Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets?

By John Martin - March 3, 2022

Dog scratching the bed sheets

Apologies to your bedsheets, but the act of dogs scratching the sheets is actually quite common. This can mean that you might need to replace your sheets each time, which can be inconvenient to carry out every time this happens.

To prevent or stop this behavior, it is important to understand the reasons behind it. You can go through these reasons in this article along with ways in which you can reduce it.

Is Bed Scratching Normal for Dogs?

Bed scratching is quite normal for dogs since they might be acting out of instinct, curiosity, habit, protective behavior and boredom or there might be something in the sheets (like food scraps, smells or bugs) that might be leading to this.

However, discomfort or allergies might lead to this as well. While usually harmless, if done infrequently, it is important to reduce or stop this behavior before it becomes a norm.

Reasons Why Your Dog Scratches Bed Sheets

There are several reasons why your dog might be scratching your bed sheets at any given moment. Some of these are as follows.


Several times, your dogs act on the basis of their instincts, dating back to their origins of surviving in the world. A large part of this included digging up holes in the ground to look for food or to simply create a comfortable spot for them to rest and sleep.

This was also a way for them to shield and defend themselves and their packs against potential predators.

Even now, you might witness this kind of digging and scratching when you take your dogs outdoors. When your dog scratches your bedsheets, it is possible that they are acting on this kind of instinct.


Protection has something to do with instinct as well. This is particularly seen in females who are acting out of a protective instinct when it comes to their puppies.

In particular, if your dog is pregnant or has just given birth, you might be able to notice an increase in this kind of digging and scratching behavior because it is an attempt to create a safe spot for the puppies.

In other cases, it might also be an attempt to protect you or themselves from potential threats that they might perceive.

Territorial Behavior

Dogs tend to have scent glands at the bottom of their paws. Thus, whenever they scratch the ground or your bedsheets, this can be a sign of them trying to mark and establish their territory.

Thus, if there are other animals in your home, if there is a stranger in your house or if there is a new addition such as a baby, it is likely that your dog might try to establish their territory in the house by scratching your sheets and leaving behind their scent from their paws.


Quite simply, your dog might be curious about your bed sheets and might rely on scratching and digging to investigate them further. This can be their way of finding out more about them to ensure that these sheets are secure and out of harm’s way.

Once they establish that the sheets are safe, it is likely that the scratching behavior might stop as well.

You might notice an increase in this kind of scratching if you have recently replaced your old sheets with new ones. This is because the dogs might not be able to smell their or your scent on the new sheets.

Itchy Fabric/Conditioner

It is quite possible that your bedsheets might be too itchy for your dogs, leading to their discomfort. It could either be the texture of the sheets or some leftover fabric conditioner that you might be using to wash them.

It is also possible that there might be bugs in the sheets that are leading to itchiness and scratching.

In such a case, your dog might scratch the sheets to make themselves more comfortable or to find the source of the problem.

Also Read: Why Do Dogs Burrow in Blankets?


If your dog is allergic to certain substances and if those substances happen to be in your bedsheets, then they might be causing pain and discomfort to your dog. Most commonly, dogs experience skin allergies from food, fleas or insects and other allergens present around them.

These can manifest in the form of itchiness, redness, swelling, licking and more. Scratching at bed sheets might then be a way for them to find the source of the allergies or to relieve themselves from the itchiness and pain.

Make sure you watch out for these signs so that you can replace the sheets and take your dog to the vet.


Your dog might just be bored and might see bed scratching as a way to alleviate this kind of boredom, especially since they are so used to being able to dig and scratch at things when they are outdoors.

Of course, you do not want to encourage this behavior since it can end up tearing all your bed sheets apart, so you must make it a point to provide other means of reducing your dog’s boredom.

Boredom might also arise in your dogs if you or your family are not giving enough affection to them.


In case your dog is afraid of something or someone in the house or is experiencing neglect, this can lead to them scratching your bedsheets as well as other objects around the house out of fear or anxiety.

By scratching, your dog might be trying to express their fear or anxiety or simply to let out some of their energy.

In case you are not at home and they are alone, this behavior might also indicate a sign of separation anxiety since they might detect your smell on the bedsheets.

Food Smells

If you have a habit of eating food on your bed or feeding your dog on the bed, they might be able to detect the smell or odor of food on the bed sheets. You might also have left behind some crumbs or scraps in the bed sheet, causing your dog to scratch the sheets to locate the smell so that they can find something to eat.

When it comes to your dog, you should ideally try not to feed them on your bed since they might form an association that could then lead to them expecting food on your bed, leading to scratching.

Also Read: Why Do Dogs Lick Blankets?

Ways to Stop Dogs from Scratching Bed Sheets

There are several ways in which you can stop your dogs from scratching your bedsheets and preventing damage. You can go through these below.


Provide stimulation through toys, puzzles, games, activities and more so that your dog can stay occupied and interested while also keeping them away from your bed sheets.


Regular physical exercise is essential for dogs so that they can release some of their energy and feel happy, stimulated and tired. This can be a good way for them to snoop around outdoors and keep them away from your sheets.

Affection and Care

Providing regular care and affection to your dogs is important to reduce their fear and anxiety and let them know that they are safe. Neglect can lead to an increase in such scratching or even aggressive and destructive behavior, so make sure you are feeding them well, caring for them and playing with them.


Training your dogs through positive reinforcement instead of negative reinforcement and punishment can be a good way to teach them to not scratch the bedsheets. Giving them treats and praises each time they carry out the desired behavior can help them form an association between these actions.

You should start this from a young age instead of waiting for later.

Clean the Sheets

Of course, you should clean your bed sheets on a regular basis so that you can get rid of odors, food crumbs and bugs or fleas. This can reduce the discomfort or the attraction of the sheets for your dogs.

Trim Nails

While this is not a way to stop the scratching behavior, it can certainly help to minimize the damage that they can cause to your sheets. Short nails can prevent them from tearing all your sheets apart while also keeping them hygienic.

Also Read: How to Cut an Uncooperative Dog’s Nails

Establish Your Dog’s Bed

Your dog should have their own bed with comfortable beddings and sheets. It might also help to use the same sheets in rotation so that the dog is familiar enough with them.

Consult a Professional

If none of these work or your dog has allergies, you should consult your vet for further advice. Investing in a professional trainer might be a good idea as well.

The Bottom Line

It is now clear that there are numerous reasons for your dog scratching your bed sheets that can include instinct, protection, marking territories, fear, smells, allergies and more. It is important for you to nip this behavior in the bed and establish boundaries before it gets worse or you can consult a vet for help.