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Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets?

Man’s best friends – dogs seem to fit into our lives so easily, but sometimes they do some really odd and even frustrating things.

One such thing your dog might do that could really drive you up the wall is scratching your bedsheets. It seems like such a peculiar thing to do, but it is actually a shared behavior that many dog owners have to deal with.

Why does your dog scratch your bedsheets? This common behavior can happen for a few different reasons, and the best way to determine why your dog is scratching your bed sheets is to pay attention to their behavior and if anything in their life has changed.

From skin allergies to nesting, it does help to figure out why your dog is scratching your bedsheets to try to find a solution to get them to stop!

Why Dogs Scratch Bedsheets

As frustrating as it can be, there is most likely a valid reason why your dog is scratching your bedsheets. Look at the below reasons to work out what might be causing this behavior so you can hopefully avoid any scratched-up bedsheets going forward!

1. They Are Uncomfortable

One of the main reasons your dog might be scratching at your bedsheet is because they are feeling uncomfortable. You would be able to notice this by them moving around in circles and scratching and then moving around again.

They are trying their best to make the area more comfortable to lie on. They might not like the feel of the bedsheets or they might not like the firmness of the bed; it could be for many reasons, and they believe that by scratching the surface of the bed, which happens to be the bedsheets, they are making the space more comfortable.

To solve this problem, you would need to try and provide them with a more comfortable space to sleep on. This could be a memory foam or orthopedic dog bed that they find more comfortable. Also, dogs go by their own rules, and they might prefer a plain blanket on the floor!

If you have a dog bed but they still try and make a bed on yours, you need to stick to your guns and keep placing them back on their own bed. They will just keep scratching your bedsheets until you convince them to sleep in their own bed.

2. They Are Bored

Dogs get up to all kinds of mischief when they are bored, and this can see them destroying all types of different furniture. They might not feel stimulated enough and look for ways to entertain themselves, and this can lead to quite a bit of destructive behavior.

You will be able to notice that this is the reason if they keep jumping onto your bed and digging in the same place over and over again. This could also be a sign that they are battling to sleep.

To stop them scratching your bedsheets out of boredom, you need to try and keep them entertained during the day. Provide them with a toy or some sort of activity and active play to keep them fulfilled.

By offering them some entertainment, they will feel that their needs are being met and won’t feel the need to seek out your bedsheets to keep themselves entertained!

Long walks each day will also help them fall asleep easier at night, which can help prevent this behavior even further, tiring them out and offering them some entertainment.

3. They Feel Anxious

Dogs still carry much of their natural instincts, and these can very often peek through in their behavior at home.

One reason your dog might be scratching at your bed sheet is to try and hide themselves away. They obviously won’t be able to dig through your bed sheet, but it makes them feel as though they are digging towards some type of protection.

This could be caused by some anxiety that they have or feelings of being scared or chased. If your dog seems frightened and on edge, this could very well present as normal behavior for an anxious dog.

You do need to try and calm your dog down when they feel like this and make them feel comforted and safe. You could try to distract them with some playtime, toys, or treats, and show them that there is nothing to be scared of.

If you are worried that your dog might be feeling more anxiety than they should, it could be worth talking to your vet, as they might have different treatments and behavioral advice. This could really help to calm them down and help them fit more into your home environment.

4. They Smell Food

If you are a fan of eating in bed, or if your kids love to have a secret snack under the covers, then there might be food bits or odors leftover on the bedsheet. You might not be able to see or smell this leftover food, but your dog definitely can! 

The food would be gone or only leave little crumbs, but as your dog can still smell the food, they would keep scratching (much like digging) until they find the food.

They won’t find any food as they scratch your bedsheets, but this would just frustrate them more and they would just keep scratching.

This is a super easy fix – ban any eating in bed! Whether you have to restrain yourself from late-night pizza in bed, or stop your kids stealing cookies out of the kitchen and hiding under the covers to eat them, removing all bits and odors of food from your bed is the best way to stop your dog from scratching for food.

If you insist on eating in bed, you could either change and wash the sheets the next morning, or you could eat on a tray so none of the food falls onto your sheets or duvet.

5. They Are Cold

Your dog could be scratching at the bedsheets because they are feeling cold. They are trying to move the bedsheets by scratching them to get under the sheets so that they can try and find some warmth.

Your dog might not be obviously shivering from the cold, but if it is a cold evening, this could very well be a reason why they are scratching at your bed sheet.

The best solution to this would be to provide your dog with more blankets to keep warm. Place some extra blankets on their bed or on your bed for them to nuzzle into and keep warm.

There are also some great dog jackets and warmers that you could purchase to dress your dog in, to keep them very warm when it is particularly cold outside! You could place a heater in the room they are in as well, just for an extra boost of warmth, but make sure it is safe and away from them so they cannot burn themselves or get into any accidents with the heater.

An extra bit of warmth for your dog can be just what they need to stop scratching at your bedsheets! We have another article for you to check out if you think this may be the cause, all about How To Keep A Dog Warm At Night.

6. They Are Nesting

If your dog is pregnant and her pups are soon to arrive, scratching at your bedsheets could be her way of nesting before her babies are born.

This could happen a few times throughout her pregnancy, with some periods seeing a lot of scratching and some periods seeing no scratching at all.

This can be quite frustrating, as you want her to feel comfortable and you want her to feel as though she has a safe space to have her puppies, but you don’t want to keep replacing your bedsheets!

Her pregnancy will not last forever, so this is just a temporary problem. The best way to solve this issue without disturbing her too much is to place some old blankets on your bed in the meantime, and let her scratch and nest on those.

It is a better idea, however, to try and get her comfortable in her own bed so that she doesn’t end up giving birth on your bed, which can be messy! Place her in her own bed when she starts scratching at your bedsheets, and even place an old bedsheet in her bed so she feels comfortable with your smell close by.

7. They Want To Sleep

Dogs love to scratch and circle around in one spot when they want to sleep. This usually happens when they are tired and want to lay down, and are looking to make their space more comfortable.

Your dog will scratch your bedsheets and circle round and round to try and make it a nice place to nap. This also helps them feel safer where they are sleeping as well.

If you do not mind your dog sleeping on your bed, but want to avoid them scratching all your new bed sheets, you could place an old blanket down over the bed sheets for them to scratch on. This especially helps if they don’t scratch hard enough to rip open the blanket, but do so just to feel comfortable.

An old blanket on top of your bedsheets gives them their own little surface to make their own bed to feel comfortable on, and your bedsheets can be left pristine and scratch-free night after night!

8. They Are Marking Their Territory

Dogs can become territorial if a new animal is brought home, or if they can smell another animal on you (for example if you visited a friend’s house and played with their cat). This could result in them trying to mark their territory.

They could see your bed as somewhere they need to protect and mark as their own, as it would be where your scent might be the strongest. They would scratch down your sheets to mark their territory, which can destroy them!

There are different ways to try and prevent this. If you are bringing a new pet home, you will have to introduce them to your dog slowly, to make them both feel comfortable. If you notice any territorial behavior from your dog, it might be worth talking to a pet behavioral specialist for some help.

If you have come home and have the scent of another dog or cat on you, and know that your dog likes to get territorial when they pick up another scent, then change your clothes and maybe have a shower. An odor-neutralizing spray can help with this as well, to try and disperse the scent.

9. They Have Allergies

Your dog might be experiencing allergies to the detergent you are using for your bedsheets, and they might feel uncomfortable when laying on your bed sheet. This could cause them to scratch at your bedsheets to try and remove whatever it is that might be making them uncomfortable.

Skin allergies would also present as excessive biting, scratching, and licking. They might even have sore or red spots on their skin where they have been scratching too much.

It might be worth changing your detergent to a sensitive or gentle option, and speaking to your vet to see if there are any treatments for your dog’s skin allergies.

Preventing Your Dog From Scratching Your Bed Sheets

If you cannot figure out why your dog keeps scratching your bed sheet, there are some general things that you can do to try and prevent this behavior going forward.

Here are some tips on what to do if your dog keeps scratching your bedsheet and you are not quite sure why:

  • Give your dog enough toys and walks to keep them stimulated and entertained
  • Place a baby gate in your bedroom so your dog cannot get into your room
  • Give your dog their own bed and encourage them to use it
  • Remove any detergent or bedding that might irritate their skin
  • Chat with your vet if they still insist on scratching your bed sheets

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why your dog might be scratching at your bedsheets. If you cannot work out why your dog is scratching, take a look at the above reasons why this behavior might be happening, and what you could do to try and prevent it going forward.

Related Questions

Why do dogs always move bedding around?

Dogs like to move bedding around before lying down to sleep to create a mound of bedding that would be comfortable to sleep on. They are trying to create a snug nest that they feel is good enough to lay on and nap!

Do dogs like to be covered with a blanket?

Dogs do enjoy being covered with a blanket, and this is partially because of their natural instinct of burrowing that they would have had in the wild. They are pack animals, and like sleeping in a pile (like they do when they are puppies)

However, every dog is different, and what one dog is happy with might be different from another, so never force anything onto your dog.

Do dogs need blankets to sleep at night?

If it is a cool evening, then your dog will most likely need a blanket to help keep them warm as they sleep. The blanket will also help them feel safe and comfortable.

Up Next: Why Do Dogs Lick Blankets? – What You Should Know