A dog who’s having a bed scratching frenzy can be an amusing sight.
But not until they’ve destroyed a newly bought linen.
So, why are they doing this?
And should you be worried?
Read on to learn:
- Why your dog scratches your bed sheets.
- Whether this is normal for most canines or not.
- What could they be telling you as they dig in your bed.
- 3 practical tips to help combat this bed scratching habit.
- And so much more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog scratch my bed sheets?
- 13 reasons why your dog scratches your bed sheets
- #1: Your dog does it out of instinct
- #2: Your dog wants to snuggle underneath
- #3: Your dog prepares their bed
- #4: Your dog prepares a nest
- #5: Your dog is a copycat
- #6: Your dog is bored to death
- #7: Your dog feels anxious
- #8: Your dog is so hyped
- #9: Your dog wants attention
- #10: Your dog discovered some crumbs
- #11: Your dog found an interesting scent
- #12: Your dog marks their territory
- #13: Your dog is having the time of their life
- How can I get my dog to stop scratching the bed sheets? 3 tips
Why does my dog scratch my bed sheets?
Your dog scratches your bed sheets because of instinct. They may be preparing their sleeping spot. Or they have the urge to make a nice nest for their litter. They could also be bored, anxious, or excited. While others might only be copying other dogs. Or they’ve found crumbs or an interesting odor.
13 reasons why your dog scratches your bed sheets
#1: Your dog does it out of instinct
“It runs in the Canid blood.”
It isn’t surprising to see dogs digging. And this instinct is believed to be inherited from their ancestors, wolves.
Because in the wild, wolves scratch the ground to create a comfy sleeping spot.
And they do this to remove rocks or twigs. And also to drive any insects or small animals away.
Digging holes also helps regulate their temperature.
Because in the cold, burrows give warmth. But when it’s hot, they provide a cooler area instead.
And this could be the reason why your dog digs at your bed sheets.
Although they’re said to have diverged genetically from wolves around 20,000 to 40,000 years ago…
They might still have this instinct in their DNA. And they can scratch any surface they see when they have this sudden urge.
This includes your bed covers, couch, or even the bare floor.
#2: Your dog wants to snuggle underneath
“Hooman, can you please help me here?”
Does your doggo love hiding under your desk, sofa, or any cramped spaces?
If so, your dog may want to get under your cover. So they dig in your bed sheets to do it.
But if you have thick linen, they can’t go underneath on their own. And the scratching can be an SOS for you to lift it.
This might have something to do with ‘denning instinct.’
“What is that?”
Aside from digging, it’s also normal for canines to be more comfortable in confined spaces.
This is because mother feral dogs make dens to keep their litter safe. And this is observed in wolves as well.
Now, pet dogs don’t dig dens on the ground like them. But, they also strive to provide a cozy whelping area for their babies.
And your Fido might remember that feeling of warmth and safety. This is why they feel secure in dark enclosed areas.
Note: Your dog may also be doing this because they’re cold. Or if they’re a velcro or clingy pooch who often likes to snuggle.
For further reading: 9 Astonishing Reasons Why Your Dog Sleeps Under The Covers
#3: Your dog prepares their bed
Your pooch scratches your bed sheet frantically for a few minutes.
Then after that, they plop and sleep right away.
“What just happened?”
Relax. If this is similar to your situation and no linens were destroyed…
You might have only witnessed a dog’s classic bedtime ritual.
Yup! Making their beds is also a thing in the canine land. And like us, they’re doing it to have a nice comfy sleep as well.
Because through digging, they can check and level the surface they’re going to lie on. Plus, they’ll be able to suit it to their taste.
Every canine may have a specific preference when it comes to comfort.
But one thing’s for sure. They’ll appreciate a soft, snuggly bed.
You might also like: Why does my dog scratch at the carpet before lying down?
#4: Your dog prepares a nest
Do you have a female pooch?
If yes, and she’s also pregnant, it could be that she’s about to deliver her puppies.
Dogs who are in labor may dig on beds and couches. And this is because they’re looking for a safe and comfortable spot for their litter.
Some Fidos can also steal shoes from their parents to make their chosen place cozier. While others even shred towels or papers.
(Well, nothing beats the love of a mother!)
But, how do canines learn such things?
Besides learning from other dogs, hormones are also responsible for this maternal instinct.
A study says that a rise in prolactin levels causes nesting. As well as overprotective behavior.
While a drop in progesterone makes dogs more aggressive. Especially when they’re trying to protect their pups.
These hormones are also the root cause of ‘false pregnancy’ in canines.
And as its name says, dogs with this condition aren’t pregnant.
But, they’ll also exhibit nesting and mothering behaviors.
This is a likely scenario for canines who suddenly whines while holding their toys. Because they think they’re nursing their babies.
Note: If you have a pregnant dog, better prepare a whelping area for them asap. Choose a quiet and warm spot in your house. But if you suspect that your pooch has a false pregnancy, it usually resolves after 2 to 3 weeks.
#5: Your dog is a copycat
“Oh, that looks fun!
I wanna try it too…*begins to scratch*.”
If this is a new behavior, it’s also possible that your pooch got this from other dogs.
Like us, canines may also imitate each other.
The concept is similar to kids copying their parents or other people. And they learn this by simply observing.
For example, research shows that dogs unconsciously imitate other Fidos’ facial expressions.
It’s called ‘rapid mimicry,’ and it’s also seen in apes and us humans.
And VetStreet says that dogs don’t usually copy trained actions. Say, playing dead or shaking hands.
Instead, they only tend to mimic instinctive behaviors like digging and barking.
So, in your Fido’s case, they might have seen other dogs scratching sheets excitedly. Then, they decided to try it and found it enjoyable.
This is more likely if you have other pooches at home. Or if they’ve met some furry pals who are also crazy about digging.
Interesting fact: Did you know that canines can also imitate others’ barks? Dr. Coren, a known dog expert, conducted a survey about this. He found that Fidos living in the same house are likely to have similar sounds when excited. And this is despite their different breeds.
#6: Your dog is bored to death
Another reason why your dog pretends to dig on your bed is that they’ve got nothing better to do.
Same with us, our 4-pawed friends can also be a victim of boredom.
There are not so many studies about this topic in dogs. As some people may argue that it’s anthropomorphic. Or we’re treating animals as if they’re humans.
But, one experiment reveals that it happens.
It’s a study about confined animals.
Half of them live in bare cages. While the rest have bigger and enriched areas.
And researchers observed that those in empty crates are too easily excited. But most of the time, they’re just lying down.
Now, in your dog’s case…
Boredom can strike, too, when they’re left alone for a long time. And also, if they’re not given enough attention and exercise.
So, how will they combat it?
They may develop a bed scratching or odd licking habit.
Note: This is a common problem in puppies and highly active dogs. Such as Retrievers, Huskies, and Corgis. Because these are the type of Fidos who can’t sit still all day.
#7: Your dog feels anxious
“Hooman, can’t you see?
I’m scratching all my worries away.”
Apart from boredom, canines may also scratch your linens due to stress or anxiety.
“How does it help them?”
Well, think about this.
When nervous, some people will bite their nails. While kids tend to suck pencils or their thumbs.
Like those actions, digging can also be comforting to canines. Because it serves as an outlet to release tension.
“What are the signs of an anxious dog?”
According to Dr. Dennis Wormald, they’ll often:
- Lick their lips.
Note: If your dog shows these symptoms, find out the triggers. Check your immediate surroundings. And recall all the events before this behavior appeared.
Stress or anxiety can be treated by avoiding or removing its causes. And medications are only used in severe cases.
Check out also: Why does my dog lick the couch all the time?
#8: Your dog is so hyped
Does your Fido’s bed scratching also accompany by quick tail wagging?
How about some ‘happy barks’ or high-pitched and short yips?
If so, it may only be a result of so much excitement.
For example, you’ve gone to work. And your dog might have slept on your bed while you’re away.
Then when you arrive, they’ll be so glad to see you. To the point where they need to let out all the energy in their body.
And your dog can do this by simply digging or scratching.
Note: Intense tail wagging isn’t the only indicator of a happy doggo. An excited pooch will also have:
- A soft gaze.
- Relaxed ears.
- A smooth brows.
- An open mouth (with tongue hanging).
Reading tip: Why is my dog so hyper all of a sudden?
#9: Your dog wants attention
“Hooman, notice me! *digs harder*.”
This could also be the reason why dogs – especially puppies, act like they’re digging.
Your pooch might be craving attention. And they know that they’ll get it by scratching your bed sheets.
It seems like a good strategy, right?
Because well, who can ignore a dog digging in bed?
You may have given a big reaction when your pooch did this before. Say, laughing or talking in a high-pitched tone of voice.
Or you have tried to stop them by scolding. But, they mistook it as a positive reaction.
So from then on, bed scratching was added to their to-do list.
#10: Your dog discovered some crumbs
Sniff. Scratch. Lick.
Is this the usual pattern of your dog?
Because it could be that your pooch is only feasting on some crumbs left on your sheets.
They might have found leftovers of last night’s cookies, crackers, or chips.
So, they scratch and lick your linens to get them.
This is more probable if you like eating in your bed. Or if your doggo loves bringing their snacks over it.
Note: Hopefully, your dog just discovered some crumbs and not bugs or anything like it. To put an end to this, you can simply refrain from eating in your bed. And also, discourage your pooch from doing so.
#11: Your dog found an interesting scent
“I’m busy right now, hooman.
Coz I’m about to unravel the secrets of your bed!”
Does your pooch seem so focused and serious while digging?
If so, they might have smelled a new odor in your bed. And your dog is scratching your sheets to disperse the scent.
This could be due to your new soap, lotion, or detergent. Or it can also be an odor of other animals or people.
As scents may stick on our clothes and transfer to our beds when we lie down.
Interesting fact: Among all dog breeds, Bloodhounds are said to have the most powerful noses. They have the record of being the 1st animal that can provide legal evidence in court.
Research even backed this up. Because it was found that a veteran Bloodhound has a low error rate when it comes to detecting scents.
Don’t forget to check out: 13 Reasons Why Your Dog Licks Your Pillow + 7 Tips
#12: Your dog marks their territory
Do you ever wonder if dogs sweat?
Well, experts say that they do perspire. But not as much as we do.
Because dogs have this type of sweat glands called ‘eccrine.’
And these are only found in their paws and noses.
So, researchers have this theory that dogs may also scratch on surfaces to spread their scent.
This might be the case if your Fido always digs in your bed when you’ve recently replaced linens.
They think the new cover smells unfamiliar. So, they’ll have the urge to rub their scent on it.
And they could also do this on the carpet or furniture.
#13: Your dog is having the time of their life
Lastly, if your pooch isn’t bothered or bored…
They might only be scratching because it’s F-U-N.
As I said earlier, the action can give dogs comfort. And it’s also an effective way to release pent-up energy.
Plus, your bed sheets smell just like you – same with your clothes.
And studies show that dogs are attracted to their parents’ scent.
Researchers say that their humans’ odor causes a positive response from Fidos. Unlike when canines sniffed a stranger or another hound.
Well, imagine the amount of sweat and dander that are deposited in your linen every night.
So your pooch might dig and bury themselves in it.
How can I get my dog to stop scratching the bed sheets? 3 tips
#1: Redirect their bed scratching to something else
If your pooch only scratches a few times for comfort, you can just let them be.
It’s a doggy instinct. And they might be satisfied by doing it.
But, if your dog has a strong burrowing instinct…
There are chances that they may tear your newly bought bed sheets. And we don’t want that to happen.
So, what can you do?
Give them something to scratch or dig.
“Is this going to work?”
However, you may still need to teach them how to use it first. And establish the new digging spot as their only place for burrowing.
Here are some ideas:
Option #1: Sandbox
Well, who can’t resist a box filled with sand or soil? (Dogs: “Not us!”)
This is perfect for diverting your doggo’s attention to your bed linens. As well as in preventing holes in your lawn.
You can use a large kiddie pool for this. Or you may build a DIY box using some pieces of wood like in this video:
Then, set this up outside in your dog’s favorite playing spot.
Fill it with sand and bury your dog’s favorite toys in it. And you’re good to go.
Option #2: Ball pit
Now, if you want an indoor digging spot – but less messy than the sandbox…
You might consider creating a ball pit for your dog. Whether it’s made out of a swimming pool, large plastic tub, or anything that encloses a small area in your house.
Put tons of play pit balls inside.
Your pooch now has a ball bonanza.
Option #3: Snuffle mat
Last but not least, you may also give them a snuffle mat.
This isn’t only a toy for scratching. Because it also encourages dogs to use their detecting and foraging instincts.
Note: Don’t forget to trim your dog’s nails regularly. So that you can prevent possible scratching incidents.
#2: Provide a cozier sleeping area
Does your dog often feel cold?
Or do they only want to snuggle under the sheets?
For this, always monitor your dog and see that the room temperature is warm enough for them.
PetMD says that temperatures under 45° F (7.2° C) might be too cold for most canines. And below 20° F (-7°C) will pose hazards such as frostbite or hypothermia.
Putting a sweater on your dog (especially on senior Fidos) is also a great idea.
But for their beds, put a blanket that they can snuggle with. Or cover the 3 sides of their crate with a thick towel to make it more ‘den-like.’
#3: Keep them entertained every day
Lastly, scratching can be a coping mechanism. Either for boredom or anxiety.
And it isn’t a healthy one for your dog (and also for your sheets!).
“What should I do?”
Try to keep them busy and distracted with these:
- Doggy daycare.
- Interactive dog puzzle toys.
- Training (5 to 15 minutes per session).
- Increased daily exercise (30 minutes for small dogs, up to 2 hours for working and sporting breeds).
These may not only get rid of your dog’s excessive scratching. But also, it’ll work out your dog’s mind and body.
Plus, spending more time with your pooch also strengthens your bond. 🙂
#BONUS: Ignore demand scratching
If there’s demand barking, there’s also demand ‘scratching.’
And this happens when dogs know that digging your bed gets them what they want. Whether it’s treats, cuddles, or attention.
So, if your pooch only does this, ignore them. And avoid scolding as it’ll only reinforce the scratching.
Instead, pay attention to them only when they’ve stopped and settled down.