Why does my dog dig under my bed? (5 reasons)

In this article, we will answer the following question: Why does my dog dig under my bed? We will talk about the different reasons behind your dog’s need to scratch the ground and how to handle them.

Why does my dog dig under my bed?

Before delving into the most common causes that explain why dogs may dig under their owner’s bed, it is essential to highlight the importance of understanding our furry companion. In this way, we must pay attention to the context in which it carries out this activity, when it does it, since this is the key to finding the answer we are looking for.

Dogs are governed by a language completely different from ours, in which smells take a leading role to identify practically everything: their home, other dogs, us … In this way, it is not surprising that certain behaviours are carried out following their instinct and, therefore, we should not act without any prior knowledge. 

Sometimes, unconsciously, by stopping the animal we are generating in it a state of stress, anxiety and frustration, and we even make it relate something that for it is positive with a negative stimulus. Thus, if every time you see your dog scratching the ground you tend to tell him not to do it, first inquire into the reason that leads him to do it and, then, act to solve the problem, if there is one.

Why do dogs scratch the ground? – Understanding canine behaviour

Most, if not all, dogs scratch the bed or the floor around it before going to bed. Why does he do this? The main reason that leads the dog to carry out this “ritual” is none other than to mark its territory, to indicate to other dogs that this resting area is theirs. 

By scratching both the bed and the floor the animal spreads its aroma and warns the rest of the dogs that this part of the home belongs to them. However, this does not mean that a dog that does not live with other dogs should not do so, since as it is something that is in its natural instinct, it is most likely that it will also do so.

Dogs have a series of glands in different areas of their body through which they emit their scent, unique and recognizable by other dogs. The most popular are the anal glands, which is why dogs tend to smell each other’s anus when they are on a walk, and the sweat glands found on the pads. 

The latter fulfil several fundamental functions for the animal, among which are to regulate body temperature through sweat and give it its smell. In this way, by scratching the ground the dog distributes the smell emitted by the pads.

On the other hand, if it only scratches the bed before going to sleep, what it is doing is arranging it to get the best possible rest. As can happen to you, your dog tries to mould the cushion to form its hole, feel safe and comfortable in it.

Why do dogs dig under the bed

Below we are going to discuss more specific reasons why your dog is digging under your bed.

Your dog has too much energy

If your dog scratches the floor in any area of the home for no apparent reason and vigorously, it is possible that he feels stressed by not getting enough exercise and, therefore, that is his escape route. 

In general, this type of dog tends to present other symptoms of stress, such as stereotypes, licking or constant panting. The very act of scratching the floor can become a stereotype if it is done frequently and, therefore, requires immediate treatment.

Dogs are animals that need to release accumulated energy to be calm, joyful and in balance. To do this, it is best to offer them the exercise that their size and character need, both through walks to interact with other dogs and through physical activities that allow them to run and, besides, help us to strengthen the bond with them. 

If this is not fulfilled, the dog looks for other methods to release that energy, and compulsively scratching the ground is one of them. If this is your case and you don’t know how to help your dog get rid of stress, we recommend you go to an ethologist or canine educator for guidance.

If your dog’s nails are too long  

In the wild, dogs would scratch the ground to file their nails and not damage their paws when walking. When they are too long, the dog can develop serious health problems, such as twisted fingers or breaking a nail, damaging the tissue that is inside and causing an infection, among others. 

When overstepping the pads, the dog cannot properly support the legs on the ground and, therefore, the aforementioned damages occur. In these cases, we can also observe the animal biting its nails on some occasions.

Failure to ensure proper nail maintenance can lead the dog to scratch any type of floor to try to file them down and regain their proper length. To know how to trim your dog’s nails at home, don’t miss our simple tips.

A dog scratching the floor after urinating

How many times have you seen your dog scratch the ground after defecating or urinating? They usually do it with both the back and front legs, moving slightly away from the excrement or urine, and throwing dirt, if there is it. 

This behaviour is not intended to cover the faeces or urination to hide them for hygiene reasons, it tries to leave an olfactory and visual trace for the dogs that cross that same territory later. 

Thus, it is an act of marking, carried out mainly by males, although we can also see it in some females. Therefore, we also tend to observe that our dog defecates or urinates in areas where others have already done so. As with the act of scratching the bed, it is a natural behaviour, typical of the canine instinct that we should not hinder or slow down.

On the other hand, dogs with a serious fear of other dogs tend to hide to relieve themselves and dig the ground to cover the faeces and urine with the opposite purpose: to eliminate the evidence. In this way, they avoid attracting other dogs and make them feel more secure. These dogs need to be treated urgently by an ethologist or canine educator to regain self-confidence.

In general, when it comes to marking territory, the dog tries to spread it rather than cover the faeces to distribute its scent, while in the second case we do see how the animal hides the excrement. Also, the dog with a fear of other dogs will present other symptoms such as bringing his tail between his legs, his ears back or very low, or trembling when he sees another dog approaching him.

What if my dog scratches the ground?

In addition to the reasons already mentioned, such as filing its nails or releasing energy, the dog can scratch the ground simply because it has perceived a trace that leads it to believe that there is a buried object in that place. Burying and unearthing things is in his nature, so his instinct leads him to scratch that area.

On the other hand, if you have observed that your dog has first scratched the ground and then has laid down on it, you should know that it does it to regulate its temperature. 

In hot weather, the dog digs the ground until it reaches a cold layer on top of it to settle in and cool off, while in cold months it does so to remove the upper layer (which is usually colder) and lie on a warmer one. 

In this sense, the dog can also scratch the floor or floor of the home with the same purpose: to regulate the temperature and accommodate space to make it comfortable. 

For this reason, we want to highlight the importance of offering the animal its own comfortable and cosy bed, so that it can rest without feeling cold or hot.

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The bottom line

In this article, we answered the following question: Why does my dog dig under my bed? We talked about the different reasons behind your dog’s need to scratch the ground and how to handle them.

As we have seen throughout the article, in most cases the reason that answers the question why does my dog dig under my bed is found in their instinct and nature, so we must not hinder and stop this behaviour. In these specific processes, the dog tries to communicate so that it does not present any problem that needs to be addressed.

Of course, when it comes to a stereotype or behaviour to release the accumulated tension, we must act to eradicate the problem and return the animal to its state of well-being. Likewise, if the reason is improper nail maintenance, obviously we also have to intervene to avoid health problems.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Why does my dog dig under my bed?

Why does my dog scratch under my bed?

Your dog scratches under your bed because he wants to leave his mark. Other reasons may be that he has too much energy and this action is fun for him; maybe he wants to capture your attention or he’s nails need to be taken care of.

Why does my dog dig under me?

Your dog digs under you, near you, far away from you – because this is in his primary instincts and it is something fun for him. He wants to play together. 

How do I get my dog to stop crawling under my bed?

You can stop your dog from crawling under your bed like any other “bad” behaviour. That is by ignoring it. Instead, make sure you reinforce “good” behaviours. 

Do dogs dig holes when they are about to die?

Dogs dig holes when they are dying, but they do it because they are probably feeling too hot and need a cool place to rest – they do not know that they are dying. 

Should I let my dog dig?

Yes, you should let your dog dig as this is a stress-relieving and fun activity for your dog. Unless this becomes some sort of unhealthy pattern, digging improves your dog’s mood a lot. 

References

Aspca.org

Creedonsdogcare.ie

Rspca.org.uk

Pets.webmd.com

Hi, I am Martin, I am a pet lover! I own a Golden retriever and a Long-eared Owl. They keep me company & I often had questions about them which I couldn't find answers for online. I put this hub together for people like me & you.

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