Dogs can be destructive and take part in some bizarre behaviour which frustrates and baffles owners who feel they just can’t get to grips with helping them out. Recently, we’ve seen a spate of questions surrounding dogs who scratch at the carpet in the middle of the night. Not during the morning, day or afternoon but in the middle of the night when everyone’s gone to bed.
Here a JugDog we’ve got first hand experience of this as our late German Shepherd did this very same thing on and off for sometime. It seems quite innocent and doesn’t last very long but as is the case with the majority of behaviour related articles we’ve written – there will be an underlying issue, it shouldn’t be ignored and it can be resolved.
Why would a dog scratch at the carpet in the middle of the night?
There’s no one reason why a dog would scratch at the carpet at this particular time of the day but there are a few potential causes which you can work through one by one to try and help your dog move on from it.
There are certain breeds out there who are compelled to dig as it’s in their DNA. These breeds are typically ‘hunting’ or ‘working’ dogs who have been bred to chase small prey out of holes. These breeds, if not properly exercised and stimulated, will release their frustration when left alone in the middle of night on any surface they can find – including carpets.
If you have a working or hunting breed it’s important to train them that digging and scratching indoors (or even elsewhere) is not desirable and to try and divert their frustration somewhere else such as a toy.
Dogs who have not been stimulated enough physically and mentally during the day are more likely to be naughty and try and take their frustration out on other things, such as the carpet. Not all bored and frustrated dogs will react this way but it is a potential cause worth looking into.
The most important thing to do is ensure they get enough exercise during the day and that they have some kind of toy, preferably a chew toy, to keep them occupied in the night should they need it. Generally though, dogs don’t do much in the middle of the night other than reposition themselves and perhaps go for a drink.
Digging and scratching at the carpet in the middle of the night can be a key sign that they’re struggling with separation anxiety but should only really be seen with new dogs in the home or puppies. An established dog is unlikely to suddenly develop separation anxiety without a sudden life change. There’s no cure to separation anxiety but it does need to be addressed slowly and positively. It’s too much of a complicated subject for this article so we recommend researching further.
If separation anxiety is not addressed it can lead to much more than just scratching at the carpet in the middle of the night.
They need their nails clipping
Long nails can be irritating for a dog and they will try and deal with it themselves if they’re not given a session with dog nail clippers. This could be a reason for dogs scratching at carpets and doors throughout the day not just in the middle of the night. If they’ve got long nails it can make walking uncomfortable and affect their posture greatly and should be addressed quickly.
To make it easier, we have a guide how to sedate a dog for clipping.
They can smell food
If someone has spilled food on the carpet and it’s left a scent the dog could be convinced that the source could be under the carpet and if they keep digging that they will find it. This is also the case with bits of food getting underneath furniture or even their own bed.
Ronnie is the JugDog site editor and a dog expert who has lived and worked with dogs his entire life. Living in St. Helens, UK with his wife son and Jug Dog Jeff Ronnie spends most of time researching the answers to the burning questions of the dog community as well as reviewing the latest and greatest dog products.