Skip to main content

Why do dogs dig into their bed? An annoying behavior, explained

This dog behavior is common, but can be cause for concern

a tan dog lying on a white couch
Dominika Roseclay / Pexels

You hoped your dog “dug” their bed when you spent hours researching the top brands with the comfiest products. Maybe your pooch took to their bed immediately — success. Alternatively, perhaps they decided your bed was a better fit, and you chose to roll with the choice. Regardless of which option you two settled on, you may notice your pet has an interesting bedtime and naptime routine: digging into their beds.

The digging is usually accompanied by some walking around in circles, nosing at the bed or any blankets, and repeating until they finally settle down and enjoy some sweet slumber. Why do dogs dig on the bed, though?

The behavior is typical, but it’s always fun to understand precisely what’s happening in a dog’s head. Additionally, you may wonder if you should be concerned about bed digging or worried the pet will tear into the expensive bed you bought. We dug up some answers for you.

a brown dog in a dog bed
Jamie Street / Unsplash

Why does my dog dig on the bed?

There are several reasons why dogs might dig on the bed, most of them completely harmless (phew). Reasons why your dog may adore digging into their bed include:

  • Inheritance. Your dog may not have inherited millions of dollars from their ancestors. However, they did keep some of their relatives’ traits, including ones inherited from wild dogs. Before pups had the protection of their humans, they used to dig around before falling asleep to ensure the spot was safe. Today, wild dogs continue to practice this protective measure.
  • Curiosity. Sometimes, your dog isn’t concerned about becoming someone else’s bedtime snack — they’re just innately curious. Some pups love uncovering toys and treats. Your pet might be checking under the covers to see if their favorite squeaky toy is around or if you left them a special treat.
  • They want to get comfortable. Humans aren’t the only ones who fluff their pillows or toss and turn until they find the perfect position. Dogs do the same by digging. There’s a caveat to this reason, though. Sometimes, a dog has trouble getting comfortable because of an underlying issue, like pain. Call a vet if the digging is more intense, frequent, or longer lasting than usual or accompanied by other flags like trouble walking.
  • Nesting. Pregnant, newly postpartum, or unspayed females may instinctively nest to keep their puppies safe and warm.
  • They’re staking claim to the territory. Dogs can be territorial. Their paw pads have scent glands that help them mark their territory and let other animals (like your resident kitty) know to keep off their precious bed.
  • Stress. Some dogs take their stress out compulsively, like chewing or excessively digging. If your dog’s schedule recently changed or you brought a new pet or baby home, they may cope by digging.
  • Boredom. “Nothing else to do? Why not dig?” – Your dog, maybe.
a dog being hugged by a woman in bed
Karin Hiselius / Unsplash

How to stop a dog from digging into their bed

Real talk: You may be unable to, and there’s generally no reason to curb bed-digging sessions. The ordinarily harmless behavior is often engrained into a dog. However, if you’re concerned, try these steps:

  • Call a vet. Your vet can help you rule out any underlying conditions and even give you tips for helping your dog cope with stress more productively.
  • Keep your pet active. Lack of physical activity can lead to boredom and stress. Ensure your dog gets the right amount of exercise for their age, size, and breed. Your vet can help you determine how much your pet should exercise.
  • Provide mental stimulation. Puzzle toys are among the ways to keep your pet’s mind working even if you can’t be around them 24/7.
  • Redirect the dog. When the digging starts, try to redirect them by instructing the dog to “lie down” or with a toy (especially if you think the digging is out of boredom).
  • Try a new bed. Perhaps your dog isn’t comfortable, or the bed’s material is irritating their skin. A new one might help.
an adult pug in a gray bed
Karin Hiselius / Unsplash

Final thoughts

Dogs dig into their beds for several reasons. Their ancestors and wild dogs today dig into sleep spaces to protect themselves from predators. Even though your home may not have a predator in sight, a dog might have inherited this behavior from their relatives. A desire to get comfy is also a reason dogs dig. Sometimes, a dog will dig in their bed if they’re stressed or having trouble getting comfortable because of a medical condition. In these cases, the digging is often compulsive and accompanied by other symptoms, like vomiting or excess chewing.

Since digging into beds is innate in some dogs, you may struggle to stop the behavior. You might try redirecting the dog or ensuring they get plenty of exercise throughout the day. If these tips don’t work and there is no underlying condition present, you may have to accept the digging. Keep their nails trimmed to reduce tears, and buy a durable bed (and perhaps give them a gentle but firm boot from yours).

Editors' Recommendations

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
Why do dogs have wet noses? They’re actually really important
All the reasons why your dog's nose is wet (and how wet is too wet)
A close-up of a beagle

The old cliche that a "dog's nose knows" is undoubtedly true. Indeed, a dog's nose tells a tale about a pet's overall health. Generally, a cold, wet nose is considered a good sign that your dog is feeling well (even if brushing your pet's snout may be a modestly uncomfortable way to wake up in the morning). Yet, did you ever wonder, "Why do dogs have wet noses?"

Having the answer can make for some fun water cooler discussion. Knowing the reasons behind a dog's wet nose can also help you understand why a dry nose can be a red flag that something is amiss. Additionally, is it possible for dogs to have a nose that is too wet? We sniffed around and dug up the answers for you.
Why do dogs have wet noses?

Read more
Why do dogs have whiskers? These small features play a huge role
These hairs serve a large and important purpose
A brown puppy looks up, with sunlight shining on their whiskers

If you've ever noticed those extra-long hairs on your dog's face, it's only normal to wonder what they are and what they do. Whether your buddy visits the groomer or gets their fur brushed at home, it's hard not to notice these hairs. Dogs can turn away and even paw at their face when they're touched, so they surely serve a purpose. As it turns out, they're actually dogs' whiskers! But why do dogs have whiskers?
These whiskers, or vibrissae, are important for the way dogs sense the world around them. They provide all kinds of sensory information through nerve endings under the skin, but how exactly do they work?

Do all dogs have whiskers?

Read more
Why do dogs hump everything? You might be surprised
Here's what's behind this shocking canine behavior
A brown Vizsla dog's portrait in front of a black background

Every dog owner will be embarrassed by their pup at least once or twice, but nothing compares to the shame of catching your dog in the act of humping. Whether they're going to town on another dog, another person, or even nothing at all, it's easy to understand why you'd want to learn more about this behavior. The sooner you know how to respond to this lewd act, the sooner it can stop.
Questions like, "Why do dogs hump?' and "How can I stop my dog from humping?" will one day be nothing more than a memory. This impolite habit can be unlearned -- though often not as quickly as it's learned -- with some time, redirection, and a few well-timed distractions. Keep on reading to learn more about the humping habit and what you can do to prevent it.

Why do dogs hump other dogs?

Read more