One of several things could be behind your dog scratching the floor at night, including pain or discomfort caused by a medical condition or anxiety. Of course, this action can lead to considerable damage to your hardwood floors and carpets, so this is surely not something you should encourage. Below you will find a list of the most common reasons causing your dog to scratch the floor at night.
Your dog might continue to scratch the floor night after night due to anxiety. This anxiety can be triggered by anything that would disrupt the normal life of your dog and make him feel less at home. Even something as small as rearranging the furniture inside the room might make the dog become anxious. Other events or powerful sounds and lights like thunderstorms or fireworks might also trigger this behavior in your dog. Considering that you probably don’t move a lot during your sleep, throughout the night your dog might suffer from separation anxiety as well because he notices that you aren’t responsive even a bit to his needs.
Dementia or other cognitive dysfunctions might cause your dog to take on this digging and scratching behavior, although this is usually the case for senior dogs. As you might already know, as the dogs get older, you might notice more and more clinical signs of canine cognitive dysfunction, which can cause random behaviors, accompanied by other symptoms like restlessness or disorientation.
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Your dog might have destructive behavior due to one of several medical issues. Some of these conditions might be very hard to spot by an inexperienced owner, especially those related to arthritis, or other joint-related pains caused by underlying medical conditions. If this is the case, then the dog would dig or scratch the floor as a way of distracting himself from the discomfort or pain.
It is possible that the dog is hearing or smelling something from underneath the floor. One example is rodents like mice moving under your house and your dog sensing their presence. This is when your dog might want to investigate the sounds or smells coming from underneath by digging or scratching the floor.
There are some dogs that show nesting behaviors, especially during the night. Like most domesticated creatures, dogs also feel the need to live in a secure and comfortable place. To do this, some of them like to move around and scratch the floor before laying down. This behavior is taken from their ancestors that would create a small den from leaves and other surrounding objects to curl up into. This primitive instinct is still passed on even though dogs have long been domesticated and a lot of them live comfortably in people’s homes.
Getting your dog a comfortable dog bed might be the easiest short-term solution to preventing your dog from scratching the floor at night. Some studies have even managed to prove that dogs like to sleep the most in den-like beds with raised edges and a round shape, which is what they are trying to build when scratching the floor.
Keep in mind that your dog might not like his new bed at first, so you might need to resort to some positive reinforcement before he eventually gives it a try and settles into using it as opposed to the floor. If you have an older dog and you know for sure that he is having some joint problems, then you can even opt for an orthopedic bed.
You can also try to reduce the scratching of your floor by taking your dog for plenty of walks and giving him enough activity time. If your dog is tired enough, and I mean both physically and mentally, then he will have no energy left in him to dig or scratch your floor at night.
If you have done everything in your power to make your dog comfortable enough for him to stop scratching but nothing seems to work, then maybe a medical problem is to blame. At this point, it is important to schedule a visit to the vet to make sure your dog isn’t experiencing any pain or discomfort that would keep him up at night.