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My dog Baloo does it every time before he lies down: digging in his bed.
But why do dogs do that?
I get that question every time we’re having friends or family over.
At first, I had no idea where this was coming from. So, I did some research to find out why dogs dig in their bed. After all, I don’t want to say “no idea” every time someone asks me about this curious dog behavior.
If you know exactly what I’m talking about and also wonder why the heck your dog loves digging his bed, here are the answers.
And of course we’ll also talk about how you can make him stop, if it’s getting a little too excessive!
Why Do Dogs Dig in Their Bed?
A dog digging in his bed is usually pretty harmless, as long as it doesn’t seem like anxious or obsessive behavior. Even still, it might be confusing when your dog digs in his bed. It seems like a weird thing to do.
If you’re wondering why your dog is digging in his bed, here are a few reasons why!
We all have our bedtime routines. Some of us wash our faces, some of us curl up with a book, some of us like falling asleep to a movie.
Many dogs like to dig in their beds a little bit before they hunker down for the night! This is totally normal behavior, and it’s also probably instinctive. If your dog likes to dig up his bed a little before he settles down for the night, that’s just what dogs do!
Speaking of routine, that’s also a great way to calm down your hyper dog. Make sure to get my free guide for a calm dog to learn everything you need to know for a calm and relaxed dog.
They’re Trying to Get Comfy
You’re probably familiar with the feeling of just not being able to get comfortable in your bed. Sometimes you have to spend a little time getting all your blankets and pillows arranged just right before you can fall asleep.
Well, the same is true for your dog! Your dog likes being comfy just as much as you do, and sometimes it takes him some extra work to arrange his blankets the way he likes them.
Marking Their Bed
We all know that dogs don’t sweat—at least not the way humans do. They pant instead to cool off!
But did you know that dogs actually have special glands on their paws that sweat? And not just that—they also emit a scent that dogs will use to mark their things!
Usually when people talk about dog marking, they’re talking about dogs peeing on things to claim them as theirs. But the glands on your dog’s paws also help him mark. If he’s digging up his bed, he might be letting everyone else know, “Hey! This is mine!”
This is another instinctive behavior in many dogs. In the wild, dogs will dig holes to hide and keep themselves safe.
Dogs have a den instinct that encourages them to seek out small, confined spaces where they feel safe. Obviously, in the wild they would do this by digging holes they could hide in and keep safe.
In your house, your dog might dig up his bed to give himself a comfortable place to hide.
Some dogs like to hide or keep bits of food or their favorite toys in their beds. The problem is, when it’s time to lie down, all his food and toys might be in the way!
Baloo always puts a few of his kibble in his bed when he eats. But when it’s time for him to lay down, he doesn’t want to lie on them so he’s digs them back out.
Don’t ask me why he’s doing that but that’s just the way he likes it…
The same is probably true when there are toys lying in a dog’s bed.
Nervous or Excited Behavior
If your dog gets riled up, he needs some way to get rid of all the excess energy. Some dogs will bark, some dogs will play. And some dogs, of course, dig!
In case your dog gets super excited, he might start digging up his bed just to get rid of all his energy.
Likewise, if your dog gets super nervous, he might try to get rid of his anxious energy by digging his bed.
If this is the case, you might want to get your dog to direct his energy in other, healthier ways. If the nervous or anxious behavior is very intense, you will probably want to help him deal with his anxiety.
How to Stop a Dog from Digging in the Bed
Now that you know the reasons why your dog might be digging in his bed, you might be looking for ways to stop the behavior.
Whether it’s because the digging is driving you crazy, you think it’s because he’s anxious, or because it’s your bed he’s digging in, here are a few ways you can help him stop.
In case your pup prefers digging in your back yard, read these articles next:
Provide a Bed Where He’s Allowed to Scratch and Tell Him to Stop After a Few Scratches
Instinctive behaviors in dogs are hard, sometimes even impossible, to stop entirely.
If your dog is just a digger and likes digging in his bed, there may not be much you can do to make him completely stop. You can, however, provide him a specific bed where he’s allowed to dig.
Let your dog dig a little bit and let him get the energy out. Then, once you’ve had enough or you think it’s going on a little too long, tell your dog to stop.
This way, your dog will still have something he can use to get out his instinctive needs, but you can get him to wrap it up if it’s getting to be too much!
Don’t Allow the Behavior on the Couch or Bed
It’s one thing for your dog to dig up his bed, but it’s something else entirely if he’s digging your furniture. Digging is normal instinctive behavior for dogs, but if he moves onto digging your furniture, that’s an expensive problem to fix!
You should keep an eye on your dog, and make sure he doesn’t dig up your couch or your bed. You can do this by restricting his access to these places, or by teaching him the “leave it” command.
This way, if you find that your dog is going for your couch or bed, you can say “leave it” to get him to stop.
I let Baloo scratch his bed a little and then tell him to stop. Whenever he does it on the couch, he has to go down, though. He got that pretty quickly and mostly just lies down on the couch right away, unless he’s really excited.
This is also another reason why it’s important to give your dog a designated bed to do a little digging in. That will allow him to get out his urges to dig, while leaving your own, expensive furniture alone!
Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before Lying Down?
Does your dog like to do a few rounds in his bed before he settles down for the night? That’s totally normal dog behavior!
And while it might seem weird, it makes sense when you think about it. After all, dog beds don’t exist in the wild, and dogs needed to make the areas they were sleeping in comfy somehow! Circling allows wild canines to tamp down the grass and make a comfortable spot for lying down.
Another theory is that turning in circles allowed your dog’s ancestors to figure out which way the wind was going. This way, when they laid down, they could position themselves so they were facing the wind, and could pick up on the scent of anything nearby.
Why Do Dogs Dig in the Couch?
Your dog might dig in your couch for a lot of the same reasons he might be digging in your bed. If your dog smells food on your couch, that might be another reason why he’s digging in the couch. He’s trying to get at the food!
If your dog keeps digging up your couch, one of the best ways to stop him is keeping him off the furniture. You might also want to consider getting a bed for him where he is allowed to dig.
Why Does My Dog Flip His Bed Over?
If your dog keeps flipping his bed over, there are a few reasons why that may be. Some dogs see their bed as a toy, and are flipping it over to play with it. Some dogs prefer sleeping on the underside of their beds, since they find it more comfortable.
If this is a behavior you’d like him to stop, there are ways to help him. One of the best ways is to make sure you’re giving him plenty of play time during the day, so he doesn’t feel like he needs to play with his bed!
Why Is My Dog Scratching the Floor at Night?
If your dog is scratching at the floor at night, one reason why is that he’s trying to make himself more comfortable! In the wild, a dog’s ancestors would dig holes in the ground for themselves at night to sleep in. This is an instinct behavior that might have stuck with your dog.
Some dogs also get anxious at night, and might dig either to escape or as a self-soothing behavior.
If your dog is scratching the floor at night and you want him to stop, make sure to give your dog a lot of exercise. Try crating him at night, and put his crate where he can see you so he feels less anxious.
Dogs digging in their beds is normal dog behavior. Most likely, your dog is doing this because it’s exactly what his ancestors used to do!
If the digging starts looking a little obsessive, though, there are ways to help him stop. Give your dog a designated bed where he is allowed to dig, and don’t let his digging go on too long. This will allow your dog to get out his digging urges, while keeping your own sanity safe!