Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets?

A lot of dog owners notice that their pets love to scratch their bedsheets. It turns out, your dog is just doing the same thing its ancestors did!

Dogs scratch bedsheets because of their natural instincts, territorial instincts, or maternal instincts. Most of the time, your dog scratching your sheets is perfectly normal. Otherwise, your dog might be trying to find a bug or critter in your sheets.

Why Does My Dog Dig on the Bed Sheets?

It can seem silly at best and worrisome at worst when you catch your dog scratching your bedsheets for the first time. Most pet owners think that dogs are only supposed to scratch or dig on dirt. Obviously, bedsheets aren’t in any way similar to the soil in your lawn, so it’s pretty confusing to see your dog treat them the same way.

Your dog scratches your bedsheets because of one of three reasons:

  • Your dog has a natural instinct to dig or burrow.
  • Your dog feels territorial towards your bed.
  • Your dog is acting on maternal instincts and making a nest.

Natural Instinct

As you may know, most dog breeds that exist today were developed to fulfill a certain purpose. For example, Labrador Retrievers were bred to literally retrieve birds and fowl during hunting sessions. Beagles were bred to be living scent trackers that could find any prey. Corgis were bred to herd livestock and other farm animals.

Some dogs were also bred to be natural burrowers. These breeds include the Dachshund, the Bedlington Terrier, and the Miniature Schnauzer. Even if you didn’t get your dog for its digging skills, it should still have a natural instinct to dig. 

Since the urge to dig is something your dog cannot control, it will try to find ways to satisfy the urge. In a home where there isn’t any dirt or soil to dig up, the next best thing is none other than your bedsheets. You can easily figure this out if you know your dog’s breed and whether that breed was developed to create a dog that can dig a hole.

Territorial Instinct

Every dog has an instinct to mark different things and places as its own. Most pet owners are familiar with marking and think of it as when their dog pees or urinates on their furniture. Although it is indeed common for a dog to pee on something to mark it, a dog can also dig or scratch something to do the same thing.

Dogs mainly sweat through glands that are found in their paws. These glands also secrete a distinct scent that dogs can transfer onto different surfaces by scratching things. Your dog might be trying to mark your bedsheets by scratching them.

This is also why you might find your dog scratching around its food bowl. It’s their way of communicating that this object or place in your house belongs to them. It also helps them tell when a person or another animal has invaded their space.

Maternal Instinct

If your dog is pregnant or has just given birth, then the most likely reason for scratching your sheets is its maternal instinct. When a dog is getting ready to give birth, it will normally show nesting behaviors which include scratching on comfortable surfaces.

Your dog might be trying to find a safe place for it to have its litter of puppies. Most dogs feel most safe in the part of their home where they sleep. If you normally let your dog sleep in your bed, it will think that your bed is the safest place for its puppies to be born.

Scratching your bedsheets lets your dog make your bed more comfortable and also leave its scent on it. Newborn puppies can’t see or hear very well but they can find their mother by finding their scent. Your pregnant dog is simply trying its best to be a good mother when it’s scratching your sheets.

Final Thoughts

It can be annoying to find your dog scratching your sheets especially if they’re expensive. Their dirty paws might leave marks on your sheets if they do it right after coming back from a walk. However, you shouldn’t take it against your dog because it’s simply acting on its instincts.

Dogs can’t fight the urge to scratch bedsheets without proper training. Scratching your sheets helps your dog alleviate anxiety and feel safer at home. Regardless of whether it’s because of natural, territorial, or maternal instinct, your dog is simply acting like a dog when it scratches your sheets.

If you want your dog to stop scratching your sheets, you can try using boundary training and positive reinforcement on your dog. Give your dog its own bed and teach it how to use the bed. This way you can keep your sheets safe without making your dog feel unsafe.