How can I stop a dog from digging up carpet?
August 11, 2005 12:23 PM   Subscribe

How can I stop a dog from digging up carpet?

My dog has recently (as in, today) started digging up the carpet around my front door. The weather stripping on the bottom has recently fallen off, and while it will be replaced soon, he can see and smell outside through the crack at the bottom of the door for now. I came home from work today and found small shreds of carpet near the door, and the carpet was partially torn.

He's had this same issue with a carpet when he was being "crated" in the kitchen; the area where the linolieum hit the carpet was trashed by the time we we were able to prevent him from getting to it.

He's also had this problem at another door leading to the outside, then pulling up linolieum. He stopped because we used "negative reinforcement" (yelling and stomping and swatting with an empty paper towel tube) every time he did it. He's only pulling up the carpet when nobody's around, though.

I'd like to stop this before it becomes a large issue. Suggestions?
posted by billybunny to Pets & Animals (7 answers total)
Get the stuff that keeps the dogs off couches and spray it around the area. You'll have to do it a lot as the sprays I've tried don't seem to last very long (usually a day). I'm guessing you're not letting him out in any time frame in which he can associate this behavior with being let out, right?
posted by geoff. at 1:03 PM on August 11, 2005

Response by poster: No, I don't think he's associating it with being let out. It's more of a case of "oh my god! there's another dog outside! I have to get to it! I have to get to it!"

(To clarify, he's no longer being crated in the kitchen, and thus the carpet there is safe.)
posted by billybunny at 1:08 PM on August 11, 2005

I would make it impossible for the dog to get at the carpet or anything else when you aren't around. That means keeping the dog in a crate with a solid bottom or outside in a kenel. This way the dog would only be able to do this behaviour when I was present. And then I could swiftly correct him (i.e. beat him/her with a newspaper). Do you leave the dog in the house for 8 hours at a stretch with out access to the outside? My dog couldn't handle that. She has access to the outside via a dog door to the backyard and I generally come home for lunch everyday and hang out with her. I suspect this is perhaps a boredom issue.
posted by trbrts at 1:16 PM on August 11, 2005

Is your dog fixed? Sometimes other-dog scent is too much for a non-neutered male to handle, especially if there are non-neutered female dogs in heat in your neighborhood -- the scent of a female dog in heat can travel for blocks. My dog had an episode or two of the kind of behavior you describe, but it seemed to stop as soon as he was neutered.
posted by boomchicka at 1:21 PM on August 11, 2005

Response by poster: He can't be crated because he freaks the fuck out. We tried crating for a period of about 3 months; he had a breakdown every day. I suppose I could try blocking off that door.

He's left alone for 3-4 hours at a time, max. He also gets to go run around outside several times a day.

He's fixed, but he reacts strongly to other dogs. He has a pressing need to investigate them; once he does, he doesn't care about them anymore.

What's odd is that today is the first time he's done that over there. He stopped digging at the linolieum quite a while ago, and we assumed that the door-digging had stopped. Apparently not.
posted by billybunny at 2:15 PM on August 11, 2005

First, make sure that there isn't any loose or frayed pieces of carpet at all. My dog started to dig up carpet a few times, but as soon as we trimmed it incredibly close, she gave up on it or didn't notice it.

Second, make sure your dog has plenty of stuff to keep him busy during the day. Kongs are great for keeping a dog occupied.

Finally, wear him out. Take him on a vigorous run or jog in the morning before you leave. Find places to help him socialize, like puppy classes, dog parks, or friends and neighbors with dogs.

Also, you should note that you've discovered the weak point of "negative reinforcement." It only works when the reinforcer is around, because the dog fears the punisher, not the punishment. If the dog is getting excited over other dogs, positive reinforcement could help. When the other dogs go by, and your dog starts to react, tell him "walk away" and give him a treat. Build from there. Have you tried any sort of modern training methods?
posted by MrZero at 2:22 PM on August 11, 2005

Can you put some sort of rug down until you replace the weather stripping?

Also, using double sided tape on the rug could be another thing that might help (I know my dog and cats hate double sided tape).

(minor niggle: "yelling and stomping and swatting with an empty paper towel tube" isn't "negative reinforcement", it's technically punishment as it's (intended to be) an aversive stimulus thats elicited as a result of the dog's behavior)
posted by freshgroundpepper at 2:24 PM on August 11, 2005

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