Why Do Dogs Dig or Scratch In Bed

Reviewed By Kyoko •  Updated: 01/18/23 •  6 min read
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Why Do Dogs Dig or Scratch In Bed

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Dogs have a bedtime routine like we do, though theirs differs a bit from ours! When bedtime hits, your fur baby may head to his bed while you’re getting PJs on and brushing your teeth. As you wander by your dog’s bedtime preparation, you may notice he’s busily digging and scratching his bed!

Why is your dog behaving like this? What’s causing him to dig and scratch his bed like fury? Will he put a hole in his dog bed or bedding? Chances are your canine companion will not stop if you try to scold him. So, what’s going on? Should you be worried that your dog is digging and scratching his bed in this way?

We’ve done some research and found some answers on why dogs practice this unusual bedtime routine. Let’s get started!

Reasons Dogs Scratch & Dig at Their Beds

There are several reasons that a dog may dig and scratch his bed! Let’s take a look!

1. Your Dog is Being Territorial

While our dogs are nicely domesticated today (at least most of them are!), our fur babies are descended from wild canines, such as wolves. Wild dogs have a strong instinct to scratch their beds. But why?

The reason is that dogs have scent glands on their feet. These glands help spread a dog’s distinctive smell onto surfaces, such as the ground. This is the same reason a dog may urinate on things in an effort to mark his territory.

Your dog could be scratching and digging his bed in an effort to make a clear statement that this bed belongs to him and him alone! Sometimes, a dog may even become more furious at digging and scratching his bed if you adopt a new dog or bring another pet home. Your dog is making it clear to the newcomer that the bed is his and to stay away!

2. Making the Bed More Comfortable

Dogs, like us, love to be comfortable when they sleep. So, your dog’s furious digging and scratching of his bed could be an attempt to make the bed more comfortable.

This behavior may also have come from your canine companion’s ancestors. In the wild, wolves and wild dogs may scratch together piles of leaves, brush, sticks, dirt, grass, and more to make their bed more comfortable.

Even if they already have all of this to make their bed, a wild canine may want to rearrange it from time to time. They may want to make it more comfortable.

So, your dog may be scratching and digging at his bedding in an attempt to freshen it up and make it more comfortable again.

3. Warm It Up

Does your dog scratch under his blankets and bedding? If so, he may be trying to bring his covers together because he feels cold and wants to warm up.

Here, again, this is similar to the habits of wild canines, such as wolves. They sometimes scratch at the ground to get under leaves, dirt, and brush. In some cases, wild dogs may even dig a den as a way to stay warm. Dirt, leaves, and more act as insulation, allowing the canine to maintain their body heat in the winter or stay cooler in the summer.

So, your fur baby could be too warm or too cold! If your dog seems to be scratching his bed more in the winter, it could be a sign he’s too cold. So, you may want to move his bed to a warmer spot and add more blankets to keep him warmer on those cold nights.

4. Anxiety

Another reason your dog may be digging at his blanket and bed is that he’s feeling anxious. Is your dog normally scratching at his bed and then settling in for the night? If so, he’s probably not feeling anxious.

However, if your dog seems to compulsively scratch and dig at his bed, this could be a sign of anxiety. It could also be a sign of overstimulation.

If you’re concerned your fur baby may be suffering from anxiety, it’s best to call the vet. The vet can determine whether your dog is anxious and may prescribe medications to help your canine companion feel better.

How to Protect Your Dog’s Bed from Scratching

Your dog may normally be digging and scratching at his bed. But some dogs do this in a furious manner that can damage the bed and bedding! However, there are some things you can do to protect your dog’s bed from becoming ruined by his scratching.

Trim Your Dog’s Nails

One of the best ways to protect your dog’s bed from his scratching is to trim your fur baby’s nails. Most dogs benefit from regular nail trims anyway. In fact, a dog should really have his nails trimmed about every three to four weeks.

Regular trims can keep your dog’s nails from catching on the carpet and other things. It can also make it easier for him to walk on hard flooring and keep his nails from becoming infected.

Distraction & Play

Does your dog’s digging seem to be more of a habit? If so, you may want to consider ways to distract him from digging and scratching his bed. Some dogs may dig because they have too much energy or they’re overstimulated. In that case, playing and exercise can make a huge difference.

Physical activity can use up your dog’s pent-up energy. If he’s tired at bedtime, he won’t have the energy to dig furiously and scratch at his bed!

Purchase a More Durable Dog Bed

Another option is to purchase a more durable dog bed for your canine companion. Look for dog beds that come with durable covers.

If it seems like your fur baby’s after more comfort, you may want to purchase an orthopedic dog bed or one that has memory foam. These are great for dogs that have sore joints and arthritis.

Summing It Up

So, there you have it! These are the most common reasons a dog may dig and scratch his bed.

Remember, if your dog seems to have any other symptoms of pain, anxiety, or illness, it’s a good idea to take him to the vet for a checkup. Treating the problem may stop your dog’s digging!

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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!