Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bedsheets? Naughty or Goofy?

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

I used to let my Yorkshire Terrier sleep in the room with me and every time she does, she scratches my bedsheet with so much enthusiasm that you might have thought there was an actual bone hidden inside them. Not to mention she likes to sleep with her bum facing me too. Real head-scratcher!

Truth be told. I get quite annoyed as I like to keep my bed clean and off-limits to most things and it also doesn’t feel good when my new sheets get torn up accidentally.

So, why does my dog scratch my bedsheets?

The reasons dogs scratch bed sheets can boil down to a few factors, such as preparing their “bed”, claiming their territory, releasing their pent up energy, or maybe trying to seek warmth during those cold winter months. Behavior like this could also stem from watching their owners and copying them.

Well, you don’t have to guess anymore as we check out this cute dog behavior!

Medical Questions? Talk to a Veterinarian 24/7.
Connect one-on-one with a licensed vet who will answer your questions in minutes.

Ask a Vet Now or Schedule a home visit

*Article may contain affiliate links to retailers like Amazon and Chewy. Learn more on our disclosure page.

Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bedsheets featured image
Dear Dog Owner

Reasons Why My Dog Scratches My Bed Sheets

It is been said that dogs are descendants of the great gray wolf species.

If that belief holds any truth, then think of your furbaby as a domesticated wolf with a natural instinct to build shelters and burrow bones, just like old times.

Scratching your bed sheets is like digging in the yard for your dog, it satisfies them knowing that they have successfully buried important items or that they have marked their territory from other predators before ‘nightfall’.

Your dog may also think that this territorial behavior is essential to protect you and your space from harm.

To them, this instinct puts them on high alert whenever you get ready for bed as they take your action as an important cue to start the ritual.

Beyond that, there are many reasons why your dog may have this weird but relatable habit too.

Ask any dog owners and I am sure they can confidently share with you how they would come home to an excited or sometimes, anxious-looking dog at the end of the day.

This is especially true for dog owners who have to leave their pets home alone for a long period of time due to work.

As boredom turns to anxiety or nervousness, these pent-up energy needs to find a coping mechanism. If it is not released through any pre-bedtime gameplay or walks, you may end up getting a few, unfortunate rounds of bed sheets scratching frenzies.

Then again, this could also be a learned behavior copied from an older dog of yours and simply replicated without any rhyme or reason.

He is merely following in the footsteps of who he sees as the leader of the pack.

However, if your dog only does this during the winter months, it could suggest that it wants to seek some warmth and comfort between those fluffy sheets of yours.

Doggy says, read this too: How to stop my dog from eating worms?

Why Does My Dog Dig on My Bed When Excited?

For some specific dog breeds like terriers, beagles, and dachshunds, digging excitedly on your bed is simply a way to conquer another day of random challenges.

They think it is fun and interesting even though nothing ever gets dug out. That sense of accomplishment can even keep them going at your sheets countless times a day!

Though that behavior is not always seen in other dog breeds, your dog could also be doing this out of boredom or when it wants your undivided attention.

As they pick up cues easily, they know where to go to create some mini chaos, in your most comfortable space i.e. your bed.

You may probably have given your dog some reactions in the past when it first scratched your bedsheets so now it knows how to gain your attention, be it a positive or a negative one.

Doggy says, consider reading this too: Overgrown Dew Claws in Dogs

Other times, it could be due to your dog’s need to find a specific, warm spot before settling in for the night.

Digging is simply a ritual it does before settling in comfortably. Something akin to the wind-down process we humans do before our bedtime too.

If you have not tired out your dog from the excess energy it had built up throughout the day, you are bound to get an unwelcome surprise as you climb into bed!

It may begin digging on your bedsheets as an innocent way to get you to play with them. In its mind, seeing you in bed could mean playing or cuddling time to them.

Doggy says, you might like this too: When Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Calm Down?

What Does Digging in Bed Mean? 

When your dog has a long-standing habit of digging between your bedsheets, it means it is either bored, anxious, has pent-up energy, or wants your undivided attention.

As dogs are habitual animals, they tend to repeat certain actions to help calm them as a coping mechanism. If you are able to pick up these signs early, you may be able to help your dog decipher his emotions and rid those energies quickly.

This is especially true when you leave your dog home alone for a long period of time. This pent-up feeling of anxiety can result in excessive bed digging.

A change in environment may also trigger such behaviors as any uncertainties are bound to make the poor dog feel anxious and unsure about its feelings. 

In any case where the above does not apply, your dog could also be repeating this habit as an instinctual behavior to hide his toys or bones just like how his ancestors would do so to claim their territorial space and dominance in the wild.

Doggy says, read this too: How long is a day for a dog?

Why Does My Dog Scratch My Pillow?

why does my dog scratch my pillow

Think of it as a territorial itch that must be scratched or a natural instinct to protect its people (you) from danger.

As dogs are descendants of the great gray wolves which would have scratched and buried everything valuable to them from bones to carcasses some 40,000 years ago, that strong survival instinct is still very much embedded in domesticated dogs today.

Scratching your pillow is simply a ritual they do to make sure that everything important to them is hidden.

In other words, your dog believes that it is keeping you safe when it ‘conceals’ you and that nothing is left on the floor for any possible predators to loot.

Doggy thinks you may like this too: Dog Drags Another Dog by the Collar? [Solutions]

Is Bedtime Digging Becoming a Problem?

While digging may come naturally to dogs due to their ancestral lineage, excessive bedtime digging though could pose a problem to both your dog and you.

Simply put, excessive digging may mean that your dog has gotten too anxious and does not know how to release those energies.

This is especially true when there has been a change in its environment.

As this energy gets built up throughout the day, such displacement behavior is reflected in an excessive, almost aggressive form of digging.

It is a coping mechanism for them in an attempt to deal with stress, anxiety, or nervousness.

How to Protect Your Bed Sheets From Your Dog?

To protect your bedsheets from your dog’s ‘destructive’ claws, you may consider providing a safe space for your dog to dig in that is within your room area. For my dog Brownie, I crate trained it since it was young and this is no longer an issue I face.

This way, it can carry out its habitual digging and satisfy his territorial itch before climbing into bed with you.

You may also look for other stimulating activities to do with your dog as a nighttime ritual to replace its sheets-scratching behavior.

At times, your dog could be digging to find a warm, comfortable space between those sheets due to the cold temperature.

You may want to help him regulate his body temperature by placing extra rugs on the floor or a throw on the bed.

Finally, you may opt to trim your dog’s claws as part of the regime to keep their paws healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Do dogs like clean sheets?

Some dogs have a habit of ruffling up the clean sheets as they enjoy the warmth after the beddings leave the dryer. However, most dogs do not like clean sheets per se. It only appears as they do because they always seem so excited when you place down new sheets. In actual fact, they only do so to leave their scent in them as a way of marking their territories. As clean sheets lose all scents previously established, they do so as an instinctive way to re-established what was lost.

Why does my dog pull the blankets off of me? 

Dogs are a cheeky bunch of animals and would do so many different actions just to get your attention. They find it fun and exciting when you give them a reaction. Imagine coming back home from a long day’s work, and having no time for your poor dog except for a few greetings and cuddles, naturally, it would think the time you lay in bed to unwind is the perfect time to pull off your blankets and play tug of war!

In Conclusion: Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bedsheets?

Although your dog scratching your bedsheets and pillows is nothing to worry about, it does mean some inconvenience to your life, especially when your dog has been out for the day and comes home dirty.

Spending money on new sheets is also not a good option, so the best thing to do would be to invest your time in training your dog.

You can also consider not allowing your dog to sleep in your bed, but rather creating a safe and warm space for it to sleep in instead.

I often see that dogs with lots of pent-up energy tend to do this, so you need to make sure that it has enough exercise and activities throughout the day to keep them occupied.

An intelligent dog is a happy dog.

Give it the right training and you will have a much happier dog.

Check out this positive reinforcement training that has been used by thousands of our readers successfully.

Share this post!
Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

no more bad dog breaths banner