Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Bed

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Have you ever watched your dog when they’re getting ready to go to bed? If you have then you’ve probably noticed that they do a little ritual when they circle a couple of times and then begin to snuggle down for the evening. Maybe even within this ritual you’ve noticed that they scratch or dig at their beds.

Watching this, we’re sure that like us you’ve had the moment where you ask yourself why exactly your dog scratches at their bed. The truth is this is an instinct for most dogs and is intended to help them find a comfortable warm place to lie down.

But in this article, we’re going to take a more in-depth look at it and see if there are other reasons why they’re scratching at their beds and give you a few tips on how to protect your dog’s bed from this process. So if that sounds good to you, keep on reading!

Digging – An Evolutionary Behavior

Before we get into the environmental reasons why your dog may be scratching the bed you have to understand the instinctual aspect of this process. Dogs weren’t always domesticated and because of this when they lived in the wild, much like humans did, they developed habits to protect themselves. They had to really worry about protecting themselves the most when they were exposed to getting attacked.

Of course one of the biggest of these occurrences had to be when they were sleeping and so that is when they developed the need to find shelter. The digging and scratching part of this process was developed to protect themselves against the environment though. It is meant to pull away from the cold and wet earth so that they can find the dry, warm earth that could protect them from the environment.

Though domesticated dogs don’t have to worry about that, the sense is still in their brain just like our fight-or-flight instinct as humans. This is the primary reason why you see your dog scratching at their bed.

Reasons Dogs Scratch Their Bed

Now aside from the evolutionary instincts built into your dog from years of having to find shelter, there are also environmental factors that tie into other natural instincts that may cause dogs to scratch at their bed.


There are many animals out there that have glands that secrete scents to mark their distinct territories. Dogs have these glands on their feet and so sometimes the dog is scratching at the bed to mark it as their territory. This may be especially true if you have other pets in the home as they’re trying to ensure they know that this spot is theirs.


Dogs are naturally curious creatures. So if they are digging in their bed they may think that there’s something interesting under the cushions of it. Maybe they think there’s some food or a toy or whatever it seems to be causing them to dig until they find something.


Though this is a process that may happen quite a lot it doesn’t necessarily happen every time. So if you notice that your dog’s digging has become a regular occasion and seems to be frustrating for them it may be a sign that they’re under some stress. If this is the case then you may want to talk with your vet to see if there’s something you can do to relieve this anxiety and stress so that your dog can have a peaceful night’s rest.

Happy dog making mess with papers on bed

Tips To Protect Your Dog’s Bed

The truth is no matter what you do you’re never going to stop your dog from digging completely. Because of this, you may find that you’re replacing your pet’s bed consistently in order to protect them from the harmful health issues that could arise from them eating the stuffing or just because it’s starting to look a little ragged.

There are of course some tips though that we’d like to give you that might help you protect your dog’s bed just a little bit more and ensure that your dog is always safe and comfortable.

Give Your Pup a Pedicure

Your dog is inevitably going to dig. It’s a part of their genetic coding. But you can take care to give your pups a little bit of a pedicure in order to reduce the damage to the bed. Typically, dogs have to have their nails trimmed at least once a month.

Making sure that you’re consistent on this can help protect not only the dog’s bed but also your furniture and floors. Some dogs though, even after trimming, still have sharp claws in which case depending on the breed you may be able to file the nails down a bit to ensure they’re not as sharp and have less ability to catch on fabric.


Like many humans, there are times when having established rituals throughout the day can ensure a peaceful sleep. Your pup may be curious and looking for something to play with and that’s why they’re scratching so much. But if you take them for long walks and give them toys to play with before bedtime and wear them down, you may be able to reduce the damage to their dog bed caused by scratching.

Quality Is Important

The last thing is more about the bed that you invest in. The truth is there are dog beds available in all price ranges; however, cheaply made ones are going to not last as long. You want to find one that uses a durable cover and high-quality materials so that even if your dog is scratching incessantly it’s less likely to ruin the bed.

Final Thoughts

There are several reasons why your dog may be scratching at their bed. In the end, though, it all leads back to instinctual behaviors and you have to accept that they’re there. If you take some of the tips that we gave you above about how to protect your bed you may wind up replacing your dog’s bed less often.

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