Why Do Dogs Dig Before They Lay Down?

Why Do Dogs Dig Before They Lay Down? If you’ve ever observed your furry friend engaging in a peculiar behavior of scratching or digging at the floor before settling down to rest, you’re not alone. This behavior, known as “digging before laying down,” is a common canine quirk that has intrigued and puzzled dog owners for generations. In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons behind this intriguing behavior, explore potential explanations, and shed light on the fascinating world of canine instincts.
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Why Do Dogs Dig Before They Lay Down?

1. Instinctual Behavior:

Burrowing Instinct: One of the primary reasons dogs dig before laying down can be traced back to their evolutionary history. In the wild, dogs’ ancestors often dug shallow nests or burrows to create a safe and comfortable resting spot. This behavior allowed them to regulate their body temperature, protect themselves from predators, and create a cozy space to relax.

Scent and Territory: Dogs have a keen sense of smell, and by digging or scratching at the ground, they might be releasing their scent. This behavior could serve as a way to mark their territory or communicate with other dogs that might pass by the area.

2. Comfort and Temperature Regulation:

Cooling Off: Digging can help dogs create a depression in the ground, which they then lie in. This can provide a cooler surface for them to rest on, especially on hot days. The act of digging helps them find the most comfortable and temperature-regulated spot to lay down.

3. Nurturing and Nesting Behavior:

Maternal Instincts: Female dogs often exhibit digging behavior when they’re pregnant or in heat. This can be linked to their maternal instincts, as they prepare a cozy and safe space to give birth or care for their puppies.

4. Reducing Stress and Anxiety:

Calming Ritual: Some dogs may engage in digging as a way to relieve stress or anxiety. The repetitive motion of digging can be soothing and help them cope with various emotions.

Managing Digging Behavior:

1. Providing Alternatives:

Designated Digging Area: Consider creating a specific area in your yard where your dog is allowed to dig. This could be filled with loose soil or sand to mimic the natural digging experience.

2. Mental and Physical Stimulation:

Exercise: Ensure your dog gets enough physical activity and mental stimulation throughout the day. A tired and mentally engaged dog is less likely to engage in excessive digging.

3. Behavioral Training:

Redirect and Reward: When you catch your dog in the act of digging, redirect their attention to a more appropriate activity, such as playing with a toy. Reward them for engaging in the desired behavior.

4. Comfortable Resting Spaces:

Provide Comfort: Make sure your dog has access to comfortable and cozy resting spots. This can reduce the need to dig to create a suitable resting area.


Q1: Why does my dog scratch the floor before lying down?
Scratching the floor before lying down is a natural instinct rooted in dogs’ history of creating comfortable resting spots.

Q2: Why do dogs dig a hole to lay in?
Dogs might dig a hole to create a cooler, comfortable, and secure resting place, influenced by their ancestral behaviors.

Q3: Why do dogs dig on the sofa or bed?
Dogs might dig on the sofa or bed to create a cozy and familiar spot, marked with their scent.

Q4: Why does my dog try to dig on my bed?
Your dog’s desire to dig on your bed could be a combination of comfort-seeking behavior and a desire to be close to you.

Q5: Why does my dog dig in his bed every night?
Digging in their bed might be a way for your dog to create a comfortable sleeping spot and release excess energy before settling down.


The act of digging before laying down is deeply rooted in a dog’s instincts and behaviors. From creating safe resting spots to marking territory and seeking comfort, this behavior offers a fascinating glimpse into a dog’s natural inclinations. As a responsible dog owner, understanding these motivations can help you manage and redirect this behavior while ensuring your furry companion feels safe, comfortable, and content in their environment.
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