Why Does My Dog Dig in the Bed? | Animals Matter

Why Do Dogs Dig in the Bed?

Sometimes dogs digging into the bed can be cute and amusing. But if they keep doing it, it can mess up the blankets, carpet, and bedding. Plus, moving erratically can accidentally knock something over. To ensure the best manners from your dog, you first need to understand why do dogs dig in blankets before figuring out how to stop the habit.

Why Do Dogs Dig in the Bed?

So why do dogs dig on the bed? Are they looking for a mole or a vole inside the house? Is it a behavior unique to dogs?

There are several reasons why do dogs dig in their bed. It is not to get our attention by being naughty. It largely has to do with instinct. Some dogs do it because:

  • They are getting settled. Before taking a nap, your dog may dig, paw at the bed, and circle a few times. If a dog is arthritic, this is likely for comfort reasons, just as we would fluff our pillows. If this is the case with your dog, the digging is probably not destructive, but it can get excessive at times.
  • They are performing an ancient ritual. In other words, it’s a behavior learned from the time before dogs were domesticated.
  • They are regulating body temperature. This may be an unexpected answer to why do dogs dig in the bed, but some breeds dug holes in the ground before domestication. It lowered their body temperature to curl up in the cool earth.
  • They are replicating hunting behaviors. Certain breeds used to live off of burrowing rodents. While the bed is certainly not the ground, hunting for prey could be an unconscious behavior in dogs.
  • They are nesting. Pregnant dogs are likely to dig. Of course, with the modern comforts of fluffy beds, like the Katie Puff Ortho, there’s no need to move brush or pebbles out of the way for their newborns. But pregnancy is a time when instincts are in full throttle. If your pregnant dog digs her bed, it is likely just a passing phase.
  • They are anxious. Repetitive, excessive movements could be a sign of anxiety in your dog. If your dog is in a crate, they may think they can dig their way out. There are many ways to soothe canine anxiety — some simple, like our Ali Jewel Ortho Puff, Katie Puff Ortho Lounger or  homeopathic, and medicinal. Before taking any drastic measures to treat canine anxiety, be sure to consult with your vet.
  • They are playing! The answer to why do dogs dig the bed may be as simple as that. Puppies or highly energetic dogs may just be burning off steam.

How to Stop Dogs Digging in Beds

Now that we know some of the answers to why do dogs dig in bed, it’s easier to know how to prevent it. However, as long as the digging is light, brief, and not destructive, it is nothing to worry about. But if it is incessant, results in destruction, or is stressful for you, it’s time to put a stop to it.

The main solution is to distract them. Since digging is instinctual, it can be a difficult behavior to cease altogether. So, distraction is the best option. Distract based on the suspected motivation for the digging:

  • If digging is part of their “getting settled for the night” routine, help them get comfortable in other ways. Pet and talk to your dog to soothe her. Fluff her blankets yourself to reduce her need to. The same goes for pregnant dogs who are nesting.
  • If you suspect they are trying to cool down, provide a fan or turn the temperature down in your home by a degree or two.
  • If digging is a symptom of your dog’s anxiety from being in a crate, consider using a dog monitor that allows you to talk to your dog while away from the house. Daycare for your pup may help. Or perhaps your dog is better off without the crate. Consider letting your dog out of the crate and into one dog-proofed room, with a  of your house while you’re away.
  • If it seems digging is an anxious behavior even without a crate, there are several methods to quell it. Like humans, aromatherapy and soothing sounds can help calm dogs. A snugly-fitting vest applies soothing pressure, like a hug, that may help your pup.
  • But why does my dog dig on my bed? If digging on your bed is the issue, direct your dog toward his own bed. Although digging can be irritating, it is better that they do it on their own bed than yours.
    • Teach him the “Off!” command using positive reinforcement. Say it firmly, without yelling or swatting. Teach this lesson at a time when your dog can comprehend it — in other words, when your pup doesn't have to go outside, eat, and isn’t distracted by other things going on in the house.
  • If you suspect digging is a result of excess energy, ramp up your dog’s walking routine and playtime so they are happily exhausted and content by the end of the day.
    • Go on more walks for a longer period of time.
    • Fill your dog’s day with play and exercise. Offer interactive playthings, such as a toy with a treat hidden inside it or a dental-friendly chewing bone.
    • For stubborn dogs who just won’t stop digging, consider designating a place outside for them to dig. When they get into a digging mood indoors, take them outside.

Here are some other methods for how to stop dog digging in bed:

  • Trim your dog’s nails to reduce damage to your floor, carpet, furniture, or dog bedding. This won’t stop them from digging, but it can lessen the impact.
  • If all else fails, designate an inexpensive rug meant to withstand your dog’s digging moods. Switch out their bed for the rug and protect your floor.
  • If the problem is extreme, consult with a professional. Get your vet’s opinion on why do dogs dig in their beds, or hire a private, in-home dog trainer.

Tips on Getting Dogs to Stop Digging in Beds

  • Have patience. Dogs don’t stop repetitive behaviors overnight. If it’s your puppy digging in bed, it may just be a phase that they’ll grow out of.
  • Use a furniture cover or protector, or a Cozy Waterproof Blanket
    • This will be a lifesaver if your dog incessantly digs on your bed or couch. If you want your dog to snuggle with you on the bed, but need to create a layer of protection in between your dog’s claws and your sheets, simply adding a furniture cover will eliminate the need to train them. Remove the cover when it’s time for you to sleep.
    • Blankets on top of your dog’s bed can also reduce damage from nails. This way, they can still follow their urges to dig, without damage.
  • Ask for help.
    • Asking a family member or housemate to help distract your dog from digging can take the pressure off yourself. Even if you are a single dog mom or dad, you don’t have to share the burden alone.
    • Sometimes, another dog is the best distraction — or model of good behavior. A well-behaved older dog can model non-destructive behavior to a rambunctious younger dog. Or a puppy playdate can tire out your dog so she goes right to sleep instead of digging and pawing at her bed.

Conclusion

Some domesticated dogs just don’t realize how good they have it when digging in the bed for imaginary rodents of ages past! Modern comforts of fluffy beds and regular feeding times mean dogs don’t need to dig, but it can be a tough habit to break. When bed digging gets destructive, Animals Matter has a wide variety of new luxurious dog beds, mobility harnesses to pick up your dog or Dog Stairs to help with on/off your bed, and furniture covers to shield bedding from your dog’s nails. Browse our accessories to help keep your dog living their best life.

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