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Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Beds Before Lying Down? (Explained)


Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Beds Before Lying Down?

If you’re a dog parent, you’ve probably noticed some odd bedtime rituals. They circle the spot a few times to make the bed snug. You might have also seen your pooch digging and scratching its beds.

Your dog digging a hole in the backyard is understandable. However, seeing it doing the same thing inside your home may be confusing. 

Are you wondering why every dog does so? Why do dogs scratch their beds before lying down?

The short answer is to mark their territory. Also, it’s their natural instinct to warm up the place and make it comfortable to sleep/lie down.

In this post, you’ll learn more in detail about this behavior and how you can prevent it in the future if it is destroying things.

Table of contents

Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Beds Before Lying Down?

Knowing the dog’s history is helpful in understanding why they show such behaviors. Long before they became our furry friends, dogs used to be wild animals. They developed some habits that we find strange today but were crucial for survival. 

That is why we see our dogs digging and behaving destructively that we cannot out-train easily. It comes naturally to them.

Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Beds Before Lying Down?

Among other natural behaviors, making shelter was a vital thing a wolf or wild dog needed to do for survival. It reflects on our domestic dogs today. 

Digging was essential for dogs to protect themselves from harsh environments and weather, especially in colder regions. They dig the ground to make a shallow hole and keep their body warm or cozy up a hard surface by making a nest using leaves.

The ancestors in the wild who lived in hot regions have dug and scratched their beds to remove hot grass or soil and enjoy the cool soil beneath it. Temperature regulation is important for wild animals. 

Even if the temperature is right, wolves dig their sleeping place for additional reasons. Sleeping in a shallow hole allows them to sleep peacefully and “safe” from predators. 

Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Beds Before Lying Down?

Wild and domesticated dogs are almost entirely different animals now. The ones we bring home as family members don’t need to dig holes to make shelter anymore. However, their natural instincts kick in sometimes and make them behave in ways that make us curious. 

This action is unnecessary and sometimes destructive as your dog’s bed isn’t made of dirt or hard ground. But that does not stop them from performing their natural behaviors and following their instincts when they get ready for sleep.

Sometimes they are just trying to make the bed snug and comfortable, just like how we fluff our pillows before sleeping. 

More Reasons Why Dogs Scratch Their Beds Before Lying Down

Natural shelter-building or temperature-regulating instincts might not be the only reason a dog digs and scratches its bed. Here are other reasons why your four-legged friend might be scratching his bed before lying down:


Your dog scratching his bed compulsively can be a sign of something more unnatural than natural. And one of the reasons could be anxiety. 

If you suddenly separate your dog and leave him alone, bring home a new pet, or do anything that increases his stress levels, you can expect that to be the cause of his scratching behavior. 

Sometimes scratching does not help the dog relax and feel at ease, so you can give him an enticing toy or just spend more time with him to alleviate the anxiety. 

In case you run out of things to do to help your dog feel better, you can consult your vet for an effective remedy.


Dogs also dig and scratch places out of curiosity. They have a smelling sense 1,000 to 10,000 times stronger than us. So, if they are scratching or digging the cushions, backyard, or any place vigorously, they’ve probably picked up some unusual scent. 

You might want to look at it to help your dog stop digging and also maybe find something you’ve lost!

To Mark Their Territory

Dogs have different ways of marking their territory depending on where they are. Outside, they would urinate or defecate in places to leave their scent for other dogs. 

At home, your dog would rub their paws against surfaces. Dogs’ paw pads have scent glands. They rub their feet to mark their territory, which is especially common and happens more often when other pets are in the house.

To Mark Their Territory

Many people think that only male dogs mark their territory using these techniques. However, female dogs do them too. In fact, most four-legged animals have these pheromone glands on their feet.

They leave their scent for other dogs to gather information about them, including their gender, age, health, and even stress level.

Dogs also do their little paw dance after potty when out in the open to let other canines know they’ve been there! 

If your dog scratches his bed before sleeping, it’s a way of saying that he has marked his territory and that he “owns” the spot. 

Ways To Prevent Your Dog From Damaging His Bed

Seeing your dog digging his bed before lying down can be adorable. But it’s all fun until the behavior becomes destructive, and you have to keep getting a new bed for your pup. 

Digging and scratching can become a nightmare quickly, even if your dog is the love of your life! But what if it’s impossible to get him to stop? You’d want to think of ways to keep this bed and other surfaces he scratches intact.

We have listed some ways to help you prevent your dog from being destructive.

Provide Other Things To Play With

Sometimes, something as simple as giving your dog a new toy can prevent him from scratching surfaces you don’t want to be ruined. 

Your dog might have made scratching his bed a nighttime ritual to calm him. It could be because he isn’t stimulated enough. Don’t fail to take him for walks, sometimes longer than usual. 

Provide Other Things To Play With

You should also consider playing with your dog to keep him occupied and finally tired enough to go to bed quickly. 

Dogs are sociable animals, and they don’t like to be left alone. It might make him anxious and restless if you leave your dog on his own regularly. As mentioned earlier, anxiety causes destructive behaviors.

Get A Durable Bed

Your dog might not be scratching vigorously. But if the bed is of low quality and cheaply made, it won’t last long. So, in such cases, the bed is the problem, not your pup.

If you’ve faced issues with your dog’s scratching behavior for quite a while and replaced his bed often, you might want to invest in something more durable.

Cheap dog beds consist of stuffing and fabric not designed to endure rough handling. Therefore, it becomes crucial for you to buy a durable bed that your dog cannot damage. 

Get A Durable Bed

Also, the chance of your dog digging his bed is most likely due to “comfort” reasons. He might not be finding his current bed comfortable enough to lie down in. 

If your dog is picky, you might want to invest in a raised cot, memory foam, self-warming, or orthopedic dog bed. If you live in a hot climate or your dog’s body temperature is on the warmer side, you can get a cooling bed.

Change His Sleeping Location

Putting your dog’s bed in a noisy or busy area will make it harder for him to sleep, hence, promoting scratching. Consider taking the bed to a quieter, darker place where your dog feels less stressed. 

A self-warming hut, pet cot house, or any enclosed bed might make your pet feel more secure and comfortable. So, you can try that, too, if nothing else works. 


Trim Their Nails

Can’t stop your dog from digging into his bed? Trim their nails! 

A manicure will benefit both you and your dog. Trim their nails regularly to minimize the destruction they can cause to their bed, your couch, carpet, or anywhere they like to lie down. 

Trim Their Nails

Trimming nails every three to four weeks is necessary to ensure everyone’s safety. It prevents nail infections and keeps the dog from damaging your floor and furniture. Don’t skip filing the nails if they are still rough after trimming. 

Conclusion – Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Beds Before Lying Down?

There’s nothing much to worry about if your dog’s scratching behavior isn’t obsessive. It is quite natural for them to do so when they are getting ready for bed, and there’s nothing much we can do to stop it. 

The only time you should be concerned is when the scratching escalates to damaging other things in your home or becomes too obsessive. If that’s the case, we suggest training your dog with positive reinforcement methods and if required seeking a behaviorist.

Other than that, you can try the methods mentioned above to stop your dog from scratching his bed before sleeping. Trim their nails, make sure he’s comfortable, and get them a durable bed!

Written by

Tim Smith
With years of experience writing about dogs, this author is a go-to source for insights on the furry friends. A lover of all animals, this writer's work has been published in many respected publications.
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