Why Does My Dog Dig On My Bed? What This Sheet-Ruffling Behavior Means

Is there anything better than a big, warm doggo coming to nuzzle against you? Whether it’s your pet or someone else’s, the love of a dog can heal your heart. It doesn’t matter what kind of dog it is: From chihuahuas to rottweilers and everything in between (even those heat-seeking greyhounds), the closeness of a dog is just… nice. Of course, sometimes our furry friends’ behaviors are kind of weird. It’s hard to feel calm and cozy when Fido is digging away at those Egyptian cotton sheets you just dropped a chunk of cheese on. Why does your dog dig on your bed, anyway?

While there are many things about dogs we may never understand, this one’s actually easier to explain than you might think. Let’s, ahem, dig deeper.

Um, why does my dog scratch my bed sheets?

There’s a word for this digging habit: “denning.” While your doodle might seem fairly domesticated now, there’s no denying that dogs were once wild animals. In the wild, dogs would burrow into the dirt to keep themselves warm while sleeping. When your dog digs at your sheets, it’s simply their way of burrowing in and getting more comfortable before they settle in for the night.

“Dogs often engage in this type of scratching ‘rearranging-the-bedclothes’ behavior simply as a way of making a comfortable resting spot,” Susan Nilson, a cat and dog training and behavior expert, told Newsweek. “Not all dogs do it, but some dogs do it instinctively as a way to create a den-like sleeping environment.”

Why else might my dog be digging on the bed?

While denning is the most likely explanation for your pup’s bedtime behavior, other reasons could be to blame.

Your pup likes to get cozy, too.

For thinner or shorter-coated dogs, digging into your sheets or even under your blanket may be their way of pulling the covers over them to get warmer. For pregnant dogs, it’s also a way of “nesting.” Just like human mamas have the instinct to create the perfect nursery for their babies-to-be, mama dogs nest to create a warm, soft, and safe place for their pups.

They’re “marking their territory.”

Don’t overthink this — your dog isn’t trying to kick you out of your own bed. They’re not even necessarily trying to declare themselves the “alpha.” When your dog digs on your bed, she’s just trying to make sure she can smell her way back.

Remember: Dogs are color blind. To make up for their sight differences, they have incredibly powerful noses. Your dog knows where she belongs because she can smell where she’s been before. Dogs have sweat glands called eccrine glands on the pads of their paws, which leave a scent behind when your pup paws at your sheets.

Your dog might also be digging or scratching when excited or nervous.

While a lot of digging is done only out of comfort and instinct, it’s important to pay attention to when that digging behavior pops up. Anxiety may be the culprit if your dog is digging in your bed or scratching at the floor without settling down afterward or doing it when you’re not home.

Just like we might clench our jaws or bite our nails when we’re anxious or stressed, dogs dig and scratch. You’ll want to talk to your veterinarian about when and why you think it’s happening. They’ll be able to help you figure out the best way to curb Fluffy’s behavior.

Dogs will also dig or scratch when they’re excited. Think about your human kids. When they’re really pumped up, they squeal or bounce around, right? You’ve no doubt trained your dog not to jump or bark. Digging or scratching has become their way of releasing that excitement. In other words, it’s fun!

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