Why Do Dogs Scratch The Floor?

You’re not alone if you’ve ever wondered why your dog scratches the floor.

Many dog owners and dog lovers have noticed their furry friends engage in this odd behavior and have been left wondering what could be causing it.

While there are a few different theories, the most likely reason is that your dog is simply trying to communicate with you.

Here’s a closer look at the question “why do dogs scratch the floor” and what it means for their relationship with you.

Reasons Why Dogs Scratch The Floor

scratch marks on floor

Natural Instinct

Dogs have an instinct to scratch the floor because it feels good on their paws, this behavior can be seen in wild dogs as well.

Dog scratching is a natural behavior that dogs often use to groom their fur and paw pads.

They will run their paws through the carpet or floor to remove dirt and dust and lose hair, which often feels soothing.

Dogs have sweat glands in between their paw pads, leaving them feeling itchy and uncomfortable.

The act of scratching enables them to relieve pressure in this area and provides relief.

Scratching also helps dogs mark their territory like a cat’s scratch post does by leaving behind scent glands found on their feet.

Out of instinctual need or boredom, dogs may simply enjoy the feel of the rug or wooden floor against their paws.

Regardless of why dogs do it, providing dogs with a safe alternative, such as a dedicated scratching post instead of punishing them when they scratch, can keep them from doing damage without causing any distress for your pet.

Helps To Remove Dirt And Debris From Their Nails

Dogs scratch to maintain healthy nails, removing layers of worn nails that could otherwise become too long and cause discomfort or pain.

Scratching also benefits dogs by helping to remove dirt and debris from their claws and paws that build up through everyday activities such as walking.

Additionally, the grating can be used by dogs to mark territories either with unique scents or the visible fur that remains on surfaces after they’ve left their fragrance behind.

Overall, dogs require regular scratching sessions not only for their physical health but also for their instinctive need to communicate with other dogs in the area.

Health Condition

If your dog scratches more than usual, it could indicate one of the underlying medical issues.

While some dogs may scratch due to external variables such as fleas or skin irritation, it is essential to note that dogs may also mark due to certain medical conditions.

These could include a nutrient deficiency, arthritis, cancer, or infection.

It is usual for dogs to scratch frequently; however, if your pet is experiencing unusual and persistent scratching, it could be a sign of certain medical conditions.

Suppose your dog is showing any signs of excessive scratching.

In that case, particularly if accompanied by other symptoms such as weight loss or changes in behavior, it could indicate an illness. You should consult your veterinarian about these concerns. 

To Scent Marking

brown dog paw on floor

Dogs have some fascinating habits when scent-marking their home turf.

They release their unique scents from sachets in the skin around their necks and scratch or dig at the ground surface, removing even more of their odors visually and as a warning of any intruders.

While this behavior may appear strange to us humans, dogs use these actions as literally leaving their calling cards to clearly define an area as ‘theirs’.

That instinctually allows them to create territorial boundaries with other animals who come across those scent lines, helping keep them all safe and secure in the comfort of their respective packs.

Before Lying Down / To Get Comfortable

Dogs scratching before lying down is common and often serves several purposes.

This can also be seen if a dog wants to lie in his dog bed.

They might be fluffing up the area where they are about to sleep to make it more comfortable, or they could send signals to other dogs of their presence and “marking” their territory while they sleep.

Whatever their motivations might be, scratching before bedding down is an instinctive canine behavior and can offer insight into their psychological states.

To Mark Their Territory

Dogs are complex creatures that communicate in numerous ways, one of which is through scent.

By ground scratching, dogs release pheromones from special glands on their feet.

As these smells travel throughout the home, other dogs nearby can detect them, gaining an understanding as to who lives there and whom they should respect.

This behavior is a territorial marker and has been observed in wild and domesticated canines for hundreds of years.

Out Of Boredom

wooden floor with scratch marks

When a dog has left home alone for an extended period, has excess energy or does not have enough activity, they often start to display scratching behaviors.

As any pet owner knows, this annoying habit has the potential to be damaging to floors.

Luckily for dog owners, there are many ways to address this problem.

Allotting additional playtime with your pup, signing them up for agility training classes, or replacing your hardwood floors with a scratch-resistant material can help reduce scratching behavior attributed to boredom in dogs.

After implementing these measures, you and your four-legged companion can enjoy a house free of scratches and plenty of quality moments together!

To Get Your Attention

Dogs have many ways of demanding attention from their owners, and scratching the floor is common.

This behavior can sometimes be seen as naughty, but it’s important to remember that it is usually just a sign of affection or an effort to draw your attention toward them.

If a dog has such an energetic and persistent desire for Attention, responding appropriately is necessary to show them that what they are doing is appreciated and will still get them the response they were hoping for.

With proper guidance and reward-based training, owners and their canine peers can establish a harmonious environment where everyone feels valued.

How To Stop A Dog Scratching The Floor

There are different things to try and consider if you want to stop your dog’s scratching behavior.

Scratching Post Or Toy

It can be very frustrating when dogs start scratching the floor, but there are ways to discourage this behavior.

Providing dogs with a designated scratching post or toy allows them to satisfy their instinct while still keeping your floor intact.

Finding an item your dog will enjoy playing and scratching with can redirect their energy away from the floor and onto the designated toy, discouraging them from engaging in unwanted behaviors.

With consistent training and appropriate items, dogs can be taught how to express themselves without damaging your home’s surfaces.

More Exercise

brown dog laying sad on the floor looking to the camera

Exercise is essential for the health and well-being of your dog, as it helps control their excess energy levels and reduces the chances of them engaging in destructive behaviors.

Providing your dog with more exercise has physical and mental benefits through providing much-needed stimulation during playtime.

Take walks with your pup around the neighborhood or invest in doggy toys (similar to your dogs favorite toy, interactive toys or a puzzle toy) to offer hours of entertainment – these are practical options that can keep destructive urges away!

Additionally, ensuring your four-legged friend gets enough exercise (not only physical, also mental stimulation is important) can help combat behaviors like floor scrawling, which a lack of stimulating activities may cause.

Use “No”

If you catch your dog in the act of scratching, provide a verbal cue such as “no” or “leave it,” followed by a treat when they stop.

When you notice your dogs scratching, provide a verbal cue such as “no” to urge them to stop and then offer praise when they listen.

That helps dogs associate the verbal line with preventing the behavior instead of punishing them, which is not as effective.

That can be especially helpful if you train destructive dogs due to anxiety or stress.

Using positive reinforcement will help dogs understand what behaviors are desired and reinforced so that they are more likely to continue those actions in the future.

If scratching persists after providing verbal cues, it may be helpful for dogs to learn alternative behaviors, such as chewing on toys instead of items in the house.

Regular Nail Trims

Regular nail trims will also help to reduce the amount of scraping and keep your floors looking nice.

Dogs’ nails can cause quite a bit of damage to your floors, as dogs unintentionally scratch while roaming around the house.

The best way to help protect your feet from scratches is by regularly trimming their nails; this will reduce the amount of scraping and keep your floors looking nice.

Nail trims should occur at least bi-monthly, if not more frequently, for dogs that are very active or live outdoors.

If you feel uncomfortable trimming your dog’s nails yourself, you can always look for a groomer or veterinarian nearby who can provide professional nail trims.

When Do You Need To Visit Your Vet?

Suppose a dog is exhibiting excessive scratchings, such as repeatedly pawing, gnawing, and licking its paws or the surrounding floors.

In that case, this could be an indication of discomfort or illness.

Allergies, parasites, and skin infections can cause dogs to scratch frequently.

Taking your dog to a vet as soon as possible is essential to determine if an underlying cause needs medical attention.

The vet can complete an examination to assess for potential medical conditions that may need treatment.

Generally speaking, the sooner these issues are identified and addressed, the better it is for the animal’s overall health.

Should You Stop Your Dog Scratching The Floor?

Keeping your home comfortable and clean means that you may need to implement measures for dealing with a furry friend’s bad habits.

Scratching the floor is one of them, and it can be a nuisance.

Dog owners should take special steps to address this issue, such as offering positive reinforcement when they do not scratch, discouraging the behavior when they do, redirecting their attention to an appropriate scratching post or pad, keeping their claws trimmed, and avoiding punishments that could only make matters worse.

These proactive steps will set the pup and owner up for a more prosperous living.

Is It Normal For Dogs To Scratch The Floor?

white dog paw with nails from near

Dogs have many instinctive behaviors in both as wild dogs and their wild ancestors.

Scratching the floor is a prime example of such behavior, as it is a way for dogs to mark their territory with scent particles from glands on their paws.

At times, this behavior can be problematic, resulting in scratched carpets or floors; however, it is essential to remember that this is normal canine behavior and may not necessarily reflect poorly on the owner’s training techniques.

If your dog has excess energy, scratches the floor all the time and shows other destructive behavior, you need to change something.

With patient and consistent training, and enough exercise, scratching the floor can effectively be managed to remain an occasional habit rather than a regular occurrence.

Dogs have an instinct to scratch the floor because it feels good on their paws and helps to remove dirt and debris from their nails.

As a dog owner, it’s important to know the reasons for ground scratching.

You now know the different answers to the question, “why do dogs scratch the floor”.

If your dog is scratching more than usual, it could indicate an underlying health condition such as allergies, fleas, or skin infections.

You can discourage your dog from scratching the floor by providing them with a designated scratching post or toy.

If you catch your dog in the act of scratching, provide a verbal cue such as “no” or “leave it,” followed by positive reinforcement when they stop.

Before You Go

Now you know the answer to the question, “Why do dogs scratch the floor?”.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

David Brown

David grew up with two dogs (Lucy and Tucker) and has loved dogs since he was a little child. He is a part of the Woofysh content team and shares all his knowledge and passion with our readers.