Scratching is just one of those things that dogs naturally do. Scratching a lot, to the point where the skin becomes inflamed or even bleeds, indicates a medical problem. There can be a number of possible causes. The first suspect is always the flea. Many dogs develop allergic reactions to fleas and can chew themselves up trying to stop the itching. The new once-a-month flea treatments have been shown to be highly effective in controlling flea problems. You've heard of mangy mutts? Well, they exist, but they're not the generic run-down dogs you might imagine. Mange is a specific condition caused by mites. Your vet can prescribe medication to control the infestation. Next, there's superficial pyoderma (pie-oh-DER-ma), more commonly known as hot spots. These are caused when normal skin bacteria multiply to a point where they overwhelm the dog's natural resistance. The dog scratches until sores develop. Trim the hair from the area and wash it well with an antiseptic soap. If this doesn't clear up the problem, see your veterinarian for stronger solutions. Finally, your pooch might just be bored. Dogs often scratch because there's nothing else to do. The solution to this is easy: play with the dog more. This might turn out to provide some health benefits for you, too.