12 Reasons Why Dogs Scratch Their Beds

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There are different reasons why a dog might scratch its bed, some of which may surprise you.

For example, if your dog is scratching the bed and it’s not due to fleas or an environmental allergy, then it could be because they are too hot or cold. Another possible reason for the scratching may be allergies which lead to excessive itching.

If you would like to know why your dog scratches its bed, then read on. Once you get to the end, you’ll be well-equipped to determine the root cause.

Why Your Dog Scratches Its Bed

1. It doesn’t get enough exercise.

One of the most common reasons dogs scratch their beds is that they have pent-up energy because they are not receiving enough exercise or stimulation.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog needs to go out and play every day. Still, if it receives a minimum amount of scheduled exercise each week, you can be almost certain that it will help you prevent scratching behavior from occurring in the future.

2. It’s trying to make the bed more comfortable.

Pomeranian nestling into bedding

Dogs are animals, which means they have instincts. One instinct that they have is to create dens or nests to curl up and feel completely safe and protected when they rest.

If your dog does not have a bed of its own, it will try to do its best and use whatever is available. This might include using your couch, a blanket you have put out for them to sleep on, or even the carpet in the living room.

3. It’s marking its territory.

Dogs like to mark their territory whenever they can, and this means marking things that smell like you, such as bedding or your favorite chair. They do this with their paws, which have scent glands on the bottom.

If the scent of you is on their chosen spot, it makes them feel as if they are close to you, which will help them feel safe and protected.

4. The bed doesn’t smell right.

Dogs can be very picky about smells, and sometimes this could work against you. If its bed smells strange or different, your dog may choose to scratch at it in an attempt to eliminate or mask the unfamiliar scent.

5. It has a medical condition.

If you suspect that there could be an underlying health problem causing your dog to scratch its bedding, such as arthritis, then take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Medical issues that cause your dog to scratch its bed are more common than you might think. They are also one of the easiest to resolve with an effective treatment plan.

6. It’s not getting enough attention.

Dog lying on mat looking backwards

Dogs are loving and loyal animals, but they can become frustrated if you don’t spend enough time with them.

If your dog likes spending time with you, but you are too tied up with work or other activities, then it may choose to express its dissatisfaction by scratching its bed.

7. It has fleas.

This is another common reason why dogs scratch their bed. In fact, if your dog is scratching excessively at its bedding and you’ve ruled out other causes, there is a good chance fleas are the problem.

Dogs will often chew and scratch against the places where they sleep because this is one of the ways that fleas can burrow into skin or lay eggs.

8. The bed isn’t clean.

Dogs like to keep their sleeping areas clean, just the same way that people do. This means that a dog may scratch at the bed in an attempt to remove dirt, stains, or other things that shouldn’t be there.

Your dog may want to remove loose hair or dirt that has accumulated on the bed. When pets move around in their sleep, this loosens debris particles from beneath their paws onto the fabric’s surface, where they can be seen more easily.

If your dog is scratching its bed even when there are no visible signs of contamination, it may have allergies or an irritation caused by another source.

Make sure to throw removable bed covers in the wash frequently in order to keep the bed clean and prevent your dog from getting sick as well.

9. It doesn’t like the bed.

If your dog likes spending time indoors, make sure you put down bedding suitable for indoor use. Also make sure that your dog is able to lay down on the bed quickly without having to make adjustments.

If, for whatever reason, your dog doesn’t like the bed you bought for it, it may scratch at it to bring it to a state that’s acceptable for them.

For ideas on quality dog beds to get for your dog, check out some of our guides here.

10. It’s making room for puppies.

Litter of puppies

Pregnant dogs will sometimes scratch and dig at their bed in order to create a comfortable nest for the litter of puppies that are on the way.

This behaviour isn’t exclusive to female dogs that can give birth, however. Neutered dogs can do it too.

11. It has dry skin.

Your dog could have problems with dry skin, making it difficult for it to lie comfortably. This can cause it to scratch the bed in an attempt to get rid of the itching sensation.

To address this, get a dog bed made with hypoallergenic materials, and make sure your dog’s food contains things like fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids to promote healthy skin.

12. It’s not sleeping well.

Dogs need 10-12 hours of sleep every night on average.

If your dog does not get the sleep it needs, it’s going to affect its behavior during the day. It may also cause anxiety or an excited state of mind (a compensation mechanism) that leads to compulsive scratching.

Also, if your dog has overly long nails that need a trim, its scratching can do a lot of damage to the bed, possibly resulting in the need to replace the cover or core bedding. Learn the right way to trim your dog’s nails here.


The list given above of reasons why a dog might scratch its bed is by no means exhaustive.

If your dog’s bed scratching is an issue for you, keep in mind that depending on the cause, you might not be able to completely put a stop to the behaviour. Consult with your veterinarian for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Thanks for reading this article. Is your dog scratching its bed? Feel free to tell us your situation in the comments below.

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