Why Do Dogs Dig Before Lying Down?

Why do dogs dig before lying down?My pit bull, Bunker, is the master of digging. Each time I walk into my backyard I ask myself, “Why do dogs dig before lying down?”

Bunker has a variety of holes — large, small, deep and shallow. His pen is in the same shape. When it rains, it looks as if he has several small ponds in there.

Dogs circle around their bedding areas and dig for many reasons, whether it be from boredom or for comfort.


In the wild, dogs gathered leaves and dug in them to make a comfortable bed. Wild dogs also dug “dens” for a safe place to sleep at night. If a dog is hot or cold, it may dig to find a warmer/cooler place to lie down. It may dig in shaded areas or sunny spots, depending on which avenue of comfort it is seeking.

Indoor dogs may dig through carpet in an attempt to cool down. If it’s hot inside, lower the thermostat or leave a fan blowing near where your dog naps.

When cold temperatures arrive, dogs might dig to prepare a place to curl up, reduce the loss of body heat, and get comfortable. Adding more blankets or old clothing to the bed will provide better padding.

That awesome dog bed you bought for your pets? They’ll sometimes scratch into it, too, purely out of natural instinct. Heck, they’ll even try to dig around on hardwood floors. To prevent destruction to carpet, flooring and bedding, remember this easy solution: Keep your “little digger’s” nails trimmed.

Here’s another take on why dogs dig where they sleep: Dogs have glands in the pads of their feet, according to Daily Puppy.com. These glands send out a unique odor, which is enhanced by scratching. Therefore, by scratching where they are about to sleep, they are marking that spot with their scent.

Finally, female dogs (even those that are not pregnant) may dig in order to provide a “nest” for their puppies. I can only look at that as motherly love.

The next time I walk into my backyard, stepping over the holes, I’m going to reroute my thinking. Instead of being annoyed, and questioning why do dogs dig before lying down, I’m gonna try to remember: They do it for comfort, for security and because it comes naturally to them.

So love your dogs for who they are, and watch your step!


  • It’s a Dog’s Life… But It’s Your Carpet, by Justine Lee
  • Canine Behavior: Insights and Answers, by Bonnie V.G. Beaver
  • DailyPuppy.com

Photo: robsimmon/Flickr

From Around the Web

  • http://www.doggydelight.co.uk David@ Bristol Dog Walking

    Never thought of it like that – I just see my dog spinning around for 45 minutes before he’s happy!

    Good article, though. I’ll now know what he’s up to and that he’s not just weird!

  • Stefanie

    I just got my house sprayed for bedbugs. We left the house with my pets and came back 6 hours later, as told to. But my dog has been gagging, gasping and has burning eyes, and his is very aggressive toward me. He is a very small dog, 3 months old. I crated him in my cat’s carrier. Do you think he will be OK? Or do I need vet’s assistance?

    • http://www.petsadviser.com/ Pets Adviser

      Stephanie, we feel you should call your local animal poison control center or an emergency vet.

      The number for the National Animal Control Center is 1-888-426-4435.

      Do you have a list of the chemicals that the pesticide company used? Best of luck.