Several factors cause your pooch to scratch its bed and these could be any of the following: natural instinct, maternal instinct, territorial behavior, and it could be a learned behavior or habit.
Bed scratching is a natural instinct that stems from your dog’s ancestors. It is correlated with issues such as comfort, safety, and warmth.
As mentioned, this behavior can be traced back to its forefathers in the wild. Scratching piles of dried leaves, tree trunks, dirt, and pine needles to build a comfortable mound of bedding was done for the comfort of the pack.
In the case of your domesticated dog, it is scratching its bed out of instinct. Instead of gathering dried debris from the wild, your dog gathers bedding materials like pillows and blankets to build a comfortable sleeping place.
Not only did your dog’s ancestors in the wild scratch but they also circled and dug sticks, grass, and rocks and formed these into a nest.
This nest not only served as their place to rest but also as a haven for the pack members from their predators in the wild.
By gathering and manipulating the materials available to them, their ancestors concealed their positions, making them less vulnerable to attacks.
This hiding instinct is one reason why you always see your dog scratching the bed, to feel safer and secure itself from other pets in your home.
Not to forget that weather had also played a role in this behavior in the wild. Burrowing under the leaves and other matters saved them from the harsh temperature in the wild.
The same is true for your domesticated dog, it may be scratching the bed vigorously because it is trying to regulate its body temperature.
During the summer months, you may want to open up more windows or turn on your cooling home devices. And when wintertime comes, bring out those cute doggie shirts for added warmth.
Bed scratching is also related to motherhood.
Apart from maternal instinct, hormones also ‘dictate’ to pregnant dogs to build a safe place for their puppies.
This is why the intensity and the frequency of dog scratching behaviors increase when pregnant dogs are nearing their ‘date with a stork’.
The same can be said during false pregnancies. Dogs who may think that they are pregnant tend to behave like they’re about to give birth. Hence, they’d build a nest by scratching the bed before sleeping.
Dogs, by nature, are territorial. You are most likely aware that dogs, more so the males, urinate on things as their way of claiming these as their own.
But there’s another method of marking territories and that is through scratching their beds. Did you know that our dogs have scent glands located on their paws?
Scratching their beds leaves a distinctive smell on the beddings and other inanimate objects. On your end, you may only see it as tattered bedding, but for your pooch, it’s a ‘kingdom’ that is built, and no dog can use that space otherwise, it spells ‘W-A-R’.
For some dogs, this bed-scratching behavior may intensify if a new pet is introduced in the household.
Learned Behavior Or Habit
This bed-scratching behavior can also be learned or mimicked from another dog.
This is especially true if you have a new puppy in the house because dogs tend to mimic the behaviors of other dogs.
So, if your other dog scratches the bed with joy and fun, the other one may just join in and follow suit.
You may now ask if there’s such a thing as excessive bed-scratching behaviors? Can these still be classified under instinctual behaviors?