Why does my dog scratch the bed

Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets?

If you let your dog sleep in the bed with you may have noticed that they sometimes scratch the bed sheets before laying down.  Sometimes it a calm scratch and other times it’s like they are trying to dig a hole in the bed.  This article will go into the reasons why dogs scratch the bed sheets and how to best address this behavior.

Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Scratches the Sheets?

Natural Instinct

Digging and scratching for dogs dates back to before they were domesticated.  Wild dogs would dig for a number of reasons such as to escape, to look for prey that burrow, to make their bed comfortable or just for fun. 

Whatever the reason is, digging is innate to our dogs, but some dog breeds are more prone to digging than others.  Scratching the sheets before laying down is akin to our dog’s ancestors scratching on the ground before laying down, it is a natural behavior.


Wild dogs would also scratch and dig before laying down to make their spot more comfortable.  In the wild there may be leaves, twigs or other things they would scratch to clear out of the way to make their spot comfy before they rested.  Think of this like us humans fluffing our pillows before we get in the bed.


Boredom is another reason why some dogs scratch the sheets.  A bored dog will get creative.  If you have been busy and haven’t had as much time for your pup, that could be the reason why they start scratching the sheets all of a sudden. 

Excess Energy

Your dog could also be scratching the bed because they haven’t had enough exercise so they have too much energy.  Dogs need exercise just like we do, when they have extra energy, they will do a bunch of silly things to get it out.

They may run around the house like crazy, steal your clothes, steal your shoes or dig on the carpet or scratch your sheets.  The bottom line is to make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise so they don’t try and find other ways to tire themselves out. 

Territory Marking

Another reason why your dog scratches the sheets is because they are marking their spot.  In the wild, dogs would do this so other pack members knew the spot was claimed. 

Dogs paws have sweat glands and leave a scent that we can’t smell on the spot they scratch.  It’s like their way of claiming their spot on the bed.


Husky on bed

Your dog could also be scratching your sheets for attention.  Any attention is seen as good attention for a dog that wants a reaction from you.  So even if you are telling your pup to stop scratching the sheets, just that reaction will teach them to do it again the next time they want you to look their way. 

If your dog scratches the sheets try not to overreact so they don’t learn that scratching will lead to you giving them attention.


If you notice your dog has a lot of other obsessive behaviors besides scratching the sheets, like for example, licking the carpet and chasing their tail, they may have OCD.  Obsessive-compulsive behavior is actually common in dogs, and your vet would be able to diagnose this. 

If your dog does have OCD, don’t worry, it can be helped with a small dose of medicine that your vet can prescribe if needed.

How to Deal with your Dog’s Sheet Scratching

Determine the Reason

First, don’t overreact.  See if you can determine the reason why your dog is scratching the sheets. 

Did you have an unusually busy week and didn’t have time to give your dog attention or exercise?  If you were extra busy, your dog probably missed spending time with you and is looking for a little extra attention, or didn’t get enough exercise.

Is this the first time this behavior has occurred or does it happen all the time?  If this is the first time, don’t fret it’s probably just their natural instinct kicking in.  Conversely, if they constantly scratch the sheets it could be something else.

How long does the scratching last?  If the scratching is short and then your dog settles in bed, your pup was probably just trying to make their spot comfortable and/or mark their territory. 

Asking questions like these will help you determine if it is something of no concern, like your dog’s natural instincts or something that should be taken to the vet like OCD.  Often times it is nothing to worry about, and you may be able to determine why it is happening by paying attention.

Keep your Dog Off the Bed

One quick way to fix your dog scratching the sheets is to keep them off of the bed.  I know, obvious right!

But if you just can’t take your dog scratching on your bed, maybe invest in a nice dog bed so they can have their own space instead of trying to claim yours. 

Personally, I give my dog the option, she is allowed in my bed, but she doesn’t sleep there every night.  Sometimes she prefers her bed and sometimes she wants to snuggle.  I’m ok with either option, but that is a personal decision. 

Tire Them Out

A good way to limit the scratching is to tire your dog out before bed.  Either a nice long walk or a vigorous play session should make them tired enough to not even think about scratching your sheets. 

Don’t Give them Attention for Scratching the Sheets

If your dog does scratch the sheets.  Ignore it but observe!  Getting riled up will only teach your dog that scratching is how to get your attention and that could lead to other behavioral problems down the road.

See your Vet if you think it’s a More Serious Problem

If you have noticed other obsessive behaviors from your dog other than scratching the bed, you may want to talk to your vet. 

My dog has OCD, and I had no clue for half her life.  She takes a pill once a day and it makes it way better.  It doesn’t hurt to check your dog out if you think OCD could be the culprit.


Hopefully your question of why does my dog scratch my bed sheets has been answered.  Digging is a natural instinct for dogs, so even though our dogs are domesticated that instinct doesn’t go away.

Remember to try and figure out why your dog is scratching the sheets, normally it’s probably just a natural doggie instinct and nothing to worry about.  However, if you think your dog is being obsessive you should make an appointment with the vet.