Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets? (EXPLAINED)

You got up and made your bed – the pillows, the sheets, the blanket. Everything was perfect for like five minutes, and then your dog gets on the bed and starts throwing the pillows, removing the blanket, and scratching at the sheet. Okay, you and your dog clearly have different definitions of how the bed should look – that explains the blanket and the pillows, but why scratching? 

So, why does my dog scratch my bed sheets? Well, there are many reasons for bed sheets scratching – from natural and maternal instinct through claiming possession and territory marking to learned habitAs you can see, some are written into your dog’s genetic code, while others are acquired. 

Scratching the bed sheets is one of those behaviors we often perceive as quirky, but that is only because we fail to understand the dog’s objective reasons behind the behavior. 

This article will help you understand your dog’s irresistible urge to scratch your bedsheets.


WHY DOES MY DOG SCRATCH MY BED SHEETS?

Dog scratching bed sheets

Here are some of the most common reasons why your dog engages in bed sheets scratching. 

Creating a comfortable sleeping spot

Who does not enjoy a comfortable sleeping place? Obviously, when you make your bed, you are thinking of your needs and preferences. However, what you need and like is not always per your dog’s plans. 

If your dog dislikes how you make the bed because it is not comfortable for him, he will likely scratch until satisfied with the new arrangement. 

What should I do?

In cases like this, basic obedience training comes in handy. Give your dog the “stop it” command and hope he will listen. 

Alternatively, next time, you can try making the bed suit his taste and comfort.

Claiming possession over the bed

If your dog is continuously scratching the same bed area, it is likely showing his dominance over that particular spot. This can be a red flag, especially if your dog has trouble understanding who the alpha in your relationship is.  

Sometimes, situations like this can escalate to the point your dog perceives himself as lord of the bed. And once your dog is in charge, you are no longer allowed to sleep in your own bed – after all, it is not yours anymore. 

What should I do?

Dealing with a dog that is showing territorial dominance can be challenging. It is vital to stop the behavior before it is too advanced. Start by telling your dog to leave the bed and reward him every time he obeys. 

Forbidding access to your bed may seem like a radical approach, but it is the best long-term solution.

Your bed sheets are too hot

Just like people, heat makes dogs irritable and nervous. Dogs have trouble coping with hot environments, and if the sheets are producing too much heat, your dog might start scratching them.

Namely, in this case, scratching the sheets is the canine equivalent of you fanning yourself with your hands. It is not as efficient as fanning, but it seems like a logical decision from a dog’s point of view. 

What should I do?

A dog scratching the sheets due to overheating will probably pant and look like it is in distress. If you notice this, pick up your dog and take it to a cool place. 

Then you can offer fresh and cool water. In the long run, consider using cooler bed sheets or invest in an air conditioner.

Instinctual behavior

Dogs in the wild sleep on the ground, and to make a comfortable and pleasant sleeping spot, they need to do a little scratching and digging. Your memory foam mattress and silky sheets are already comfortable, but the scratching and digging are genetically wired behaviors. 

What should I do?

In cases like this, there is not much you can do. It is not fair to punish your dog for doing something that comes so naturally. 

Just be observant and make sure the behavior does not evolve in a severe behavioral disorder. 

Looking for parasites

Dogs are way more sensitive than we give them credit. One of the reasons your dog might be scratching your sheets is because it sensed the presence of some parasite – tick, flea, lice, or mites. 

If your dog is up-to-date on its monthly flea preventive, these parasites should not be present in your bed. However, bed mites might be lurking. 

What should I do?

When searching and trying to eliminate parasites, your dog will be highly focused on the task. If the scratching persists for more than two minutes – indulge him and have your sheets dusted. 

Bed mites and parasites are just as dangerous for you as they are for your dog. 

Imitating a pack member

Even when babies, puppies learn new habits by observing their littermates and mothers. Once grown, they look upon other pack members, including you, as the pack leader. 

If you have more dogs and one of them is fond of scratching the bed sheets, you can expect similar behavior in all dogs. 

What should I do?

Fortunately, a dog with newly learned behaviors is easy to set on default mode. Basic obedience training usually does the trick. 

It is also recommended to prevent the dog from spending time with the “bad influence” dog until the sheet scratching habit is forsaken.

Mothering instinct

Pregnant dogs are likely to develop new habits. If your dog is pregnant, scratching the bed sheets can be a hormone-induced action. 

She may scratch different flat surfaces or focus exclusively on the bed. This is for two main reasons – creating a safe and comfortable place to give birth and practicing how to make the bed for her babies. 

What should I do?

If your dog is near her date, you need to provide a safe parturition spot, and your bed is not what she needs. Take one particular room of your house or a larger open area and transform it into a nursery. 

It is advisable to introduce your dog to the nursery long before the date comes so she can get used to the place.

Misinterpretation and treat expectance

Do you remember how you reacted the first time you saw your dog scratching the bed sheets? Chances are you were laughing so much you even rewarded your dog’s shenanigans with a tasty treat. 

When treats are in question, your dog can be a swift learner. It does not take much for your dog to make a connection between the scratching and the treat. 

The same problem can happen if you use treats to lure him out of bed. If your dog sees your correctional or de-focusing move as a reward, he will continue to do the same whenever he likes to get a treat. 

What should I do?

In such cases, it is advisable to stop using treats and focus on basic obedience training. 

Alternatively, you can start ignoring your dog until he realizes the scratching is not linked with rewards. 

However, if practicing this approach, you will probably have to do a lot of bed sheet shopping.


DOGS AND OTHER WEIRD BED-RELATED BEHAVIORS

weird dog related bed behaviors

While on the subject, we should explain some other bed-related dog behaviors that have puzzled humankind ever since the domestication of dogs, well better said ever since the invention of beds.

Why does my dog scratch the carpet under my bed?

If your dog often sleeps under your bed, he will likely scratch the carpet under the bed, especially before sleep time. This is your dog’s version of fluffing the bed and making it more comfortable. 

Sometimes, your dog may have brought some snacks under the bed, and the stain still smells nice. In such a case, the scratching can be an effort to find the source of the smell.

Why does my dog pull my blankets off of me?

If you are sleeping and your dog is pulling your blanket off you, he is attempting to get your attention or use your blanket as his blanket. 

If your dog is pulling your blanket off the bed while you are not at home, it is probably because it misses you. Your blanket smells like you, and that is comforting for your dog. 

Why does my dog mess up my bed?

If you and your dog share the same bed, you are also sharing the same rights. However, you sleep on the entire bed while your dog’s access is usually limited to a particular area of the bed. 

This is something your dog might not be okay with. In such cases, he can mess up the bed to spread its scent all over the bed and mix it with your scent. 

Why does my dog dig on my bed?

Your dog digs on your bed for the same reasons he digs on his own bed – finding a comfortable sleeping position, following his den-making instincts, getting rid of potential parasites, and searching for treats that he once brought in the bed, but their smell is still present.


CONCLUSION

Bed sheets scratching may have seemed like a crazy thing to do until you read the reasons mentioned above. Now, it does not appear that crazy. Occasional bed sheet scratching, especially before going to bed, is normal dog behavior. 

However, suppose it is excessively manifested and starts evolving into a behavioral, obsessive-compulsive disorder. In that case, it is advisable to consult with a dog behaviorist. 

There are no medical reasons that can trigger this phenomenon, so the only reason to call your vet in such cases is if you want to ask for a reputable dog behaviorist or trainer.

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