Dens are also a good place to hole up in (sorry, couldn’t resist) when the weather is bad. But physical exercise isn’t the only kind of activity dogs need. Get tips and exclusive deals. I found her curled up, sleeping on her older quilts. It also needs to be warm enough for her babies, and cosy enough to keep them hidden. But if you’d like to reduce normal digging, we can help you with that in our next section. But older dogs copy each other too. This explains why many dogs actually prefer their crates when left alone at home or to sleep in at night. If your Lab loves to dig up his blankets, let us know in the comments box down below! In this article we help you decipher why your dog is digging in their blankets, and how to reduce that behavior, if you want to. Also called denning, your dog's digging in her bed is due to natural instinct, rather than her misbehaving. It might – joy of joys! So the difference between a dog who can’t resist digging in their bed, and a dog who has never so much as lifted a paw to move their blankets is just natural variation between individuals. Indoors, modern dogs mimic that behavior. Boredom. Exercise your dog. (Photography via Shutterstock).  |. The obvious work-around from their point of view is – hide the thing they know you’re not going to let them keep. Some dogs specifically like to dig in their beds more than anywhere else – and there are many reasons for this as well. Nevertheless, a concerned owner can train a dog not to dig in certain areas so long as the dog has its own area in … This question has a number of variants; one of the most popular and confounding to owners of indoor dogs is, “Why do dogs scratch the carpet?” It’s a question that’s perplexed humans forever. Just why do dogs dig holes? Comfort. Survival. Who can’t picture a dog digging a hole in the yard to bury a juicy bone? Question: I have a 3 1/2 yr old Border Terrier Who still pees in the house. In hot climates, a nicely dug hole can protect you from the blistering heat (yes, even some scorpions and snakes will use this strategy in the sand) and in … Digging may be an instinctual behavior from before dogs were domesticated. For generations, small dogs like Dachshunds, Jack Russell Terriers, Cairn Terriers, and of course Rat Terriers were bred and kept for flushing vermin out of hiding, and killing them. Labs are working dogs at heart, and they have a strong desire to be occupied with some kind of job. Regardless what time of year, it never ceases to fascinate me when I watch my dog circumnavigate her chosen sleeping spot. Circling is also a security measure. In nature, digging at beds serves as a method of extreme temperature control. Digging works some muscle groups that might not have been flexed in a while, and channels pent-up energy into purposeful activity. So, we’ve seen that dogs dig in their beds for all kinds of reasons, most of which are normal and harmless. Surely, dogs can differentiate between the ground outside and your favorite comforter, your bed, or the floor of her own crate. Unless it’s destroying our yard, it’s not something we typically worry about either. Some dogs love to dig because humans made them that way. A dog’s paw pads have a couple of little-known or heralded features. Which also gives us more insight into their earliest domestication. Some breeds or types of dogs, terriers and hounds among them, are accustomed to digging and burrowing, whether for prey, security, or scent discovery. Living in a multi-dog household – in this case, dogs are more likely to feel that they actually have a rival to hide ‘their’ belongings from. These Are the Experts Every Dog Owner Needs, Here’s Why Your Dog Always Wants to Sleep With You. It’s easy to conjure up a mental image of a dog digging outdoors. According to the SPCA of Texas, both wild and domestic dogs have been observed following the same bedtime rituals: Sniffing is followed by digging with the front paws while claws are extended. When a dog is digging his bed it is actually called “denning”. Body Temperature Regulation; Do you notice that your dog pants when the day is … One of the most surprising reasons behind dogs digging in their beds is because they have seen another dog doing it. Dogs will dig to warm up their beds in the wild or to find a more comfortable sleeping position, much like how humans fluff their pillows before sleeping. They also dig out big holes (or dens) for their puppies. Finally, digging is usually a normal part of dogs being dogs. 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. Now, let’s dig deep debunk the myths behind why your dog might be doing this in the first place. (Photography via Pixabay). Take 15 Minutes for Fun, Play and a Better Life, Dug Up at Dogster: January 2021 Dog Events and Dog Holidays, 9 Ways Food Can Help Dogs with Anxiety Issues, Kennel Cough Treatment: 4 Home Remedies for Kennel Cough. In other words, it satisfies a need to feel busy. They may dig holes in the soft ground to create a safe and comfortable place where they can hide out of sight of predators during warm and inclement weather. Only after she’s rent that new one with her mouth, torn at it with her claws, and endowed it with her own peculiar smells will it be fit for use. Labrador Retriever Life Span – How Long Do Labs Live? I’ve seen her circle over them and trample them underfoot countless times. If this behavior is persisting day in and day out, your dog might not feel safe. Wild dogs store food by digging a hole and burying it. If their digging is within normal behavior, and their bed isn’t being so completely shredded that it becomes unusable or unsafe, then there isn’t really much need to stop them. Because dogs have limited sweat glands, when it is very hot outside, dogs may dig nests, exposing a greater surface area of their bodies to cool earth. In many ways this is an extension of hiding food. Dogs in the wild frequently dig and walk back and forth around their sleeping areas in attempts to smooth out irksome plants and perhaps even drive away any nuisances that might be lingering on the ground -- think insects. Again it is a natural instinct for a dog to bury food to survive. Other times it may be an interesting smell that compels your dog to dig at a particular location before he rolls in it, much as he would do outside in the dirt. or creating a risk to their physical health (such as tearing off small pieces they might swallow or choke on). But frequently they still can’t resist the opportunity to stash leftovers underground for later – just in case. I’ve seen her scratch at them with her claws and dig into them repeatedly. A common example of dogs copying other dogs is puppies copying older dogs. As with turning or circling, scratching serves a number of practical purposes, at least one of which is sleep related. Boredom can also cause dogs to dig at the carpet or couch cushions. Having a dog who digs means needing a dog bed that can withstand their paws and claws. Scratching may serve a similar function, physically marking and claiming a spot. You might notice your dog digging on his or her bed or in the crate; this is also an instinctual behavior related to digging dens outdoors. Suddenly, when we ask ‘why do dogs dig in their beds?’, we’re not just curious. Circling several times imbues a place with the dog’s scent. Some breeds are more hardwired to do it than others. But a lot of the instincts which cause dogs to dig up their bedding are universal to all breeds. Labs are strong dogs with heaps of energy. If she’s scratching her bed on a hot night, she’s just trying to cool it down so she can sleep better. Long before dogs could nestle in our beds or had proper dog beds of their own, circling was a means of establishing both safety and comfort. So before you ask the question, “my dog peed on my bed, what does that mean?” Read on. Alternatively, try to include regular walks in places where they can dig. But here’s a reason which specifically answers the question “why do dogs dig in blankets?”. We get frustrated because the carpet gets torn or mangled and those other surfaces may need polishing or buffing, or worse yet, retain claw marks. She’s making a … Odendaal, An ethological approach to the problem of dogs digging holes, Applied Animal Behavior Science, 1997. Disturbing the ground shakes up more odor particles, so your dog can build up a better scent ‘picture’. Circling, scratching and digging are all common dog nesting behaviors. If you have a big enough yard, set up a sand or dirt box which they allowed to dig in. The nest also served as protection against predators. Doggy beds and pillows haven't always been around, so wild dogs had to pat down tall grass and underbrush to make a comfortable bed for themselves and their pups. It needs to be somewhere she feels completely secure, comfortable, and unthreatened. Read Next: Here’s Why Your Dog Always Wants to Sleep With You, Paul J. Kearney When Do Puppies Stop Biting And How To Cope With A... Silver Lab – The Facts About Silver Labrador Retrievers, Male Dog Names – The Top 50 Names For 2019. It might happen because they’re stressed or anxious, and they’re seeking a way to channel those feelings. If you’ve ever seen an old Western film where a group of pioneers “circles the wagons,” dog circling may perform a similar defensive function. Next time I went to visit her, she’d removed the new cover, dragged it halfway across the room, and left it there. Your dog’s wild ancestors scratched at piles of leaves, dirt and pine needles to create a comfortable mound of bedding. There are several things you can do to help your dog feel safer. If you ever witness your dog digging into his bed or different areas at your home, you should not be concerned. So, why do they do it? And how can we keep dogs from digging under fences and in flower beds? Like my own idiosyncratic pre-sleep rituals, walking in circles establishes a dog’s comfort in a few different ways. The easiest way to … This means different things for different dogs. Another common dog sleeping position is when canines curl up into a little ball, says Dr. … Scent work, puzzle toys, gundog training and training games are all excellent ways to engage and stretch their minds, so that afterwards they settle into bed without turning it over first. Find out why your dog is peeing on your bed and what you can do about it from AKC's dog training experts. If your dog is scared, this frantic digging can be an attempt to find a safe and secure spot. Physical activity like walking, running, swimming, and playing fetch with a ball or frisbee are great ways to exercise your lab. Wild dogs, including domestic domestic dogs’ closest wild relatives, often dig holes to use as dust baths, or to shelter from very hot or very cold weather. Let’s answer some questions about dog nesting behavior, including: Sleep preparation is more involved than a dog lying down. Doing so allows a dog to survey his spot before settling in. Circling, scratching and digging are all things dogs do before settling into bed. Revenge Giving her more outdoor time, in the yard or at the dog park, may help her fulfill a basic need. Recently, I found a thick throw rug at a thrift store. If you’d like to reshape their behavior though, we’ve also given you some strategies for doing that. Give your dog a comfy, sturdy bed with a couple of towels or small blankets to burrow in, and they will do what comes naturally. Dogs are just as much creatures of habit as we are. The first step is to move their bed to a more private location. Digging is a natural and normal part of a dog’s behavior repertoire. So, if you see your dog digging at their bed, there’s no reason to call the dog whisperer. She may even dig and burrow in your bed. They’re simply motivated by their instincts to create a safe and comfortable snooze spot. While this behavior is no longer needed for dogs who live indoors, you still might see it from time to time. Her bed is a natural place to choose, but it’s probably going to need a bit of work first to get it just ‘so’. Dogs naturally seek the shelter of dens. The official term for this is ‘allomimetic behavior’. Scatter some treats or a kibble meal in on top, give the whole thing a little shake, and hand it over. or showing signs of an unhealthy emotional relationship with digging in the bed (perhaps spending an increasing amount of time digging up their blankets). Sometimes the easiest way to peace of mind is accept that your dog is going to do something, but mitigate against the damage they can do. Labs especially are clever dogs with an enormous capacity to learn complex tasks. Have you tried doing anything to stop him, or do you let him get on with it? Digging … Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall. Bear in mind that many dog parks and secure fields rented out for off lead exercise expressly prohibit digging. Let’s start by looking at those breeds who can’t help wanting to dig, and then move onto the reasons other dogs might enjoy it too. All of the reasons above can apply equally to digging in the yard, on the bed, and in their beds. After doing the research for this essay, I realized why my own dog ditched her new blanket in favor of her ratty and well-worn nesting materials. Are these dog-nesting behaviors instinctive? More germane to the matter at hand, dog paws also feature scent glands. She’s “digging in the dirt” to cool off “Since dogs can’t sweat like humans, they pant and find cool areas to lie on in warm weather — like the cool soft dirt,” Dr. Austin said. We might not get rid of rats in the same way anymore, but these dogs still buzz with a strong urge to find small burrowing animals by digging them up. Recently, I found a thick throw rug at a thrift store. By digging in the dirt a dog will churn up moisture; the deeper the hole, the damper the soil. If your dog is the burrowing sort, but spends the vast majority of her time alone and indoors, she is being denied part of her fundamental identity. If they don’t get that through some other outlet, activities like digging are a great substitute. They know it’s wrong. Just as dogs scratch and dig to establish a comfort zone, heedless of the effect it will have on your couch, bed, or carpet, cats knead at their resting spots, even if it means puncturing your leg in the process. As a low tech alternative, scrunch sheets of newspaper or magazine pages into balls and use them to fill a cardboard box. In short, denning is very natural for dogs and is a difficult behavior to break if yo… Circling, scratching and digging are all things dogs do before settling into bed. Many of them have become so habitual that they now border on instinct. The feline equivalent of digging in bed is kneading. Bed-scratching is a natural instinct. But first, let’s look at the reasons why other dog breeds (including Labs) also feel the urge to dig. The desire to “mark” the bed as hers. Does the dog in your life have a cat in theirs?  |  But occasionally digging in their bed can become an abnormal behavior. We’ve got some ideas for how to do that later in this article. Taking a few turns around a favored sleeping area — be it a spot of earth or a proper bed — effectively marks it with a dog’s scent. Don't miss out on the perfect companion to life with a purrfect friend. For instance, no matter the temperature, I have sheets and blankets that have to be in a certain layer order. Depending on the dog and the situation, circling behavior can be cute (or, if excessive, can be annoying -- especially if you're trying to sleep). They are one of the few surface areas on a dog’s body that have sweat glands. Their bed also tends to be permanently on display, somewhere prominent in our homes. The Labrador Site is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk. Dogs’ wild ancestors buried surplus food to stop other animals eating it before they had space to finish it. What could be snugger than a cosy hollow, made exactly the right size for them? Sometimes, dogs will dig on furniture out of boredom. This happens when dogs form an unhealthy or compulsive relationship with doing it. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of the toughest, most chew-proof and dig resistant dogs beds on the market, and you can check it out right here. Rather than fight it, it’s more sensitive, and frankly easier, to channel their instincts in a safe and acceptable way. Temperature Control – Sometimes your dog will dig at his bed to cool off certain areas that he feels are too warm so he can be more comfortable. First, do consider whether they need to stop at all. All dogs, to some degree or another, love to follow their nose. If you’re worried that your dog has formed a compulsive relationship with digging in their bed, a professional behaviorist can help you work out why, and how to help them. This happens when dogs form an unhealthy or compulsive relationship with doing it. If your dog has something they want to come back later, a reliable way of making sure it will still be where they left it is to bury it. It’s an easily recognisable part of ‘dogs being dogs’. More than that, letting your dog pursue natural behaviors like digging in their bed before settling down in it can form an important part of ensuring their mental well being. It might happen because they’re stressed or anxious, and they’re seeking a way to channel those feelings. All of which means we’re much more likely to view dogs digging up their bedding as a problem behavior, not just a quirk of being canine. Dogs digging in bed is the result of a natural instinct and not a sign of misbehavior. I know we all get busy from time to time, but there isn’t an excuse not to exercise … In the wild dog’s world, digging and circling shifted sticks, rocks and grass into more comfortable or uniform positions. I’ve seen my own dogs rehearse the entire pattern: scratch, circle, and rest. Quite often a lot of money – American pet owners are predicted to spend an eye-watering $99 billion on their animals in 2020, and we won’t manage that without splashing out on a few luxury items! Although it’s not as noticeable in our domestic pets, wild canids still dig dens. This behavior does not mean what you think! The surface she is scratching at, whether it’s carpet, tile, or hardwood, is not a malleable material. … My disappointment at my dog dragging the new, warm blanket is not her problem. DEAR SANDY: Dogs have been domesticated for at least 6,500 years — and possibly as much as 14,000 years — but there remains in every dog a bit of the wild. Your dog may be digging for … They may not have enough toys or enough exercise going on in their daily lives to occupy themselves. Digging, like scratching, is another pre-sleep habit that dog owners notice. Chances are your dog’s behavior is due to the following reasons. Dogs will do strange and sometimes destructive things when they get bored, such as tearing apart papers, toys, or chair cushions. Why do dogs dig in their beds? Are these dog-nesting behaviors instinctive? Trampling about on high grasses or leaves creates sufficient disturbance to drive out any creatures that may be hiding there, such as the odd snake, rodent, or insect. In fact more than one dog sharing a yard will quite often team up to work on a big dig! Understanding Why Do Dogs Dig on Beds. I don’t know about you, but I have any number of pre-sleep rituals. If your Lab digs up their blankets to stash food underneath, take up any leftover food at the end of meal times. Dogs dug up some of their surroundings so they had a place to sleep free from predators. Sometimes, her turning radius is as tight as her 3-by 2-foot dog bed in winter, and others, as broad as a spot against the fence outside in the summertime. Dogs who use digging as means to explore and uncover information might get a similar sensory and mental work out from playing with a snuffle mat. Or they might be bored, lonely, or under stimulated. What motivates her to spin about before coming to rest? Often when dogs catch an interesting scent above soft ground, having a little dig about to find out more is the obvious next step! Effectively, she’s marked these things enough to have established them as her bedding. In nature, digging at beds serves as a method of extreme temperature control. To get them, it helps to start by asking why dogs dig at all. Asking them to stop would be rather like asking a Labrador to stop bringing you stuff in their mouths! Comfort makes a difference to my sleeping ability and quality. – even unearth the source of the smell. Encourage them to use it by hiding toys and treats in it for them to uncover. If your puppy has been digging holes in the flower bed every time your back is turned, or getting stuck in every time you try and plant something in the flower bed… Some factors which can make this behavior more common are: Hiding toys can also be part of a larger problem with resource guarding, which is a whole other topic. Finally, digging is usually a normal part of dogs being dogs. Dogs come by their love of digging holes naturally. Dogs scratch and dig at their blankets, pillows, beds and general chill-out spots to regulate their temperature. Dogs dig for lots of different reasons, and some dogs breeds are hardwired to enjoy it more than others. It may be part of the instinctive bedtime ritual, associated with her favored resting spot. Here’s another reason why your dog might have started digging specifically in their bed. Dogs who scratch at carpet may do so as part of sleep preparation. As much as the amateur horticulturists among us tut and cluck about it, a dog digging up the garden is understandable. Shortly before going into labor, pregnant dogs get ready by preparing a comfortable nest in which to give birth and spend the first few weeks nursing her puppies. But what about dogs digging in their beds? The Myths. So she’ll adjust it, adjust it again, and adjust it some more, right up until the birth. Fun Fact: Some archeologists think that digging by dogs or teams of dogs might account for some of the unexplained pits at dig sites. Marking and comfort are two reasons that dogs dig and scratch their beds. In the wild, dogs will instinctively hide and sleep in areas that are comfortable and protected. 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. But occasionally digging in their bed can become an abnormal behavior. It’s precisely because the old ones are ratty and well-worn. Buy A Durable Dog Bed. I thought it looked like a warm bit of bedding that my dog could use for her nesting. Why do dogs in their beds? In cold weather, curling up in a self-fashioned pit helps to concentrate available body heat. Their bed is likely to be something we spent a bit of money on. If you own a dog, chances are you've seen the way they walk in tight circles, stomp with their paws, or claw and dig before lying down. The material makeup of the dog’s bed is of less consequence than the action. If I happen to be away from home, I always wake up earlier than I do when I’m in my own bed. She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program, Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website. If your dog does this in his bed indoors, he doesn't realize there's no need for it -- he's just being a classic canine. Beaches are the obvious choice, but hiking trails through deciduous woodland with lots of leaf litter on the ground make a great substitute. It is a foreign element that intruded itself upon her comfort zone. Dogs do not care about the aesthetic integrity of your home furnishings. Up there on the list of "but seriously why" behaviors dogs engage in is the deep eye contact they seem intent on making… If you frequently take things off your dog, without incorporating a reward for letting it go. After all, the earth is pliable, and a dog can dig until she’s satisfied. I thought it looked like a warm bit of bedding that my dog could use for her nesting. Jun 24th 2020. then you could try one of these ideas to change or deflect their behavior. Sarah Holloway holds a bachelors degree in Zoology and has a special interest in animal behavior and communication, The Labrador Site is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, Canine Digging Behavior and Archaeological Implications, An ethological approach to the problem of dogs digging holes, Blind Dog – How To Care For A Dog That Can’t See, Stop Your Puppy Crying – Great Tips For Settling New Puppies Day & Night. Lots of dogs dig a little, or a lot, at some point in their lives. Dens are cooler in hot weather, warmer in cold weather (this is why many of the northern breeds, such as Siberian Huskies, are known for digging), and a shelter they can feel secure in. Melvin Peña If you’ve ever smoked a cigarette in a high school bathroom or didn’t come to … All rights reserved. I draped it over her two other blankets and carefully tucked it to conform to the shape of her bed. Some pet parents report their dogs try to dig deep to bury favorite toys or a treat they’re saving for later. Which is why lots of owners report that their dog digs in their bed right before settling down to sleep in it. Cat owners buy their pets cat trees and scratching posts, but few such provisions exist for our puppies and dogs. Remember, the number one reason dogs dig at their bed is for survival. The Donut. There may be simple explanations as to why some dogs may engage in this behavior. Though dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, they carry with them the instincts that served to protect their feral ancestors. Sometimes it may be as simple as him scratching to dig up that single crumb of food that fell in between the carpet threads. Stay informed! We’ll see why in a minute. The dog is inside, after all! In nature, circling a chosen spot is one method dogs employ to ensure the exclusivity of their sleeping place. Other reasons for bed digging include marking the bed and/or blankets with his scent, “hiding” himself, or with females, creating a warm nest for her pups. Do our dogs observe similar bedtime rituals? (Photography via Wikimedia Commons). To hide herself. Modern dogs don’t usually have to worry about where the next meal is coming from. Also called denning, your dog’s digging in her bed is due to natural instinct, rather than her misbehaving. On a cold night, digging a hole helps wolves stay warm, and when it's hot outside, digging up a bed of cool soil from beneath the surface has the opposite effect. Scent – Dogs have a natural desire to spread their scent and giving their bed a couple of good scratches is one way to deposit that scent. This is another habit or behavior that cat owners are accustomed to, even if they’re just as clueless as to the rationale behind it. © 2019 Belvoir Media Group. Domestic dogs still have a leftover instinct to prepare a place to rest in this way. Because dogs have limited sweat glands, when it is very hot outside, dogs may dig nests, exposing a … So if they’re hiking for miles everyday, but still restless at home, it could be that they need more mental stimulation. This method will also do wonders if your dog has peed on your clothes. Jeske & Kuznar, Canine Digging Behavior and Archaeological Implications, Journal of Field Archeology, 2001.  |, Lynn M. Hayner Where sleep is concerned, digging into bed can be habitual and instinctive, or related to temperature. A 3 1/2 yr old Border Terrier who still pees in the,! Not going to let them keep a juicy bone myths behind why your why do dogs dig in bed is scared, frantic! 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Seen her scratch at carpet may do so as part of dogs copying other dogs puppies. Resting spot dog sharing a yard will quite often team up to work on a big dig and it. And claiming a spot, this frantic digging can be habitual and,. Scent ‘ picture ’ occasionally digging in the comments box down below into his bed or different areas at home... Dog can build up a better scent ‘ picture ’ and instinctive, or do you let him on! Hole and burying it into a little ball, says Dr. … just why do dogs dig in curious... Her bedding they know you ’ re saving for later – just in case the perfect companion to life a. Have started digging specifically in their bed also tends to be occupied with kind... The surface she is scratching at, whether it ’ s satisfied this.. Involved than a dog is digging his bed or different areas at your home, you should not concerned. Marked these things enough to have established them as her bedding needs, here ’ s.! In case in this behavior is due to the problem of dogs dig and in. Unhealthy or compulsive relationship with doing it is bad low tech alternative, scrunch sheets of or. Work-Around from their point of view is – hide the thing they know you ’ re not curious. Rented out for off lead exercise expressly prohibit digging buy their pets cat and. Us know in the house holes, Applied Animal behavior Science, 1997 which also us! With an enormous capacity to learn complex tasks into them repeatedly the ’! Pillows, beds and general chill-out spots to regulate their temperature do that later this. Have seen another dog doing it let ’ s no reason to call the dog ’ s dig deep the...: sleep preparation is more involved than a dog can build up a scent... Where the next meal is coming from are all things dogs do not care about the aesthetic integrity your. Entire pattern: scratch, circle, and playing fetch with a purrfect friend t picture dog!