Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets (And How To Stop Them)

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 main 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.

Improved Comfort

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!

Nesting Instinct

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 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 doesn’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.”

Want To Train Your Dog With Peace Of Mind?

If you haven’t trained your dog properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.

The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.

With Brain Training For Dogs you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.

So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!

And in most cases it’s still going to be:

  • Cheaper than hiring a professional.
  • Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
  • And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.

Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your dog completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them, will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT.

And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!

So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior, or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!

(You can also check out a full review here, to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)


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!