Dogs show us an array of different quirks. As a professional dog sitter, I have experienced quite a rainbow of them. The number one habit I see most amongst my furry friends is digging in the bed.
I have witnessed many pups displaying this behavior for over ten years, including my new puppy. In a need to satisfy my curiosity, I have spent hours researching to learn a great deal about the reasoning behind digging in the bed.
This article informs and explains why dogs dig, if it’s healthy, and other bed behaviors associated with digging, such as scratching, circling, snuggling, and sighing.
7 Reasons Why Your Dog Dig on Your Bed
Dogs rely heavily upon their instincts, especially to create comfortable environments. To them, digging around can help make safe, warm, and cozy sleeping spaces.
This action originated prior to the domestication of dogs over 20,000 years ago, when dogs needed to dig rocks, sticks, and other unwanted items out of the ground. It also assisted in shielding from harsh winds or finding hidden pests.
Expectant Mother Do to Prepare for Labor
For mother dogs, creating a “den” for their birthing process and the safety of their pups requires digging. If you have an expecting mother, she may be practicing this technique to prepare for her offspring.
Claiming the Territory
Dogs who live in households with multiple others may feel the need to mark the territory as their own. Digging or scratching at the bed can be a way for your pet to lay claim to that spot.
If you feel this is the main reason behind your furry friend’s digging, keep washing the bedding, sheets, or pillows to a minimum. This will keep your pet’s scent lingering around for all to sniff and reduce the urge to dig.
Hiding an Item
Dogs who value a toy or treat may attempt to hide it in the bedding by digging, pawing, and nudging. When they’re ready to retrieve it, they’ll dig it up again.
Observe pets that hide treats carefully, as it can lead to crumbs, stains, and knots in the bedding.
Copying the Behavior
If you have a dog that has been around this habit, they possibly picked it up from copying another pet. Commonly called “contagious behavior,” the act of copying others usually is within the same species and typically is used for group coordination. It usually starts at a young age to assist in teaching valuable techniques.
An older dog may be digging excessively to find a comfortable spot to accommodate their arthritis. They could be trying to make a pain-free spot to relieve their discomfort.
If you believe this could be the case, a raised orthopedic dog bed can help your pet settle in easier.
Stress and Anxiety
Dogs experiencing high-stress levels may turn digging into an anxious habit instead of an instinctual one. Extreme stressors may include a new home, a new family member, or loud noises. If this is the case, redirecting the behavior is a good alternative.
Is Digging Healthy?
Typically, digging in the bed is an entirely healthy and harmless habit. Watch for compulsive digging or scratching, though, as this can mean a more severe issue.
Excessive digging will also wear down sheets, beds, and pillows, which means it might be a good idea to invest in scratch-resistant bedding or redirect the behavior.
How to Prevent Digging in the Bedding
In extreme cases, a discussion with your pet’s veterinarian or an appointment with a behavioral specialist may be necessary.
Redirecting the Behavior
If your pet’s digging becomes too obsessive, try redirecting them with a toy or strong command. Avoid feeding treats as this can have the opposite effect by rewarding the dog for the behavior instead of distracting them from it.
Use Sensory Toys
Dogs need mental workouts just as much as physical ones. Sensory toys are a great way to distract them with another means of exploring. They keep your pup engaged while they strengthen their brains by uncovering information.
Remove Leftover Food
Removing food and treats that don’t get devoured will save you quite a headache if your pup likes to hide these items. It will reduce digging, and the amount of cleaning that will have to be done.
Dogs who get plenty of physical exercise might need more mental stimulation. Puzzle toys, training games, and scent work are excellent ways to keep dogs on their toes. After a nice exhausting day, digging the bed will be the last thing on your pooch’s mind.
Do Specific Dog Breeds Dig More?
Different breeds of dogs may be known to behave uniquely from others, but it is not breed-specific for digging. Digging is an individual, personal trait that some dogs instinctively have while others do not.
Other Dog’s Bed Behaviors
Scratching is similar to digging and most often accompanies it. Dogs will scratch for the same reasons they dig: to make a warm, enjoyable place to snooze.
Pets that walk in circles before lying down watch their surroundings for lurking predators while also regulating their body temperature.
Walking in a circle helps dogs curl up tighter with the pack, keeping them warmer while hunkering down for the night.
Snuggling is a pack mentality, meaning dogs will do this in large groups with those they view as family. A cozy action like this keeps them nice and toasty while melting our hearts as well.
Studies also show that women sleep better while snuggling their favorite Fido over a human partner. Dogs were less likely to wake up their humans and helped to keep a consistent sleep routine, so cuddle close!
A pup that sighs has simply had a long day, letting out that deep, relaxing breath. A sigh is a good sign as it means your dog is exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep.
Dogs that dig are doing so out of an instinctual habit to create a more comfortable environment for sleeping. They may also be an expecting mother, claiming the territory, hiding an item, copying the behavior, or an older arthritic dog.
It is an entirely healthy behavior that can be prevented if it becomes too excessive. Prevention methods include redirecting your pup, using sensory toys, removing leftovers, and increasing activity.
Other behaviors that possibly accompany digging are scratching, circling, snuggling, and sighing. If any of these actions become unwanted and can not be controlled by redirection, consult your pet’s veterinarian or a behavioral specialist.
For those pampered pups, investing in scratch-resistant bedding can save you money and stuffing in the long run. Also, look into raised orthopedic beds for your older four-legged family members suffering from arthritis.