Why Do Dogs Scratch In Their Beds?

Last updated on: Jan 24, 2024

By: Angela Reeves

White Dog Scratching in a Bed

Most of the dogs have behaviors that might seem quirky to us but are perfectly natural to them. We'll explore why dogs scratch their beds, and what we can do to manage this behavior while keeping our pooches happy and stress-free.

Spoiler: Don't worry, this behavior is as normal as your pooch's love for treats!

Common Reasons Dogs Scratch Their Beds

The reasons for scratching are mostly the same as for digging their beds. These behaviors are closely related!

Creating a Comfortable Nest for Sleeping

Dogs, much like their wild counterparts, have an instinct to make their sleeping area cozy and comfortable. Scratching and circling in their bed is a way to fluff up the bedding and create a cozy nest that feels just right.

Cooling Off a Spot Before Lying Down

On those balmy days, dogs scratch to expose a cooler layer in their beds. Think of it as their version of flipping the pillow to the cold side.

Marking Their Territory with Scent

Dogs have scent glands in their paws, and by scratching their beds, they're leaving their scent. This is a way of marking their territory and making the area feel more familiar and secure. It's like saying "This comfy spot is all mine!".

Feeling Stressed or Anxious

Sometimes, bed scratching can be a sign of stress or anxiety. It's a way for dogs to release pent-up energy and find comfort in a repetitive activity.

How to Stop Your Dog from Scratching Their Bed

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Often, addressing the root cause of stress and anxiety can significantly reduce bed scratching.

  1. Exercise and Playtime. Burning off excess energy can help make them less likely to scratch the bed.
  2. Obedience Training. Engaging your dog's mind can also help reduce stress and anxiety. Mental stimulation usually reduces the dog's need for repetitive behaviors like bed scratching. More playtime and brain games can tire them out in the best way.
  3. Supplements. In some cases, calming supplements may help calm your dog's nerves. Always check with your veterinarian first!

Provide Alternatives

Redirect the behavior to a more appropriate scratching spot.

  1. Old Blankets. An old blanket or a designated scratching spot can fulfill your dog's digging instinct without damaging their bed.
  2. Digging Box with Sand or Dirt. For dogs who really enjoy digging, a digging box in your yard can be a great alternative.

Use a Nesting Bed or a Doughnut-Style Bed

These beds are designed to accommodate a dog's nesting instincts, which can reduce their desire to scratch. It’s like a bed and a hug, all in one!

Keep Their Nails Trimmed

Regularly trimming your dog's nails can cut the damage caused by scratching.

When Scratching Becomes a Problem

There is difference between normal and excessive scratching. Look for signs like

  • Bed looking like a shredded chew toy
  • Your dog acting like a scratch-obsessed DJ
  • Injuries from over-scratching

Sometimes, this could be a sign of allergies, uninvited pests, or pain. If things seem out of control, visit your vet.

Other Bedtime Rituals

Scratching the bed is not the only curious habit dogs have, it's just one of them. Let's explore some of these common behaviors:

  • Walking in a Circle. Often a throwback to their wild ancestors, dogs walk in circles before lying down. They did so to flatten the grass and scare away any lurking pests.
  • Digging in Bed. This mimics the instinct to dig a den; it's a way for dogs to create a comfortable, safe spot to rest.
  • Snuggling. Seeking comfort and warmth, dogs often snuggle with their owners or with blankets. Snuggling is their way of saying, "You're my favorite human!"
  • Sighing: A contented sigh as they settle down. It is a dog's way of expressing relaxation and comfort, signaling they feel safe and at ease.


Every odd habit of your dog has its own tale. Stay curious and embrace the journey of understanding your furry best friend's world.

For more insights, check out our posts on when does your puppy become an adult dog and why dogs lick your feet.

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