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What is Digging in Her Bed?

Also called denning, your dog’s digging in her bed is due to natural instinct, rather than her misbehaving. When living in the wild, the instinct of a dog is to hide in areas that are comfortable and protected when they are going to sleep. They may choose to dig a hole to create a space where they can hide from any predators as well as keep warm and dry in the winter and cooler in the summer. When a dog lives indoors, this instinct is still present and can lead to their digging into their blankets or bedding in order to create this protected space.

This instinct for your dog to dig into her bedding may be connected to:

  • Her body temperature
  • The desire to “mark” the bed as hers
  • To hide herself
  • To create a nest for her puppies
  • Comfort

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Why Digging in Her Bed Occurs in Dogs

Instinct will lead to your dog digging in her bed and can be connected to the following:

Body Temperature 

Should your dog be hot or cold, digging may be a way to create a warmer or cooler place to rest. The instinct to burrow into the resting place is natural and may be evident with a dog scratching at a hard floor or pawing at  her bed.

The Desire to “Mark” the Bed

The foot pads of your dog have glands in them which emit an odor unique to your dog. When your dog digs or scratches the area where she is going to sleep, it allows her to mark the area with her scent.

To Hide

Your dog’s instinct may be telling her to dig a den that she can then hide in. If she were living in the wild, her effort to dig this spot would create a place that is comfortable for her to rest in while she can remain hidden from other animals. While this is not necessary for a dog living inside a home, the instinct is still present and can lead to this behavior.

To Create a Nest for her Puppies

Female dogs, whether or not they are pregnant, may dig to make a nest for their puppies.


Just like we fluff our pillows and arrange our bedding to our liking, your dog may do the same thing. An arthritic dog in particular may circle and dig at the bed in an attempt to make the pain lessen.

What to do if your Dog is Digging in Her Bed

Your dog’s digging is due to a natural instinct to do so and does not mean that she is misbehaving. Your dog’s digging may damage your floors or the bedding that you have gotten for her to rest in. Keeping in mind that digging is the result of her instinct will help as you attempt to redirect your dog’s behavior. 

You can decide to not allow your dog into your bed or only allow your dog on your bed when you are able to pay close attention to her behavior. To encourage your dog to sleep elsewhere, you can create a comfortable space for her to sleep in where she can dig as she likes. This area can include a dog bed, old blankets or rugs, or all three. Boxes and open crates are also helpful. Then, you can encourage your dog to rest in this area, offering praise and treats when your dog chooses the area to rest in. Should you decide to not allow your dog on your bed, you can shout “no!” if your dog jumps on your bed, as often as it occurs, in order to teach her that she is not allowed on the bed.

Prevention of Digging in Her Bed

As this behavior is instinctual, your dog’s digging in her bed cannot necessarily be prevented but can be redirected. You can prevent her from digging into your bedding or flooring and causing harm to it. By not allowing your dog on your bed or allowing her on it only when well supervised, as well as providing her own comfortable sleeping area, she can “dig” as she likes. You will want to encourage your dog to sleep in her area and praise her and offer her treats when she digs in this location. 

If you would like to keep your dog off your bed, keep your bedroom door closed when you are not able to supervise your dog. When you are supervising her, should she jump on your bed you will want to shout “no!” as many times as required. This will help your dog to learn that being on the bed is not allowed. If your dog is allowed on your bed but not to dig on it, you should shout “no!” when she tries to dig on it. 

Your dog may attempt to dig when she is warm and looking to cool down. Be aware of the indoor temperature and cool your house through air conditioning or a fan to increase your dog’s comfort.

Cost of Digging in Her Bed

The cost of your dog digging in her bed is minimal, if anything. You might consider providing your dog with her own bedding if she is digging in your bed and encouraging her to sleep in her own special space. This area can be made with old blankets or towels and her sleeping there can be reinforced by providing her with treats. If you feel your pet may have a condition like arthritis and digs to find comfort, the expense for diagnosis and medication may average around $300.