We all know that dogs can do some pretty funny things. Some things we wonder if it is just them being silly, looking for attention and a good laugh, while other behaviors, though they make us laugh, are often related to just regular dog habits that are inbred in them. One behavior you have probably seem is when a dog scratches at his bed, whether it be an actual doggie bed, a ball of blankets where he likes to lay, rugs, quilts or other bedding type material. It takes them a while to scratch at it to get it to where it finally looks like it is comfortable enough for them to plop down on, and they do. But why do they go through this whole routine? Well, we have some ideas what the ritual is all about. Here is why dogs scratch at their beds.
One thing dogs do is circle their bed over and over before they finally plop down on it. It may seem pointless to us, but this is really something their wild ancestors inbred in even domestic dogs. In the wild, pests and predators are all over and wild dogs want to make sure there is nothing around their bed before they lay down for a nap or for the night. Snakes, rats, anything that might get to them or at them, they want to get away from their bed so as not to be taken by surprise or disturbed while sleeping. Walking in circles around the bed beforehand, helps to clear the area, if there are any pests or predators nearby. Of course, domestic dogs really have none of this to fear, however, it is just a bit of nature playing its role in all dogs, so let them do their doggly duty and get the piece of mind they need to sleep.
Now that the pests and predators have been cleared away, the next form of action is to scratch the bed and get it nice and full of their own scent. This marks the bed as their territory and they won’t be happy until they do. The scent is transferred from their paws to the material and it is their way of letting any other dog who happens to try to come take their bed, that the bed already belongs to someone else, and he has already done the work to de-pest and predator it and mark it up with their own scent – so, back off!
In our homes, we use the thermostat to control the heating and cooling to keep us comfortable. Dogs also use certain techniques and strategies to help keep themselves cool on hot sticky day. While outside and needing to get cooled off, they are known to start digging a hole in the ground to climb into to get a nice shady spot, or if it is the opposite – cold outside. A nice warm hole is just what they are looking for. The same principles apply to their own indoor beds. If you see your dog start to dig about in his bed and it appears he is trying to dig a hole right through the bed, this is the same principle. He may not be comfortable temperature wise, and is trying to create a spot where he feels cooler, or warmer. The same goes for humans – we move about in bed trying to get comfortable, so we all like to sleep in the perfect temperature and comfortable spot for a restful sleep.
Final thoughts on bed circling and digging
If you want to give your dog his own blanket or set of blankets to dig in, you can find old quilts or blankets in your home to hand over, or just get a few cheaper ones at a garage or rummage sale where it won’t matter if they are caked with dog scent and fur. Then let him at it! Dig away!