Author: Joanne Rosser
Last Updated: April 19, 2020
We all have our own pre-sleep behavior and our dogs do too! You may have caught your dog scratching, burrowing, or digging at its bed before settling for a nap.
While you or I might read a good novel before falling asleep, dogs have their own routines too before getting some rest.
A lot of dogs enjoy digging in their bed, but these breeds seem to be the main culprits:
- Siberian Huskies
- Scottish Terriers
- Fox Terriers
- Jack Russell Terriers
Let’s explore the many possible reasons for your dog’s bedtime digging behavior:
Dogs have a natural desire to mark their territory wherever they are. Dogs have glands in their paws which leave a distinct scent on any object they scratch.
You might see a dirty old blanket with holes and scratches but your dog sees and smells a safe space in which they have made their own. You might also see your dog’s digging behaviors increase when a new person or pet is brought into the household. This is the result of them feeling a need to claim their territory.
Uncontrollable digging or scratching at the bed could be a sign that something more concerning is happening with your dog. If your dog is usually nervous or anxious when they dig, it might be worth a trip to the veterinarian.
Talk to your vet to uncover the source of your dog’s stress, but don’t expect an overnight fix! You can also look at providing a new chewing or scratching toy to ease their stress in the short-term.
Bed scratching and digging is something that comes naturally to dogs. Your dog’s wild predecessors scratched at soil, leaves and anything nearby to build a warm bedding space in the wild.
Through altering the surrounding materials they could easily hide from predators, which made them less exposed in the wild.
Many pet dogs still have this burrowing behavior, that’s why your dog might scratch or dig whilst in their bed each night.
Digging or scratching in a bed can be a way for your dog to investigate a delicious smell or uncover something that grabs their attention.Fingers crossed the result of this digging is discovering some leftover crumbs from dinner rather than a mouse!
Whether it’s dirt, grass or a soft bed, dogs will reposition their surroundings to regulate their temperature. On a warm day a dog left outside will dig under the top layer of soil to scoop out cooler dirt below. The opposite is true, if a dog is cold they might dig at the blankets or pillows in their bed to help keep them warm and insulated.
Regular scratching can indicate fleas and it’s possible your dog is scratching at their bed to shake off any annoying fleas. An outbreak can spread rapidly so if you suspect fleas then all bedding items should be put into the washing machine on a hot setting without hesitation. Make sure you also take your dog to the vet and discuss the flea treatment options.
If your female dog is expecting puppies soon, you might notice her scratching increasing. This is called nesting and is a hormonal response that is perfectly natural.
This can also explain why she’s digging after having puppies too. Like many other animals, she’s simply creating a nest for her new pups to keep them cosy and safe.
Your dog might be scratching and digging at the bed because their nails are too long and need trimming down. Inspect your dog’s nails each month and cut them back once they get too long. This is an easy way to correct any destructive scratching behavior from long nails.
How To Prevent Dogs Digging In Their Beds
The way to prevent your dog’s bed scratching and digging will depend on why they’re digging in the first place. These tips might help if the digging and scratching is getting out of control.
If your dog keeps moving and repositioning their bed, watch what they are trying to change and see if you can help.
Try adjusting the amount of blankets to make the bed warmer or cooler. You can also swap out different types of blankets to see what type of material your dog prefers.
If your dog is trying to hide, you can try moving the bed to a quieter, more private area of the home. Also, make sure your dog isn’t hiding or keeping food in the bed. These hidden treats can turn rotten and attract pests, not to mention stinking out the whole house!
If the digging and scratching looks like territorial marking behavior, avoid washing your dog’s bed, blankets and pillows at the same time. By spreading the laundry over a few days, at least one part of the bed will smell like them at all times. If you have multiple dogs, try giving them their own bed so that their scent remains each night.
However, if you can live with it, a dog bed isn’t the totally worst place they can dig or scratch at! Letting your dog dig and scratch each night may keep the furniture or carpet safe from their paws. Providing a small pile of old towels can also extend the life of a dog bed before needing to upgrade.
While a dog’s bed digging and scratching behavior can seem strange at first, now you know a bit more about the possible reasons behind their nightly ritual.
However, if your dog’s scratching has become concerning, please chat with your veterinarian to try to pinpoint the exact cause.
There are many possibilities for a dog’s digging and scratching, but one thing is for sure, their habits can be expensive. It might just be time for a new bed!