Why Dog Is Scratching Walls (5 Tips to Stop Scratching)

We were inspired to write this article after getting mad at our dog for scratching the walls of our house.

You may have noticed more and more that the walls in your home have scratch marks. And just like us, you think your dog is to blame too. They’re chipping away at the paint or perhaps ruining antique wallpaper. Why is your dog scratching at the walls?

Dogs may scratch at the walls for these reasons:

  • Stress
  • Separation anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Lack of exercise
  • For attention
  • Something is behind the walls

In this guide, we’ll first go over the reasons above why your dog is scratching at the wall and then present solutions that can control this unwanted behavior. Whether your dog just started scratching or has been doing it for a while, this article is for you, so keep reading!

Black Cavapoo lying on carpet in front of the door with scratches.
Naughty black Cavapoo scratching the walls.

6 Reasons Your Dog is Scratching the Walls

1. Stress

Dogs are as susceptible to stress as us humans, and lots of different things can stress them out.

There’s separation anxiety, which warrants its own section. If you’ve recently introduced a new dog to the household, then until they’ve been socialized with your older pup, both dogs could be tense and stressed.

Even bringing in new human members of the family, whether you had a baby or an older family member moved in, can stress out your dog.

Moving is highly stressful for humans and canines alike.

Then there are the everyday sources of stress for dogs such as loud sounds. Those can be anything from a TV or radio with the volume high to a car backfiring, fireworks, or thunder.

A dog who’s stressed will do more than scratch at the walls. They may also pant, pace, and have accidents in the house even if they have no history of doing that before. Your dog could turn suddenly aggressive or engage in repetitive behaviors such as licking.

2. Separation Anxiety

Is your dog always well-behaved until you have to leave the house for work, school, or grocery shopping? If so, then your pup may be prone to separation anxiety, which explains why they’re scratching at the walls.

When dogs experience separation anxiety, they can feel panicked. That panic usually manifests in destructive behaviors such as digging and chewing. Your four-legged friend is also a lot likelier to have indoor accidents.

Until you teach your dog that it’s okay for you to leave, then their separation anxiety will continue.

3. Boredom

Some dog owners assume that canines only need physical stimulation, but that’s not true. If a dog isn’t mentally stimulated, then they’re going to get bored just as any person can.

A bored dog doesn’t sit around and complain about how bored it is like people do, but if you know the signs, you can recognize boredom in a canine in other ways.

An increase in scratching, panting, pacing, digging, and chewing can mark doggy boredom.

Your pup might also be eager to escape whenever they get the chance, such as if you two are on a walk or if you open the front door for too long.

You might also notice that your dog licks a lot even though they seem to be otherwise healthy. Plus, they get excited over every little thing.

That last symptom especially can be confusing, but trust us, over-excitement is still a sign of boredom. Your dog is searching for something to stimulate them, which is why they’re so eager to bolt. 

4. Lack of Exercise

How much exercise is your dog getting per day? If the answer is anything less than 30 minutes, then that could explain why your canine is so eagerly scratching at the walls.

Dogs need between 30 and 45 minutes of exercise a day and up to 60 minutes. The exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous, especially for smaller dogs, but it does have to be for at least a half-hour.

Owner having a walk with her dog outdoors
The owner walking her dog outdoors.

If it’s raining, snowing, or too dark out and you don’t feel comfortable walking your dog, then you can always play together inside. Throw a toy and play a relaxing game of fetch for about an hour, then reward your pup with treats.

A dog who isn’t expending itself physically will find other ways to do it. You guessed it, that often means scratching at the walls, but why stop there? They may also scratch at the door, the furniture, or anything else they can get their paws on.

Other destruction can follow such as chewing and digging. Your couch, your favorite pair of shoes, your carpeting, none of it might survive.

If your dog is suddenly aggressive, this too can be due to a lack of exercise.

Related Reading: How Many Walks a Day Does a Cavapoo (Cavoodle) Need?

5. For Attention

Do you yell at your dog every time you see them scratching the walls?

Dogs don’t really understand yelling, so it doesn’t have the intended effect. You think you’re scaring your dog out of repeating the action.

To them, yelling sounds like you’re excited, almost like you’re barking. Thus, to a dog, it might tell them to keep up with the behavior or even do it more.

Thus, every time your dog wants to get your attention when you’re doing housework or working from home, they’ll begin scratching the walls. It always elicits a reaction out of you, after all!

6. Something is Behind the Walls

Finally, although it’s not highly likely, it could be that your dog is scratching at the walls for a valid reason.

Perhaps there’s something behind the walls such as rats or mice. Canines can hear 50,000 vibrations a second and humans only 20,000, so dogs do have an exceptionally gifted hearing.

If you notice that your dog is always scratching at one part of the wall, in particular, it might not hurt to get your home checked out. You could have a vermin problem and not even know it!

Door and wall scratched by a cavapoo dog.
Door and wall scratched by a puppy.

Tips for Controlling Your Dog’s Wall Scratching

Now that you better understand why your dog is scratching at the walls so incessantly, it’s time to do something about it. The following tips will help you reduce this bad behavior and spare your walls!

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Until you understand the reason your dog feels the way they do, you can’t curtail their unwanted behavior such as scratching at the wall.

Here’s what we recommend. For one day, watch your dog. Don’t necessarily follow them from room to room, as then they’ll know something is wrong and their normal behavior might change.

Just keep a closer eye on them. You’re looking for indications of what might cause stress in them if the cause isn’t already clear to you.

Do they panic whenever someone new comes over? Is outside noise freaking them out?

You might also want to set up some cameras so you can watch your dog when you’re not home. This way, you can determine if they have separation anxiety.

Now that you’ve taken the time to monitor your dog, you can come up with a viable solution for lessening their stress and anxiety.

If they’re upset by loud noises, then consider upgrading your windows to block outside sounds. If it’s strangers they don’t like, then limit how often you invite new people to the house.

Canines with separation anxiety need more TLC. You can try easing the transition by giving your dog an item that smells like you and limiting how often you’re gone and for how long.

If your pup has severe separation anxiety that always ends in household destruction, then you might have to consider behavioral training.

Related Reading: Do Cavapoos Like to Cuddle? Are They Affectionate?

Keep Them Physically and Mentally Stimulated

Going back to our point from before, if your dog isn’t physically and mentally stimulated, then destructive behaviors like scratching the walls will follow. It’s commonly said, a tired dog is a well-behaved dog.

Dog in the backyard playing fetch and bring back the ball
Dog in the backyard playing fetch and bringing back the ball.

Every day, commit to at least 30 minutes of exercise with your dog but ideally twice that. You two will build and strengthen your bond. Plus, you get some exercise too, which is always good!

To keep your dog mentally stimulated, try a treat toy or a game where your pup has to sniff out which treat is under the cup. Even walking a new route is going to expand your dog’s mind!

Related Reading: Are Cavapoos Easy to Train? (Plus Training Tips)

Don’t Yell, Ignore

To reiterate from the last section, all that you accomplish when you yell at your dog is making them more excited. That applies whether they’re scratching at the walls, having accidents in the house, or doing anything else uncouth.

Instead, if your dog is scratching the walls for attention, ignore them. This might not make them stop their unwanted behavior right away, but eventually, it will.

Your dog will realize that you’re not reacting to them scratching the wall, so it loses its appeal.

Spray Something with an Unappealing Taste on the Walls

Dogs are as incredibly gifted in the scent department as they are in the hearing department. They can smell up to 100,000 times better than we can ever hope to.

Thus, if you use a gel or spray with an unappealing aroma (and an even worse flavor) on your walls, your dog will not want to get near the area anymore. Try bitter apple spray or citronella.

Of course, to ensure your walls come out of this unscathed, spot-test on a corner of the wall to confirm that the spray doesn’t affect the paint or wallpaper.

Add an Anti-Scratch Panel

Your last option is to buy a scratch guard or anti-scratch panel. The panel is made of rubber or plastic and covers the wall.

Your dog won’t be able to reach its favorite scratching spot, so do you know what will happen? They’ll go find something else to do.  

Black Cavapoo in front of scratched door and wall.
Black Cavapoo in front of scratched door and wall.

Conclusion

Dogs that scratch the walls are doing it for a reason. They might want your attention, or perhaps they’re trying to express that they’re bored or need exercise. Your dog might also be stressed or anxious.

Now that you understand why your dog is behaving this way, you can nip the problem in the bud and keep your lovely walls intact!

Related Reading:
Why Puppy Is Digging at the Water Bowl (And How to Stop It)
Do Dogs Get Sad Changing Owners Or Being Rehomed?