Why Do Dogs Scratch & Dig In Their Bed?

March 10, 2021 | Casper Editorial Team

If you have a dog at home, you’ve likely noticed they’ve got some strange bedtime rituals—like turning in a circle a dozen times before settling down or snuggling up with their favorite blanket. You may have even noticed your favorite pup scratching and digging at their beds (you may even have a pile of dog bed stuffing on your floor as proof!).

But have you ever asked yourself, why do dogs scratch their bed like this? or wondered how seemingly every dog does this? 

The reason why almost every dog digs at their bed is that it’s a natural instinct in order to make a comfortable, warm place to lie down.

In this article, we’ll go more into detail on why dogs scratch before they lay down and let you know how you can keep them from destroying their dog beds in the process. 

The Evolutionary Origin of Digging

To understand where this bedtime behavior comes from, you first have to understand the history of dogs. Before they were our beloved furry roommates and family members, dogs used to live in the wild. They developed certain habits during this time that may seem strange to us now but were once essential to their survival. This could explain why a dog’s digging and other destructive behavior may be hard to out-train— it is the natural instinct of your pup. 

One of the most important things a wild dog had to do to survive was to learn to make shelter. Domestic dog behavior often reflects that. Digging became a way for dogs living in areas with particularly cold or wet weather to find protection against their environment.1 They could create a shallow hole in the ground to keep themselves warm or make a hard surface more comfortable by creating a nest of leaves and dirt. 

While domesticated dogs aren’t out in the wild anymore—nope, the dog park doesn’t count—and they don’t need to make shelter for their survival anymore, their instinct to dig still sometimes kicks in when they’re getting ready to lay their heads down. 

Other Common Reasons Why Dogs Dig in Their Bed

However, the natural instinct to build a shelter isn’t the only reason dogs dig at their beds. Here are some other cause for late-night scratching in domestic pets:

  • To mark territory Like cats and many other four-legged creatures, dogs have scent glands on the bottom of their feet, which secrete a distinct pheromone. Scratching at something can be a way for your dog to show others they have marked a bed as their own.
  • Curiosity – Another reason dogs dig is as a way of investigating something. If they think there’s something exciting hiding under the cushions of their bed, like some leftover food or a toy, they might dig as a way of uncovering it.
  • Anxiety If your dog’s digging has become compulsive and seems to be winding them up rather than calming them down, this may be a sign of some underlying anxiety. If this is something you’re worried about, it’s best to consult a vet. 

3 Ways to Protect Your Dog’s Bed Against Scratching

While your dog’s digging habit can be adorable, it can also be incredibly destructive at times. If you’re not careful, your new pet bed can quickly be reduced to a pile of stuffing and fabric. Dog scratching can quickly turn into a pet owner nightmare – even if the dog lover is in your Instagram bio.

The good news is there are some measures you can take to prevent this from happening so your dog can enjoy his bed. 

#1 Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Your pup can always benefit from a good manicure—regularly trimming your dog’s nails can help minimize the damage he may do to his sleeping area. Dogs need to have their nails trimmed every 3-4 weeks. A regular trim can prevent potential furniture or hardwood floor damage, as well as help prevent their nails from becoming infected.2

If your dog’s nails are still sharp after trimming them, it can be helpful to gently file them to prevent any edges from developing.

#2 Give Them Other Ways to Play

If scratching at their bed has become more of a game to your dog than a calming nighttime ritual, it might be because your dog does not have enough stimulation.3 Try taking them out for longer walks or giving them toys that will keep them occupied. 

#3 Invest in a More Durable Bed

Sometimes, your dog isn’t the problem—it’s the bed they’re using. Cheap beds made out of fabric and stuffing aren’t designed to last against a dog that digs and scratches every night. That’s why it’s important to invest in a bed with a durable cover. Additionally, a comfortable bed may limit the amount of digging they need to do to get cozy. In which case, investing in an orthopedic or memory foam dog bed might be a good idea for you and your dog. 

Casper’s dog beds are made of one of the strongest microfibers available, so they can withstand a dog that likes to scratch and dig. Our dog beds are made with a specially-designed material that, when scratched at, mimics the feeling of scratching loose dirt. This can give your dog the feeling of digging without all the mess that usually comes along with it! Not to mention, learning how to wash a dog bed will be a breeze thanks to the machine washable cover.

Beds For Every Member of Your Household

Casper designs mattresses made to fit the needs of every member of your household, and that includes your furry friends! Give your dog a comfortable place to sleep with a dog bed that’s scratch and dig-proof. As if dogs didn’t nap enough already, your dog is sure to love their new Casper dog bed.

Casper Dog Bed

Our durable dog bed is a perfect sleep environment designed around dog behavior.
Casper Dog Bed

Sources: 

  1. The Dodo. Why Do Dogs Scratch at Their Beds? https://www.thedodo.com/close-to-home/why-do-dogs-scratch-carpet-bed-floor 
  2. Rover. How Often Should I Trim My Dog’s Nails? https://www.rover.com/blog/how-often-should-i-trim-my-dogs-nails/
  3. Wag. Why Dogs Destroy Their Beds. https://wagwalking.com/behavior/why-dogs-destroy-their-beds