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13 Reasons Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets? 2023

By: Susie
Updated On: October 18, 2023

You might notice your dog circularly pacing on your bed, raking its claws across your lovingly chosen thread counts.

If so, you're probably asking, "Why does my dog scratch my bed sheets?" It's a common behavior that almost every dog owner has witnessed.

Although it may seem odd and perhaps even frustrating when thinking about the potential damage to your sheets, such action is normal for dogs.

Scratching on the bed isn’t because they want to ruin your sheets intentionally. Understanding why they do this can be helpful in dealing with the behavior and minimizing any stress or annoyance it may cause.

In reality, learning about these canine behaviors can foster a better understanding of their instincts and natural habits; it can open up an intriguing window into their world. So, let’s unravel this mystery! Keep reading to learn what’s behind that tussle with your bedsheets.

13 Reasons Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets?

13 Reasons Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets?

As dog owners, we love and cherish our furry friends, but not all of their habits are as endearing. One that can be particularly puzzling is why our dogs insist on scratching our bed sheets.

Let's dig a bit deeper into understanding a couple of primary reasons that might be triggering this odd behavior and why dogs find our linens so irresistible.

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Marking Territory

One of the most instinctual habits dogs have is marking their territory. To humans, a bed may be a place to relax and sleep after a long day. But for your furry friend, it's another piece of real estate to claim as their very own!

Dogs use scent-marking methods to tell other animals (and humans, too) that this is their zone. Dogs have scent glands in their paws, and when they scratch your sheets, they're leaving behind a distinct smell that serves as an invisible "No Trespassing" sign to others.

So, whenever you see your pet spinning around in circles or digging at your sheets, understand that they're just taking possession –claiming their space in your shared home — in the most canine way possible.

It’s important to note that this doesn't mean your pup is trying to assert dominance over you or other household members; it's just part of their nature!

Digging Instincts

A second reason why dogs scratch bed sheets stems from an ancient instinct: digging. Many dog breeds were once used for hunting or burrowing duties. This ancestral behavior remains ingrained no matter how many generations pass by.

When a dog scratches or "paws" at something, it displays an instinct that its ancestors used for creating sleeping dens or finding comfortable spots to rest.

Scratching at bed sheets can even serve as a throwback to the time when wild dogs would pat down tall grass or kick out rocks before lying down to sleep. This trace behavior is their way of making their sleeping space more comfortable and safer.

Understanding this helps us tolerate their knack for messing up the bed. Remember, it's not just mischief; it's a manifestation of their primal instincts baked deep within their genetic code.

Seeking Comfort

Another primary reason your dog may be scratching your sheets is simply for comfort. Dogs, like humans, have unique preferences for their sleeping areas, and they love to arrange their space just right.

This behavior is similar to how we fluff our pillows or adjust our blankets before bed.
Your dog might paw at the bed to create a nest-like environment that feels safe and cozy.

By doing so, they're attempting to mold their sleeping area to fit their bodies better or to reach a more desirable level of coziness. Each scratch on your sheet is thoughtfully placed in your dog’s quest for optimal comfort!

Removing Excess Energy

Remember the last time you felt fidgety and restless because you had the energy to burn? It's possible dogs feel the same way!

Dogs are naturally energetic creatures and rely on daily activity for their emotional and physical health. When they don't get enough exercise, this pent-up energy often surfaces in undesired behaviors—like scratching at your bed sheets.

More than causing potential damage to your bedding, constant bed-scratching from a lack of activity could signal that your pup isn’t getting enough mental or physical stimulation.

It might be time to take a few more walks or play games that ensure he gets rid of that excess energy appropriately.

Attracting Attention

Many dogs know exactly how to get their humans' attention—and not surprisingly, scratching the bed sheets is a pretty effective method!

Your furry friend may have noticed that scratching leads you to spend some time with them—either by scolding or petting them— but attention nonetheless! So next time you see this behavior brewing up, it might just be an invitation for some playtime or cuddles.

Always remember the basis of such conduct; it's not meant as aggravation but rather an adorable plead for affection.

Chasing Pests

Sometimes, dogs scratch on things because they are disturbed by pests. Fleas or ticks hidden in the fur can cause your dog significant discomfort, leading them to scratch and bite various surfaces, including your bed.

If you're noticing excessive scratching paired with visible signs of discomfort, it might be worth consulting with a vet to rule out the presence of any irritating little critters.

Your bedding should offer a comfortable place for relaxation—not an irritation source. Catching these issues early can prevent more severe skin conditions while also preserving your linens!

Anxiety or Stress

Just like humans, dogs too, can experience stress or anxiety. If your dog is scratching your bed sheets excessively or particularly aggressively, they may be doing so due to some form of stress or unease.

This could be because of a change in their environment, separation anxiety, certain noises that make them uncomfortable, or even because they're not getting enough exercise.

Scratching at sheets provides them with a stress-release mechanism. It's comparable to us fidgeting when we're nervous.

Be sure to keep a gentle eye on the frequency and intensity of this behavior as excessive scratching could indicate an increased level of anxiety that might need addressing with a vet.

Scent Tracking

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell - they possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors compared to our measly six million! Hence, no cookie crumb goes undiscovered, and no scent trail unfollowed.

By scratching the sheets, dogs are attempting to both uncover and understand all the different smells on your bed sheets – from where you were sitting earlier in the day to what you had for lunch!

Rather than being troublesome behavior, it's reflecting their natural curiosity and inherent tendencies as sniffing sleuths.


There’s something to be said about dogs and their bottomless energy reserves. If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise (either physical or mental), the pent-up energy may manifest in unwanted behaviors such as constant scratching.

Lazy afternoons call for some entertainment; without toys or interaction, scratching the bed’s surface may become a means of self-entertainment for your canine friends.

Ensuring regular playtimes and incorporating plenty of fun activities (like fetch games) can go far in minimizing this unnecessary digging.

Skin Irritations

Significant is the possibility that skin irritations might be causing your dog's excursions across your sheets.

Dogs with itchy or irritated skin often resort to scratching on different surfaces, including bed sheets, to find some comfort.

Such irritations can arise due to fleas, allergies, or even just dry skin. If your pet is scratching itself frequently (not just on the bed), it may be worthwhile to schedule a visit to the vet's office.

Feeling Hot or Cold

Believe it or not, your dog's insistence on scratching your sheets may actually have to do with their body temperature.

Dogs don't have the luxury of taking off a layer of clothing when hot or putting on a sweater when cold! So, they employ different strategies to adapt to their environment and regulate body temperature.

When feeling cold, dogs might scratch the bedding to create a 'nest' for warmth. On the other hand, if feeling too warm, this action helps in stirring up some airflow that cools the surface underneath and thus helps them cool down.

It's important to ensure that your dog is comfortable throughout all seasons. Investing in a temperature-regulating dog bed can make a big difference here.

Just a Wild Behavior Called Denning

Another fascinating reason instigating this "redecorating" course is an instinctual behavior known as denning. Dogs are den animals by nature; wild canines dig elaborate dens for shelter against predators and adverse weather conditions.

Your domesticated pooch has inherited this digging behavior from their wild ancestors. When they scratch and dig at your bed sheets, they're creating an imaginary den—a cozy spot just for them.

While it might seem like misbehavior, remember that from your pet's perspective, they are simply preparing their sleeping area exactly how they want it!

Searching for Food

Dogs might be scratching at your bed sheets because they’re searching for food! If you've ever snuck into bed with a midnight snack and left crumbs behind or even touched the sheets with food-scented hands, chances are those keen canine noses picked it up!

Yes, even if you cleaned up afterward! Their impressive olfactory capability could still sense those burger crumbs or cookie bits you thought were gone.

This compels them to scratch and search—a never-ending treasure hunt instigated by their innate curiosity and love for food.

Be mindful about eating in bed, not just for the sake of your sheets, but also to prevent promoting this scavenging behavior.

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Tips for Shielding Your Dog's Bed from Scratching

Now that we've understood some common reasons for this intriguing behavior, let's explore practical ways to stop our dogs from scratching or digging into our precious bed sheets and their beds.

Implementing these measures can ensure a harmonious co-existence between your dog's instincts and your household belongings.

Use a Durable Dog Bed Cover

Consider investing in a durable, heavy-duty cover for your dog's bed. These covers are designed to withstand the constant digging and scratching common with our canine companions.

Typically made of robust textiles such as canvas or denim, they're often resistant to tear, ensuring longevity despite your dog’s chronic scratching.

These covers can easily be removed and washed, which helps keep the bed clean and free from the scents that often encourage more scratching.

Trim Your Dog’s Nails Regularly

Trim Your Dog’s Nails Regularly

Regular nail trims are not just essential for maintaining your dog's health; they also protect your furniture and bedsheets from potential destruction.

Long nails can easily hook onto materials, leading to undesired rips and tears when your pet digs or scratches on the surface.

Keeping them short can reduce this risk significantly. If you're uncomfortable trimming their nails yourself, consider scheduling regular appointments with a professional groomer.

Offer Chew Toys and Distractions

Supplying various chew toys or engaging puzzle toys can help keep the pup away from your bed sheets and other forbidden areas while satisfying their need to dig or scratch at objects.

Providing alternatives that stimulate their instincts will occupy them, making it less likely they'll resort to using your treasured linens as playthings.

Apply Anti-Scratch Sprays

Apply Anti-Scratch Sprays

A wide variety of anti-scratch sprays are available in the pet care market today. These products emit certain smells that repel dogs but are unnoticeable by humans - thus deterring pets from scraping fabrics of any kind.

As every dog has unique tastes, you may have to try a few before finding one that effectively dissuades your dog from scratching.

Train the "Leave It" Command

Training your dog with basic commands can be a valuable tool in curbing unwanted behavior. The "leave it" command is particularly helpful in stopping dogs from scratching or messing up the bed.

When they start to dig or scratch, a firm "leave it!" can steer them away from the act, helping to minimize potential damage. Remember: consistency and positive reinforcement are key when teaching commands.

Provide a Digging Spot Outdoors

If it's feasible, consider allocating space in your backyard where your dog can dig freely. This tactic will help satisfy your dog's instinctual urge to dig without damaging your precious household furnishings.

Ensure the designated spot is enticing with hidden toys or bones. This kind of positive rerouting of their digging behavior can protect your bed sheets against unnecessary wear and tear.

Use a Double Layer of Bedding

Use a Double Layer of Bedding

Utilizing double layers of bedding can both protect your mattress and provide an additional layer for scratching without causing too much harm.

The top layer can be chosen specifically because it's durable and easily washable - this way, the compromise between you and your furry friend doesn’t disrupt the aesthetics or cleanliness levels you usually maintain.

Invest in Scratch-Resistant Materials

For those who don't mind splurging a bit more, there are scratch-resistant materials available that are specifically designed for pets to claw at without causing any damage.

These can include certain types of bed covers or even specially formulated rugs that withstand rigorous pawing sessions!

Rotate Bed Locations

Consider rotating where you place pet beds within your home — this prevents dogs from marking just one territory repeatedly.

A rotating system dilutes the concentration of their scent left behind from scratching, leading to less continual scratching behavior in the same spot.

Consult with a Behaviorist

If all else fails, consulting a professional animal behaviorist might be the ticket. A behaviorist provides knowledge on a deeper understanding of why negative behaviors occur and how you might successfully mitigate them.

They can tailor-make a strategy based on your dog’s specific needs, turning frustrating situations into training opportunities beneficial for both parties!

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FAQs about 'Why does my dog scratch my bed sheets?'

Is it normal for dogs to scratch bed sheets regularly?

Yes, it's fairly common. Dogs typically scratch at sheets due to instinctual behaviors like marking territory or creating a comfortable resting spot.

Can I stop my dog from scratching my bed sheets?

Yes, through training, providing alternative outlets for your dog's energy, and providing durable pet beds and bedding.

What does it mean when my dog digs at my bed and then lies down?

This could be an instinctual behavior akin to wild dogs patting down grass or relocating rocks before settling down for sleep.

Are certain breeds more likely than others to scratch at sheets?

This behavior isn't restricted to any specific breed, but breeds with a history of digging or burrowing might be more prone to such antics.

If frequent bed scratching persists even after trying many solutions, what should I do?

It might be helpful to consult an animal behaviorist; there could be underlying behavioral issues that require professional attention.


Understanding why your dog scratches your bed sheets is the first step in managing this behavior. With a blend of patience, training, and a few preventive measures, you can protect your bedding and provide an environment where both you and your furry friend feel comfortable.

Our pets carry deep-rooted instincts that sometimes manifest in ways we find peculiar or inconvenient. Offering them outlets for these instincts while setting boundaries ensures a harmonious co-existence. The bond between you and your dog will only grow stronger!

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