My dog scratches at the floor to 'fluff' it up

asheltiemomJuly 21, 2007

I have the most amazing 13 year old sheltie that I adopted 1-1/2 years ago. He used to be a showdog when he was young, so he's been very well trained.

However, he has this tendency to scratch at the floor or his bed to "fluff" it up before he lies down. It's a digging motion that he does. (DH trims our dog's nails down to the quick every two weeks, so I don't think that he's trying to file them down.) He did this with carpet at our old house and our apartment, and he's tried to fluff up our concrete patio on more than one occasion.

This wasn't really a problem before (except for waking us at night because he digs right in front of our bedroom door) because we had a house with older carpet that was going to be replaced anyway, and our apartment is, well, an apartment with cheap carpet because they know they're renting to pet owners. Now, we're buying a new house with dark hardwood floors and very nice carpet. I thought about buying beds for every possible nook and corner our dog would like to sleep, so he'd scratch at the bed and not the floor. But, I've seen him scratch 'n' sleep right next to his bed, so it's likely buying a dozen dog beds wouldn't work.

I bought Muttluks Hott Dogger boots this week for his front paws to see how they would work, but the boots fall off unless I put the Velcro on very tightly, and the dog picks at the Velcro because I think either they keep his feet too hot, or it's restricting blood flow and making them feel weird. Our dog is normally very tolerant of wearing stuff..... he wears a diaper because of a prostate problem, and he's worn doggie clothing before without bothering it.

Does anyone else have experience with their dogs doing this? I'm thinking of buying the more expensive all-weather Muttluks that have an elastic ankle to see if those work. That, or buying first aid self-cling vet wrap to wrap up his toes with. When the cheaper Muttluks were on his front paws, they did work, he didn't dig at the floor, so I think the trick is to cover up his front toes.

Any advice you have is appreciated.... we move into the new house in less than a month, and I'd like to gradually introduce, or train, my dog to not dig before we move.

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My Welsh Corgis have been scratching areas of carpet for years. We find it amusing and it does no harm to our rather expensive carpet. I do question trimming a dog's nails down to the quick. Try that on your selves.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 2:23PM
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Er, when I say, "down to the quick" every two weeks, I don't mean cutting the vein, but down just before the vein. Maybe I'm using the wrong term? I'm assuming I am because I think you're suggesting I try something painful on myself (I've broken & torn my nails so far down my fingers bleed, so I'm familiar with the pain, and wouldn't do it to my dog).

And truly, I don't care so much for the carpet, it's thick enough to hide anything, but I know he'll try to fluff up the hardwood floors, as he's tried to do so to concrete.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 2:45PM
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We have a Malti-Pom who tries to "fluff" our hardwood floors and carpets. Out of the blue he will just start digging his little heart out as if he is looking for treasure under the hardwood? He is quite a rascal, but I dont find he does any damage to the floors or carpets.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 3:15PM
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Do you file his nails after clipping? I would think if they were filed so they were smooth not rough you would not have a problem with damage. Funny though, my rabbit does this too! I have never had any other animal that did this. Shaq fluffs everything, bed blanket, carpet, floor, chair, lap (ouch!), she is an equal opportunity fluffer. I have video taped her doing this, it is so funny to watch. It takes a lot of effort for a 3 lb bunny to fluff a twin size throw.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 3:30PM
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Lay some old towels around in his fluffing areas, he should fluff those, Natural instinct for bed making.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 3:36PM
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Thanks, I'll try the filing tip! Can you recommend a particular file I should use? (I tried using one of my fine nailfiles on the little fuzzy boy before, but didn't make a dent in his nail.) I've seen rubbery tips you can put on your pet's claws, think maybe I'll look those up. I'll try the towels too. And thanks, Lori-L, for the bit about your Malti-Pom doing the same thing but not doing damage to your hardwood floors..... It helps me not worry about it so much!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 11:59PM
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Look at it this way...........if that's the only vice your adopted 13 yr old pet has, then you're a pretty lucky person! ;)

Have you tried different bedding? My dog loves a fleece blanket thrown on top of their bed and I offer at least 2 styles. He enjoys digging in the bed shown below and he's always rearranging the pillow.

Files for dog nails can be purchased at the pet store.
If your dog tends to dig in a certain area of your hardwood floors, put some blankets there. As mentioned above, I don't think she'll do enough damage to worry over.

Here is a link that might be useful: beds

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 12:38AM
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I took "down to the quick' to mean that the nails were trimmed as short as they could be without hitting the quick. Every two weeks may not be getting them short enough if they are still long and you can hear tappy-tap when he walks. You might want to clip every week, or even every other day to get those quicks back if the nails are still pretty long. A dremel works well for smoothing the ends and for getting that quick to recede, and some use the dremel for complete manicure and don't use clippers at all:)

My dogs 'nest' but restrict the scratching to beds, blankets and orientals - with no damage to the orientals. they are sharp enough not to try to fluff hardwood or concret lol. Your 'cheap' carpet may have suffered because it was just that, 'cheap'! When you catch him fluffing something you are concerned about, use 'uh uh' and lure him towards a bed or blanket.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 10:20AM
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I just wanted to say both my basset girls do this to whenever they get ready to lay down.They've never damaged any surface as of yet.Debbie

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 10:04PM
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My beagle fluffs everything. Though, we're lucky because she also apparently thinks she's a princess and refuses to lay on carpet or the floor. There has to be atleast a blanket for miss queen coda, or she'll pace her little face off until she's given one to lay on. But anything soft, aside from the carpet, she'll fluff and and rearrange for a good 15 mins until she'll actually lay down on it.

If you're that concerned, maybe if you keep a certain blanket (or a few) and give them to him everytime he fluffs, he'll eventually learn to just fluff his blankets?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 11:37AM
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My doxie does this to his bed and to bathroom mats. He comes into the bathroom with me in the mornings while I'm getting ready for work. He's still sleepy so he starts fluffing away. This habit is hard to break. Mine only does it to the bath mats, so I have sacrificed two mats to his aggressive fluffing. Sometimes I'm mean and tell him I'm going to give him a shower, causing him to scoot outta the bathroom pronto!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 12:33PM
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I forgot to mention that I don't think continually wrapping his feet in boots and vet wrap is a good thing healthwise. Dogs sweat thru their pads and it's one of their methods for keeping cool. I would worry that the dog could end up with foot problems, either fungal or bacterial, if they're kept covered.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 1:53PM
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Thanks for all the responses. You're right; the booties keep his feet too hot, and they fall off, and it's a pain to take them off and put them back on every time I take him out for a walk. I won't even bother with the vet wrap. We'll try to trim his nails once a week.

annz, I love that catalog you linked to, especially the bed section! They've got a nice selection of fabrics, more so than buying beds at Costco. I think it's time to go bed shopping!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 7:57PM
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Couldn't you just tell your dog not to do it?
I mean... if it's not some basic life function, just interrupt and reward for not doing it perhaps?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 10:10PM
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"Couldn't you just tell your dog not to do it?"

My sheltie is very smart, but he still doesn't understand English, I'm afraid.

Just kiddin'! He's pretty much deaf. He hears (we think) dishes clattering, loud claps or slams, but sometimes if we clap at him when he's digging at the floor, he doesn't show any signs of hearing the clap, probably can't hear it over the digging sounds he makes. So, we have to run over to where ever he is, typically in some corner or behind furniture, and touch him, which startles the heck out of him. And most of the time, when we finally locate him and he's within reach, he's stopped digging and is laying down. I've always heard that if you don't catch them in the act, it isn't effective to interrupt them. So if he's already laying down, I don't bother him.

On the upside, being deaf, it makes it very easy to give him a Flowbee haircut. :)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 9:24AM
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Mine will fluff up a blanket for 5 minutes, round and round she goes with the fluffing, it's rather comical. Good luck to you in finding a solution.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 8:52AM
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I use soft paws/claws on all my cats, and I would absolutely recommend them for your dog. Also, take a sample of your new floor and try to scratch it up to see exactly what it takes to damage it.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 11:39AM
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I don't know if the scratching is to fluff it up or not, but he will just come into the kitchen and start scratching like he is digging for something and in the middle of the night will start scratching the rug which I guess I could understand the fluffing up for the carpet but why on earth would he fluff up the kitchen floor when he I know he isn't planning on laying down. I have a 15-year old Lhaso Apso and he just started this about one month ago. I thought maybe he was getting a place ready to go off and die on us. All of your commnets were very helpful.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2007 at 6:41PM
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I have a Lhasa Apso that does this EVERY night!!! He walks around in circles until he finds the "perfect" spot and then "fluffs up" the comforter until he gets it just right. I think it's really cute.
Also, if I give him a treat, he'll take it somewhere and pretend he is digging a hole, then he'll take his nose and rub it like he is covering it with dirt.
Tibby is so cute!!!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 5:59PM
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