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Why Does My Dog Sometimes Dig at the Carpet

Learn about why some dogs dig at carpet and how to stop it.

Does your dog sometimes stop, sniff the carpet, and then begin to dig furiously at it as though it's dirt and she smells a mole?

There are a few reasons dogs might do this.

Your Dog Could Smell Food

It's possible there's a bit of food deep in the carpet. Your dog's nose can detect odors much more strongly than yours can. If he gets a tiny whiff of food, he might do his best to dig it out so he can devour it.

To deter this type of carpet-digging, get a good vacuum and use it regularly.

Your Dog Could Smell Something Else

There may be another, stinkier, smell in the carpet. Have you ever seen your dog roll in a yucky-smelling thing outside? It's possible he could wish to dig out and roll in the ickiness he detects in the rug.

You might be able to sniff the spot your dog is interested in on the carpet and detect a yucky smell. Use a good carpet cleaner and thoroughly clean any places your dog is digging at to rule out this cause of carpet-digging.

Your Dog May Wish to Cozy Up His Sleeping Spot

Dogs sometimes dig a bit at their bed or sleeping area, turning around in circles and trying to get it just right before they lie down. In the wild, stomping out a cozy spot in the grass or dirt creates a warmer or cooler place to curl up and sleep. Even though your house is probably much more climate-controlled than the wilderness, that behavior is innate, and some dogs will do it automatically. They might dig at the carpet for that reason.

To deter this carpet-digging cause, get your dog a nice, cozy dog bed and encourage him to use it. If you see him digging the carpet, clap your hands and say "no," and then guide him to his bed and give him treats and praise when he goes into it instead.

Your Dog Might Have Misplaced Excitement or Stress

Sometimes, dogs dig frantically when they get super excited about something, and your carpet might simply be the victim. This is common when a dog sees or senses another dog or squirrel in the yard, but he can't get to it. He may turn away from the window and dig frantically at the carpet as an outlet for the pent-up excitement about the animal.

Stress or boredom can also cause digging behavior in dogs. If your dog is upset about something such as a new pet in the home or if he isn't getting enough physical or mental stimulation, he could engage in behaviors like carpet-digging as a way to blow off steam or amuse himself.

For this type of carpet-digging, it can help to make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise each day. Going outside to walk, run, and play fetch can tire him out and render him less likely to engage in destructive behavior inside.

You can also give your dog a puzzle toy to keep him busy when you can't interact with him. They can act as mental enrichment for dogs.

If you think your dog might be stressed or anxious, D.A.P. may help. It's an analog of a calming pheromone for dogs, and many dogs are soothed by its scent. Learn more: "How to Cope with Canine Anxiety and Fear Using Adaptil (Formerly Called D.A.P.)."

Your Dog Could Be Nauseous

Dogs sometimes dig before vomiting. If this is the case for your dog, the behavior will be intermittent, and you will see him gag or vomit during or after the carpet-digging episodes.

If you believe your dog is nauseous, contact your veterinarian.

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