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11 Most Common Reasons Why Dogs Scratch Their Beds

Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Beds

While humans have their own bedtime routine… 

Dogs also have their own rituals. 

One of these is scratching their own bed.

Do you want to know why they do this?

Well, you came to the right place!

Continue reading to find out:

  • Whether this is a learned behavior.
  • 11 most common reasons dogs scratch their beds.
  • How you can protect their bed from their scratching habits.
  • If this is a behavior you should stop them from doing or not.
  • And a lot more…

Why do dogs scratch their beds (before lying down)?

Dogs scratch their beds (before lying down) due to nesting or territorial behavior. They may also do this when they’re feeling anxious, curious, hot or cold. Other reasons include critters, learned behavior, maternal instinct, or wanting to hide.

11 reasons why dogs scratch their bed (before lying down)

#1: They’re nesting

“Don’t mind me. I’m just making my bed.”

Dogs scratching their bed is a common canine behavior. You’d see dogs of every breed, age, and size do this.

This may look like a strange behavior to us but it was once an important part of their survival.

In the wild, the canine’s ancestors used to scratch at dirt or piles of leaves to create a bedding.

They also do this to protect themselves against predators. 

The bedding helps in concealing their position and it makes them feel safe.

Most domesticated dogs have retained this behavior as part of their nesting habits.

So even if your beloved pup lives comfortably, they’d still tend to scratch their bed.

But don’t worry! They’re just doing it out of their instinct to create a safe space to rest.

Aside from scratching, there are other signs your pooch is making a nest.

This includes:

  • Burrowing.
  • Shredding blankets.
  • Digging into small spaces.
  • Dragging blankets or bed to a new spot.

You might also want to know: Top 10 Reasons Why Chihuahuas Burrow (Under Blankets)

#2: They might be suffering from anxiety

“Must scratch my bed to feel relieved.”

Even though scratching their bed is a common behavior, it can still become a problem.

If your pup compulsively scratches their bed and does not seem to rest…

This could mean that they’re suffering from anxiety.

Let’s take the story of Ben the Collie as an example…

The paw parent let Ben sleep downstairs. And the pup is kept from coming upstairs with a gate across their kitchen floor.

During the next few weeks, Ben suddenly developed a scratching habit. 

The sound of scratching kept the pet parent up all night. 

One night, she noticed that Ben would stop scratching once she went downstairs to him.

She then realized that the pup might be feeling anxious when they’re left alone at night.

AKC mentioned that there are 3 kinds of anxiety in dogs. These are:

  • Fear.
  • Aging.
  • Separation.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Pacing.
  • Panting.
  • Digging.
  • Trembling.
  • Aggression.
  • Depression.
  • Restlessness.
  • Excessive barking.
  • Destructive behavior.
  • Sudden urination or defecation.

To help your pup with anxiety, here are things you can do:

  • Giving them a time out.
  • Providing them with physical contact.
  • Letting them listen to classical music.
  • Trying out a relaxing doggy massage.
  • Buying them calming wraps or blankets.
  • Making sure they have regular exercise.

Interesting fact: Researchers studied 45 puppies and the effect of pheromones on them. They later found that it was helpful in reducing anxiety and fear in puppies.

#3: They’re marking what’s theirs

“This bed is officially mine and mine alone.”

Did you know that dogs have sweat glands in their paws that release a unique scent?

The scent is called pheromones. If you’re wondering what that is…

It’s a way for canines to communicate with each other using chemical messages.

The more your pooch scratches, the more of their scent is let out.

So when they scratch their bed, they also leave behind their pheromones on it. 

And this serves as their way to mark the bed as their territory.

If another dog smells it, they will get a “secret message”. And they’ll know exactly who owns the bed.

Read next: 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Rubs Itself On The Carpet + 7 Tips

#4: It’s a routine they learned from other dogs

“Don’t blame me! I just copied what the other dog is doing.”

Has your dog never scratched their bed before? Did they only do it when a new pet arrived at your home?

If your answer is yes to both these questions. Then they might have learned the behavior from the other dog.

Of course, they also do this to mark their territory as mentioned above.

But there are cases when they pick up a behavior because they’ve seen another canine do it.

Dogs actually love copying what their furry friend does. Especially when it looks interesting.

And once they learn a habit like scratching their bed, it could turn into a nightly routine.

According to Dr. Stanley Coren, puppies are the ones who often imitate the behaviors of other dogs.

An example of this is when you’re bringing home a new puppy.

If a well-trained adult dog is already part of your family, it would be easier to train the pup.

This is because the puppy will most likely follow the lead of the adult dog.

Did you know that there’s a scientific term for this? 

It’s called allelomimetic behavior. And it simply means doing what others do. 

Allelomimetic behaviors that dogs could commonly follow are:

  • Sitting.
  • Walking.
  • Barking.
  • Howling.
  • Running.
  • Getting up.
  • Lying down.

Here’s what’s more interesting, other animals also show this behavior.

You might notice this if you have both a dog and cat at home. Sometimes, your cat might influence your pooch. 

A perfect example of this is this video of a Husky who acts like a cat:

#5: They either feel hot or cold

Do you notice your beloved pup furiously scratching their bed during winter or summer?

If you do, it might be a sign that they’re trying to keep themselves warm or to cool down. 

This is another behavior they do out of instinct. Their ancestors once dug into dirt in order to access either cool or warm soil.

Domestic dogs still do this because they think it helps in regulating their body temperature. 

But as caring paw parents, we should be aware when they’re feeling hot or cold.

Check out the table below:

Signs they feel too hotSigns they feel too cold
Panting excessivelyCold ears
Increased heartbeatTucked tail
High body temperatureHunched posture
Pale, bright red, or bluish gumsShivering or shaking

Note: Dogs may tend to limp when the floor or street they’re stepping on is too cold.

There are also things you can do to help your fur baby adjust to the weather.

If they feel cold, you can add a heating pad to their sleeping area.

And if they feel hot, you can provide a cooling mat for them.

#6: They do it for comfort

“Scratching before snoozing makes a comfy bed.”

Your pooch may also scratch their bed to make the spot comfortable.

It’s the same way we fluff our pillows or fix our bed before we sleep.

Our furry friends, just like us, need a comfortable place to sleep. And being den animals, they would appreciate having their own area to relax.

Interesting fact: A study showed that restful sleep improves your dog’s memory. It can also help them become smarter.

This is why it’s also important to provide them with a cozy bed.

PetMD mentions a guide in choosing the right bed for your dog. 

These are the following:

Step 1: Avoid loud areas. You might want to put it in a corner where it’s quiet. Also, think about the temperature.

Step 2: Measure your dog’s size to make sure they fit the bed. They should be able to properly stretch and curl up.

Step 3: Check if the material is comfortable for your dog. Beds made of high-quality materials can help your dog sleep better.

Step 4: Consider the sturdiness of the bed. Dogs who love to chew or scratch need a more durable bed.

Step 5: Make sure the type of bed is right for them (fluffy, orthopedic, etc.). Consider their age, health, and personality.

You can also help your dog have a good night’s rest. 

Here are tips you can implement:

  • Setting up a routine.
  • Giving them plenty of exercise.
  • Encouraging them to sleep in their own bed.
  • Checking if they have any medical conditions.

#7: They’re chasing critters away

“Oh no mommy, there’s something on my bed!”

When your pup is scratching their bed, they might just be keeping critters away.

Maybe they found an insect in their spot. Or maybe they’re making sure no strange critter is hiding there.

In any case, they do this to keep their snoozing area safe. This is also an instinct passed down to them by their ancestors.

Wolves in the wild would claw at the ground to scare away any critters that may be around.

But did you know that there are dogs that can get terrified of insects?

One paw parent proved this to be true. Her Labrador started getting scared of insects when they were bitten by a deer fly while lying down.

The Labrador has then become alert and would avoid all insects at all costs.

The pooch also formed a habit of scratching the ground of their resting area before lying down.

If this happens to your beloved pup, the following can be done to help them:

  • Letting them explore the outdoors.
  • Investing in a safe insect repellent for dogs.
  • Trying out desensitization and classical conditioning.

#8: It’s their maternal instinct talking

“I do this for my puppies.”

If you have a female dog and they suddenly start scratching their bed, you might want to check if they’re pregnant. 

Scratching is part of their maternal instinct to prepare the area for their puppies.

They do this to create a warm and safe place for their pups to nest.

You can also help them by providing a proper nesting area. Here’s what you can do:

  • Choosing a private and quiet corner of the house.
  • Obtaining a whelping box to protect the mom and puppies.
  • Placing clothes or rugs inside the whelping box to keep them warm.

It’s worth noting that being aware of whether your pooch is pregnant or not can help them have a safe delivery.

According to AKC, here are signs to watch out for:

  • Irritability.
  • Weight gain.
  • Swollen belly.
  • Enlarged nipples.
  • More affectionate.
  • Nesting behaviors.
  • Increase in appetite.

#9: They’re curious

Your Dog Scratches Their Bed Out Of Curiosity

“This area is under investigation!”

Dogs are curious creatures. You might see them licking at every object they find amusing.

Or sniff at something they want to discover.

And sometimes, they claw their way into their beds to investigate.

They do this when they think they can find something interesting under their bed.

Your pooch might even remove all of their beddings just to find out what’s inside.

They literally want to get to the bottom of it!

You can’t stop your dog from being curious. it’s deeply ingrained in their DNAs.

However, when they become too curious, it can become problematic. 

Not to worry though, there are simple things you can do to make sure they can control their curiosity.

One thing you can do is teach them the “leave it” command. With this, they will learn to leave something when you command them to.

You can also do the following to keep your dog safe.

  • Don’t let them lick anything harmful.
  • Make sure they learn about boundaries.
  • Always keep a close eye on them, especially outdoors.

#10: They want to hide

“I’m creating a blanket fort to hide!”

Sometimes, dogs hide under tables or behind furniture. 

And other times, they scratch their way into the covers of their bed. It even looks adorable seeing their nose peeking out of the blanket.

But why do they do this? The most common reason is for them to feel safe.

They may hide under covers when they feel comfortable in their sleeping space.

This is also called burrowing. It’s another canine instinct to sleep and relax in a protected space.

However, hiding may also be a sign of anxiety or sickness in dogs.

To know if your dog is sick, look out for the following signs:

  • Stiffness.
  • Hair loss.
  • Coughing.
  • Sneezing.
  • Pale gums.
  • Potty issues.
  • Eye changes.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Trouble breathing.

Note: Consult your vet immediately if you notice any signs of pain or illness. 

#11: They want to create space for something valuable

One funny thing dogs do is when they hide things away. They especially do this when they think that something is valuable to them.

So since their bed is a place in your house that they marked as their own… 

They also see this as a safe place to hide their valuables.

As they scratch their bed, they also create a space for keeping things they want to hide.

Perhaps they have a bone they want to save for later. Or they found a pair of your socks that they love.

One sign that your pooch is hiding something is when they make sure no one is around before doing the act.

There is nothing to worry about this behavior. Just make sure that they don’t store everything they see!

Bonus: Ways to protect your dog’s bed from their scratching habit

Are you worried your fur baby might destroy their bed if they keep scratching?

We’ve got you covered! Here are simple ways you can do:

  • Buy durable dog beds.
  • Keep their nails trimmed.
  • Make sure to keep them busy.
  • Invest in scratch-proof beddings.
  • Divert their attention to their toys.