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5 Reasons Why Your Dog Scratches At The Wall & 3 Tips

Why Does My Dog Scratch At The Wall

Your dog keeps scratching at the wall. You even start to notice nail scratches…  

“What’s going on with my dog?”, you might think. 

Along with “Why is this happening?” But more importantly, “How do I get them to stop?” 

There are several reasons that explain the behavior. Luckily, none of them are permanent. 

Keep reading to find out: 

  • What your dog is trying to tell you by scratching at the wall.
  • Whether your dog is suffering from Pica and what to do about it.
  • What might be hiding in your walls and making your dog go crazy.
  • One easy and safe method to prevent your dog from scratching at the wall.
  • And a lot more…

Why does my dog scratch at the wall?

Your dog scratches at the wall due to experiencing separation anxiety or severe boredom. As a result they could be trying to escape. They might be hearing critters in the drywall or are  suffering from a condition called Pica. Three of these reasons relate to behavior and the environment of the dog.

Why does my dog scratch against the wall at night?

Your dog scratches against the wall at night due to anxiety. This condition leads to destructive behavior such as scratching. Your dog could also be nesting and scratch both their bedding and the wall. Hearing noises inside the walls can drive the dog to scratch at it trying to find the source. 

Why does my dog scratch the wall before pooping?

Your dog scratches the wall before pooping to tell you they have to go. Dogs also have a ritual they perform before pooping. It involves sniffing, walking in circles, and sometimes scratching an area before defecating. Scratching is also a form of marking territory and communicating with other canines.

Fun fact: A study found out that some dogs will look for a magnetic pole before pooping. Facing their body along the North-South axis, the dog may scratch in this direction and then defecate. 

5 reasons your dog scratches at the wall

Below you will find the 4 main reasons why your dog scratches the wall.

#1: Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is one of the main causes of destructive behavior. According to Merck Manual, at least 14% of dogs suffer from this condition.

Dogs do not like to be alone or away from you for long. They’re social animals after all. Or pack ones, if you prefer.

Plus, your dog does not have a concept of time. That’s one of the reasons why they are always delighted to see you. 

You can identify separation anxiety through the following signs:

  • Pacing up and down.
  • Whining and non stop barking.
  • Defecating and urinating all over. 
  • Tearing of toys, digging, and scratching.
  • Coprophagia – This is when dogs eat their stool. 
  • Trying to escape by scratching at walls, doors, or the floor.

Reading Tip: 9 Real Reasons Why Your Dog Scratches The Floor + 7 Tips

Dogs with separation anxiety will urinate and defecate at inappropriate times. For example, if you have friends over, your dog might hide under a table and urinate there. 

Dog breeds most likely to be affected by separation anxiety are:

  • Chihuahua.
  • Fox Terriers.
  • Bichon Frise.
  • Border Collies.
  • French Bulldog. 
  • Maltese Poodle.
  • Italian Greyhound.
  • German Shepherd.

#2: Boredom

Boredom and destruction go hand in hand. 

A dog that is often left alone will start to entertain themselves. And while what they’re doing is entertaining for them, it may be destructive and costly to you.

Usually, boredom stems from a lack of mental stimulus and not enough exercise. Unlike anxiety, boredom can cause depression in dogs.

The signs of boredom in dogs are as follows:

  • Excessive chewing.
  • Tearing up furniture.
  • Excessive paw licking.
  • Depression and listlessness. 
  • Scratching themselves constantly.

Note: High-energy dogs need a minimum of an hour or more of physical exercise per day. These dogs are more prone to becoming depressed. 

#3: Pica

Dog Scratches At Wall Due To Pica

Pica can occur in both humans and animals. 

According to PetMD, Pica is a complex issue in dogs. Trying to figure out what causes it is difficult. 

“What is Pica?”, you might ask. 

Pica is a behavioral problem in dogs that causes them to eat non-food items. Namely, an eating disorder.

Dogs who have Pica develop an obsession with one or more objects. Drywalling can be one of these obsessions.

And here comes the next question: “How do I identify Pica?” 

To know whether your dog has Pica, look out for the following signs:

  • Scratching, biting, and eating drywalling. 
  • Fixating on specific items to chew and swallow.
  • Vomiting up pieces of non-food items regularly.
  • You see pieces of plastic or wool in your dog’s feces.
  • Chewing and swallowing non-food items such as wood, plastic, and woolen clothing.

Last but not least, if your dog suffers from Pica, they may be eating items that carry your scent. Such as clothes, socks, and underwear.

Reading Tip: Dogs And Socks: 33 Burning Questions Answered + 5 Tips

Warning: Pica should be monitored carefully as certain items can be life-threatening to your dog if swallowed. If you suspect your dog has a bowel obstruction, immediately visit your vet.

Further to this, your vet might take blood and stool samples to rule out nutritional deficiencies. 

If you can’t reach or visit your vet at the moment, you can always consult an online professional on the spot.

#4: Critters in the walls

Oh no, rats! Or… something else? 

Having drywalling in your home can invite some unwanted guests to move in. That’s because there’s always space between the wall sections. 

Critters like rats, termites, and cockroaches can make themselves at home. These creatures are very active at night, making noises you won’t be able to hear. 

Your dog has superb hearing though. Relying on it, they’ll scratch at the place the noise is coming from. 

Signs you have critters in your drywall include:

  • Animal droppings under cupboards.
  • A musty smell. That could be rat urine.
  • Chewing sounds from behind the walls.
  • Your dog scratches and bites at the drywall. 

Let’s say you suspect or have confirmed you have critters in the drywalling. Contact your local pest control expert to come and do an inspection. 

Warning: Rat urine can cause disease. They carry a bacteria called Leptospira. Humans and dogs can get Leptospirosis. If you suspect infection call your vet immediately. 

#5: Your dog is trying to tell you something

“I need to go… now!” your dog would say if they could. But their methods of communication are body language and whining or barking.

So, after you see your dog scratching, it’s up to you to decipher the message they’re sending you. 

Let’s take my dog Lissa for example. I take her out at approximately the same time each day. We have 3 walks. So she usually has no problem with having to go urgently.

Sometimes, however, due to switching food, the pooping process speeds up. 

Then Lissa would come to me, look me in the eye intensely. And wag her tail in an inpatient manner. Then bark. As if to say “It’s urgent!”

After that she’d go to the nearest wall. Or even in front of the washing machine’s door. And she’d start scratching. Same goes for the bathroom door and the main one. 

Additional signs your dog needs to poop asap include:

  • Barking.
  • Whining.
  • Sniffing around.

How do I stop my dog scratching at the wall? 3 tips

Getting your dog to stop scratching the wall is the goal. But… how?

Here are 3 tips to help you:

#1: Use sound or spray deterrent

There are various spray solutions on the market to help you create a bad taste experience. You can spray this onto the walls. The spray usually has a very bitter taste to it and harmless to your dog. 

This will make them change their mind after tasting or smelling it. There is a suitable variant called bitter-apple spray.

The noise spray makes a loud whistle when you use it. Use the noise spray if you catch your dog in the act. It will startle but not terrify them.

Warning: Always make sure you use animal-approved products.

#2: Call your pest control

Your dog is relentless at scratching a specific area. You pick up signs that you may indeed have insects or rodents behind the drywalling. Then waste no time and dial your pest control expert.

They will do a thorough inspection. Likely they find the critter responsible for your dog scratching at the walls. The expert will recommend a single treatment or many.

Warning: Always take precautions to keep pest control substances away from your dog. They can be fatal. 

#3: Introduce anti-scratching panels or guards

Are you ready for some DIY?

The good news is you can effectively remedy the wall scratching. You can buy Perspex or fiberglass wall guard panels that are easy to install.

The benefit of having this is that it will deter your dog from scratching the wall. There will be no more damage. The panels are also easy to clean.

BONUS: Eliminate anxiety and boredom

This is one of the most essential tips you’ll get.

Spend enough quality time with your dog. This way you’ll ensure they don’t get lonely or bored. Most dogs need to get daily exercise to be mentally stimulated and fit.

Playing games that challenge your dog mentally is also an excellent way to keep them content. Your dog will reward you with lots of love and good behavior.