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Dog digging bed – do you have this problem? If your dog is digging on his bed, he is not misbehaving. The behavior could be habitual, instinctive, or temperature related. When a dog is digging his bed it is actually called “denning”. In the wild, dogs will instinctively hide and sleep in areas that are comfortable and protected. They may dig holes in the soft ground to create a safe and comfortable place where they can hide out of sight of predators during warm and inclement weather. In the summer, a den can help a dog stay cooler, protecting him from the harsh sun.
Indoors, your dog may dig his bed or blankets. Dogs may also try to dig into their owner’s bed. This can be a problem as your dog’s nails can cause holes in the bed or blankets.
Here are some of the reasons for dog digging bed:
- Your dog’s body temperature (too hot or too cold) – Digging the bed may be an attempt to create a cooler or warmer place to rest.
- A desire to mark the bed as his territory – Your dog’s foot pads have glands in them that emit a scent that is unique to your dog. So when your dog digs or scratches the area where he is going to sleep, it allows him to mark that area with his scent.
- An attempt to hide – Instinctively dogs dig dens to hide in, to help keep themselves safe in the wild. It would allow him to create a resting place that is comfortable but that allows him to be hidden from other animals. When living inside a home, this behavior is no longer necessary, but the instinct still remains and causes a dog to dig at his bed.
- For a female dog, it could be an attempt to create a nest for her puppies – Whether they are pregnant or not, a female dog may dig to make a nest for her puppies.
- For comfort – When we go to bed, it’s only natural that we fluff our pillows and adjust our bedding in a certain way. It makes us more comfortable. The same is true for your dog when he is digging at his bed. If the dog has arthritis, he may circle and dig at the bed in an attempt to help lessen the pain.
When living in the wild, dogs instinctively hide in areas that are comfortable and protected when they go to sleep. The dog may dig a hole to create a comfortable space to hide from predators. Digging a hole can also help keep them cool in the summer heat. In the winter, digging a hole will help protect them from the elements, keeping them warm and dry.
When a dog lives indoors, this instinctive behavior is still present. This can lead to your dog digging his bed to create a protected space.
How to Prevent Dog Digging Bed
Digging is a natural instinct for your dog – it does not mean that he is misbehaving, although it may damage bedding or floors. Because this behavior is instinctual, it can not necessarily be prevented, but it can be redirected.
To prevent your dog from destroying your bed, do not allow your dog to get into your bed (or only allow him access while he is supervised). Instead, create a designated spot for your dog to sleep and rest where he can dig and do as he pleases. You can use a dog bed, old blankets or rugs – or any combination of these items – to create a comfortable resting place for your dog. You can also use a box or an open crate as a designated resting spot. Encourage your dog to use this designated area to rest and sleep, giving him praise and treats when he chooses to use this area.
To help keep your dog off your bed, always keep your bedroom door closed when you are not there to supervise your dog. When you are supervising your dog and he jumps on the bed, shout “no!” as many times as necessary to get your dog off the bed. As you continue to do this it will teach your dog that this behavior is not allowed. If you allow your dog to go on your bed while supervised, shout “no!” when he starts digging to help deter this unwanted behavior. If you are unable to deter the behavior, you may decide to prohibit your dog from sleeping on your bed.
Your dog may dig his bedding when he is too warm, so always be aware of the indoor temperature. To help increase your dog’s comfort, cool your home to a temperature that is comfortable for your dog using air conditioning or fans.
To learn more about digging behavior in dogs, go to How to Stop a Dog from Digging.