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Why do dogs scratch the floor?

Author: Charlotte

Dogs quite often display behavior that seems a bit odd to us. Chasing the postman, chewing shoes, and how they sniff each other to name a few! But have you ever thought why do dogs scratch the floor? It seems not to make that much sense, especially when they’re scratching tiles or your brand new oak floorboards.

There are, however, a few reasons why your pup looks like he’s digging for gold…

It’s in their genes

Even a small Yorkshire Terrier scratching his apartment floor could be doing it because of his wolf heritage. Wolves and wild dogs have to scratch the floor before they settle down to make it more comfortable. They make a small hole to feel cozy, protected, and always alert. 

In particularly warm weather, wild dogs also scratch the earth to expose the cooler ground underneath. Likewise in cold weather, building a dugout kind of den protects them from the extreme weather and helps keep them warm.

They’re claiming their territory

A main reason why dogs scratch the floor is because they’re marking their territory. Dogs don’t sweat in the same way humans do, in fact, they can only sweat from their paws. These sweat glands contain a particular smell that is identifiable to other dogs. So, the answer to why your dog is scratching away at the floor could be to tell the other dogs whose floor it is!

Is your pup anxious?

Dogs can get anxious for many reasons. They may feel they’re not spending enough time with you, don’t like the way you’ve decorated, or are uncertain about your friend who is staying over. These can all trigger an anxious reaction in your dog – especially those who are territorial, which may be them scratching the floor.

This can be particularly common at nighttime. It’s important to soothe your dog before bed, spend enough quality time with them, and reinforce good behavior with attention.

It’s fun!

It might not sound it to us, but scratching can be a great source of entertainment for your pooch. Digging holes (especially in the yard!) and scratching the floor can alleviate boredom and be a great way of them burning off some steam. Dogs love to explore and look for new sights and smells, so why wouldn’t they try to ‘dig’ downwards too?

Is your dog in pain?

Dogs scratching the floor could also be a sign of them being in pain, especially if this is new behavior for them. Pain, especially when you can’t explicitly tell your human where it hurts, can cause your pup to do some new things. One of these could be scratching the floor. If you’re unsure or think this could be the reason, check with your vet just to be safe. 

Is it ok for my dog to scratch the floor?

Some dog breeds more than others are known for being particular scratchers. Terriers, for example, love to scratch. Whether this behavior should be encouraged is really down to you. A light scratch before they settle down to sleep isn’t a huge issue and is pretty natural to them, but holes in your garden or carpet may not be so cute.

When asking yourself the question why does my dog scratch the floor, you might first want to check that they have everything they need. Dogs need a good, comfy place to sleep. A soft dog bed will stop them from needing to scratch out their own nest.

It’s also important to make sure your dog gets enough exercise and mental stimulation. Scratching the floor might be an outlet for all their built-up energy, so reducing that possibility is important!

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