Your new dog has been such a joy since you brought him home. You hate like mad to leave him, but it is Monday. It is time for you to go back to work. He has been such a doll baby. You do not give it a second thought, leaving him there alone while you go to work. However, you get home and open the door. Your mouth drops open in pure shock. There is a big piece of concrete showing where your carpet used to be, and your dog comes up to you slowly with his head down. 

Why is my dog ripping or tearing up the carpet?

Now, you are in a predicament. You have this great dog, but carpeting is expensive; plus, when the landlord finds out, you may be homeless. Your mind is spinning. OK, you think to yourself, the first thing I need to figure out is why is my dog tearing up the carpet. Well, it can be one or more of a somewhat sizable list of possibilities. Take a look.

Excess energy

If your dog has pent-up energy or is not stimulated enough, this would be a good reason for him to dig into the carpet. If you are gone for long periods of time, and he is left without adequate stimulation, he can get extremely bored. Tearing up the carpet may be his way of playing until you get home. It could simply be a matter of needing to burn off energy that has built up while he was sitting on the couch waiting on his beloved owner to return.

Confusion

Have you made sure your dog knows which toys he can play with? Maybe he is confused, and thus, frustrated. Until you have helped him to understand the order of things, you are going to have problems like this. 

To create a sleeping space

Dogs are famous for creating their own cozy sleeping spaces. Maybe he was trying to create himself a warm, comfortable bed. Maybe the bed you got for him makes him too hot, and he was looking to find a cooler spot. It can also be just like us with our thermostats — temperature control.

To hide something

They are also famous for hiding or burying things. Maybe your dog was trying to bury something. Surely you can think of more far-fetched reasons why he may have done it.

Separation anxiety

Many feel that separation anxiety is usually the reason why dogs tear up a home. In separation anxiety, dogs get terribly upset and anxious when their owner leaves them or “separates” from them. There have been documented cases of dogs with separation anxiety being so distraught that they hurt themselves badly trying to leave the home through closed windows and doors. Chewing and digging are just two of the many symptoms of separation anxiety.

Illness

Do not panic, because this is almost never the case. However, every once in a while, illnesses like a brain tumor or thyroid imbalance can cause a dog to exhibit behavior like carpet digging. Only a vet would be able to diagnose an issue like this.

Nature

Is your dog a terrier? This is one of a few breeds that was bred to burrow after their prey. Since it is bred into them, you are fighting somewhat of a losing battle trying to get them to stop digging.

Could my dog be seeking attention?

It could just be that your dog is looking to get your attention. Maybe he has noticed that, when you come home and see that he has been digging, you talk to him. Whether it is sweet reprimand or frustrated garble, he has your attention, and he recognizes that. He could just be repeating the act to continue getting that attention, like a game.

Why is my dog suddenly eating the carpet?

It is not bad enough that your dog is digging up the carpet. Now, you are seeing pieces of the carpet in his feces. You are panicking and have no idea what to think. Take a look at some reasons your dog might be eating your carpet.

Food on the carpet

Dogs have a keen sense of smell, and thus, can sniff out things that humans cannot. It is possible that your carpet has crumbs in it or even just the odors of foods that were once spilled on it. Your dog would be tempted to “eat” these foods out of the carpet — an impossible task, right, but your dog does not realize that.

Teething

If you have a teething pup or a dog with tooth problems, either could be the cause of your dog eating the carpet. These things cause your dog pain, and this could be his way of trying to alleviate that pain.

What is grazing, and could that be the problem?

Some dogs can mistake carpet for grass. Dogs will eat grass when they feel nauseated, as it helps them vomit. This is usually reserved for dogs that are past “puppydom.” This could be the issue with your dog.

Is it possible that my dog has Pica?

Pica is most often found in children, but it can be found in dogs, as well. This would be one reason your dog may eat your carpet. A dog with Pica may eat fabric, like carpet, but may also eat wood, plastic, paper, and even rocks. Pica is an obsessive compulsion, a psychological disorder. Pica is an extremely dangerous disorder, as your dog may eat things that are poisonous or sharp, are a choking hazard, and more.

How to stop my dog from tearing up the carpet?

You are now aware of the most common reasons why your dog may be digging up, and even eating, the carpet. It is not just the money, or even the fact that you have no idea what to say to the landlord. You are worried about your dog. You know that carpeting can get become lodged in your dog’s throat or tangled up in his tummy or his intestines and cause an infection. Now, you would like to know if there is anything you can do about it. It is a sort of complicated problem, but there are some solutions that you can try. 

Educate your dog.

If your dog is unclear regarding what is yours and what is his, what he can and cannot destroy, it is time to educate him. Make sure he is house-trained and has a clear idea regarding which toys are his and what are not toys.

Increase the magnitude of his exercise.

If he is just burning up pent-up energy, maybe you could increase the magnitude of his exercise. This will not only reduce the pent-up energy but calm him overall, as exercise is known to do so for the body.

Ensure that he is happy with his sleeping quarters.

Do whatever you have to do to make sure he is happy with his bed. If he doesn’t spend much time there, that is a good sign that he doesn’t view it as a very warm and comforting place. You might even need to change its location.

Make sure he is supervised.

You do not want to have to do it, and you certainly cannot afford to pay someone to do it. However, you may not have another choice except to have someone keep tabs on your dog every so often while you are working. This may keep him pacified enough for you to maintain your carpet.

Use taste deterrents.

Put some vinegar and water or bitter apple and water into a misting spray bottle. Spray it onto the carpet. Alternatively, you can mix the water with some type of hot sauce, and spray it onto the carpet. This will taste bad to him and keep him from chewing the carpet, or even digging into it, as it will get onto his paws while he is digging. Consequently, when he cleans his paws, he will taste it.

Crate train him.

If you want to teach your dog independence and responsibility and create a safe environment for him, crate training may be the answer. Do not worry. The American Kennel Club says that crate training is not imprisonment, that dogs like spaces that are small and enclosed. Here are the general steps to crate training.

  1. There are kennel, airline, or wire crates. Figure out which is best for your dog, and choose one. If you are not sure, consult the American Kennel Club (AKC).
  2. Bring your dog to the crate in times of calmness. This will help him associate the crate with a calm, relaxed mood. Leave him in the crate for 10 minutes each time, and work up from there.
  3. You will need to make sure your dog is comfortable. While he may prefer a soft, fluffy bed, many dogs actually do prefer a hard surface, meaning he may prefer lying on the crate mat.
  4. Positive association is the key. When he goes into the crate on his own, give him a great treat, one that will last a while. He will relate being in the crate with an enjoyable activity, plus, he will get used to being in there for a longer period of time.
  5. Watch your dog, and do not forget about him. You do not want him to have to go to the bathroom in his own personal space, but if you don’t take him out often enough for bathroom breaks, walks, food, and play, this could happen. Plus, he could begin to dislike his crate. 
  6. It is vital that he see his crate as a positive place, so crate games are a great idea. Create simple games, like just throwing a ball into the crate for him to fetch. This will help him associate his crate with happy times.
  7. You should never keep a collar with or without a tag or even a jacket or anything else on your dog while in the crate lest it get caught on something and choke him.
  8. Start leaving your home and leaving him in the crate for short periods, like maybe an hour or so. Consider recording your dog during this time to see how he does. Reward him when you get home.

Visit the vet.

If you have tried everything else, it may be time to consult your vet. You may need an anxiety medication mixed with one of these methods to get results.

You are now armed with the facts about reasons why your dog may be digging up and eating your carpet, alongside solutions for your problem. Here is to you finding the right solution for your particular situation. You can do this! You and your dog will see less stressful days.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.