Why do dogs scratch at their beds

Last updated: July 10, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Have you ever noticed your dog clawing, scratching or digging on the bed you’ve spent your hard-earned money on? To you, it seems like the most bizarre behaviour why they would attempt to destroy the bedding they rest and sleep on. In this article, we’re going to have a look at this exact behaviour to help you find out why your dog scratches their bed.

Some dogs like digging

There are breeds of dogs out there who love to dig and it’s hardwired into them to do it as often as they can – these are the kind of dogs who need indestructible dog beds or else they’ll cost you a fortune.

These dogs will be hunting dog breeds who have been bred and trained over many generations to dig out burrowing prey such as rabbits, ferrets and even foxes. Their goal is to of course get their target out of the burrow by scratching and destroying the nest.

Although they will have a natural instinct to dig they can be trained to rescue it and learn that it not desirable behaviour using our recommended positive reinforcement training. It may take time but they will get there in the end and investing in scratch proof beds will help a lot.

Here is a shortlist of known breeds who love a dig

  • Jack Russell Terrier (and crossbreeds of it)
  • Daschund
  • Siberian Husky
  • Fox Terrier
  • Beagle
  • Border Collie

They are marking their territory

A dog’s paw does a lot more than cushion them as they walk and to help expel heat – they also produce their scent which they can smear all over their bedding when they furiously scratch at it. Dog scratching is an instinct which compels the dog to do it usually right before bedtime. Circling around the bed and even peeing on it can also accompany the scratching.

Not all dogs do this, it is especially common in dogs who have not been neutered or spayed as they will have stronger hormones that drive territorial behaviour. Male dogs are even more likely to scratch their beds to lay their claim on it.

Lastly, it is even more likely to happen in homes with several dogs and located in more rural areas surrounded by wild animals where there are other animals who may be interested in their bed.

This can be very undesirable especially if they end up destroying furniture but it can be trained out of them and can be greatly reduced with neutering and spaying. 

Dogs are nest animals

Contrary to popular belief dogs are not den animals and this would not explain the digging and scratching behaviour. However, female dogs, in particular, can instinctively dig and scratch to create a safe nest for their pups.

These pups and most pups who start life in a crate may instinctively try to build a den to recreate the environment they were born in.

So many occurrences of strange behaviour in dogs can be traced back to their ancient instincts before they were domesticated. Scratching at their bed to recreate a den could be one of them.

They’re getting comfortable

Dog’s don’t have hands like us to plump pillows or straighten a blanket so they have to use their claws instead. If your dog’s scratching their bed they may be trying to move things around to make it more comfortable for bed time. They may also be scratching to get stuff out of the bed such as toys and bits of food. 

Is your dog bed messy and full of stuff such as blankets and toys? Try helping them out by making it a little easier to get comfortable in.

They’re frustrated/stressed

A frustrated dog can exhibit strange and destructive behaviour with scratching, digging and clawing at things some of them. Digging and scratching is a physical activity they can take their pent up energy out of. If you see this often the first thing we’d recommend is to take them out for a nice long walk so they can expend energy properly. 

However, there are other factors which can cause stress which leads to bed scratching so it’s important as an owner to keep an eye out on underlying issues which can cause frustration – has there been any big life changes in the home lately?

destroyed dog bed

They’re looking for something

If there’s some food or a toy underneath the bed a dog will dig and scratch to try and get to it. Some dogs may even catch a whiff of something that used to be there and they believe it may be under the bed covers; in this case they may dig endlessly and destroy the bed entirely.

If you see your dog scratching at their bed check under the covers and under the bed itself for any lost bits of food or a toy. If you find nothing and own a bed with removable covers consider washing it.

The bed has a flea infestation

Scratching is the number one symptom of fleas – it’s possible that your dog is scratching at their bed to try and get rid of the fleas which are giving them so much grief. A flea infestation really is annoying for all and they can spread like wildfire so if you suspect fleas then give them a wash straight away and apply flea treatment and wash the bed itself on a hot setting in the washing machine.

Conclusion

There are a variety of reasons why do dogs scratch at their beds and we feel we’ve covered 99% of them. It’s important to observe a dog’s behaviour all of the time to deduce a potential underlying cause and then determine if action needs to be taken. Digging at their bedding is a pretty common behaviour and we would not be overly concerned but would recommend a tougher dog bed as a precaution.

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