Skip to Content

Digging Deep: Uncover the Hidden Reasons Why Dogs Scratch Their Beds

Many dogs enjoy a worry-free life with people who love and care for their needs. They have a set eating schedule, sleep whenever they feel tired, receive unlimited hugs from their dog owners, and are loved no matter what they do. Most of their day is spent sleeping because 12 to 15 hours sleep is necessary for a dog’s long-term health. 

But did you ever watch them while sleeping and wonder why they toss and turn so much? This realization hits you faster if you allow your dog to sleep on the bed with you rather than in their own bed. While it looks cute from your point of view, it’s not always pleasant for your canine. Why do dogs scratch their beds? 

This guide will cover why your pet moves around so much in bed, why your dog scratches the bed in the process and what you can do to help it get a better night’s sleep.  

dog on his bed why do dogs scratch their beds

Why Do Dogs Scratch Their Beds? 4 Reasons for dog scratching 

1. They’re marking their territory

Dogs are creatures of habit and love marking their territory. Your furry friend leaves scratches on their beds for the same reason they pee on a fire hydrant when you take them for a walk. They aim to let others know that a thing or a territory belongs to them. 

You will see this territorial behavior daily if you have more than one pet in your home. It’s especially true if you own cats and dogs because they don’t always get along. 

How can other dogs tell if a territory is marked? Dogs carry scent glands on multiple body parts, including the paws, genital area, and cheekbones. Each gland discharges a pheromone only detectable with the olfactory senses of canines. So now you know why your dog becomes obsessed with its toys and pillows but refuses to share them with others. 

dog half out of dog bed asleep

2. It is their natural instinct

Before they became domesticated by humans, survival was rough for wild dogs, and they needed every instinct they could to stay alive. The most effective way for them to conceal their position or find a sleeping space was to scratch at layers of dirt, grass, and pieces of wood to create a shallow hole. With those three ingredients, they created a warm and safe place to sleep. 

Despite no longer needing this instinctual behavior, they still possess it since it’s been passed down by their ancestors for many generations. You will see your dog digging around or scratching at the floor in two instances. The first is after it relieves itself to cover its bodily excrement with soil. They will use this spot every time you take them out to defecate. This is normal behavior.

The second instance is when a female canine is nesting, and its natural instincts kick in. Nesting is when a female dog prepares for birth and starts planning her living space and sleeping area. In the wild, they would dig holes to create small ditches so their puppies could feel safe inside. Your female dog will scratch all night before welcoming newborns into its life. 

3. It is a Sign of Anxiety

Dogs scratch their beds to soothe themselves when feeling anxious or fearful because it helps them settle down. Your canine may feel this way because you are not taking it out for walks or it may have separation anxiety. Other sources of stress could be loud noises from storms or terrible sleeping patterns that keep them up all night.

dog scratching in bed

If you cannot solve this problem using this guide, I suggest you call a veterinarian who can help you troubleshoot a solution in person. Most times, they will say what I mentioned and tell you to create a morning exercise routine, cuddle with your dog when it looks worried and do everything you can to keep it in a quiet room that is a comfortable spot for them away from scary noises. 

4. It has become an addictive habit

Dogs are like us when it comes to being living beings that love forming habits. Most of them pick this habit up as puppies because they observed their mother or another animal in their home doing it. At this point, scratching their bed is second nature, and they do it no matter their mood. 

dog asleep under blanket

How To Stop Your Dog From Scratching Its Bed

Scratching is usually not a problem unless your canine starts breaking things in your home or exhibits other destructive behaviors. Sadly, some dogs don’t only target their beds and instead go after your wooden floors, comfortable bed and furniture. A quick and easy solution to this problem is to get your dog’s nails clipped by an expert in a pet shop or a veterinarian. 

If it only likes scratching its bed, get a dog’s bed that can’t be damaged by their nails. Durable blankets are also a good idea. It won’t stop the natural behavior but will keep them away from valuable items in your home. 

One final piece of advice for pet owners is to go to a pet shop and buy toys meant for scratching, like stuffed bears and large balls. This mental stimulation may also help decrease the scratching behavior. 

Why Do Dogs Kick and Scratch When Sleeping? 

There are many reasons your pet is scratching the bed while sleeping. The section below will discuss each in detail so you can devise a solution. 

dog on bed with eyes closed

1. It’s having a seizure

To tell whether your dog is having a bad dream or a severe seizure could be the difference between life and death. Seizures are temporary irregularities in muscles that cause twitching, irregular behaviors, perceptions, or lack of consciousness. The muscles can’t send appropriate signals to the brain cells at this point, which is why the symptoms above occur. 

But not every seizure is identical. When dogs experience them, waking them is a challenge. Your dog will also sometimes pee and defecate without realizing it, leaving puddles of drool on their pillow, and have difficulty breathing normally. You should take your dog to the vet immediately if this situation occurs. These could be the symptoms of cancer, muscular dystrophy, or epilepsy. 

dog in bed yawning

2. They’re dreaming

Luckily, the most common reason domestic dogs end up scratching their bed and moving in sleep is because of dreams. Scientific research proves dogs can dream. The visions start 15 to 30 minutes after they close their eyes when they reach REM sleep. 

It will be easy to tell because their breathing decreases and their muscles twitch slowly. Your dog will look like it’s being chased in its sleep, but no one knows what happens in its dreamland. 

While most have pleasant-looking dreams, some dogs have awful nightmares, but you should never panic and wake them up. Ignore the whining and constant shuffling, no matter how much you worry and don’t want them to suffer. I want you to imagine how you would feel if someone woke you up roughly while you had a bad dream. You would probably wake up shocked and hit someone trying to help you. 

dog in bed with paw over his eye

The same could happen with your dog, but it will bite you instinctively instead of hitting you. Research studies prove that over 60% of the time, when a canine bites a child, the child disturbs the dog while it is asleep. When your dog is a puppy, teach your child what it can and cannot do with it before your pet reaches adult age. 

Types of Sleep Disorders in Dogs

Pet parents should always look for signals of a possible sleep disorder if their dog doesn’t sleep peacefully at night. Some signs include excessive movement, loud snoring, waking up often, and inability to sleep for over an hour. If you spot these signals when your dog is trying to sleep, it may have 1one of the two sleep disorders below:


This sleep disorder is rare for a dog and is caused by other issues.  For example, they may have insomnia because of fleas, a high body temperature, a skin rash, or a broken bone, but they can’t tell you. All these problems keep your dog from a good night’s sleep, but as long as your vet can treat them, it’s an easy sleep disorder to handle with the proper medication. 

dog half out of dog bed asleep


Unlike Insomnia, Narcolepsy is a nervous system condition many pets, including cats and dogs, are affected by, so you must learn how to spot the symptoms. For example, if your dog has this condition, it will often fall asleep during activity and forget what it was doing when it woke up. Golden Retrievers, Dobermans, and Pugs are dog breeds that get it more often. 

The good news is that the disease is not terminal but is also not curable. Since your veterinarian can’t prescribe medicine, the best you can do is to keep your dog in safe places and monitor it vigilantly when at the park. 

dog asleep under blanket

Summing It Up

The truth is that most dogs scratch their bed, and you don’t have to worry as long as it doesn’t show symptoms of having a seizure. Your best friend can’t control the survival instinct passed down to them by your dog’s ancestors, who needed them to thrive. 

If the scratching behavior becomes severe, take it immediately to the veterinarian to see if your canine has any neurological problems. If it’s nothing serious, you can still seek advice.

Related Posts:

Why do dogs snore? 

Why do dogs bark in their sleep?

Why does my dog pee on my bed?

Why do dogs bark at night? 

Like this post? Why not share it?

Thanks for sharing