If your Golden Retriever won’t stop scratching the floor you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. In this post, I will show you a number of common reasons why they do it and what would make them more likely to be the reason why yours does it.
So, why does my Golden Retriever keep scratching the floor? Possible reasons are that it has anxiety, you have been inadvertently rewarding it, it does it for the attention, it is an obsessive-compulsive disorder or it might do it due to having excess energy.
There are actually many reasons why it might be doing it and it could be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are a number of things you can consider when figuring out the main reason and there are a number of things you can do about it.
Why your Golden Retriever won’t stop scratching the floor
Below are common reasons why Golden Retrievers scratch the floor and what would make them more likely to be the reason why yours has been doing it.
It could be the case that something has been causing it to feel anxious. This would be more likely if does it more when it might be feeling anxious such as when you are about to leave home. It would also be more likely if it also shows other signs of being anxious such as pacing or panting heavily.
If it does seem like it might be doing it due to anxiety, it would help to take measures to reduce its anxiety.
For example, if it seems to be doing it due to having separation anxiety then it would help to reduce its separation anxiety.
To do this you could do as follows:
- Make it seem like you are about to leave by doing something such as picking up your keys
- Reward your Golden Retriever for not being anxious and repeat these two steps a few times
- Make more moves towards actually leaving such as by picking up the keys and putting your hand on the door handle
- Reward your Golden Retriever for not being anxious and repeat the process a few times
- Actually open the door and go outside for a few moments then come back and reward your Golden Retriever
- Repeat the above, each time staying outside for slightly longer
It might be the case that it is due to an obsessive-compulsive disorder which is where your Golden Retriever feels the urge to scratch the floor and it can’t stop itself from doing it. This would be more likely if it has been doing it constantly and for long time periods. If it has been doing it excessively it would help to take it to a vet for a checkup.
You have been rewarding it
The cause could also be that it has learned that it gets rewards when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it scratches the floor, it might be doing it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it does not scratch the floor and to try and redirect its attention when it seems like it is likely to start scratching the floor.
It wants attention
The reason might also be that it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if it does it more when you have not been giving it much attention or if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.
An inherited trait
Another possible reason why it scratches the floor could be that it is an inherited trait. When conditions were rough for dogs in the past, they would dig holes in the ground which would protect them from the elements and help hide their food. The dogs that did this were more likely to survive so it could be that those genes are still present in modern-day dogs.
It’s claiming territory
Dogs sweat via glands on their paws and when they scratch the floor some scent from these glands is released. This has led some people to believe that dogs scratch the floor as a way of claiming territory.
It has excess energy
Golden Retrievers are supposed to get a lot of exercise on a daily basis. When they don’t get much exercise it can cause them to behave abnormally and it could be why yours has been scratching the floor.
Generally, it is advised for them to get an hour of exercise or more per day provided that they are healthy adults. If your Golden Retriever has not been getting much exercise it would help to make sure that it does.
The cause could be that it is a natural behavior it does in order to make the ground more comfortable. In the wild, dogs would scratch the floor in order to make the grass smoother and it could be the case that your Golden Retriever has this trait too.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when trying to figure out why your Golden Retriever has been doing it.
When it started doing it
If your Golden Retriever did not always scratch the floor, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since an event might have caused it to start.
If it started doing it suddenly it would be more likely to be due to things such as a sudden change in its daily routine that caused it to become anxious or something else causing it to become anxious. It would help to consider what else changed at around the same time that it started doing it.
Whereas, if it has always done it then it would be more likely that it does it naturally especially if it does it when it has food or when it is about to lay down. However, it could also be due to things such as obsessive-compulsive disorder especially if it does it excessively.
When it tends to scratch the floor more
It would also help to consider the timing of when your Golden Retriever scratches the floor since it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
For example, if it tends to do it more shortly before you would normally leave for work then it might be a sign that it has some separation anxiety.
What to do about your Golden Retriever scratching the floor
Below are some options you have when getting your Golden Retriever to stop doing it. You will likely find that using a combination of them will work best.
Prevent it from doing it before it starts
One option you have is to learn to recognize when it is likely to start doing it and then to redirect its attention on to something else like coming to you. By doing this you might be able to break it out of the habit of scratching the floor.
I have written more about how you can train your Golden Retriever to come to you on command here.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have been encouraging it to do it by giving it things it wants when it does it. Instead, it would help to reward it when it is well behaved and to try to redirect its focus on to something else when it is about to do it.
Take it to a vet
If you cannot figure out why your Golden Retriever has been doing it or it has been doing it excessively it would help to take it to a vet. By doing so you will be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Golden Retriever and to rule out the possibility of it being due to a medical issue.