Why Do Dogs Scratch the Floor? Reasons & What to Do

Last updated on: Jan 30, 2024

By: Stephanie Dunne

A Cute Brown Puppy Lying on the Floor

Have you ever seen your dog scratching the floor and wondered why? Sometimes dogs do things that seem silly, but they have their own reasons. We'll look at all the causes, from natural instincts to possible health issues. We'll also show you simple ways to stop the behavior.

This guide is for all dog owners, whether you're new to dogs or have been around them for years. Let's get started!

Common Reasons Why Dogs Scratch the Floor


  • Nesting and Seeking Comfort: Dogs naturally scratch to create a comfortable place to rest, a behavior inherited from their wild ancestors. For the same reason, they may scratch and even dig in their beds.
  • Marking Their Territory: They may scratch to mark their territory, leaving a scent from their paws. This also applies to digging and scratching in their beds.

Health and Comfort

  • Nail Care: In the wild, the act of scratching helps dogs keep their nails short. This is less effective on indoor surfaces, but the instinct remains. If your dog's nails are too long, they might instinctively scratch more often.
  • Skin Conditions or Allergies: If your dog is itchy due to allergies or skin issues, they might scratch the floor (and themselves) more.
  • Pain or Discomfort: Dogs in pain, like those with arthritis or injuries, might scratch to find a comfortable position or just to cope with discomfort.


  • Boredom or Frustration: A bored or under-stimulated dog may scratch for entertainment or to release energy. This is especially true in high-energy breeds.
  • Anxiety or Stress (Including Separation Anxiety): Stress or anxiety can lead to a variety of behaviors, including scratching. Separation anxiety in particular can lead to a number of destructive behaviors when you are not around.
  • Seeking Attention: Dogs often learn which behaviors get your attention. If scratching the floor gets your reaction, even if it's negative, they may continue to do it to connect with you.

Special Considerations

Addressing your dog's floor scratching isn't one-size-fits-all. It's essential to consider their age and sometimes breed.

  • Age Matters: Young puppies often scratch surfaces as a part of exploration or teething, while senior dogs might do it for comfort or due to joint pain.
  • Breed Specifics. Your dog's breed may also play a role. For example, breeds like Terriers or Dachshunds were originally bred for activities like hunting and digging. The may scratch a lot more, it's just in their nature.

How to Address and Redirect Scratching

Identify The Patterns

Observe when and where your dog scratches and what precedes the behavior. This can hint at whether the cause is behavioral, environmental, or health-related.

Do a Health Check

If allergies, skin conditions, or pain seem to be the cause, see your vet.

Trim Their Nails

  • Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed can reduce the need to scratch for nail care.
  • Clean their paws regularly, especially if they're sensitive to outdoor allergens.

Change the Environment

  • Limit access to areas where they often scratch, at least without your supervision. This can help break the habit while you work on other solutions.
  • Use dog-friendly odor neutralizers in areas they've marked to discourage further scratching.

Modify Their Behavior

  • Provide alternatives like toys or a digging box to redirect their instinctual scratching.
  • Ensure your dog gets adequate physical exercise and mental stimulation daily. This can significantly reduce boredom-related behaviors, including scratching.
  • Train your dog the 'leave it' command to stop them mid-action.

If your dog's scratching behavior persists or worsens, it may be time to seek professional help. It could be a sign of deeper behavioral or health problems.


Now you know why dogs scratch and what to do about it. If you pay attention, you'll notice many more curious things about your dog's behavior.

For example, you may want to know why dogs noses are wet, or why some dogs love to chase their tails.

And if you just got a puppy, you'll learn how to teach them their name and how much sleep they need.

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