Why Do Dogs Dig Their Bed – Scratching, Digging And Flipping

As an owner, you may have laid your dog’s bed out all tidy and they have come over and messed it up, proceeding to lie down on the pile of mess.

Dogs dig their beds to ensure a comfortable base to sleep on. This is a natural instinct and will involve temperature, stability, safety, and scent. These elements are also why your dog takes so long to decide whether to lie down or not.

It’s hard to know what is going through a dog’s head and the reasoning behind digging their bed. In this article, we delve deeper into the different reasons for this behavior, is it good or bad, and what you can do about it.


Reasons Why Dogs Dig in their Bed


Safety is an important aspect of any animal’s life and something that dogs often hold in high regard. In general, dogs are not the daredevils their feline counterparts are, and often opt for the safer route…we don’t all get 9 lives.

One way of understanding the actions of our domesticated doggy friends is to look at their more wild ancestors. In the wild wolves will dig dens into the side of a mound, according to the “Wolves.live” website these dens will only ever be used for rearing pups and that wolves generally like to sleep in the open. Observations suggest that while wolves will sleep together as a pack they will generally sleep in the open and trample the ground beneath them to establish a good bed. This method would leave higher sides to surround them and may add to the safety and security of the pack. This is not just isolated to wolves, with other wild dogs using the same methods including the coyote. According to “The Urban Coyote Research Website” they too have a tendency to sleep out in the open and only use dens for rearing pups.

Knowing that wolves and cayotes behave in this way, it can be said that dogs dig their beds to provide a sense of security. Despite your kitchen floor being fairly undiggable, your dog will still try to create a lower section of their bed, where they can lay and feel secure.

As an owner, you shouldn’t discourage this behavior, because all your dog wants is to feel safe. Providing your dog with plenty of bedding including blankets and pillows will give them a good opportunity to build a wall around them, by digging into the center of their bed.

sleeping wolves


Stability is also a very important aspect for dogs and is again part of a dog’s desire to feel safe and secure. Many owners will often see their dogs circling the area in which they are about to lay. This is to ensure an even base to sleep on and is part of the wolf behavior described above. Just like when wolves trample grass down in the area in which they are sleeping, dogs will do the same, ensuring at the same time the ground they are sleeping on is stable and secure.


In the summer months, I find my golden retriever sleeping on our kitchen floor. the floor is made of slate and so unsurprisingly he loves to sleep there during the summer. Dogs regulate temperature very well and as this is something they are naturally gifted at doing it seems obvious that temperature would be something to consider before laying down for a long period of time.

There are two ways of looking at a temperature in regards to a dog digging their bed. The first is to feel warm. This seems to be the more obvious reason why a dog would dig their bed, as it allows the bedding material to be pulled up around them, whilst they sit cozily in the middle.

If you find your dog digging their bed during the summer it may be unlikely that temperature is the reason. There could be some natural instinct at play that tells them that the earth is colder if they dig a hole but unlikely as this would soon warm up with their own body heat.


As I have highlighted in many articles before, a dog’s sense of smell is an incredible attribute and allows them to see the world in a totally different way. When a dog digs their bed they are disturbing all the fibers that lie within the bedding material. Each fiber will have scent particles attached to it, which will be released as soon as your dog starts messing their bed up.

Dogs love the smell of their own scent and it seems that one of their purposes in life is to ensure their own scent is placed everywhere they go, especially their own home. Digging their beds is a way in which they can spread their own scent onto the bedding material, you may even find your pooch rubbing their face onto their bed to be extra certain it smells of them.

This behavior is based around a territorial instinct and is something that is not isolated to their bed. Owners will probably be able to recall a time when your dog has rolled in a patch of grass or leaves, frantically squirming around on the floor. This is simply a way to spread their scent as each hair follicle releases a doggy odor when disturbed. If you want to know more about a dog’s sense of smell and how they spread their own check out these articles.

“Why Does My Dog Smell Everything On A Walk”

“How Long Can A Dog Follow A Scent For – Understanding Your Dogs Nose”

“Why Does My Dog Smell So Bad After A Walk”


Despite all these natural reasons as to why your dog digs their bed, there is one main reason that many may not want to accept. Your dog is frustrated. Frustration is one of the most common reasons for any sort of destructive behavior and accounts for many different things.

Before accepting your dog’s instinctual reasoning for digging or scratching their bed, you must first ensure you are limiting your dog’s frustration. Dogs can get frustrated for many reasons, the main one being mental stimulation. If your dog is not mentally stimulated as well as adequately exercised then they will inevitably act out their frustration on items around the home.

There are lots of ways to mentally stimulate your dog. Walking them regularly is something that stimulates both their mind and their body. double down on mental stimulation by taking them to areas with lots of new smells, or even laying a scent trail for them to follow.

Toys can be a good distraction from destroying household items, so getting plenty of interesting stimulating toys and games could be worth the cost in the long run.

Rearing Puppies

As discussed earlier, wild dogs such as wolves and coyotes will dig dens to rear young. Creating a den is not something that is intended for sleep, it is to offer safety and security for their young. If you have a female dog and they start digging their bed it may be a good idea to keep an eye on this behavior and other aspects of their life. It is known that female dogs will try to dig their beds when they are expecting young, as it is a natural instinct to dig a den. You may also want to watch out for the movement of their bed into strange isolated places of the house, this is also a natural instinct and an attempt to be alone.

dogs prefer the same breed

Why Does my dog Flip His Bed Over

A dog will usually flip its bed over as a sign of boredom and frustration. Try stimulating your dogs to mind more by giving them interesting toys to play with or taking them out for a walk.

Bed flipping shares some similar behaviors with digging and if your dog is digging their bed they may well begin to flip it to which could also be a sign of some other desires.


As highlighted above, boredom is often the most common cause of bed flipping. The flipping of a bed can be seen as destructive behavior and so your dog may need some more mental and physical stimulation. It can be difficult with some dogs, as certain breeds will need more stimulation than others. As mention preciously try taking your dog out for regular walks and laying scent trails for them to follow. If this is not an option try providing plenty of toys and games to stimulate your dog’s mind.


Bed flipping may be a sign that your dog is not finding its bed very comfy. You should look to see if your dog is trying to settle themselves down after flipping their bed or if it is just random destruction. Dogs tend to enjoy the comfort of soft bedding but also require a sturdy base to sleep on. memory foam can be a great way to keep your dog comfortable and provide their joints with the support they need.

You might find this article interesting – “Why Does My Dog Sleep in Another Room”


If your dog flips their bed and drags it around the house, it may be a sign that they want it moved elsewhere. It’s possible that they want to be near you and have a comfortable place to lay at the same time. Dogs do enjoy the company a profound amount and being with you is like being with the pack in the wild. It doesn’t matter to a dog if you are asleep or they are asleep, what matters is you are together protecting each other.

If this is a regular habit you may find purchasing a doggy bed for the lounge room to be beneficial. You can even just get a futon or leg rest that you and your dog can use. The cleaning aspect may come into this and at least it’s easy to move a dog bed out of the room, or chuck it in the washing machine….you try chucking a futon in the wash.


Because dogs have such an acute awareness of temperature, you may find that when your dog flips their bed it is for the same reason they were digging it. Your dog may want to remove the cushion from their bed and to do this they may at the first dig to get their paws underneath and then follow on by flipping it over. In this scenario, the aim would be to get the bed out of the bed but could take a few attempts. If your dog lays down in their bed after removing it then this surely is the reason for their digging and flipping.

How To Stop A Dog Digging in Their Bed

If you find your dog constantly digging their bed there are a few ways in which you can discourage this behavior. Although it is important to realize that your dog may be bored or frustrated, which is something you should investigate first.

Extra Stimulation

Many owners don’t realize the benefits some extra mental and physical stimulation will do for their dog. Taking your dog out for walks or playing with them in the park is a good way to release some of that vent up energy. Extra walks could combat both boredom and excess energy.

Because we live such busy lives an extra walk may not fit into our schedule and we can be forgiven for that. The best way to combat this is by making your current walks more fun and interesting. Scent walks are my favorite activity as I hide treats along the way when my dog is not looking. Even taking your pooch to somewhere brand new will stimulate their sense and use up some energy with all those new smells.

Games are great fun indoors and outdoors, your dog won’t care. Try getting some interesting toys or chews for your dog, this should keep them entertained diverting their attention away from digging their bed. If your interested in some games you can play during your walk then check out our article “9 Games To Play While Walking Your Dog” 

Tough Beds

If there is one thing that annoys you when your dog starts digging their bed, it may be the fact that they destroy it, meaning you have to buy a new one. A tougher bed may be the answer to this, in fact, I would recommend getting a hard shell plastic bed when you first get a dog. In the early puppy stages of their life, they can be extremely destructive. This of course is their way of discovering what’s what and pushing the social boundaries at the same time.

Hardshell beds are great for dogs that dig their beds. If you’re worried about comfort, purchase some cheap pillows and blankets and create a super comfy den for your pooch. no longer will you have to worry about buying another bed.


Training is one of the most common answers for managing your dog’s behavior. many owners don’t have the patience for training and they often won’t train their dog after they learn the command sit. For me, dog training is not a regimented routine that has to happen in a strict way. Training should be used throughout your dog’s life telling them NO when they do something you don’t want them to and rewarding them with praise and treats when they listen to you.

If your dog keeps digging their bed, tell them sternly NO! If they refuse to listen, remove them from that area. repeat this process until your dog willingly stops digging and reward them with praise and a treat when they listen. It takes patience and it’s understandable in this modern world why we don’t have much, but when it comes to training, dog owners must understand that dogs won’t learn things after one attempt, they need repetition.

Digging Their Beds And The Garden

The reason your dog is digging their bed could be the result of you not allowing them to dig the garden up. Now I’m not saying you should let them do that instead, but that it may be a result of this. With a combination of frustration and desire to dig something soft, you may want to consider acquiring a sandpit for your pooch.

Check out our article on puppy-proofing your garden – “How To Puppy Proof Your Garden”

Sandpits can be a great tool for diverting your dog’s attention away from their bed and the lawn, towards this other very soft and amazing diggable material. There are of course issues with this method as this may inadvertently encourage your dog’s digging habit. I would only ever use this as a last resort, as I wouldn’t want to come home to a garden full of holes and my dog’s bed sticking out of one.

walking your dog on the beach


So as you can see there are a few good reasons why your dog scratches its bed and makes a big mess of it. It’s not an uncommon trait and so there is nothing to majorly worry about. It would be important to watch out for things like boredom and frustration as this can manifest into more destructive actions. Hopefully, you have enjoyed this article, and if you are interested in more outdoor dog stuff then check out our homepage for more great content.



Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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