Why Do Dogs Scratch & Dig In Their Beds?

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Have you ever come home to find that your dog has completely mangled their bed, with the stuffing littered around the room and the fabric in tatters? Or maybe you’ve noticed them scratching feverishly at their bedding before taking a nap.

You might wonder why they do this seemingly bizarre behavior and dig in their bed. Does your dog have destructive behaviors? Or is there a reason behind it?

Why Do Dogs Scratch & Dig In Their Beds?

Cute puppy yawning in dog bed

There are a few reasons your dog might scratch or dig at its bed for a comfortable spot before lying down. One typical behavior is trying to make the bed more comfortable.

When we fluff up our pillows and smooth out our clean bedding before getting into bed, we’re doing the same thing – ensuring that we’ll be as comfortable as possible. Your dog might try to do the same by bed-scratching behaviors, digging, and flipping over their bedding.

Your dog might scratch or dig in his bed or have this odd bedtime ritual because he’s bored or anxious. If your dog isn’t getting enough mental stimulation during the day, he might take out his frustration on his bed.

The same goes for anxious or stressed dogs – they might start scratching or digging to deal with their feelings, which can also bring about canine nesting instincts. If you think this might be the case with your dog, try adding some interactive toys to his routine or taking him for more walks.

Animal Instincts

Dogs have a natural instinct to dig and are creatures of habit. It’s an inherited behavior from their wild ancestors, who would dig dens to sleep in and store food. While your dog’s bed is unlikely to be used for either of those purposes, the instinct is still there. If your dog is finding it hard to resist the urge to dig, there are a few things you can try:

Encourage them to dig in other places.

Dogs scratch and dig in their beds for a variety of reasons. Some dogs do it because they’re uncomfortable and have anxious behavior, while others may simply enjoy the sensation of scratching and digging. Sometimes, dogs may scratch and dig in their beds because they’re trying to bury objects or bones.

Whatever the reason, you can do a few things to discourage your dog from scratching and digging in his bed.

  • If they have a sandbox or a spot in the yard where they’re allowed to dig, they’re less likely to see their bed as an opportunity to get their digging fix.
  • Please provide them with plenty of toys and activities that simulate digging.
  • If your dog is anxious or stressed, provide them with some relief by taking them for more walks.

Try a puzzle toy

Golden Retriever Dog Puppy Playing with Toy

If your dog likes to chew on things, shows signs of anxiety, or is working on obedience training, giving them a puzzle toy filled with treats can help redirect their attention from their bed. Just be aware they may bring it to their bed as they see this as a safe spot. A few of the following toys can help you keep them occupied:

Give them a comfy bed

A comfortable bed is less tempting to dig up than a thin mat or an old blanket. They may be less inclined to mess it up by making their bed more inviting. Here are a few of our favorite pieces of pet furniture:

Territorial Reasons

When dogs scratch or dig at their beds, they’re actually claiming their territory. They’re marking their bed as theirs by leaving their scent on it. This instinctual behavior goes back to their days in the wild.

By scent-marking their bed, they’re letting other dogs know that this is their space and they should stay away.

Common ways of marking can include:

  • Scratching, humping, and digging: This is the most common way dogs leave their scent behind. They leave their scent all over by scratching and digging at their bed or any other object.
  • Urinating: Dogs will often urinate on objects to mark them as theirs. This can include their bed, toys, or even people.

They’re Trying To Get Your Attention

Sometimes, when dogs scratch or dig at their beds, they’re actually trying to get your attention. If you’ve been ignoring them all day or if they think you might be mad at them, they might try scratching or digging at their bed to get your attention.

They know that you don’t want them to do this, so they’re doing it to get you to pay attention to them.

Creating a Safe Space

Dogs scratching and digging in their beds is often an attempt to create a safe and secure space for themselves. This can be especially true for dogs who are anxious or have separation anxiety.

This behavior is because dogs are descendants of animals that once lived in dens, so they feel instinctively drawn to creating this type of environment. Dogs like having a designated place to sleep and relax; by scratching and digging, they’re able to create a cozy space just for themselves.

Redirecting Anxiety or Boredom

Miniature Goldendoodle playing in the rain

Dogs usually redirect their anxiety or boredom at home by scratching and digging in their beds. This is a way for them to make themselves more comfortable and create a safe space. Dogs are den animals, so this behavior is a natural instinct for them.

If your dog seems to scratch and digs more than usual, it may be a sign that they’re feeling anxious or bored. Try providing them with plenty of exercise and stimulation, and ensure they have a comfortable resting place.

Here are a few things you can do to help your dog:

  • Provide plenty of exercise and stimulation
  • Make sure your dog has a comfortable place to rest
  • Try giving them interactive toys or puzzle feeders
  • Take them for walks or play with them in the yard
  • If you have long working hours, hire a dog walker or someone to play with them
  • If your dog likes to swim, take them to a local favorite swimming spot

These are just a few things you can do to help your pup get its energy out. There are, of course, more extreme ways to get their energy out, but these are the most common.

Conclusion

Dogs scratching and digging in their beds is a natural behavior that stems from their ancestors who once lived in dens. Dogs do this to create a safe space for themselves, mark their territory, and get your attention.

If your dog seems to do this more than usual, it may signify that they’re feeling anxious or bored. Try providing them with plenty of exercise and stimulation to help them get rid of any excess energy.

Talk to your vet if there seems to be trouble redirecting your dog’s anxiety. They may recommend a behavior modification plan or medication to help your pup feel more relaxed. Do what you can to create a comfortable environment for your furry friends, and they will show their appreciation!

Do you have questions about this odd behavior in dogs? Leave them and any info on behavior patterns you may have noticed in the comments below.

Meet our writer

Karen is a former pet business owner with 17+ years of experience in training and taking care of pets. She currently owns three dogs (a greyhound, saluki, and golden mix) and has gone through several types of programs to further her education in the pet world.

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