Why Does My Golden Retriever Scratch the Floor and Carpets?


Truth is, your furniture and carpeting are always at a certain risk when you live with a dog. It’s just a fact of life, and it’s one that you should accept pretty quickly if you want inner peace.

However, if your dog suddenly starts scratching the floors and carpets, and if they do it continuously or excessively, it could be a cause for concern.

In order to find out why they do it, I went ahead and did some research, and here is what I was able to find out.

So, why does my golden retriever scratch the floors and carpets? Your golden retriever might be scratching the floors and carpets because they are bored, they have anxiety, they might be suffering from behavioral issues or physical discomfort such as being too cold or too hot.                                                                                                                                                                                        

To learn what you should do in order to help your dog (and save your expensive carpets and floors) keep reading…

8 Causes why your golden retriever scratches the floors and carpets 

Golden retriever laying on the ground beside a carpet to illustrate why does my golden retriever scratch the floor constantly

Here are 9 possible causes why your golden retriever could be excessively scratching your floors and carpets:

  1. Boredom 
  2. OCD 
  3. Anxiety 
  4. Illness 
  5. Behavioral issues 
  6. Instinct 
  7. Physical discomfort 
  8. Attention 
  9. Their nails are itchy 

Let’s briefly discuss how each of these could lead your dog to keep scratching them and what your could do about it.

Boredom

Goldens are very energetic dogs, and when they don’t get enough exercise, they will get bored quickly and will find other ways to release this energy. Sometimes they will release it by barking continuously, other times they can release it by digging and scratching the floors.

If you think your dog behaves in that way because they are bored then you need to make time for them to exercise or to play together. Remember that golden retrievers need at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per day, and anything less than that can leave them frustrated.

OCD

Dogs can have OCD, and while not the same as humans, it can certainly show itself as very similar.

If you are not familiar, OCD is obsessive-compulsive behavior and it can develop in your dog due to their environment.

It can occur in your golden retriever because of stress, excessive confinement, lack of socialization, and poor training. 

If you feel that this is the reason why they are trying to reach china through the earth by digging in your carpets, you should go over their training and socialization again, and if the behavior is a bit extreme, you can always consult a professional behaviorist or a trainer.  

Anxiety 

One of the possible reasons why your golden retriever could scratch the floor and the carpets is they are anxious, and yes, just like us, dogs can have anxiety as well.

If they tend to scratch the carpets or the floor when they hear thunder, fireworks, or any loud noises, also it could be that someone is making them anxious so if they do it whenever a specific person is around then they are probably making them nervous and anxious.

Avoid leaving them alone around that person or even in the same room with your golden retriever.

Golden Retrievers are especially prone to separation anxiety, so if your dog displays this behavior and others similar to it while you’re not home, then it’s quite likely that they have some degree of separation anxiety. You can learn more about goldens separation anxiety and how to leave them alone here.

Illness

Since dogs can’t tell us when they are sick, they can show their discomfort in other ways, such as constantly scratching your floors and carpets.

If they started doing it suddenly then they are probably ill. It could be a mental or physical illness such as brain tumors or thyroid imbalance, both of which can make them behave somewhat destructively. 

You should contact your vet immediately if you think this is the cause.

Behavioral issues

If you just adopted your golden retriever or they are in a new environment, they are probably scratching the carpet to leave their smell on it to make it their territory. 

If they also urinate on the carpet then it’s probably a behavioral issue. It should be known that while goldens are not very territorial, such behaviors do exist in them to some degree.

Instinct 

If they do it before they go to sleep, then they are probably doing it due to their natural instinct.

In the wild, most dogs used to dig to make a nest or if they are pregnant they will dig to make a den so they can rest.

Most dogs still have this habit from their ancestors, so if they do it often, then it’s probably just an instinct. 

In this case, you could try getting them a dog house (indoors) as this can give them the same sense of safety and comfort they are seeking.

Physical discomfort 

If your dog is too cold or too hot they will scratch the floor and the carpets trying to dig a hole or a den as a shelter, so if you feel that the temperature is the extreme of either for your dog and they cannot handle it make sure that they are comfortable so they won’t dig in your floor.

You can learn how hot is too hot for golden retrievers here and how cold is too cold for golden retrievers here as well.

Attention 

It could be that your golden retriever noticed that when they scratch the carpets or the floor they get your attention, so they are now doing it anytime they want your attention.

If they are doing it because they want attention, then do not give it to them, instead give them attention throughout the day but when they start scratching the floors, stop playing with them and walk away.

When they finally stop wait for a few minutes then give them a treat and praise them. This will teach them that scratching your floors and carpets will end the fun, and with time they will stop doing it completely.

Their nails are itchy 

Your golden retriever’s nails could be itchy so they are doing it to get rid of the itch.

If they do it when their nails are long and need trimming then they are probably just itchy. In this case, simply trimming their nails and cleaning them well should make the behavior go away.

7 Steps To Stop Your Golden From Scratching The Floors

Here is how to stop your golden retriever from scratching the floors and carpets in 7 easy steps:

  1. Find The Cause
  2. Get protective carpets or rugs
  3. Remove the carpets 
  4. Distract them 
  5. Calm them down
  6. Trim their nails
  7. Train them

Find The Cause

First of all, you need to find the cause of why they are doing it in the first place. If you found the cause and illuminated it, you will have handled the problem at its roots and now you are unlikely to face it again.

Get protective carpets or rugs

 You can place a protective rug, hardwood, or a tile entrance for your dog and you can use a carpet powder for homes with pets.

You can also get a Lickimat from Amazon, it’s a mat you can put any treats or food that your dog just loves and it will keep you distracted from the carpets.

Remove the carpets

You don’t have to make your whole house carpet-free just because your pet is scratching them.

You can remove the carpets in the area they like to sit on the most such as around their bedding or anywhere they like to spend their time.

Distract them

One of the most obvious solutions is whenever they are scratching the carpet, you can distract them by petting them, watching something together, or playing fetch.

But you need to make sure that you don’t do it as soon as they scratch the carpet because this sends the signal that you will give them attention whenever they do it, which only reinforces the behavior.

Instead, you should get them to stop then wait for a few minutes and play with them. 

If you play with them as soon as they scratch the carpet they will connect that scratching is a good thing since whenever they do it you play with them and pet them. 

Calm them down

If they do it whenever they hear thunder, fireworks, or any loud noises then they are doing it due to anxiety.

You should calm them down and make them feel safe. You can learn about ways to calm down your golden retriever here.

Trim their nails

Trimming their nails will limit the scratching, you can do it by yourself, or if you don’t have time you can take them to a professional groomer.

Don’t know how to cut your own dog’s nails? Don’t worry, it’s not that difficult. Watch the video below for a step-by-step guide.

For my own dogs, I use these very affordable and surprisingly good dog nail clippers from Amazon.

They are pretty easy and safe to use, but if you are totally new to this, I would actually start with guillotine nail clippers such as these ones from Coastal (Amazon link).

Train them 

You can train them to stop scratching the carpet. Whenever they scratch the carpet, say “no” in a loud voice, and when your dog stops you can offer them a treat and repeat it till they stop as soon as they hear your voice.

When they stop the second they hear your voice, wait for a few minutes and then give them the treat repeat it and start to give them fewer treats, and as soon as you feel that they are ready and they stop when you ask them to, stop giving them treats.

Why Do Dogs scratch tiled floors? 

Dogs tend to scratch tiled floors or any floors to claim that area as their own because they have glands in their paws that secretes a smell and in that way, they are leaving their scent in that place to let people and other dogs know that they own that area.

Why do dogs dig in the carpet? 

Dogs like to dig in the carpet when they are stressed or anxious. They are doing it to release stress, also, they may dig in the carpet if they are excited so if they do it whenever it’s playtime when you come home, or when they see someone that they really like.

It is called a displacement behavior, it means that your dog can’t express what they are really feeling so they are expressing it in another way.

Why do female dogs scratch the carpet?

In the wild, female dogs used to dig to make a secure place to sleep. If they are pregnant they will dig to make a den, some dogs can still have this habit because it is their natural after all, but not all female dogs inherit it from their ancestors.

They can also relieve some anxiety, she can be doing it out of boredom as well.

How do you fix a carpet torn up by dogs?

If it’s a small tore, here is what you can do 

  • Use a circular cutter to cut the ripped carpet 
  • Use the cutter again to create a patch (if you do not have carpet remnants and the year they made is smaller)
  • Cut a patch from an inconspicuous spot in the carpet
  • Now repair the holes by using old carpet scraps 

Related Questions 

Why does my dog scratch the carpet in the middle of the night? 

The reason your dog is scratching the carpet in the middle of the night is that they are trying to be comfortable, wild dogs used to dig to make something like a nest or den so the can sleep in a secure place, also, they may be making sure that the area they are sleeping in is their territory. 

Why does my dog scratch the floor before eating? 

When dogs used to live in the wild they liked to bury their food when they couldn’t finish the meal just so they can eat it later, some dogs still have this habit and they might do it because they don’t want anyone to share their food or they want to secure that food will still be there when they want to eat.

Why does my dog scratch the bed? 

Your dog is scratching their bed to make it more comfortable, they got it from their ancestors, they used to dig to make a safe place to sleep in it, also they used to do it to make it warmer or a cooler place depending on the weather.

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Useful Resources

Why Do Dogs Scratch The Floor

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