when there are loud fireworks or during a thunderstorm. His actions are therefore caused by stress and fear, and you need to offer emotional support to your dog in these situations.

If you try some of the tips provided here, and still see no improvements in your pooch’s behaviour in terms of digging at the carpet, then the chances are that there are some more complex behavioural problems at hand. In this case, it may be a good idea to contact a professional canine trainer who can assist and stop the digging once and for all.