If you’re someone looking for an answer to, “How to prevent dogs from scratching beds?”, you’re probably a pet parent tired from getting new bed sheets every other month.

While this behavior most probably enrages you to the core, the good news is that you’re not alone. Many pet owners are puzzled about this canine habit.

But the real question is why do dogs scratch bed sheets? Despite this behavior being very common amongst dogs, there might be a few reasons behind this; Behavior is instinctual, creating a comfortable resting place or even possible health concerns! Let’s jump into more details!

Dog Behavior Explained

In this guide, we aim to touch upon all the reasons for dog scratching habits. We will also show you how you can put a stop to this habit, so you can keep your bed sheets and upholstery safe.

1. Rooted in Instinct

The first and most common reason for this behavior is instinctual. For dogs, digging and scratching is a survival tactic. Wild dogs also scratch the ground to uncover cooler ground to rest.

So, even though your dog’s breed has been domesticated a long time ago, these instincts might still show through their habits.

2. Creating a Comfortable Resting Place

A second natural explanation for your dog’s scratching habit is their desire to get a comfortable nesting space. The texture and warmth of your bed sheets might remind them of their natural bedding which they then scratch to create a comfortable space for sleeping.

This warmth and comfort-seeking behavior of dogs is only natural. While it might be comforting to them, it is important to stave off this habit as you can’t keep replacing your sheets again and again.

3. Possible Health Concerns

While noting this dog nesting behavior in newly adopted pets could indicate an instinctual habit, what about this sudden behavioral change in old dogs?

Can scratching bed sheets be a sign of a health problem?

If your dog hasn’t ever shown a sign like this before, the scratching might be coming from parasites, allergies, or skin conditions. Scratching that stems from allergies and skin conditions is more generalized. This means that the dog might use any surface to scratch including mats, rugs, or even upholstery.

Here is a list of health concerns to consider if your dog is unusually scratching surfaces:

  • Hormonal imbalances causing bald spots
  • Dry skin
  • Mold or pollen allergies
  • Parasites
  • Fungal infections

4. Breed-Specific Tendencies

If you’re thinking of adopting a pet, a common question that comes to mind is “Are there specific breeds more prone to this behavior?”

Well, your concern is valid because bed sheet scratching is common amongst dog breeds that are known for their hunting skills. For instance, Dachshunds and Rat Terriers are notorious for scratching soft surfaces since they were historically used to catch pests and rodents. Since these rodents hide in underground spots, these dogs have to dig the ground to catch them.

If your dog is a breed known for hunting, the bedsheet scratching is in their instincts, even if they are not doing it to catch pests.

Little Chihuahua on a bed

Tips to Control Dog Scratching

Whatever the reasons for dog scratching habits might be, they cause a nuisance for humans. But fret not, because we are here with some valuable tips that can help you get rid of this behavior if it’s not health-related.

Addressing Potential Anxiety

Anxious dogs tend to scratch surfaces including soft surfaces like mattress covers and bed sheets. According to Web MD, even boredom might cause a dog to develop scratching habits. Just like babies, pets can resort to destructive behaviors to get your attention.

A surprising part is that anxiety and boredom are often linked when it comes to dog behavior. Inadequate simulation might make dogs anxious or bored, causing such behaviors. On the other hand, dogs who have had a traumatic past might also show anxiety and fear by scratching surfaces.

To understand what might be causing this behavior, it could be useful to check the American Kennel Club guide about detecting anxiety in dogs.

How to Control Anxious Scratching in Dogs?

Once you’re sure that anxiety is the cause, here’s what you can do to control this behavior:

  • Ensure that the dog receives enough exercise and physical stimulation.
  • Don’t overcrowd your house with dogs or pets as it might make them feel less loved.
  • Train your dog to chew on toys to relieve stress.

Preventive and Corrective Measures

There are several training methods you can use to decrease or redirect dog nesting behavior. Some of these are:

  • Ignoring the unwanted behavior – Akin to the carrots and sticks approach, ignoring is the best way to reinforce to an attention-seeking pet that that behavior is not well-received.
  • Giving chewy toys to a dog – If you see that your dog is scratching because of anxiousness, give them a chewy toy that they can use to calm themselves down.
  • Reinforce non-scratching – By giving your dog treats when they are not scratching your bed sheets you can redirect or correct this unwanted behavior.

While many dogs have scratching hardwired in them, you can always keep this behavior away from the bedroom. A great idea is to invest in nylon, vinyl, and leather dog beds that can last a long time even with excessive scratching and chewing.

On the other hand, it is important to keep up with your regular vet checks if you suspect that the scratching is resulting from health concerns.

Bed Protection Tips

While taking corrective measures is necessary to reduce dog behavior, what you can do to keep your bed safe is invest in durable bedding materials. Here are some options for you:

  • Microfiber
  • Cotton fabric
  • Cordura Fabric

If you cannot invest in expensive sheets, a great idea is to use protective covers made of these fabrics that can save your beds or sofas. You can even install a barrier or keep your bedroom door closed till this dog’s behavior is redirected or forgotten.

Chihuahua ride to bed


The reason behind your dog’s bed sheet scratching behavior could come from instinctual, comfort-seeking, and possible health reasons. While the behavior can be an annoyance, it is important to remain understanding and patient while dealing with it.

The first thing to do is to rule out any health concerns or anxiety that might be causing the issue. Next, start by taking preventive and corrective measures to gradually redirect or reduce the behavior.

If you still cannot correct the behavior, a good way to go about it is to seek professional advice. If you’re someone who has successfully corrected this behavior, we’d love to read your story in the comments! Plus it will help hundreds of other people who face this issue. 

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