All dogs dig and scratch at their beds, it’s just one of the many things they do that may seem odd to us but is just totally normal for them. It can be concerning though if it comes out of nowhere, and is also a bit frustrating if your dog is tearing up their bed by digging at it.
So why do dogs dig in their bed, and should you be worried if your puppy digs in their bed? We’re here to help you understand what digging in their bed looks like, why dogs dig in their bed, why puppies dig in their bed, and what to do if your dog is digging in their bed, and you want them to stop.
For a personalised training programme, download the Zigzag puppy training app. We’ve designed it to follow your puppy through all of their developmental periods and help you with their breed-specific quirks. There’s also a team of professional dog trainers to talk to 24/7, so when you have that middle-of-the-night panic, they’re just a click away to reassure and support you.
How do dogs dig in their bed? What the behaviour looks like?
For some dogs digging in their bed can look like they’re digging to the other side of the world, some scratch at their bed and scruff up blankets and make a nest, while others will dig and do a kind of circle before lying down to rest.
Digging is a natural behaviour that most dogs will do, but their digging style may vary depending on your individual dog. Some are delicate diggers, and others go mad for a dig!
Why do dogs dig in their bed?
Dogs dig in their bed to relieve stress, alleviate boredom, make their bed more comfortable, hide items for later, leave their scent behind, or because it’s just an instinct.
Digging as a stress reliever
If your dog is feeling stressed or anxious, they can dig their bed to relieve stress. It’s possible that digging behaviour releases ‘feel good’ chemicals in their brain, so they dig because it helps them to feel better.
They dig because they’re bored
If your dog doesn’t have much to do, then digging can be a fun thing for them to do and relieve some boredom.
To make their bed more comfortable
We like our duvet and pillows to be just so, and dogs are the same. Many dogs will dig to make their bed and blankets more comfortable for them to sleep on.
To hide a bone or toy
Dogs like to dig their beds so that they can hide a bone or toy. Caching behaviour ie hiding food, is something many dogs will do, and while some might dig a hole in your garden, others will do the same thing (or try to) in their beds.
To mark their territory
Dogs have scent glands on their feet, so digging their bed can be a dog’s way of leaving their scent behind, and claiming something as theirs.
They’re a naturally diggy breed
If you own a Dachshund or Jack Russell Terrier, chances are they might dig more than a Pug for example, due to the job they were originally bred to do, although never say never! But, all dogs have the potential to enjoy digging. Some will do it to their bed more, but just check out a dog beach to see the wide variety of dog breeds who love digging holes in the sand. Sighthounds like Whippets are hilarious when they dig, they really go for it!
Why do puppies dig in their bed?
Puppies come pre-programmed to dig, as it’s just a normal part of a dog’s behavioural repertoire, and the reasons that puppies dig their beds are not that much different to that of an adult dog.
Puppies dig their bed to amuse themselves because digging is fun. It’s often as simple as that!
They want to make their bed more comfortable
I know. It looks like those blankets are now in a big lump, but hey, if they think it’s comfortable, then who are we to argue?
To bury their toys and chews
‘I’ll save that for later’ is one reason that puppies dig their beds. They can dig and hide chews, toys, and bones in their bed, which is normal!
If your puppy hides things and then growls when you come near, it’s worth reading up on resource guarding and making you teach them plenty of fetch-and-drop training so that it won’t become an issue.
To cover up a toilet accident
‘Quickly cover it up and she’ll never know’ Yes some puppies dig their bed because they’ve had a toilet training accident and they’re trying to cover up or hide the evidence.
This is particularly true if your puppy has been punished for accidents, learn how to toilet train quickly with our guide to puppy toilet training in less than a week.
If you find your puppy is destructive when left, and only digs their bed when you’re not there, it can be a sign that they’re struggling with a separation-related problem.
What to do if you catch your dog digging in their bed
If you catch your dog digging their bed there are a few things you can do, this will depend on if you mind them doing it or not!
Film them if you ‘dig it’
No honestly, dogs do some of the funniest things, and if it’s not doing any harm, just take a quick video and upload it for the world to see! Oh, and why not tag us too? Zigzag.dog by the way!
Ask them to leave it
Teach your dog to ‘leave it’ when you catch them digging in their bed, and then redirect them onto something more appropriate and less damaging!
Make sure you reward them when they stop digging at their bed. Simples!
Give them digging opportunities elsewhere
Create a digging pit, either with a kids’ sandpit, a ball pit or a DIY foraging box to give them an outlet for what is a very natural and normal behaviour for a dog.
Read how to make one in our training games article.
Provide enrichment and keep them busy
Use puzzles and interactive games to keep your puppy mentally stimulated and not go self-employed by digging at their beds.
If you have a puppy or dog who digs their bed, please know that it is typical behaviour for them and has probably been carried over with domestication.
Dogs digging their beds aren’t really doing anything to be concerned about; it’s just normal dog behaviour.
However, if any of the following apply then we recommend you speak to a Vet or qualified dog behaviourist
- Your dog digs their bed excessively
- Your dog displays worrying body language when digging at their beds
- The bed-digging behaviour only occurs when you aren’t at home
- They are eating their destroyed bed
- The behaviour appears frantic or obsessive
- The behaviour is new and has come out of nowhere
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about all of the reasons why dogs dig their beds, and how you can stop your dog from digging. Fancy learning some more? How about our article on how dogs were domesticated, or puppy sleep explained?
Download the Zigzag app today, and we’ll get into the nitty gritty of topics like dog sleeping habits, puppy toilet training, socialisation and a tonne of puppy training lessons all with positive reinforcement at its core. We also have a team of dog trainers for you to talk to 24/7 so there’s always someone there for you when you need them the most.