Does your puppy go all out spinning in circles, scratching or digging at their bed? We know it can look quite odd, can’t it? We bet it’s led to a few ruined beds too. Have you ever wondered why dogs scratch their beds? It’s a question that comes up more often than you think.

Zigzag is here to help, and we’re going to dig in (haha pun intended) to the question of why dogs scratch their bed? and tell you the reasons why they do it. We’ll also give you some tips to help your dog from scratching their perhaps very expensive beds, and whether or not you should be worried if your dog is scratching at their bed.

Download the Zigzag puppy training app if you want more answers to some of these frequently asked puppy questions. We have a library of resources to share with you, not only on why does my dog scratch their bed, but also on toilet training, home alone and separation anxiety. There’s also a full training programme to teach you how to train your dog all of their life skills using positive reinforcement.

Not only that, oh no! We don’t stop there, we even have a team of professional dog trainers on hand to answer any questions you may have; simply contact them via phone or our in-app chat and they will be happy to help.

black pug yawning in bed
Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

Why do dogs scratch their beds?

So, getting back to bed scratching, dogs scratch their beds for a variety of reasons, including nesting, marking their territory, and leaving their scent behind. They also do it to relieve stress or simply because they enjoy digging. Read on to discover why dogs scratch their beds.

To make a comfy nest to sleep in

It might look strange to us, but your dog digging their bed is no different to us fluffing our pillows. Granted, they often scratch their beds up into a rather lumpy ball, but perhaps that’s what they’re looking for, each to their own right?

To cool a spot down

Dogs will often scratch their beds up as a way of getting to a cool spot as that’s more pleasant for them to sleep on, especially if they’re long-haired or heavily coated like Huskies, Labradors or Labradoodles

But, like us wanting the cool side of the pillow, it’s no different for dogs really.

To leave their scent and mark territory

Did you know dogs have scent glands in their paws? Now you do, and when they dig at their bed, they’re often spreading their scent to mark it as theirs. Dogs use scent to let other dogs know that this is their territory and is probably a hangover from when they became domesticated.

Because they’re feeling stressed

Digging can be an obvious sign of stress in your dog’s body language. This can show up as digging and scratching at their bed, but your dog may also scratch at carpets or the floor.

black pug lying in bed
Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

How to stop my dog from scratching their bed

You can help prevent your dog from scratching their bed by ensuring their needs are met and they are stress-free, providing them with a different style of bed, more blankets and giving them an outlet for all that digging via a digging pit or foraging box.

Eliminate Stress

If you think the digging behaviour seems frantic or relates to stress or anxiety, then eliminate stress, teach your dog to calm down, and provide them with a nice calm environment to live in. 
If your dog only scratches their bed when you’re not at home, and is showing other signs of home-alone struggles, then check out our guides to separation anxiety, and how long you can leave your puppy alone for.

Give your dog blankets they can scuff up

If your dog is really into nesting, then buy them some blankets that they can scuff up and make comfortable. Some dogs prefer this style of dog bed, we all have a particular way we like our own beds and dogs are the same.
Check out our full guide to puppy blankets to learn more.

Get them a doughnut bed

Some dogs really appreciate more of a nest bed, especially if they are short-haired like Frenchies, Whippets or Dachshunds and feel the cold. Getting them a fluffy doughnut-style bed will help reduce them scratching at their bed and provide them with a warm comforting nest to sleep in.

Get them a digging pit

Some dog breeds like Dachshunds are bred to dig! It’s literally in their job description. If you have a breed of dog who simply enjoys digging; it’s their natural instinct to do so, so providing an outlet for this behaviour, such as a digging pit or foraging box, will help them scratch less at their bed. You can buy a hard-sided paddling pool for kids and fill it with dirt before hiding toys, or you can use plastic balls from a ball pit. 
We discuss making your own foraging box in our training games guide.

curly haired dog sleeping
Photo by Christin Wurst on Unsplash

Should I be worried that my dog is scratching their bed?

A dog who’s scratching their bed is actually displaying very normal behaviour. Dogs will often scratch up dirt to reveal a cool spot, or to make the surface they’re lying on more comfortable. We can’t blame them for that.

However, if your dog exhibits other signs of stress, such as frantically scratching their bed, licking or sucking blankets and bedding, panting or breathing quickly, or showing signs of ill health or pain, it’s worth getting them checked out by a vet.

We hope that’s helped you understand why dogs scratch at their beds, and that usually it’s just a quirk of normal dog behaviour. You’ll often see them spinning in circles, too, just to make sure their bed and blankets are to their liking. If your dog is damaging their bed through scratching, there are things you can do to help prevent it, like making sure they’re not bored or stressed, giving them blankets they can happily scuff up, and giving them a scratching or digging outlet like a foraging box. 

No need to worry about your dog scratching their bed unless it comes on suddenly and there are other signs that your dog or puppy isn’t feeling 100%. Then it’s a good idea to get them to have a once over with your Vet.

If you have a puppy, you’ll want to learn about their sleeping habits, or how much exercise you should give a puppy. 

Download the Zigzag puppy training app to get your puppy off to the best start. We have a fully personalised breed-specific programme that’s been set up to follow your puppy through each stage of their development. It teaches you how to teach them exactly what they need to learn at exactly the right time. We don’t want you to be alone either, so we have a team of professional dog trainers on hand to help you every step of the way.