Why Do Dogs Dig on Beds and Couches: Understanding Canine Behavior and Practical Problem-Solving Tips

Last updated on April 8, 2024

This article provides insights into why dogs dig on beds and couches, offering clear explanations for this intriguing canine behavior and practical solutions to manage it.

Key takeaways:

  • Dogs dig on beds and couches due to instinctual behaviors.
  • Digging is a way for dogs to mark their territory.
  • Dogs dig to create a comfortable resting spot.
  • Digging behavior can damage furniture and cause stains and odors.
  • Practical tips to discourage digging include exercise, training, and designated digging spots.

Table of Contents

The Science Behind Dogs Digging

Dogs’ instinctual behaviors often hark back to their ancestors’ survival tactics. For wild dogs and wolves, digging served multiple purposes — from unearthing food to creating a den for shelter or birthing. In the current domestic setting, these deep-rooted instincts can manifest in your pet making a ‘nest’ right on your comfortable furniture, driven by their DNA coding.

Temperature regulation also plays a role. In the wild, a dug-out spot in the ground could provide a cooler place to lie down. Today’s dogs may still seek to create a cooler or warmer bed surface by pawing at blankets or the sofa. Additionally, the action itself releases scent from their paws, reinforcing the spot as theirs, blending instinct with a sense of security and ownership.

Marking Their Territory

Dogs have a natural instinct to claim their environment. They do so by leaving their scent, which serves as a marker to other animals, signaling “this is my space.” Their paws have scent glands which release a distinctive odor when they scratch or dig.

This behavior on beds and couches, where their humans spend a lot of time, can be their way of mingling their scent with their owner’s, reinforcing the bond and asserting their place in the family pack. Understanding their need for security and belonging helps us empathize with these actions, even as we guide them to more appropriate ways to express them.


Dogs often seek to create a snug and secure spot for resting by digging and circling, which can mirror the behavior of their ancestors in the wild. These ancestral canines would scratch at piles of leaves or dirt to shape a comfortable nest. This action also helps to regulate temperature and unearth cooler ground in hot weather, ensuring a pleasant resting area.

In homes, cushions and beddings serve as substitutes, providing a soft surface for dogs to sculpt their ideal sleep nook. Certain breeds with nesting instincts, such as Terriers, may display this behavior more frequently. Understanding this drive can help pet owners provide alternative solutions, like a dedicated dog bed with blankets for burrowing, to satisfy their dog’s nesting urge without damaging furniture.

The Impact of Dogs’ Digging

Digging behavior in dogs can have several consequences for furniture and your living environment. The action of scratching or burrowing into soft furnishings can lead to visible wear or damage. Over time, this may result in fabric tears, pulled threads, or compromised cushion integrity.

Additionally, the accumulation of dirt, pet dander, and oils from a dog’s coat can stain fabrics and contribute to persistent odors. These impacts can necessitate more frequent cleaning, repair, or even replacement of affected items, potentially incurring considerable expense.

Moreover, persistent digging can also embed dog hair deep within the furniture, which can be a concern for individuals with allergies. It’s essential to understand the implications of this behavior to maintain the longevity and appearance of household furnishings.

How to Discourage Dogs From Digging On Beds and Couches

To mitigate the digging behavior:

1. Increase Exercise: Ensure your pet gets ample physical activity. Tired dogs are less likely to engage in such behaviors.

2. Provide Distractions: Use chew toys or puzzle feeders to keep your dog occupied. This can redirect their energy away from furniture.

3. Training: Teach the command “leave it” or “no dig” to stop the behavior in action. Consistent training will help your dog understand the rules.

4. Designate a Digging Spot: Create a specific area or provide a dig mat for your dog to fulfill its digging instinct without damaging furniture.

5. Use Deterrents: Sprays with unpleasant tastes or smells can discourage digging on unwanted areas.

6. Protect Your Furniture: Use furniture covers or blankets that are easy to wash and discourage digging by reducing the tactile enjoyment dogs find in digging upholstery.

7. Positive Reinforcement: Reward good behavior with treats or affection when your dog chooses not to dig. Positive reinforcement is more effective than punishment.

8. Consider Your Dog’s Comfort: Ensure your dog has a comfortable resting area of its own that meets its nesting instincts.

Regular monitoring and these practical steps can help safeguard your furniture while accounting for your dog’s natural behaviors.


Why do dogs dig on the sofa or bed?

Dogs dig on sofas and beds during colder months as an instinctive behaviour inherited from their wild ancestors to create a warm and cozy place for comfort and protection from the cold.

How do I stop my dog from digging on the couch?

To prevent your dog from digging on the couch, consider using couch covers designed for pet owners, applying pet deterrent sprays with unpleasant scents, and regularly vacuuming the couch to remove food particles or toys that might attract them.

Why does my dog dig on my bed every night?

Your dog may be digging on your bed each night due to instinctual behaviors inherited from their wolf ancestors, like making sleeping areas cozier, marking scent, or hiding food, or it could be driven by underlying issues such as anxiety or boredom.

How do I get my dog to stop scratching the couch?

To prevent your dog from scratching the couch, provide them with an appropriate alternative like a scratching post, and positively reinforce its use with praises or treats, while also discouraging couch scratching by making it less attractive through the application of double-sided tape or pet-friendly sprays.

What triggers a dog to start digging on furniture?

Dogs typically begin digging on furniture due to behaviors stemming from boredom, anxiety, seeking comfort, or attempting to hide or uncover something.

Are there specific dog breeds that are more prone to digging behavior on sofas and beds?

While all dogs may exhibit digging behaviors, breeds such as Terriers, Dachshunds, and Siberian Huskies are more prone to it due to their instinctual predisposition to burrow or hunt underground.

Can consistent training methods effectively curb a dog’s couch or bed digging habits?

Yes, consistent training methods can effectively curb a dog’s couch or bed digging habits.

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