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Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets? 4 Reasons for This Behavior

Luxifa Le

Dogs are known for digging in the yard, and sometimes they might seem like they’re digging on your bedsheets when they scratch them. Why do they do this? Is there a reason? Science has some answers as to why this behavior occurs. Here are four reasons your dog might be scratching at your bedsheets.


1. They’re Marking Their Territory

Dogs mark their territory by scratching. They have scent glands on the bottoms of their feet that help identify the owner of a domain to nearby dogs. These scent glands leave the dog’s unique scent marker on objects they walk over but will leave a powerful scent if they repeatedly dig or rub their feet against an object.

If your dog is especially fond of you, they may be marking your sleeping space as their territory to let other dogs know to keep away from it.

2. They’re Anxious

Some dogs will scratch when they’re anxious and find something comforting to scratch to let out the pent-up nervous energy. Your bed smells like you rather strongly since you’re lying in it for some eight hours a day. This comforting smell, coupled with the soft, plushy texture of the sheets, makes them a perfect outlet for an anxious dog.

brown dog in bed
Image Credit: Brooke Cagle, Unsplash

3. They’re Bored

Scratching and digging is also just a fun activity for dogs of all ages! Some dogs will scratch and dig when they’re bored; so, see if there are ways you can better stimulate your dog mentally. Divert their attention with toys and other acceptable ways to get their energy out. Be careful about rewarding bad behavior, though. If they associate scratching with playtime, they’ll start to do it because they know you’ll reward them with what they want.

4. They’re Curious

Dogs also scratch and dig at things to learn more about them. By doing so, they learn more about the properties of the unknown object. If you’ve recently gotten a new mattress, bed frame, or sheet set, your dog might just not know what to make of it just yet. They want to make sure it’s safe for them and you. As dogs, they’re bred to ensure that you are safe from all the monsters underneath your bed.

stopping dog from scratching bed sheet
Image Credit: Undine Tackmann, Unsplash

How to Protect Your Bed Sheets from Your Dog

Teaching your dog not to scratch things you don’t want them to scratch isn’t the most challenging thing. Dogs operate in a pack hierarchy, and you should be at the top. Dogs want to please the leader of their pack, so they’ll follow your lead.

The first step is to identify why your dog is scratching your bedsheets. If they’re bored, you might want to incorporate more playtime into their daily routine to keep their minds stimulated and help wear them out physically. If they’re anxious, think about what you can do to keep your dog feeling happy and safe.

To begin teaching them not to dig, start by diverting your dog’s attention away from the bed. Give them a toy to play with or something else to pay attention to. You don’t want to lure them out with food or treats, though, or they’ll start to associate scratching your bedsheets with being fed.

playing with dog_Olena Yakobchuk_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Olena Yakobchuk, Shutterstock

You also don’t want to start playing with them right away, or they’ll associate scratching the bed with getting mom or dad’s attention. However, once they’ve started playing with a toy and giving their attention to their toy for a bit, you want to reward them with positive attention.

Showing your dog what you want them to do works better than shouting at them for doing what you don’t want them to do. Dogs are driven by praise and reward. So, they’re more inclined to repeat behavior they’ve been rewarded for than they are to stop a behavior they’ve been punished for.

If you reward your dog excitedly for good behavior, they’ll repeat that behavior, but it will take a few repetitions for them to realize what they’re being rewarded for. One tool that can help is a clicker. Using the clicker lets you make a noise so that the dog knows exactly what they’re being rewarded for.

Also, make sure to trim your dog’s nails regularly. Though they’re not usually as sharp and dangerous as a cat’s claws, they can do some severe damage to something as fragile as a bedsheet. Trimming your dog’s nails regularly can help protect your bedsheets from harm.



Though it can be annoying and sometimes destructive, digging and scratching is normal canine behavior that most dog owners will have to contend with at some point. Helping your dog understand what behaviors are expected will help bring you and your pup closer and assist you as their owner in understanding more about how your dog’s thought processes work. After all, each dog is unique and will have different drives and needs!

Featured Image Credit: Alejandro Trinidad, Unsplash

Luxifa Le

I’m a freelance writer with a passion for animal science and technology. I love to share the world of animal science with people to help them make informed decisions for themselves and their pets. I’ve worked in professional pet care for over six years and realised I could help change the world of pet care by bringing the information people needed to them in terms they could understand. Knowledge is power and I love to help everyone become the most informed they can be.