Why Does My Dog Scratch At My Carpet?

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Written by Cory Eckert

Have you ever had your dog get up and start digging at your carpet like there is a treat on the other side? My first thought was, what does she want? Where is she going? Oh no, what is happening to my carpet? 


When it comes to indoor digging, there are a range of behavioral theories on why dogs maybe digging at your carpet. Let's take a peak into some of the possible causes of indoor carpet digging behavior. 

Your Golden Is Bored And Is Trying To Burn Off Energy

Dogs are diggers. Digging is a part of their nature. So a natural activity they may resort to when they are bored is digging. If they happen to be inside, that means digging at the carpet!


Digging at the carpet helps them release their energy and can be a source of entertainment. In this case, providing extra exercise is a very effective way to stop a golden retriever from digging. 

What I can do to redirect Digging behavior? 

Engage with your dog. Some of the best ways to redirect your dog when they are digging out of boredom is to engage them in other indoor activities. Golden retrievers are energetic dogs that love to be occupied with activities.  Your dog loves spending time with you, engage them with training, games, and doggy sports to help redirect their instincts to something that is appropriate for indoors.  


Get a Licki Mat: A good boredom buster that will keep your dog's attention and give them something to do is a LickiMat. A LickiMat is a mat where you can spread liquid treats (yogurts, peanut butter, etc.) onto the surface of the mat. Your dog will enjoy licking the mat to get every morsel of your liquid treat out. This is a fun way to give your dog a treat and keep them busy and occupied at the same time.


https://www.amazon.com/Hyper-Pet-Lickimat-Feeding-Plate

The LickiMat is a fun and enjoyable activity where you can treat your dog to something that taste really good while giving them a challenge of licking the mat. 

  • Made of Silicone
  • Comes in Multiple sizes 
  • Interactive treat time

Your Golden wants your attention

Golden retrievers like human companionship and attention. Overtime your dog may have realized that digging at the carpet is getting them attention and may use digging at the carpet as a way of getting your attention and interaction.


Your dog will start digging at the carpet, and then you'll stop what you are doing and walk over to him, and then when he stops digging you go back to doing what you were doing. They will learn cause and effect and realize that digging is a way to communicate to you that they want attention. 

What Can I do to redirect Digging behavior? 

Break the Cycle. Once again, the best way to break this cycle is to give them attention with activity before they start digging. Your dog is your companion and you are their companion. Give them attention and activity by greeting your dog when you get home, taking them for long walks, play, and new experiences are great ways to do this.


Teaching your pup a new trick is also a great way to engage them, get them using their brain, and help them build their relationship with you.

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your golden maybe getting too hot

On hot days, dogs can dig down in the dirt to cooler ground. Golden retrievers have a protective coating for cold temperatures. Though they may shed for hotter weather, they still can get hot. One way they cool down is by digging down into the ground and laying down on the cooler soil. 

What Can I do to keep my dog cool?

Provide resources and observe their behavior: Since digging to cooler ground is not an option indoors, look to keep your golden cool by keeping the temp lower and making sure they have access to water. Some signs that your dog is getting too hot are heavy panting, dry or pale gums, increase drools, and rapid breathing. 

How to Cool down a dog quickly: 

Knowing how to cool a dog down quickly during those hot summer days can be a life saver. Here are the steps from the above video by veterinarian Dr. Alex that can help your dog cool down indoors or out: 

  1.  Stop activity and move dogs into the shade and drink cool water: cool water is better than cold water, but of course any water is better than none. We want to prevent dehydration and heavy panting that can lead to a heat stroke. 
  2. Spray or soak your dog with luke warm water (stand them in a stream or lake): This will have a cooling effect on your dog. Avoid using cold water as this will increase the temperature of your dog's body. Cold water causes the outside blood vessels to constrict and narrow, which will trap heat within your dog's body. Trapping heat in your dog's body will cause increase in body temperature rather than cooling them down. 
  3. Use a fan to blow air over your dog: This helps speed up the rate of evaporation so you dog can cool down faster.
  4. Put an ice pack in groin, pits, and neck area to help cool down: These areas will naturally trap heat and cooling them down can help lower your dog's temperature.
  5. Cover them with a wet towel: this is another way to cool them down and a way to keep water on them to help them cool down. In this case, it's useful for helping to keep them cool when driving them to the vet. 
  6. In cases of heat stroke, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. The faster you can get them there while cooling them down with the above steps the better chance of survival.

Your Golden Maybe Trying To Hide Treasures

Some dogs may dig at carpet to hide a treasure of either food or a toy. This is in their nature. Some dogs may even hide their treats and treasures around their home or in their kennel. 

What should I do if they dig everytime i give them treats?

In some cases of food digging, a dog may be trying to hide their food, possibly because they've experienced hunger because of a past missed meal or not enough food. So when they are full and they get extra food, they want to store their food away in case of a rainy day. If that is the case, consistent and appropriately sized feedings can help ease these anxieties. 

There is also the possibility your dog is just too full at the moment to eat the treat and they are reverting back to the old ways and hiding the leftovers for later!

Digging Before Laying Down To Rest

Digging at the carpet can be attributed to an instinctive behavior that goes back to your dog's ancestors. Though it doesn't serve the purpose it once did, some dogs will dig and circle before lying down. This is to create a protective sleeping area. The diggings makes a cozy space and adds smells from their scent glands on their paws which helps mark their territory. Also known as den instinct, it can be a routine before bed.  This behavior is also sometimes called nesting.

How can I help?  

In this case, providing a comfortable bed and sleeping area that is large enough for your dog may be a good way to save your carpet. I've noticed that my dog likes being around me. Placing a bed near where you are or where people gather is a good way to keep your dog from digging in the carpet.


Keeping a bed or blanket with your dog's scent on it will also give them a familiar, comfortable, safe place to lay down without needing to dig at your carpet.


Trying to figure out the most appropriate bed options for your dog? Check out, out best beds for golden post. 

Hunting Instinct

Certain breeds such as Beagles, Westies, and Basset hounds love to dig because a lot of them were bred for hunting and/or pest control. Digging in yards for small animals and rodents was literally their job.


While golden retrievers are not a breed that was designed to be a digger, they are still very natural diggers as my backyard can attest to.

In cases like these, some owners redirect the digging at home by giving their dog an appropriate area to dig in their backyard, therefore not discouraging digging, but rather giving them an appropriate place to dig, like a sandbox. 

Anxiety

This is a less common reason for digging at the carpet and often is accompanied with other signs of anxiety. Digging at the carpet can be a soothing activity for dogs with anxiety. Digging can help some dogs to cope with the absence of a loved one or to cope with stressful surroundings. This can vary from storms, strangers, fear or stress. At this point, looking into reducing the source of your dog's anxiety and/or start working with your dog to build their confidence.

Have anything that helped you stop your dog from carpet digging? Comment down below! 

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About the author

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Cory Eckert

Cory is the co-creator of GoldenRetrieverLove.com and a life long dog enthusiast. From training livestock dogs as a child to working with obedience classes as an adult, it's hard to imagine Cory without a dog. Currently enjoying being a dog parent to Remi (a chocolate lab) and Annie (a golden retriever).

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