Why Do Dogs Scratch At Their Beds? And What They Dig In?

It can be annoying when your dog scratches the bed. It’s no wonder many dog beds tout themselves as durable.

No one wants to shell out several bucks for a dog bed only for it to be ripped to a mountain of fluff.

Why Do Dogs Scratch At Their Beds? And What They Dig In?

Dog claws, unlike cat claws, are not retractable so they tend to be rather dull. However, you’d be surprised what kind of damage a very determined dog can do.

Why Does My Dog Scratch Her Bed?

It may be easier to solve this problem if you get down to why your dog scratches the bed.

Natural Instinct

A dog’s claws are blunt, meaning they’re not as good at climbing as cats. However, they are very good at digging. This is especially true in breeds that were bred to hunt badgers and rabbits. In the wild, a dog would dig a burrow to sleep in for safety and comfort.

You may have noticed your dog walks around in a circle before laying down. In the wild, a dog would have to make sure there were no rats, snakes, or other critters to disturb their slumber.

Your house may be quite safe, but the instinct to make sure never goes away.

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Territorial Behavior

Dogs have scent glands on their paw pads. Scratching at their beds is how they let others know this bed is theirs. Of course, you would have to have a dog’s sense of smell in order to notice it.

This is why you may notice Fido scratches more when there is a new person or pet in the house. He’s trying to outline boundaries. A dog is more likely to come back to space he or she has already marked as their own.

A Learned Habit

While most natural instinct, it can be learned. An impressionable puppy might copy whatever she sees grown dog do. Even an adult dog might mimic the behavior of a dog they perceive as being the alpha.

Maternal Instinct

Is someone about to have puppies?

Mama Dog wants her puppies to have someplace comfortable and safe to live. The scratching could be nesting behavior. You can help her find a good place to have puppies, but in the end, she’ll decide where will be best.

7 Reasons Why Do Dogs Dig At Their Beds

Now let’s review the seven main reasons why dogs might dig at their beds. You may not be able to fully make a dog go against instinct but you can sometimes go with it in order to dissuade your dog from undesired behavior.

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Temperature & Comfort

Your home is comfortable for you but is it comfortable for your dog?

A Chihuahua wants to be warm and a husky wants to be cool. A dog will burrow to get to someplace with a more comfortable temperature. Your dog may also be trying to make the texture into something he would prefer.


Some dogs mark their territory by urinating. Fortunately, dogs don’t like wet beds. They won’t urinate on their beds if they can help it. So, to make the bed smell more like them, the dog will claw at the bed, trying to rub his unique scent all over their bed.

If another animal has been using Fido’s bed, he may try to override that scent with his own.


Fido could be doing this out of instinct. As mentioned before, wild dogs would turn around in a circle before laying down just to make sure this place was safe.

Sometimes a wild dog will dig a shallow hole to sleep in just to make them harder to spot by predators.


Fido might dig because he feels a need to hide. This is another throwback to your dog’s wild ancestry. He might try to blend in with his natural surroundings by burying himself in them.

Making Space for Puppies

Fifi might be getting broody. If she’s ready to have puppies she may dig around looking for someplace safe and comfortable for them.

If there is no chance Fifi could get pregnant, there is still the chance she might “adopt” a smaller animal or even a toy and act like it’s her baby by scratching out a place for it to sleep.

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Hidden Treasure

Dogs in cartoons are frequently shown burying bones in the back yard. It isn’t far from the truth. In fact, this is a bit downplayed from reality.

In reality, dogs will bury anything they want for themselves in a place they think is safe.

An indoor dog will try to hide toys, treats, and odd items (particularly if they smell like their favorite person) in their bed. If your dog is digging at her bed, she may be either trying to hide something or look for something she hid previously. Discourage her from hiding food as it can go rancid or draw insects.

Nervous Behavior / Anxiety

If the digging is excessive and getting way out of hand, Fido may be doing this to relieve nervous tension. Have there been any major changes lately that would cause Fido to be upset?

Did you move, change your routine or bring someone new into the house.

In this case, the digging can be a compulsive behavior akin to nail-biting in humans. Your dog should use his bed for relaxing, not for anxiety attacks.

How Can I Stop My Dog’s Bed Digging?

Once you have found the cause of the problem you can take action in a viable solution. Make the bed warmer or cooler by adding or taking out blankets or changing the location. Switch out the blankets if you think Fido just doesn’t like the texture. If the bed is lumpy, a wash can take care of that.

However, if your dog likes the way his bad smells you should not wash it. Do not wash all bedding at the same time so Fido will always have something that smells like him. Maybe Fido would like his bed in a more private location to feel safer.

Dealing with anxiety issues can prove to be a bit tricky. You may need to enlist the help of a veterinarian in this case. In any case, at all, you will need to show your furry little friend kindness, compassion, and patience.

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Which of these facts has helped you most?

Does your dog have a digging problem? Does any of the above sound like a legitimate explanation? Have you ever tried to break a dog of digging? What was your experience?

Sometimes, a dog’s just going to dig and all you can do is offer him a designated digging spot to do that. You may have to invest in a heavy-duty claw proof bed if your dog is a bit rough on beds.

Let Fido know that he is safe in your house but be prepared for the fact that some instincts just can’t be unlearned. 

Please feel free to leave something in the comments below and share this article if you liked it.

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