Most domesticated dogs live a life of luxury, spending much of their time sleeping. But dogs can carry out some strange bedtime rituals before going to sleep, which is quite comical to watch!
Dog owners may notice their dog digging and scratching their favorite bed or blanket, fluffing it so it is perfect, then circling several times before finally settling down for a nap. But why do dogs dig their beds, and is this digging behavior normal?
You should not stop a dog from digging a bed because it’s natural instinct, inherited from its wild ancestors in order to make a comfortable bed or conceal them from predators. They may also dig a bed when they are being territorial, are pregnant, or suffering from anxiety or a medical condition.
Excessive dog scratching and bed digging is something that you should keep an eye on and speak to your veterinarian should you become concerned.
Read below to find out more about why dogs dig their beds…
Why do dogs dig in bed before lying down?
Although your pet dog lives indoors in comfort and no longer needs to make a shelter to survive, you still have to remember that dogs are denning animals, and it is an instinctive behavior for them to scratch and dig their dog bed.
Wild dogs would dig a shallow hole in soft ground to create a safe and comfortable hiding place to protect them from predators, and our pet dogs mimic these behaviors.
Some small dog breeds like Dachshunds and Jack Russell Terriers dig more than others because we have bred it in them, and they still get a buzz out of digging their dog beds.
Several triggers can set off a dog’s pre-sleep rituals that we will look at in more detail.
Dog’s Body Temperature
The indoor temperature of your home must be comfortable for your dog so check your air conditioning or heating.
A dog will often fidget around with their bedding to help regulate its body temperature. Dogs cannot sweat, so a wild dog would dig holes to remove sun-exposed soil, giving them a cool place to rest.
A domestic dog repeats the same behavior in its bed if it is hot. It is like us flipping a pillow to the cooler side!
You will also see dogs digging their bedding when they are cold in a bid to get warmer.
Dog Marking Territory
Because of a dog’s territorial behavior, they will mark their sleeping area with the scent glands on their paws, a scent that is unique to each dog.
You will see your dog scratching and digging their bed or blankets, and this action warns any other animals or dogs in your home that this is their resting place and to stay away.
Before they became the pampered pooches we know today, a wild dog’s instinct was to remain hidden in a protected space away from predators.
Dogs are incredibly vulnerable when sleeping, so they need camouflage to ensure their survival.
Although our pet pooches no longer need to worry about such things, it is common behavior for them to hide under blankets during sleep.
Hiding Food and Toys
Wild dogs would bury surplus food to prevent other dogs or animals from eating it.
Although this is no longer a problem for domesticated dogs, if multiple dogs are living in your household, you may see your dog digging in its bed to find food or their favorite toys hidden there to keep as its own.
Just as we adjust the bed covers or plump the pillows before we go to sleep, dogs dig their beds to ensure they have a comfortable place to rest.
Older dogs that suffer from arthritis may circle a few times and dig their dog bed to help find a pain free sleeping position.
Your dog’s comfort is vital to their well-being, and if your dog’s digging is accompanied by other signs of distress like panting or whining, you should take your pet to the vet.
Pregnant Female Dog Ready to Whelp
It is an instinctual behavior for a pregnant female dog to dig their bed to prepare a comfortable space to give birth and nurse her puppies for the next few weeks.
This action is known as “nesting” and can even happen to spayed dogs.
The dog’s bed must offer protection for her and her offspring, so the expectant mother will probably dig the covers until it is just right.
If you notice your dog digs aggressively and starts chewing their bed as well, it could be a sign of boredom, anxiety or because of a loud noise, and they have no other way to rid their excess energy.
This destructive behavior may indicate that you need to add more walks into your daily schedule, along with some playtime and trips to the park for a good run around.
What does it mean when my dog is digging on my bed?
Despite being domesticated, dog digging appears to remain strong in our pet pooches, and it can be extremely frustrating for dog owners when they do it to our beds!
You can take specific measures, but first, ensure your dog is not suffering from anxiety or a medical condition.
Dogs love to stay close to their human partner, which is why they dig on your bed.
Keep the bedroom door closed and give them their own bed with some old blankets in a quiet and comfortable space.
How can I prevent my dog digging in their bed?
While your dog digging their bed may be fun to watch, it can also be incredibly destructive, and they may wreck it.
First, keep your dog’s nails trimmed regularly to minimize the damage to their sleeping place.
If the dog digging has become more than playful, it might be that your pet needs more stimulation and exercise or the help of a dog behaviorist.
You may need to invest in a new bed that is more durable and more comfortable, so it limits the bed digging your pet does.
Does their bedding affect their behavior?
The type of bedding your dog has can affect its behavior. Dogs dig to make their sleeping area more comfortable, and if they have bedding that isn’t particularly cozy, you might see your dog digging in their bed more frantically.
Providing your pet with a comfortable bed with old blankets will hopefully minimize your dog’s digging habits.
Dogs digging their beds is normal behavior and is a natural instinct inherited from their ancestors.
Ensure your dog isn’t too hot or too cold by checking your air conditioning or that they are suffering from anxiety or a medical condition.
Providing your pet dog with comfortable bedding gives them a peaceful resting place and can stop your dog digging and scratching their bed so much.
Found this interesting? Read our other posts about doggy habits: