If you let your dog up on the bed, the chances are that at some time or another, you have wondered “why does my dog scratch my bedsheets?” Dogs often seem to do this, but it isn’t necessarily clear why they are doing it or how you can get them to stop.
There are a number of reasons that your dog might choose to scratch at the bedsheets, and we’ll cover the major ones. Comfort is a particularly common reason, along with an attempt to mark their territory. Alternatively, dogs may do this because they want to make your bed more like a nest, or because something smells good on the sheets.
Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets?
So, let’s explore some of the major things that might trigger this kind of behavior in your dog. Understanding why your dog is doing this may help you to discourage them because you’ll know what approach to take.
Often, your dog will be scratching at the sheets because it wants to make them more comfortable. While your bed may seem comfortable enough to you, it’s possible that your dog disagrees, and you might find that buying your dog a dedicated bed helps – although many dogs still prefer human beds.
Your dog might find the mattress too flat or not supportive enough and may prefer more cushions. Remember too that in the wild, dogs and wolves need to scratch at the ground to remove sticks and other debris so that they can lie down comfortably.
It’s possible that even if your bed is comfortable, your dog is responding to its instinctive need to clear the ground before lying down.
Territorial Scent Marking
Dogs have scent glands in their paw pads, so it is possible that pawing and scratching at the sheets is your dog’s attempt to transfer its scent to the bed and mark the territory as belonging to it.
The scent glands will rub against the sheets, spreading your dog’s smell on them. If you have multiple dogs in the household or something has made your dog feel that its territory is under threat, this behavior is more likely to occur.
Equally, if you have just washed the sheets, a territorial dog may decide to mark them, because the wash will have removed its scent. This is very annoying, particularly if you have just made the bed, but the dog is only trying to claim your bed for the pack – and that includes you!
You may also be observing a nesting instinct prompting your dog’s behavior. This is common among females, and your dog doesn’t have to be pregnant in order to do this sort of thing. A non-pregnant female may still respond to the instinct to build a safe spot for puppies, especially if she is feeling broody.
This sort of behavior may be accompanied by protectiveness, and reluctance to let you or others near the bed. If your dog is expecting puppies, you are likely to see this behavior at some point, although your dog may not choose your bed for her nest.
Hunting For Food
Alternatively, your dog might be able to smell something appealing in the sheets. If your dog is permitted to bring toys or treats onto the bed, some scents will linger even once these have been removed.
The dog is quite likely to then pick up the scent and try to scratch aside the sheets, hunting for a toy or food that is not there anymore.
You may find it impossible to convince your dog that the treat isn’t in the bed, and distraction with a new treatment might be necessary.
How Can You Stop Your Dog Scratching Your Bed Sheets?
So, what do you do about it when your dog won’t stop scratching and pawing at your sheets? Unless you want to be re-making the bed every day, you’ll need to identify the root of the issue and then choose from the following solutions.
Get Your Dog A Comfortable Bed
If your dog is scratching at your bed because it isn’t comfortable, that’s a sign it may prefer its own bed. You can buy a range of different dog beds, so try some out and see if you find one that your dog likes.
Dogs often enjoy having sides around them, as this makes them feel more secure. Try putting your dog’s new bed inside a large cardboard box with the top cut off so just the sides remain. Alternatively, place it under a desk or something so that the dog feels safe.
You may find your dog simply won’t use a dog bed, but this is worth a shot!
Deal With Territorial Issues
Making your dog feel safe and secure could help to reduce its desire to mark its territory. If you have recently introduced a new household member, keep reassuring your dog of its position and give it extra attention and treats to make sure it feels safe.
You could also try putting your dog’s bed near yours so that the dog has its own “space” that it can claim. This may not solve the issue of your dog scratching at the sheets, but it could help and it is worth trying.
Another trick involves putting your dog’s blanket on your bed. Your dog may see this as a confirmation of its rights over the bed, and this might encourage it to stop scratching the sheets.
Address The Nesting Instinct
The simplest way to deal with the nesting instinct is to give the mother a suitable place and encourage her to move into it. After all, unless you want puppies born in your bed, you don’t want her to set up camp there!
Of course, if your dog is not pregnant, you don’t need to worry about puppies, but giving the dog a safe, secure hideaway that she can “nest” in may help. Drape a blanket over a table to make it feel safer and more secret; most dogs in nesting mode will like this.
The Food Problem
The only way to stop your bed from smelling of food and toys is to ban these from the bed. You may not want to do that, but there aren’t many other ways to stop this kind of scratching.
You could try diversion tactics, getting your dog to jump off the bed for a treat or a toy. However, this is only a temporary fix, as the dog will probably pick up the scent again next time they are on the bed.
You may also want to wash the bedding to remove the smell. This should work, but it is possible that your dog will then begin to scratch for territorial reasons, putting their scent onto the fresh sheets to make sure they have been “claimed.”
So, you now know some of the reasons that your dog might be scratching your bedsheets. There are other potential explanations, but these are four particularly common ones, along with solutions that will discourage this kind of scratching.
As with other behavior, you may be able to train your dog away from scratching at the bed using treats and commands. Work on this regardless of why you think the dog is scratching, but identify the source of the issue too!