Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Bed? A Look into this Frustrating Behavior

Dogs are known for their adorable scratching behavior, but have you ever wondered, “why do dogs scratch their beds?”

Scratching a bed may seem like a destructive behavior to humans, but for dogs, it’s actually a normal behavior that serves a purpose.

Whether it’s to create a comfortable spot to sleep, mark their territory, or alleviate anxiety and boredom, there are many reasons why dogs scratch their beds.

Continue reading our article to find out more about why dogs scratch their bed. 

Creating a Comfortable Spot

why do dogs scratch their bed

One of the most common reasons that dogs scratch their beds is to create a comfortable spot to sleep. This behavior is an instinctual part of a dog’s bedtime ritual, inherited from their wild ancestors.

Similar to the way that animals in the wild will build nests or burrows to provide a comfortable and safe place to sleep, domestic dogs will often scratch and dig at their beds in an attempt to make them more comfortable.

They use their paws, which contain secret glands, to fluff up the bedding, creating a soft and warm nest-like area to sleep in.

This behavior is not just limited to dogs but is also seen in other animals.

Marking Territory

Another reason why dogs scratch their beds is to mark their territory. Dogs have scent glands in their paws and will often use scratching as a way to mark their territory.

By scratching their beds, they deposit their scent on the bed, which helps to establish it as their personal space.

This behavior is an instinct for dogs, as marking territory is a means of survival in the wild.

This behavior also serves as a way of communication between dogs as it helps establish dominance and hierarchy.

Anxiety and Boredom

Scratching a bed can also be a sign of anxiety or boredom in dogs. Dogs may scratch their beds as a way to release pent-up energy or alleviate stress.

Bored dogs may also engage in excessive scratching as a way to entertain themselves.

This behavior is often seen in dogs that are left alone for long periods or lack proper exercise and stimulation.

This adorable instinct of scratching a bed can also be a sign of separation anxiety in dogs as well.

Itchy Skin

Dogs may scratch their beds as a way to alleviate itchy skin. Dogs can develop itchy skin for a variety of reasons, including flea and tick infestations, food allergies, and skin infections or irritations.

Scratching can provide temporary relief from the itch, but it can also cause further irritation and inflammation.

It’s important to consult with a veterinarian if your dog is scratching excessively as it could be a sign of an underlying skin problem.

A dog’s coat and skin are important for its survival, and itchy skin can be a sign of an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed.


Some dogs may be trained to scratch their beds as a signal for their owners. This behavior can be trained using positive reinforcement techniques, such as offering treats or praise when the dog scratches their bed.

This behavior can be useful for dogs who are trained as service animals or for dogs who live in homes with multiple dogs and need a way to signal to their owners when they want to sleep or rest.

Training a dog to scratch its bed as a signal can be a useful tool for communication and can also help establish a routine and sense of security for the dog.


Often, dogs scratch their beds because it is embedded in their instincts. Instinct refers to an innate or inherent behavior that animals exhibit, which is not learned but rather inherited from their ancestors.

For dogs, scratching their beds is an instinctual behavior that is inherited from their wild ancestors.

The instincts which force this essential habit may be their territorial instinct, canine nesting instinct, ancestor instinct, or other animal instinct.

In the wild, moving leaves and dirt around helped wild dogs to conceal themselves better from predators and provide cover as well.

Climate and Body Temperature

Dogs may also scratch their beds as a way to regulate their body temperature. Dogs have a higher body temperature than humans, and they may use scratching to create a cooler spot to sleep.

By scratching at the bedding, they may be trying to expose a cool surface underneath, which can help to lower their body temperature and make them more comfortable.

This behavior is especially prevalent in hot climates where dogs may struggle to keep cool. In addition, in cool climates, dogs may scratch their beds to create a warm nest-like area to sleep in, by fluffing up the bedding and creating insulation.

This behavior is similar to the way animals in the wild will create nests or burrows to stay warm. The environment plays a vital role in a dog’s survival and their ability to regulate their body temperature is crucial for their well-being.

Peace of Mind

dog playing in bed

Dogs are creatures of habit, and having a comfortable bedding spot can give them peace of mind.

This behavior can also be linked to the maternal instinct of dogs as they try to create a safe and secure spot for their offspring.

Additionally, the digging or scratching habit of dogs can be linked to their ancestor’s instinct of creating dens or burrows to hide from potential predators.

Having a designated spot for them to sleep and rest can provide them with a sense of security and comfort.

Creatures of Habit

Dogs have the instinct to scratch their beds, especially floors and wooden floors due to their habit which has been passed to them by their canine ancestors and ancestral wolves.

Dogs are descendants of wolves which possess a habit of scratching their beds.

This ritual of trying to make their resting place more comfortable and safe is important for dogs and an integral part of their bedtime habits.

Grooming Behavior

Grooming is a natural behavior for dogs, and scratching their beds can be a part of that grooming process.

Scratching helps dogs to remove loose hair and dirt from their coat, which can help to keep their fur clean and healthy.

Dogs have natural oils in their coat that are distributed through scratching, which helps to moisturize their skin and keep it healthy.

Additionally, scratching can also help to remove any external parasites such as fleas or ticks that may be present on their skin.


Why do dogs scratch their bed? dogs scratch their beds for a variety of reasons, including creating a comfortable spot, marking territory, relieving anxiety and boredom, alleviating itchy skin, signaling to their owners, regulating their body temperature, and providing a sense of peace of mind.

These behaviors are all instinctual, inherited from their wild ancestors, and serve a purpose in terms of survival and comfort. The bedding material and the spot of the bed can also play a role in this behavior.

While it may seem like a destructive behavior to us humans, scratching a bed is a normal behavior for dogs, and it’s important to understand the underlying reasons behind it.

Understanding the reasons behind this behavior can help us to understand our furry friends better and provide them with a safe and comfortable living environment.

As always, if you notice any excessive or persistent scratching behavior, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues.

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