While scratching on tiled floors might seem like odd dog behavior to people, it is actually just a natural urge dogs get to claim a favorite spot, have a little fun, or simply get comfortable.
Dogs are naturally wired to dig. Scratching at the ground helped wild dogs create secure and comfortable nests where they could rest. Since scratching and digging behaviors were useful to wild dogs, the urge to continue that practice is literally hardwired into canine DNA. Despite access to comfortable and secure sleeping areas in their modern homes, many domesticated dogs find it hard to resist the urge to create a nest by scratching at the ground.
Scratching tile floors or any other surface is a form of canine communication. When a dog scratches at the floor, he is claiming that spot as his own. The bottom of a dog’s paws has special glands that release a territorial scent onto the floor when the dog scratches. The odor lets other dogs know that they need to keep moving because the scented spot has already been claimed.
While most people would much rather their dog play with toys or chase his own tail, some dogs simply get a kick out of scratching at the floor. Dogs that are bored or have excess energy are more likely to engage in scratching and digging behaviors than those that are properly exercised or easily entertained by other means.
Tile floors are not typically the most comfortable surface to lie on, which is why some dogs feel the need to scratch on them before settling down to rest. Dogs use scratching behavior to make the ground cozier or to help them find a more snug position in which to rest.
Some breeds, like terriers, are more prone to scratching and digging behaviors than others. Dog lovers who are concerned about their flooring should avoid terriers and invest in early training to curb or eliminate digging behavior. Since ceramic tiles are less susceptible to dog scratches than wood or stone tiles, dog lovers should opt for ceramic tile floors when possible.
By Kristina de la Cal
UC Davis Veterinary Medicine: Why Does My Dog Dig?
Humane Society of Missouri: Destructive Behavior in Dogs: Digging
Humane Society of the United States: Dig This: How to Get Your Dog to Stop Digging
About the Author
Kristina de la Cal is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, “Breaking up without Breaking Down," in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.