Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Bed?

why do dogs scratch their bed.

Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Beds? Causes and When to Be Worried

Our awe at how pets behave will never fade. For example, why do dogs circle before pooping? Or why do dogs sleep on their backs? But if you’re scratching your head at why do dogs scratch their beds? You’re not alone.

Although it may appear humorous, what causes canines to follow this bedtime ritual?

why do dogs scratch beds.

8 Reasons Why Do Dogs Dig in Their Beds?

To determine whether your dog's behavior is completely normal or cause for concern, we'll go over these scenarios below.

1. Instinct 

Domestic dogs are evolutionarily related to coyotes, wolves, and foxes. All these wild animals dig burrows to raise their young. Even when a dog is in a comfortable and sheltered environment, they still need to scratch their sleeping area. Softening or changing the shape of the sleeping pad is largely instinctive. 

Although many inherited behaviors no longer have a clear meaning in modern life, all are still useful when you put them in a natural context. When it comes to animal behavior, nothing happens by accident.

2. Comfort Factor 

Like their wild relatives, dogs also scratch and dig an area to adapt it to their bodies. They do this to make their sleeping space as comfortable as possible. In addition, dogs have other curious rituals to soften their roost. 

A common one is running in circles several times before bed. This is akin to you fluffing pillows before you put your head down. Also, their ancestors would have carried out "nest building" work by collecting twigs, leaves or other debris — bringing it to their sleeping place. Hence, if you catch your dog scavenging around and taking items to their bed. This could indicate they need an extra blanket or mattress.

3. To Mark Their Territory 

One of the defining characteristics of dogs that answers — why do dogs paw at their bed, is that they’re very territorial. Because of this, they often mark their space — claiming what they consider to be theirs, which in this case, is their bed. 

The most common form of marking is urination, but scratching or rubbing the bed could also be such behavior. The reason for this is that dogs have sweat glands on their paws. Through these, they emit a scent with which they mark their sleeping place.

4. Temperature Control 

If you’re contemplating — why is my dog digging in his bed, it could be for regulating temperature. However, this behavior is much more common when the animal is sleeping outside the home. Yet, some dogs prefer to dig their sleeping hole, even if they have their own bed. This is an attempt to adapt to the climate, either to warm up or to cool down.

5. Attention Seeking 

Perhaps, you’re engrossed in your latest box set, or walkies are overdue. Just like barking, scratching their bed can be a way to get your attention. 

However, if this little quirk does lure you away from what you’re doing, it could become a habit — because they’re getting what they want. Hence, ignore their actions, speak in a calm voice, and reward your pooch when they stop. 

6. Nervous or Excited Behavior

When your dog is overly enthusiastic, they need a means to burn off the excess energy. Both barking and playing are common among dogs. And, naturally, most pups dig! To release this energy, an overstimulated dog may begin digging in their bed.

Similar to humans, if your dog becomes extremely agitated, they could try to relieve the tension by ripping up their bed. So, you must urge your dog to use an alternative, healthier method of releasing energy — for example, providing doggy toys to focus their frustrations. 

7. To Secure the Area

Your pooch’s early cousins would circle and scratch in the spot they intended to spend the night to feel comfortable and protected. Before getting into their new bed, they would stamp on the floor and circle it to frighten away any potential snake or rodent intruders. This would make them feel more secure. 

Additionally, wild dogs frequently dug a covert sleeping hole to protect themselves from predators. Over thousands of years, the impulse to create a safe refuge was maintained, since staying even a little below ground level would provide greater security. 

This could explain the puzzling behavior of why do dogs dig before they lay down.

8. Anxiety

If your dog lightly scratches before falling asleep, it's likely they're merely doing it instinctively. If so, there is nothing to be concerned about. However, if your dog scratches at their bed repeatedly or persistently without settling down, it may not be instinct at all but rather a sign of anxiety or over-stimulation.

Consult with your veterinarian if you believe your dog's scratching might be a neurotic behavior.

why do dogs dig in their beds.

Why Do Dogs Dig Beds? — Other Considerations

Scratching at the bed or sleeping place is not necessarily a negative behavior. Nevertheless, you should note a few things:

  • Some breeds are more prone to do this than others, including terriers.
  • Your dog may have learned this behavior from other dogs around him (puppies tend to imitate adult dogs).

Ultimately, dogs scratch at their roost due to instinctive behavior, just like their non-domestic ancestors did. But even if it's normal behavior, you should pay attention to whether it's accompanied by other not-so-normal behaviors. 

You know your dog best, if you think something is up, consult your veterinarian. They will assess your pet's manner and recommend the best course of action, taking into account your dog's needs. 

However, if you’re simply fed up asking yourself why does my dog dig in his bed? Read on to learn more about how to deter this habit yourself.

How To Prevent Your Dog From Scratching and Digging in Bed

Now you know the causes of your dog's bed digging, you might be looking for solutions to put an end to it.

The issue arises when certain dogs obsessively dig and scratch their beds. If your doggy’s actions have destroyed their sleeping place, it's time to break the habit. 

Give Your Dog a Bed for Digging and Scratching 

As this inherent propensity in them can sometimes be difficult to control, now is the ideal time to buy your dog a separate ‘digging-and-scratching’ bed. This way you can let your four-legged friend get it out of their system, without trashing their proper sleeping place.

And, if you find yourself becoming increasingly irritated by their natural urges to scratch and dig, you can always order them to stop and wrap things up. 

Provide Alternatives

Take them for a walk to burn off that excess energy, or give them something fun to do. A toy to play with or gnaw on is a surefire way to take their mind off scratching or digging their bed. If you have a yard, purchase a sandbox for them to play in to satisfy the urge. 

Beaches, hiking trails, and other outdoor areas are other places where they can dig — just make sure they're all dog-friendly!

Digging is typically prohibited at dog parks, though, so don't encourage your dog's behavior there.

Address Anxiety

If you believe that your dog's destructive digging is caused by anxiety, talk to your veterinarian about ways to treat your dog's anxiety through dietary adjustments and/or medication.

Don't Allow the Behavior on Your Couch or Bed

Dogs naturally engage in the innate action of digging or scratching, but if your dog starts destroying your furniture, it will cost you a lot of money to repair. Hence, if they cross the boundaries and move on to your possessions, you need to deal with the issue swiftly. 

Try not to allow them access to those areas. If that’s not possible, keep an eye on your dog. When they start scratching or digging, use ‘no’, ‘down,’ ‘off,’ or whatever command they’re familiar with to stop the behavior. And, ensure you offer praise or a treat when they listen.

why do dogs dig before they lay down.


Well, why do dogs scratch their beds? The likelihood is that your dog's propensity to perform this act before laying down is very natural — an instinct they’ve inherited. However, if your dog is excessively scratching or doesn't stop digging, it’s worthwhile having a chat with your vet to rule out something more sinister.

Why Do Dogs Scratch Beds? FAQs

What Does It Mean When a Dog Scratches Its Bed?

To set up a boundary — on the bottom of their feet, dogs have smell glands that release a unique pheromone, just like cats and many other four-legged animals. Your dog may use scratching to let people know they have claimed a particular bed by marking it.

Why Do Dogs Dig at Their Beds Before Lying Down?

Instinct. In the wild, your dog's ancestors frequently scratched at dirt and leaves to form a temporary bed for sleeping. 

Why Does My Dog Scratch His Bed Like Crazy?

To make their bedding more comfortable, dogs have a natural behavior known as bed-scratching. Dogs may unknowingly engage in this inherited behavior. Some canines like to prepare for nighttime by making a den out of their blanket and digging in with their noses. Territorial bed-scratching is another example.

How Do You Stop a Dog From Scratching the Bed?

A crate could be used as a designated resting place. Giving your dog praise and goodies when they choose to utilize this particular spot can encourage them to do so. Also, keep your bedroom door shut to prevent unsupervised antics. 

Why Does My Dog Scratch His Crate at Night?

Similar to how wild wolves dig a den to raise their young, it's a natural impulse that aids them in making a secure and comfortable place for themselves. If your puppy is digging or scratching in their crate or kennel, either during the day or night, they may be attempting to create a cozy haven to unwind and sleep.

What Dog Breeds Dig the Most?

Find out which dog breeds are more likely to dig.

  • Malamute.

  • Bedlington Terrier. 

  • Miniature Schnauzer. 

  • Dachshund.

  • Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. 

  • Cairn Terrier. 

  • Beagle. 

  • Siberian Husky.