Dogs scratching themselves on their bed are pretty much a universal trait: just before going to bed in their cozy, plush place, they scratch it profusely, then lie down. They will paw, scratch and roll in bed and even turn over and over until they finally decide to rest. Sometimes that’s a mean scratch, and other times that cute fleece-lined dog bed you got them ends up in shreds. Every dog I have encountered does, but it was one of those things that I had never questioned until now. Turns out the answer is a deeply instinctive trait that has been ingrained in your puppy for years.
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What instincts cause dogs to scratch themselves on their beds?
Veterinarian Maria R. Mendoza sees dogs scratching their beds as a way to “mark their personal space with their unique scent.” In short, it is a rooted territorial instinct. Just as dogs urinate on objects to claim them as their own, they will also scratch and dig objects with their paws for the same reason. Dogs have glands in their paws that leave a peculiar scent on their bed, or any other surface, which is a clear sign that this is their territory. Where you see a destroyed bed, the dogs take pride in seeing and feeling the place they have made their own. If you have guests at home or have recently brought home a new pet, you might even see these behaviors escalate.
Are there more instinctual processes involved?
Apart from their territorial instinct, dogs scratching and biting themselves on their beds may well be an automatic behavior inherited from their wild ancestors. Ancestral wolves would scratch the leaves, dirt, and branches that made up their “bed,” perhaps to create a more comfortable place. Also, creating this type of nest made the ancestors of dogs feel more protected from predators, and they used certain materials to help them hide. It could even be weather related: digging under leaves or soil could keep them warm or protect them from the rain.
Are there any other hidden reasons why a dog might be doing this?
According to veterinarian Ignacio Casali, “It is very important to differentiate between scratching the bed and trying to move it or trying to dig. Sometimes this behavior can be territorial, but when they try to dig or move the bed to another place it can mean different things like pregnancy. “In fact, nest making is part of a bitch’s ingrained maternal instinct, as mothers naturally want to create a safe and protected area for their newborns. This nest making will include moving the bed to a location. further away, the abundant scratching of the bed and even the arrangement of the blankets.
Dr Casali recommends taking a video of any type of behavior exhibited in your dog that appears abnormal or different. When they display unusual activity, “it is important to get a video for the vet to analyze. When trying to assess a dog’s behavior, such as scratching or anything else that looks abnormal, he is very helpful for vets to see it on a video. It may indicate something very simple or something a little more complex. “
Although dogs scratching themselves on their beds and creating a nest in your humble abode is an adorable instinct manifested to feel more comfortable, protected and assured of their territory, it is always important to check with a veterinarian if it becomes excessive or seems unusual, it may be a sign of something deeper at play, such as pregnancy or behavioral issues. Overall, knowing the reasons for your dog’s automatic impulses is important in guiding, helping, and showing him all the love he can have. Now just to buy another dog bed.