Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets?

Ok, so time to fess up…who vowed never to let their dog sleep on the bed? It’s unhygienic, cramped, and one set of snoring is quite enough thank you! Ah, but no one said how proud you would feel that first time the dog climbed the stairs and found your bedroom? So, you let your dog pose for that all-important “first moments” photo, and yup, it was all downhill from this point forwards. They lapped up the praise the first time they conquered the bed so why wouldn’t they do it again, and again?

We’ve all been there, full of good intentions which quickly melted away with those big puppy dog eyes. But just why is your pooch scratching your poor bed sheets? Are they trying to get comfortable, burrow into the bed, or something completely different? Let’s face it, the workings of the doggy mind take some investigation so we best crack on.

Dogs scratch bed sheets for a multitude of reasons but mainly this behavior is driven by instinct. Wild dogs dig the area to make it comfortable to sleep on – domesticated dogs are no different. It can also be a territorial behavior and they are using their paw glands to mark the bed as ‘theirs’.

If you are stressing over those luscious bed sheets getting ruined and want to understand your dog’s behavior then keep reading. We also share some helpful tips on getting a handle on this common issue. So don’t lose hope of never using those posh covers again!

Reasons your Dog is Scratching your Bed Sheets

Here are the top reasons your beloved dog keeps scratching those bedsheets.

  • To Get Comfortable – Just as much as we aren’t keen on lumpy mattresses, dogs aren’t keen on having lumpy sheets under them. I know, personally speaking, my dog prefers a cool hard floor to any of his beds. Could have saved me some serious dollars if I’d known that in advance.
  • Adjust Their Temperature – In the summertime, we throw the sheets off and in winter we snuggle right under them. Dogs are no different and are also trying to adapt to the current climate. They might dig the bed to reach the cooler sheet under the duvet. We can go to bed naked if we feel like it, dogs can’t take their fur off so must find other ways to cool down or warm-up.
  • Territorial Behaviors – We all know dogs like to pee on everything outside (and hopefully just outside) to let the world know they’ve been there. But did you know they also use their paws? Paw glands can leave a scent behind so by digging your bedsheets they are trying to claim it as theirs.
  • Pregnancy Behaviors – Pregnancy hormones are weird and wonderful, and dogs feel them too. They may well try and prepare the bed area ready for their imminent arrival. Oh dear, that could be messy!
  • Wild Habits – Dogs are domesticated but we must never forget that they descended from wolves. In the wild, wolves don’t have memory foam beds and woolly blankets – they make their own beds by digging. Often dogs will mimic behaviors from their ancestors.
  • Searching For Food – If you eat food or snacks in your bed then don’t be surprised when your dog searches the bed looking. It may have been eaten up, but they can still smell what was there and are hopeful of finding a crumb or two.
  • It’s In Their Genes – Some dogs just enjoy nothing more than a good old dig, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be outdoors!

My Dog Scratches My Bed Sheets – Help!

We’ve looked at the whys above and given some plausible reasons for your dog’s scratching behaviors. Let’s now look to see if it is possible to stop this behavior at all or if you are destined for rumpled torn bedclothes forever.

Humans Only on The Bed

The obvious solution is to discourage your pooch from making himself at home on your bed, or any human bed in your home. Cuddles are nice and having your dog close by is sweet but it’s not the most hygienic habit in the world let’s be honest. There are also all the unsavory things they do that aren’t so great to witness – we all know dogs must wash, but boy does it have to sound so loud and revolting when they reach their bits and pieces?

To compromise with your dog, you could give them a bed on the floor next to your bed. Encouraging them to stay in it might take perseverance but with consistent rules, they will learn boundaries very quickly. Put their favorite blanket and toy on the bed and maybe a chew.  Most dogs will happily sleep on their own beds if their family or pack are nearby.

Keep your Pooch Downstairs

To keep things simple, have a downstairs-only rule for your dog and keep upstairs off-limits. If you have a door at the top of your stairs, then you are lucky and not much else needs to be done. If your home is open plan you will need to invest some time in training your dog to stay downstairs.

You could opt for a baby gate for a short time, especially whilst your dog is young and learning. By keeping your dog downstairs and away from any bedrooms you are taking away the potential for any issues.

Keep the Bed Half-Made

I know, I know – this solution might not suit everyone. Beds are there to be made, right? But as we touched on above, dogs are often trying to get the top layer off so they can lie on the cooler bottom sheet.

By leaving your duvet pulled down, your dog can lay on the bed in contentment. If you are happy to share the bed with your fluff ball friend, then by all means take this approach.

Keep Food and Toys out of the Bedroom

Keep all your dog’s toys out of the bedroom if you don’t want your dog potentially playing on the bed. Do the same with food – this includes your dog’s treats and your snacks! Otherwise, those foody smells will be far too tempting, and your pup will be nosing in those covers quicker than you can say no.

Don’t use Expensive Bed Sheets

There is nothing nicer than slipping into a bed with luxurious bed sheets and top-of-the-range pillowcases, but use some cheaper options for now. Once your dog has been trained not to go on your bed you can get out those fancy bed sheets and enjoy. Until then, keep them well away from those digging paws.

Put their Blanket on your Bed

Popping their blanket over your own sheets may well stop your dog clawing at yours. However, if they are doing it for temperature reasons then this won’t work.

Always make sure your room is at a tolerable temperature for your canine. When it’s hot, keep the blinds down, and when the sun moves away open everything up. In winter make sure your room isn’t too cold.

Keep those Claws Trimmed

It’s important to keep your dog’s claws trimmed even if they don’t scratch your bedsheets. Otherwise, walking can be painful for them, and long nails can lead to further problems. Keeping them short will minimize the damage they can do to your bed covers.

Final Say

You hopefully feel reassured after reading and have realized your pooch isn’t being naughty. Whatever their reason for scratching the bed sheets it’s an instinctive or inbuilt behavior. How often do you adjust the covers and your pillows when you are in bed? How much do you twist and turn during the average night? It is no different for dogs. This may well explain why their own bed on the floor always looks like a disaster zone by the end of the day. To them, it’s just perfect!

It’s also important to bear in mind where dogs came from – no matter how domesticated they are they will always have certain instincts which drive behavior. In the wild, dogs must dig to clear the area of twigs and debris so they can sleep comfortably.

My Border Collie has two beds and rarely uses either – he prefers the cool wooden floors. We have one of those magic rugs that collect the dirt from your shoes as you enter the house. If I don’t remember to flip it up at night, then I will wake up to the sound of him digging it up so he can lay on the floor underneath.

Related Question

Why Does my Dog Scratch the Carpet Under My Bed?

It could be that your furry friend is simply making themselves comfortable before having their snooze. It can sometimes be a sign of stress or anxiety – perhaps your pooch doesn’t like being on their own at night. Or perhaps they’ve found something tasty to eat under there and are using their claws to retrieve it.