Dog owners know all too well how strange a pet’s nighttime routine can be. For dogs, their routine often involves scratching frantically before going to sleep. But don’t let it worry you – almost every dog scratches their bed, regardless of their breed, age, size, or gender. There's no need to bring them to the vet for a checkup, nor does it indicate mental issues.
It can, however, be a frustrating habit – especially if your pup starts scratching on your bedsheets. After a couple of days, your bedsheets will end up in tatters because of the constant digging and scratching. If you have a dog that’s constantly scratching on your bed, you might want to find out why he’s doing this and how you can curb the behavior.
The 3 Main Reasons Why Your Dog Scratches
For starters, scratching is an instinctive behavior for a dog preparing its bed. Your dog’s wild ancestors prepared their sleep spaces by scratching the ground to create a comfortable mound of bedding. In cool climates, they would dig a snug hole to get into; in hot climates, a dog might lift up the top layer of soil so they are sleeping on the cool ground.
Domesticated dogs have these burrowing instincts, which is why your dog may sometimes build a fort in his blanket. With this in mind, providing a suitable bed for your dog at the right temperature can help reduce their urge to dig.
Bed scratching may also be territorial behavior, similar to how dogs urinate on objects. Dogs leave a distinctive scent on bedding or other objects whenever they scratch. This helps them feel secure, and tells other animals that come near to stay away.
This kind of bed scratching can also be learned or mimicked behavior. Dogs tend to copy the behavior of other dogs, so if you get a new dog and it circles and scratches, your other dogs may just join in for fun.
MATERNAL INSTINCTS AND NESTING
Bed scratching is part of a dog’s maternal nesting instinct, and it’s a natural hormonal response in female dogs that are pregnant or are experiencing a false pregnancy. A dog mom will make a nest for the arrival of her new pups to keep them warm and safe.
How To Prevent Your Dog From Scratching On The Bed
1. Use pressure relief mats
Give your dog a pressure relief or an anti-fatigue mat inside their crate. These provide relief when they’re laying down so that they don’t hurt their joints, but mats are not as enticing for them to chew up and they’re not that expensive. You can find them in home depot for less than 20 bucks or all over the internet where they have them for even cheaper. Check out your local hardware store or sites like Amazon for an anti-fatigue mat or a pressure relief mat to try out for your dog.
2. Tire them out before sleeping
Before bed, try to wear down your dog’s energy so that they’re too tired to worry about digging up the bed. Play games where they run around and get tired out. By playing fetch or going on a nice long run, they’ll be tired enough so that by the time you get back into the house they’re ready to rest with no energy left to scratch.
3. Establish boundaries
Keep your pets away from your bed. By establishing boundaries with your dog and encouraging him to sleep in his own bed, you significantly reduce his chances of scratching and digging on your sheets. With time the habit will stick, and they’ll learn to keep to their own bed.
4. Invest in good dog beds
Investing in a high-quality bed allows your dog to stay comfortable all night, reducing their urge to scratch or dig on your bed. Having warm durable blankets on your dog’s bed allows him to burrow easily without necessarily having to scratch on the bedding.
5. Trim your dog’s nails
Shortening your canine friend’s nails reduces the damage that might occur during scratching. This also has numerous benefits, such as preventing diseases, reducing floor damage, and avoiding potential furniture and bedding damage. To avoid the sharp edges of freshly-clipped nails, use a nail file or emery board on those claws for a perfect rounded pedicure!
6. Provide an alternative digging spot
Some dogs cannot grow out of their scratching behavior. For such pups, it’s best to provide an alternative spot to dig so that they don’t destroy your bed. Designate a specific spot for your pup to dig and supervise him so that he doesn’t dig in any other spot. Whenever he makes positive progress, reward this behavior to reinforce it, and he’ll be used to one specific digging spot in no time.
To keep your dog safe while digging outside, we recommend using the Fi GPS tracking collar that provides 24/7 location and activity tracking to make sure that your dog is safe while outside.
7. Take note of the temperature
Dogs may scratch and dig to adjust their body temperatures. If your pup scratches and digs your bed during the summer, you should provide a cool area for him to sleep. If he digs and scratches during the winter, you should provide a warmer sleeping area. This significantly reduces the need to dig and scratch for temperature regulation.
As mentioned earlier, scratching and digging is a normal dog instinct passed down from their early ancestors. By learning exactly why they do it and how to control it without ruining their fun, we save ourselves the trouble of having our bedding destroyed all while meeting our dog’s needs.