Why Do Dogs Scratch The Floor?

If you own a dog, you probably agree that there are times when you cannot quite understand their odd behavior. The usual trying to catch their own tail or climbing all over you is fine, but scratching the floor before settling down for a nap? Now that one is a head scratcher.

The good news is, do not be alarmed! In this article we shall be looking at several things when it comes to this peculiar dog behavior, how to deter scratching and which floor is best for those who have dogs who scratch.

At the end of this article we will have looked at:

  • Why Is My Dog Scratching the Floor?
  • Why Is My Dog Scratching Before Going to Sleep?
  • Is My Dog Scratching For Comfort?
  • Is It In My Dog’s Genetics to Scratch The Floor?
  • Is My Dog Scratching The Floor To Claim His Space?
  • Is My Dog Just Scratching The Floor For Fun?
  • Is My Dog Scratching The Floor Because of An Emotional Issue?
  • Is My Dog Scratching The Floor Because of a Medical Issue?
  • How Can I Deter My Dog From Scratching The Floor?
  • What Wood Is Best For A Dog That Scratches The Floor?

So, let us find out exactly what this floor scratching is all about…

Why Is My Dog Scratching The Floor?

When it comes to why a dog is scratching the floor, there are many reasons to why they are doing it: acting on their instincts as a dog, preparing their place for sleep, for comfort, claiming territory, just for fun, boredom, reacting due to something emotional, a medical problem or even just investigating a smell. If you believe your dog has peed on the floor, then have a look at our article that answers the question of How do you Remove Pet Urine?

Because there are so many reasons, let us take a look at some of them in more detail…

Why Is My Dog Scratching Before Going To Sleep?

Have you ever noticed that your dog will scratch, sniff and sometimes circle around the place they are about to take a nap or a sleep in? Perhaps they will ruffle the bed sheets about (if in your bed) or attempt to dig. It is a behavior called nesting, and basically it is just a dog creating a comfy place to settle.

It is an instinct that they have, and would do the same in the wild. Pregnant dogs also do this which is a good way to know when they are close to giving birth. They are looking for a comfy place ready to birth their puppies and somewhere she would not get attacked by predators.

Even still, whether a dog is pregnant or not, they will always prefer a nice comfy place to rest, just like you!

Is My Dog Scratching For Comfort?

As stated before, they tend to scratch and sniff and do all sorts of things before they settle to sleep. But, they also have a preference for temperature like humans do. If a dog is too warm or too cold, their first instinct will tell them to dig a hole so that is exactly what they will try to do, blankets and wood floors or no blankets and wood floors!

So, do not be surprised that come the height of summer a dog will try to dig at the floor. Sadly they cannot control the aircon, so their best bet is to dig for coolness. Unfortunately, it will not work, so if this is happening on particularly warm or cold nights, try and keep your dog cool or warm.

Is It In My Dog’s Genetics to Scratch The Floor?

Actually, yes. A dog has natural instincts within his DNA to scratch, so it is quite normal behavior. Many dog owners can become confused when it happens due to not knowing why little Fido is scratching away at the floor.

Also, if he appears distressed, it can be quite unsettling as a dog owner to watch a dog using his instincts to scratch and scratch, whilst you work it out like a crossword puzzle.

Dogs are also similar to cats in the way they mark their territory. When they settle down to sleep, they are saying “This is my bed”.

In the wild they would scent mark their territory by doing a number of things like scratching the floor, urinating and defecating. It might sound a little urgh to us, but it is a natural way to stay protected whilst giving birth and sleeping, and generally having somewhere safe to be.

Is My Dog Scratching The Floor To Claim His Space?

Just like the fact it is in your dog’s DNA to mark his territory, it is all about claiming their own space. They want other dogs to know that this is their space so keep out.

The way a dog scratches the ground as a ritual of scent marking is by using paws which have sweat glands that leave a trace of their scent as they scratch them along the floor.

This act will achieve two things for your dog, not only will it leave a scent of them, but also a visual trace because of the sweat. According to research, a spayed female dog is actually more likely to scratch the ground post urination.

So, as you can see, just like with a lot of animals in the wild, our domesticated pets will still have such behaviour when around the house because it is just instinct. Even a hamster will mark his territory!

Is My Dog Just Scratching The Floor For Fun?

Sometimes there really is no reason why your dog is scratching at the floor. There are dogs that will just scratch at the floor for sheer fun and nothing more. Really, it is all down to knowing if he is just taking satisfaction from rubbing his paws across the floor, to settling down to sleep.

Look for different indicators that may suggest different habits within his behavior. This should help to narrow down the reason he is scratching at the floor.

Is My Dog Scratching The Floor Because of An Emotional Issue?

There are a few emotions that could be causing your dog to scratch: boredom, anxiety or excitement. Let us look at these in more detail below.


A dog may be scratching the floor because they are bored. Just like some of us may scroll endlessly through Tiktok to relieve boredom, a dog may scratch the floor for entertainment.


One of the ways an anxious dog may try to calm themselves down if they are anxious is by scratching at the floor. You will know it is separation anxiety if there are scratches on the floor when you get home, but he will not do it in your presence. This can be quite common with rescue dogs due to their fear of abandonment.


There can be times when your dog really wants to do something but cannot, so he will scratch the floor – this is called displacement behavior. For example, he may see a cat outside and because he cannot go and taunt it like his instinct tells him to, he will scratch at the floor in excitement instead.

Is My Dog Scratching The Floor Because Of A Medical Issue?

There are times when the reason your dog is scratching is down to a medical issue. If he scratches as if it looks like he is competing against another dog – the kind where it is so destructive on the floor – then it might be time to investigate further.

Dogs will normally try to hide that they are in pain due to their natural instincts of survival. Having pain may show that they are weak to predators, afterall. Even so, you will likely still notice that something is not quite right, and this could be in the form of scratching the floor. As the pain increases, so will the scratching.

How Can I Deter My Dog From Scratching The Floor?

Now you have read the reasons your dog may be scratching the floor, how can you deter it? There are a number of ways to try and stop your dog from scratching your brand-new wooden floor, but if all else fails, get expert help.


If you find that your dog is scratching out of boredom, make an effort to spend more time with him. If you have limited time, set aside half an hour to an hour to give him the fun he needs to stop becoming bored.

This means giving your dog his full attention. Talk to him and interact – do not find yourself looking through your iPhone. The plan is to drain him of energy so he will relax later on and feel content when you are busy.

Also, make sure this is a thing that you keep doing every day. You will start to notice he will scratch less and less each day.


If your dog does not have his own bed already, buy him one and make sure it resembles a lovely, comfortable den. However, if it is their first bed, give them time to get used to it. You can do this by rewarding your dog when he goes near his bed. This could be if he sniffs it, puts a paw on it – anything.


If you find your dog is scratching because of boredom, try distracting him with something a lot more interesting like a toy, and then tell him to sit or lie down. You can then give him the toy as a reward.


When it comes to chewing, your dog sure loves to do it. This activity may also help with anxiety, so replacing the scratching with something fun as well as engaging whilst he feels anxious should stop the nervous scratching.

A good way to occupy your dog with chewing is by giving them a dental toy. As well as keeping him entertained, it will also prevent any plaque build-up, so it is a win-win.


It is widely known that to keep dogs calm, play some classical music. This may help with a dog who is feeling rather anxious, and should keep him calm and relaxed. If you do not own any, just search for a dog friendly playlist on Spotify or Amazon Music.


When it comes to dogs and curiosity, they will pick up anything you may have dropped on the kitchen floor, so keep it clean. Over time it will stop your dog from scratching away at the floor out of sheer curiosity to what tasty treats he may find.

What Wood Is Best For A Dog That Scratches The Floor?

Wood is a great choice when it comes to flooring, but may not be practical when you own a dog. However, you can have both!

If you have a dog that likes to scratch, or maybe you just have a dog, it is always best to look for a floor that will withstand his scratching, walking and mess making. Hard maple is a good choice for those who want some hardwearing. It is used for basketball courts, so it is quite obvious how well it does under stress!

Brazilian Walnut is another good choice when it comes to a hardwearing floor. Usually used across North America for outdoor decks, but has been used indoors for a fair number of years now.

Lastly, bamboo. Though officially not a wood, in the flooring industry it is classified as a wood due to it being subjected to the Janka hardness test – the test to see how durable it is.

We do not usually consider bamboo hard, but during the manufacturing process it is mixed with hard resins to make sure it can function as a hard floor.


We now know there are many reasons why a dog may scratch at the floor, but also how to prevent it. Dogs may just be acting on instinct, which is understandable, however, there are ways to deter him if it is becoming a problem.

On the other hand, there may be a medical reason, so taking him to the vet will sort out the issue.

Whether you need to investigate your dog’s scratching further or if all you need to do is distract him, there are ways to protect your floor – either by distraction or by investing in better flooring.

Even so, your dog will always prioritize his sleeping space as his own, so do not be surprised if he still scratches before settling down. It is just his way of telling others to “keep out”!