Why does my dog scratch my bed sheets, you might wonder as you watch your pooch scratch and paw at your bedding for dear life.
Here is why your dog could be scratching your bedsheets:
- Its nesting instinct has kicked in
- It is marking its territory
- Due to stress or anxiety
- It is sensing the presence of rodents or insects
- It is trying to get your attention
- Out of boredom
- To make the bed comfier
- To mix in its scent with yours
Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bedsheets?
Why does my dog scratch my bed sheets, you are probably wondering as you watch your dog scratch, dig, or paw at your bed day in and day out. Whether you have a two-month-old puppy or a fully-grown pooch, the chances are you have observed this behavior many times. I also bet you would like to put a stop to it, as it could result in lasting damage to your bedding or furniture.
Unfortunately, however, you might have to curb your expectations. Bed scratching is a perfectly normal and widespread behavior in canines that are deeply rooted in their evolutionary development. So, while you might be able to minimize some of it, you are not likely to get rid of it completely.
Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bedsheets? Possible Explanations
Out of Instinct
The most likely reason your dog is scratching your bed is that it is doing it out of instinct. Canines in the wild, including wolves, foxes, and wild dogs, will dig, scratch, and pile up dirt, leaves, grass, and pine needles to create a comfortable bed. They even pick up and arrange stones and sticks around their nest for extra protection or insulation.
These makeshift constructions serve a number of functions. They not only make for a cozy bed to rest and sleep in, but also provide a hiding place and protection against parasites, predators, and the elements.
Domesticated dogs have retained this instinct. That is why you may often see your pet burrowing, scratching, and digging in both its bed and yours — it is simply trying to build a nest.
It Is Marking Its Territory
Most mammals, and especially carnivores, exhibit territorial behavior. Dogs, too, have an innate drive to mark their territory and claim it as their own. Unfortunately, this instinct is not limited to urinating on trees and lamp posts.
Dogs have special glands in their paws that leave a distinctive scent when rubbed against surfaces. You may not be able to detect this smell, but dogs and other animals certainly are. That is why your pet likes to scratch and rub its paws against your bedding, as well as pretty much anywhere around the house — that’s your dog’s way to make it its home too.
What’s more, territory-marking behavior is likely to intensify whenever new people or animals enter your home. So, you should expect more scratching and digging after you’ve had guests over, got a new pet, or when someone new moves in.
Bed-scratching behavior typically increases in female dogs that are about to give birth. That is a perfectly natural hormone-induced urge to make a nest to keep the new pups warm and safe.
Many animal behaviors are part-instinct, part-learned. If your dog sees other dogs scratching, digging, and pawing at bedding and other soft furnishings, it might start to do the same. Copying and mimicking are far more likely to occur in households with more than one pet or if your dog often meets other canines.
Your Dog Is Stressed or Anxious
Some dogs develop compulsive digging or scratching as a displacement behavior in response to stress or anxiety. If you notice that your dog is scratching at your bedding, furniture, or floor without curling up in that area to relax afterward, you might want to call your vet. After examining your dog, they may prescribe a course of treatment for anxiety or over-arousal.
There May Be Rodents in the House
Dogs have a much more developed sense of smell than we do. That means your dog will be able to sense any pests that may be living in your house way before you do. Sometimes, dogs dig and scratch at floors and soft furnishings, looking for rodents or insects whose scent they have caught.
Your Home Might Be Too Cold or Too Hot for Your Pup
Just because you feel comfortable with the thermostat settings in your home, it doesn’t mean that your pets do. If the air conditioning or heating is bothering your dog, its natural instincts will kick in. As a result, it will probably try to dig a burrow to protect itself from the heat or the cold. And what better place to dig a comfy soft burrow than your bed?
Dogs crave our attention and will do pretty much anything to get it. So, if you react each time your dog starts messing up your perfectly-made bed, your pet may keep doing it just to tease a response out of you. Pups may be perceiving our angry yelps and body language as playful behavior and an invitation to have fun.
Your Dog Is Bored
Sometimes, your dog could be just plain under-stimulated. If that is the case, it may start digging and poking around your sheets and under your pillows out of sheer boredom.
Your Dog Is Making Sure the Bed Is Comfy
Do you let your dog sleep on your bed? In that case, the answer to the question Why does my dog scratch my bed sheets? is that your pet thinks this is its own bed. It might be scratching the sheets to make sure they are all soft and comfy.
Wild canines will scratch, poke, and flatten their nests before settling in for the night. That is how they check that there are no hard objects, protruding sticks, branches, or pesky little critters in there.
You Have Just Changed the Sheets
If you have just changed your bedding, your dog will likely want to rub its own scent all over the sheets to mask the smell of fresh laundry. This is classic territory-marking behavior, and it isn’t much you can do to stop it.
Your Dog Loves You
You spend a lot of time in bed, which means that your sheets are soaked in your distinctive scent. Dogs can easily pick up on the smell of their favorite people — and find it very attractive. If your dog cannot wait to start pawing, scratching, and tossing in your bed as soon as you get up, that might be its way to revel in your scent and mix it in with its own. In dog speak, that translates as I wuv you, Hooman!
Stop Asking Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bedsheets? and Do This Instead
Scratching, digging, and territory-marking behaviors are ancient drives that are hard-wired in your dog’s brain as a result of millions of years of evolution. It is unrealistic to expect that you could change or eliminate animals’ natural instincts. It is also unfair to your dog.
You can, however, try to manage, minimize, or channel dog behaviors that you find annoying into something more productive — and bed scratching is no exception.
Here are a few things you can try to stop your dog from scratching your bedsheets:
- Get your dog a high-quality dog bed that is soft, comfy, and large enough for the animal’s size.
- Try adding softer textures to your dog’s bed, such as blankets, cushions, or squishy toys.
- Make sure to place a large, heavy blanket on or near the dog’s bed. That will provide your pooch with plenty of material to toss around and burrow in.
- Provide your dog with plenty of exercises, mental stimulation, and socialization during the day.
- If you suspect that your dog might be stressed or anxious, discuss possible treatment options with your vet.
- If nothing else seems to work, consider getting nail caps for your dog. These will ensure that your bedding and furniture remain intact even after enthusiastic bouts of scratching. Professional dog training classes could also help.
However, the only foolproof way to stop your dog from scratching your bedding is by cutting off its access to the bedroom altogether.
We are all annoyed when our dogs start scratching and digging around the house. As much as we love our pets, we like our furniture too — and, in most cases, we did not get it for free.
When it comes to stopping scratching and burrowing behaviors, however, we need to lower our expectations and get a reality check. These are natural instincts that are hard-wired in your dog — which means they are here to stay. At best, you can only try to manage them and reduce their frequency.
The good news is that now you have the answer to the question Why does my dog scratch my bed sheets? as well as a number of useful tips and tricks you could try to curb your dog’s enthusiasm for scratching.