There are scrambled claw patches on your wall.
You already know who’s to blame.
And it’s none other than the pawed one living in your home – Fido.
Which might make you wonder:
“Why does my dog keep scratching my walls?”
And more importantly…
“How am I going to stop this?”
Read on to discover:
- 11 reasons why dogs scratch the walls.
- 5 tips to stop your dog’s wall scratching issue.
- Serious health problems that cause this behavior.
- And many more…
Why does my dog scratch at the wall?
Your dog scratches at the wall because of anxiety, boredom, pica, critter issue, hyperactivity, reinforcement, or having long nails. They could also be suffering from noise phobia, neurological disorders, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Or they want to go outside.
11 reasons why dogs scratch walls
#1: There’s nothing to do
If wall scratching is an occasional behavior, it could be that your pooch is just bored.
When boredom strikes, dogs cure it by doing something fun.
“This is not my idea of fun.”
But to your canine companion, it sometimes is. This could be an effective way to pass the time.
It’s likely to happen if your pooch is left with nothing to do. So, as a response to this, pooches come up with activities. Which some may not be favorable for you.
The problem with doggie boredom is that it may lead to destruction.
Aside from destroying your walls by scratching, you may also see them chewing things.
And we know it can be bothersome. So, it’s best to keep your pooch occupied to avoid this.
You’ll find out as you keep reading.
#2: There’s a burst of frenetic energy
Try to watch your dog’s behavior.
Does your pooch fidget a lot?
Do they have a short attention span?
If your answer’s yes, your fur baby could be hyperactive.
And this might also be the reason why they scratch your walls.
Hyperactivity or hyperkinesis is when dogs can’t remain calm in all situations.
In this case, your dog who’s scratching the walls may not listen to you. Especially when you tell them “No.” or “Stop”.
This is because hyperactive dogs often ignore commands. Their focus will only be locked on pouring out excess energy.
How does this occur?
There are various ways. It could be due to natural or external causes.
A dog could be hyperactive if they’re in their puppy phase. This is because puppies naturally have high energy. But this behavior should end after about 18 months.
Also, dogs who lack exercise might experience this. It’s because lack of exercise will cause canines to have pent-up energy. As a result, they’ll do activities to lose it. Scratching the walls is an example of it.
Genetics may as well cause hyperactivity. Particularly for the working, herding, and hunting dogs.
This is because they’re bred for jobs that require a lot of energy. Such as pulling a sled and sniffing detection.
Breeds that belong to the hyperactive group are:
- Irish Setter.
- Border Collie.
- English Pointer.
- Brittany Spaniel.
- Belgian Malinois.
- Golden Retriever.
- German Shepherd.
- Australian Shepherd.
- English Springer Spaniel.
#3: Fido’s wearing down their nails
Carefully listen when your pooch is walking on hard surfaces.
Do you hear a clacking sound?
If so, that means your dog’s nails are growing too long. And this might be the reason why they scratch your walls.
They could be doing it to naturally file their long claws.
Though this doesn’t mean that you don’t take care of Fido’s nails enough.
A dog’s nail is constantly growing. And it can get uncomfortable even before the next nail trimming session.
Having long toenails can be painful for our canine companions.
It’s because when a dog’s nail grows too long, a weird foot angle occurs. As a result, it’ll look slightly bent.
This causes pooches to have a hard time moving around. Because long claws create an unbalanced pressure on their paws.
Aside from being sore, their toes might also have problems with nail splintering.
“How do I know when my pooch needs a nail trim?”
Here’s a rule of thumb:
Once your dog’s nail is beyond their paw pads, that’s your go signal.
If this happens to your pooch, bring them to the vet. Or a groomer for proper nail trimming.
However, this can also be done on your own.
If you want your dog’s nails done at home, use a nail clipper or grinder.
Nail clippers for dogs have different sizes. So, make sure to use the appropriate one for Fido’s size. This is to help you cut your pooch’s nail in the correct length.
Here are some of the nail clippers that you may use:
- Budget-friendly – Millers Forge Nail Clippers.
- For large dog breeds – Bissell Cat & Dog Nail Clippers.
- Toy breeds appropriate – JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper (Medium).
Watch here for a step-by-step nail trimming tutorial for your doggo:
#4: Fido’s separation anxiety attacks
Do the scratches on your walls occur all of a sudden?
And have you never caught a doggo doing the act?
If so, your pooch could be doing it when you’re not around. Which in most cases is due to separation anxiety.
This would be the case if your human-dog bond is pretty strong. Say, you always stay close to Fido when you’re at home. Or you don’t usually go out without them.
If you’re this kind of fur parent, your pooch will likely miss you when you’re away.
Scratching the walls may be your fur baby’s way of coping with separation anxiety. And this may also come with:
- Excessive vocalization.
- Coprophagia (eating poop).
Oh, I have to ask you something important.
Are you a single fur parent who lives together with Fido?
If yes, here’s what you need to know.
One study suggests that dogs with a single dog parent are likely to have separation anxiety. They’re actually 2.5 times more likely to miss their human compared to dogs who belong to a big human pack.
You may also wonder: Why does my dog take my clothes when I leave?
#5: There’s a critter issue
Your dog’s intense hearing can also make them scratch your walls.
Their hearing is so sensitive that they can hear every house critter. From the rodents down to the vibrating termites.
A dog’s ancestor, wolves, made good use of their high-pitched hearing ability in the wild.
They used this particular sense for survival.
Especially in hearing predators protect themselves. As well as to feed themselves by preying on small animals. Such as squirrels and mice.
Now, domesticated canines may also display this behavior. Especially if they hear critters in your wall.
This could awaken your pawed child’s hunting instinct. Which might be the reason why they scratch your walls. Fido could be trying to catch the critters that they hear.
You’ll be able to know if your dog hears something on your wall by looking at their ears.
Try to spot signs of attentive listening in them.
Your dog’s ears will look erect. They’ll face forward and slightly twitch as they hear a sound.
If you’re still not sure if you have problems with critters, here are some of the signs:
- Having an unpleasant odor in your house.
- Seeing tiny droppings of excrement and urine.
- Hearing unusual sounds (squeaks, for example).
- Hearing scratching noise from the inside of the wall.
Don’t miss out on: 11 Strange Reasons Why Your Dog Scratches Your Bed Sheets
#6: Your dog’s yearning to be outdoors
Some pooches scratch walls as a cue that they want to go outside.
For example, they might peek through the windows. Then they saw their doggo friends playing.
As a result, your pawed baby will wish to be with them. They could be excited to play with their fur pals.
Scratching your walls might be their attempt to tell you.
This could also occur with a whimper. As if they’re saying:
“Please let me out, hooman.”
Aside from that, a dog will wish to be out especially for ‘business’ matters.
You’ll be able to tell if this is the case through their body language.
This happened to one dog parent. Her Beagle, Tony, often does his ‘business’ during his walking schedule.
Some days, his fur mom gets really busy with work and chores. And there are times that the dog parent doesn’t notice that it’s time for Tony’s walk.
But Tony will then remind her. He’ll start scratching their walls whenever he can’t control himself. He also scratches the fridge, couch, and other furniture.
His fur mom picks up on this cue. And takes him out asap.
Other than scratching walls, your pooch may also fidget around. Walk in circles and then position themselves into a squat.
#7: Your pooch is noise phobic
When fear creeps up, dogs may display escaping behaviors.
Scratching your walls is an example of it. This could be their way of trying to get away from their fear.
Mostly, a canine’s fear is due to noise sensitivity. As mentioned above, they can hear the tiniest of sounds.
So, just try to imagine how a loud sound would affect them. Such as gunshots and fireworks.
Experts say that noise sensitivity occurs in about 1/3 of the doggy population.
And this often leads to noise phobia in dogs. Which refers to an extreme fear of sudden and loud noises.
Try to observe what triggers your pooch’s wall scratching behavior. For example, if they start doing it when there are loud sounds around, they could be noise phobic.
Other symptoms of canine noise phobia include:
Interesting fact: A study investigated 48 dogs with noise phobia. The results show that dogs get less reactive when they hold an object with their paws. While the dogs who didn’t have any showed more fearful behaviors.
Unfortunately, a dog’s wall scratching behavior may be caused by health problems.
One of them is pica.
PetMD says that this is a condition where dogs eat inedible objects. And it makes them constantly crave these.
Pica causes canines to eat one particular uneatable item. But others may consume numerous objects.
So, try to watch how your dog scratches the wall. If they’re scratching and then eat some pieces of those, it’s a sign of pica.
Eating drywall is common for dogs with pica conditions. Which may put Fido’s life at risk. Because this could:
- Intoxicate them.
- Block intestinal tract.
- Upset stomach digestion.
Determining the cause of pica is complicated to tell. But it could be due to:
- Thyroid problems.
- Hormonal imbalance.
- Nutritional imbalance.
Note: Dr. Black also says that Labrador Retrievers are more vulnerable to pica conditions.
Check out this article: Why does my dog chew on blankets?
#9: Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Another condition that causes this behavior is canine OCD, also known as CCD (canine compulsive disorder).
AKC defines obsessive-compulsive disorder as normal canine behavior that eventually becomes excessive. Or turns into an obsession as they do it repeatedly.
Here’s how it develops:
Scratching the wall for example. A dog may do it at first as a response to their noise phobia. (Just like in the previous reason.)
Which is normal for a noise-phobic pooch, right?
However, this can lead to OCD if the dog finds comfort in it. Say when they scratch the walls, they feel less fearful.
If that happens, Fido might get too comfortable in doing it. As a result, they’ll keep on doing this until it becomes an obsession.
And that’s where you’ll start to find your pooch scratching your walls like there’s no tomorrow.
#10: Neurological issues
There are dogs who scratch walls because of neurological problems.
You might be wondering how this happens. So, let me tell you about it.
Dogs and humans alike have similar nervous systems. And if there’s a problem with any of its parts, neurological dysfunction occurs.
Say there’s an injury that affected Fido’s nerves, spinal cord, or brain. And could also be due to mental deterioration.
So, how does this relate to wall scratching?
The ANIC suggests that behavioral changes may occur if a dog suffers from this condition.
And a dog’s wall scratching behavior is one of those.
Some dogs with neurological issues might also show disorientation. As well as circling around and pressing their head against surfaces.
#11: This is a reinforced behavior
If you already ruled out all underlying medical causes, this might be a problem of reinforcement.
How do you respond when you see Fido scratching your walls?
If you’re telling them to stop while they’re scratching, you could be reinforcing it.
Another thing is when you try to calm them by using treats.
Now, we have here the positive and negative responses. And these don’t differ from each other that much.
Either way, your pooch might think that you like what they’re doing. Because you’re motivating them by attention and treats. And this results in repeated behavior.
I understand if you’re trying to do positive reinforcement by giving them rewards.
However, timing is crucial in this. It’s because your dog might be confused about what behavior you’re reinforcing.
Here’s a correct way to do it:
Reward the wanted behavior. Which in this case, is when they’re keeping their claws away from the wall.
As to the scratching behavior, simply ignore it.
How do I stop my dog from scratching the walls? 5 tips
#1: Use deterrent sprays
If you’re looking for a fast way to put an end to this issue, you may try deterrent sprays.
You can find and choose a lot of flavors on the market. There’s bitter apple, spicy cherry, and many more. But you can also have it DIY.
You’ll only need 3 things. Spray bottle, water, and apple cider vinegar.
Mix an equal amount of vinegar and water in the bottle. Give it a little shake and that would be good to use.
How does this work?
You should have to let your pooch smell and then taste the deterrent first.
Let them associate the scent with an awful taste. This way, they’ll learn that the smell is not nice. As a result, they’ll keep off anything that has its odor.
#2: Address their anxiety
We’ve talked about 2 types of dog anxiety here. And you could try to address them both with desensitization.
This is a technique that refers to exposing dogs to their anxiety or fear triggers gradually. And eventually, pooches won’t react to it anymore.
Let’s start with:
The basic rule in desensitization is to always start low. This means you expose Fido to the lowest level of their anxiety.
Follow these steps:
- Be in a quiet room with your doggo. This is to keep them from being distracted.
- Make them sit and stand facing them.
- Take a few steps away from your pooch.
- Watch out for signs of calmness. If your dog remains calm, reward them.
- If they start being reactive, take a few steps back to them.
- Keep increasing the distance as you move on.
- You may also try leaving them in the room for a short period of time. Say 5-10 seconds.
- Again, if they’re calm, reward and praise them.
- Keep practicing consistently. And increase the length of duration and distance as you go on with the training.
This time, we’re making Fido get used to the noises that they fear.
But first, try to look for music that triggers your dog’s noise anxiety. For example, the sound of thunder, cars, or gunshots.
Now, if you have it, proceed to:
- Be in a close and quiet room.
- Play the sound on your phone. But only on a low volume.
- Watch how your dog reacts to it. A calm or no reaction is your goal.
- If your dog reacts to it, try lowering the volume more. Or place it away from your pooch.
- As you go further with the training, increase the duration of your dog’s exposure to the noise. Also, add the sound’s volume. You may use a speaker if you want.
- Always remember to reward your dog for staying calm.
Note: Desensitization training will take a long time. So, please be patient. The duration may differ for every dog. Some may get it faster than others.
#3: Combat the boredom
If your pooch is scratching the walls out of boredom, give them something to do.
This is to keep them weary, stimulated, and occupied. So they’ll keep their claws off your walls.
Here are some of the things you could do:
- Exercise your pooch.
- Introduce new tricks.
- Interact with Fido daily.
- Allow them to play with other dogs.
- Give them puzzle toys (especially when you have to leave them unattended.)
#4: Call for a pest control
This is what you should do if you think critters on your walls cause this behavior.
Otherwise, there’s a great chance that this can affect the health of everyone living in your home. Which both apply to humans and dogs alike.
Critters may carry various diseases. And they may infect things in your home. Especially in your bedroom and kitchen.
Also, they might bite you and your precious pawed baby.
#5: Seek professional help
If you’re sure or suspecting that medical issues cause this behavior, seek a vet right away.
This is to make sure Fido gets a proper diagnosis and treatment immediately.
Aside from that, if this is due to behavioral causes, find a dog trainer.
A professional trainer will help you curb unwanted canine behaviors. Especially if the wall scratching is getting out of your hand.
People also ask:
Why does my dog scratch the wall at night?
Your dog scratches the wall at night because they’re in distress. Some dogs get really reactive to certain noises. And this is caused by their sensitive hearing.
Dogs with noise sensitivity will be stressed when there’s a sudden noise present. Scratching the walls may be your dog’s way of coping with it. And could also mean that they’re trying to escape the situation.
A study tested stress in 17 dog breeds. The results suggest that 23% of them fear noises.
Canine stress due to noise may be caused by:
- Traffic noises.
- Construction sounds.
- Sounds of children playing.
Why does my old dog scratch the wall?
Your old dog scratches the wall because of canine cognitive dysfunction. This makes canines have behavioral changes. It’s because of being affected by mental deterioration.
CCD is a doggy version of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. It refers to when a dog’s cognitive function starts to decline.
This condition is common in senior pooches. But may also occur at any age.
If your Fido has CCD, their wall scratching may also come with:
- Sleep deprivation or over sleeping.
- Difficulty remembering house training.
- Changes in social interaction. (gets more clingy or aloof than usual.)