Why do dogs dig on beds and couches?

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Veterinarian reviewed by Dr. Nelva J. Bryant, DVM, MPH - Author: Steph Coelho

Last Updated: March 8, 2023

Scritch, scritch, scritch. Digging into soft furniture might seem weird to you. You might even worry about your pet wrecking their favorite dog bed.

So why do dogs dig on beds and couches, and should you stop them?

Read on to find out more about this weird canine quirk and how to keep them from damaging soft surfaces.

5 reasons dogs dig on beds and couches

You’ve seen dogs digging outside, but what’s the deal with dogs scratching and digging on beds and couches? Here are a few possible reasons for this behavior.

It could be instinctual behavior

Just like outside digging, inside digging on furniture and dog beds might signify that your dog is hunting for prey. Might there be a mouse in the house? Or is something tasty hiding under the cushions? Your dog might be digging to uncover something delicious.

This dog behavior might even be inherited. Some dog breeds, like terriers, have digging in their genes, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). Whether they were bred primarily for digging or have a strong prey drive that encourages them to dig.

They’re bored

A dog that lacks mental stimulation might resort to digging to keep themselves entertained. If your dog seems to only dig at their dog bed or the couch cushions after you’ve missed a few days of walkies, you might have a bored dog on your hands.

Or maybe they’re looking for their favorite toy.

They’re getting comfortable

For some dogs, the act of pawing at a soft surface like a pillow or dog bed is just about getting comfortable. They’re not acting out or doing anything wrong, but if they dig hard enough, it can cause damage. You can prevent this by ensuring your couch is made of durable material and opting for an indestructible dog bed for your pooch.

They’re anxious

Some dogs may dig on beds and couches because they have separation anxiety and can’t handle being left alone. Digging becomes a form of stress relief for them and allows them to create a safe space for themselves. Still, it can turn into destructive behavior if a dog becomes obsessive.

They’re expecting

Denning is a natural behavior sometimes seen in female dogs about to give birth. They may gravitate to one spot, dig into it, and start to tear or shred the soft material.

If you suspect your dog is pregnant, consider seeing a veterinarian to make sure the birth goes smoothly for your dog and their pups.

They want to get away

Some dogs just love to roam free. If your dog is always looking for a way out, they might be digging to try and escape. This is more likely with a dog that’s digging outdoors, but if they’re trapped in a room, they may resort to digging on beds and couches to try and get out.

How to minimize destructive behavior

As a dog owner, how can you stop this destructive behavior? Introducing interesting toys, spending time playing with your dog, and providing them with lots of active stimulation can help curb digging behavior. Dog training is another way to provide mental stimulation and stop unwanted behaviors.

If your dog is digging in soft things because they’re scared or have separation anxiety, it can help to treat the root of the problem. Consider talking with a vet or behaviorist about the issue.

And sometimes, it’s just a thing dogs do. To prevent your dog from ruining its comfy dog bed, consider buying an indestructible dog bed that can handle a bit of aggressive digging.


Dogs dig on beds and couches for various reasons. They might be bored and looking for mental stimulation. Other motivations include pregnancy, wanting to escape, anxiety, natural instinct, and the desire to get comfortable.

Most of the time, this behavior is nothing to worry about. You can prevent damage to soft surfaces by discouraging your dog from digging on furniture or purchasing an indestructible dog bed they can’t easily rip apart.


What are nesting behaviors in dogs?

Nesting behaviors in dogs are signs that a dog is pregnant and may give birth soon. These behaviors may include shredding soft materials like bedding and creating a nest-like area in preparation for giving birth.

Other signs of pregnancy include:

  • Appetite changes
  • Behavior changes, like wanting more or less attention
  • Spending more time sleeping
  • Large or discolored nipple area
  • Growing abdomen and weight gain

Why does my dog dig when excited?

Probably the same reason some dogs run around when they’re psyched about something. Digging releases pent-up energy, just like other forms of physical exercise.

How do dogs behave when they are about to give birth?

It depends on the dog, but they may act differently and attempt to build a nest by shredding soft materials. Some dogs may hide and become more withdrawn. Others might look to you for attention.

Do dogs dig out of anxiety?

It’s possible. Separation anxiety can trigger digging behaviors in some dogs who find the action calming.

How do dogs know their bed is theirs?

Just like a dog eventually learns basic commands or which toys are theirs, a dog can also learn to identify their bed.