Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets? (9 Reasons)

Are you wondering, “why does my dog scratch my bed sheets?” Then you have come to the right place! 

Dogs exhibit some strange behaviors sometimes. Some of these behaviors are unique to the dog’s personality, but bed sheet scratching is not typically a personality trait

why does my dog scratch my bed sheets
Why does my dog scratch my bed sheets? (9 Reasons)

Your pup scratching the bed sheets is considered a fairly normal behavior for dogs. There are factual reasons behind this behavior, so let’s dig in and find out why (doggie pun intended)!

What Is Behind Bed Sheet Scratching?

Bed sheet scratching isn’t abnormal for dogs. It may be as normal as panting, tail wagging, and the position of the ears changing. Not all dogs scratch the sheets, but the vast majority do, at least once in a while.

So, what is your furry friend gaining from scratching the sheets? Nine reasons for this behavior are listed below.


Instinct is the first reason for canine bed sheet scratching. Prior to domestication, wild dogs needed to make their beds in their natural environment. These dogs would scratch the ground, attempting to create a spot to lay down. 

The natural bedding instinct likely served a role in assisting the fulfillment of adequate sleep time. Sufficient sleep is a component of wild dogs’ survival, as critical learning occurs during sleep. Strange, isn’t it?

I guess some of our furry friends haven’t had quite enough sleep to learn that they no longer need to scratch their bedding together. They have humans to do this for them now!

Poodles howling
A Poodle howling in bed.

Marking Territory

Dogs will also scratch your sheets to mark their territory. It should come as no surprise that they want to claim your bed as their official sleeping place. Many dogs are known for loving the close company of their human companions. 

Your dog may be scratching your sheets territorially to keep other pets (or possibly other animals within your dog’s smelling distance) from stealing their snuggling spot. Or, maybe your furbaby is doing it to ensure they remember where their favorite spot is every night. 

The only other scenario here would be that they are trying to kick you out of your bed. But, what dog would do that?! (Sometimes, our pets sure do make us wonder…)


Scratching can be an anxious behavior. Your dog may be experiencing anxiety if you notice some of these behaviors:

  • Shaking
  • Aggression
  • Excessive chewing or licking
  • Panting
  • Hiding
  • Excessive barking or howling
  • Having “accidents” in the house

Make sure your dog receives enough daily exercise time if you think your dog’s scratching may be due to anxiety. Excessive energy build-up at bedtime could be why your furry pal keeps scratching. Lack of exercise can cause anxiety and scratching can be a way to release pent-up energy before bed.

You can also ensure your pet is in a comfortable spot to prevent anxiety-caused scratching. For example, one of my dogs feels nervous when she is on my son’s raised bed. She is uncomfortable with how high off the floor his bed is, so she will scratch his sheets for some time before settling down or whining to get off the bed. 

Cute sleepy cavapoo
Cute sleepy cavapoo lying on bed


Some people say dogs are like children. I agree with this in some ways. The fact that dogs seem to exhibit boredom is one of the things that I find agreeable with this notion. 

Your dog may be scratching your bed sheets simply because they are bored. Bed sheet scratching may be the exciting activity they have chosen to fight off the boredom.

Consider allowing your furbaby to bring a stuffy or another quiet toy to bed with them. Having a snuggle buddy may alleviate your bed sheet scratching issue.


Have you ever experienced one of those nights when you just can’t seem to get comfortable? Well, that may be what your pooch is experiencing. Your dog may be scratching your sheets to create a more comfortable sleeping space.

Maybe they would be more comfortable on a different sleeping surface.

white dog in bed
A white dog playing in bed.

Searching for Something

Maybe your dog is scratching because they think something interesting might be under the sheets. Your pooch may have felt a vibration in the mattress, picked up a scent under the sheets or blanket, or is just hoping to find a treat or toy. 


Female dogs have an inner drive to make a bed or nest. Females will birth and care for their litter in a bed they will have prepared by scratching. Your female dog may be scratching your bed sheets because she is experiencing the result of her nesting instinct.

Dogs of both genders sometimes prefer to sleep UNDER the covers – and your dog might be searching for that.


Your dog might be scratching your bed sheets simply because it’s fun and they want to play. Labrador Retrievers, Australian Shepherds, Corgis, and Pomeranians are prime examples of particularly playful dog breeds. Be prepared for plenty of playful scratching from them!


Is your furry baby an attention seeker? My two Shetland Sheepdogs sure can be! Attention seeking can also be the reason for your dog’s sheet scratching.

Did you giggle at your dog’s scratching before, or draw any kind of attention to it at all for that matter? 

If so, your dog may have learned that this is a good way to get one last bit of attention from their human before falling asleep.

dog with blanket
Dog in bed with blanket looking at her owner.

How to Deter Your Dog From Scratching Your Sheets?

Has your dog’s habit gone too far? If the habit is keeping you up at night or has become a habit of destruction, then you will probably want to figure out how to get your poochy to settle without scratching.

The antidote to your dog’s sheet scratching likely coincides with the reason behind their scratching and their behavioral persona. Let’s be honest, you can tell them “no”, but they don’t always listen (sometimes, they just can’t help themselves). 

Unfortunately, your dog probably can’t tell you exactly why they continue scratching. Do not fret! We have created a short guide to get you started on resolving your bed sheet-scratching doggie issue.

Remedial Action

You will need to interject to get the bed sheet scratching to cease. This is a trial and error process. Consider starting here:

  • Try using the go-to command you use when you want your dog to stop what they’re doing. Common commands are “enough”, “settle”, and “back”. Of course, this will only work if you’ve trained your dog to respond to such a command.
  • Provide your dog with a dog bed. You can put a dog bed at the bottom of your bed, where your dog usually sleeps. I prefer this solution because your dog can still sleep close to you. 
  • “Bribe” your dog to stop scratching with treats. Bring treats to bed and give treats occasionally while your dog is calm. You should show and tell your dog they can not have any more treats when they begin to scratch. They should begin to catch on to the fact that no scratching is good eventually – hopefully, sooner rather than later.
  • Keep your dog from getting into your bed. Unfortunately, this may be the only deterrent if your pup is too stubborn to stop scratching your sheets. 
  • Seek advice from a professional. You can reach out to a professional dog trainer or sleep specialist for additional help.
lying shih poo
Shih Poo lying on his bed.

In Conclusion

There may be a scientific reason behind your dog’s incessant bed sheet scratching. Bed sheet scratching can be harmless and surprisingly cute. However, there are ways to get your furry friend to stop scratching if necessary. 

Be patient in the process. Remember, you are your dog’s best friend, and he or she does not mean to disappoint you!