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Why do dogs dig in their baskets?

Why do dogs dig in their baskets?

Digging is natural behavior for dogs. Whether it's digging up your yard or digging holes on the beach, dogs just love to dig. However, sometimes they burrow in unusual places.

One of the most common places dogs dig is in their baskets, but why? You spend a lot of time, effort and money choosing the perfect sleeping spot for your dog, only to watch your dog frantically dig into it.

There can be many different reasons why a dog is digging in his bed, but the most common reason is that your dog is trying to make his lying surface more comfortable by moving his pillows or blankets.

Why do dogs dig?

There are many reasons why a dog will dig into his pillows or blankets. This also explains why some dogs only dig occasionally, while other dogs rearrange their bed every time they go in by digging in it.

Below are 9 reasons why dogs dig in their beds.

Some breeds like to dig

Your dog's breed may be why he likes to dig so much. Some breeds like to dig more. Terriers such as the Jack Russel, Cairn and Rat terriers, Dachshunds, Border Collies , Labradors and Golden Retrievers love to dig. Breeds bred to catch rats or hunt rabbits are especially good at digging and seem to really enjoy it.

Making their bed

The most common – and most obvious – reason is that your dog is trying to make his bed as comfortable as possible so he can go to sleep. Wild dogs dig holes or holes to curl up in or shelter from the weather. This same behavior can be seen in domestic dogs who dig around in their bed until it's just right.

Nesting behavior in bitches

This is only relevant for females. When a pregnant dog is about to give birth, she begins to exhibit nesting behavior. She is trying to create a safe space where she can give birth and where she can keep her puppies warm.

Hiding something valuable

Everyone knows the famous images from cartoons where Pluto buries his bone. Most dogs won't literally bury their bones in the yard, but your dog can certainly put things he wants to save for later in his crate. Your dog tries to prevent his owner or another dog from running off with it. You see the behavior more often if there are several dogs in the household. For the same reason, your dog may also choose to hide his favorite toy.

Digging is fun!

Active dogs especially enjoy digging because it is a strenuous activity and satisfies the urge for exercise. Try refocusing your dog's attention if he's obsessively digging in his bed on a regular basis.


While digging is a natural dog behavior, it can become an obsessive behavior used to soothe the feeling of anxiety, a bit like OCD in humans. By digging in their bed, the dog relieves built-up stress, after which it can become a compulsive act. Dogs that do this are often dogs that also have a lot of energy. Give them an outlet for their energy and try to reduce stress.


Fleas are irritating little parasites, and they often spread through bedding and clothing. Your dog may be digging in his bed because of a flea infestation. Your dog may not realize there are fleas in his bed, but he may associate his itchy skin with lying in his bed, and digging or scratching may be one way to avoid the itch.

How can you stop digging in the basket?

Before attempting to stop your dog's digging behavior, consider whether the behavior actually needs to be corrected.

A dog that digs for a few minutes before going to sleep is just displaying natural behavior. This is not bad behavior and does not need to be stopped. If your dog digs excessively, and you need to buy new pads on a regular basis or if your dog puts himself in danger, then this definitely needs to be addressed.

To correct the behavior, it's important to try to understand why your dog is digging. If your dog does it because of stress, it doesn't matter what you try if you don't remove the trigger. Your dog will continue to dig, or will develop other annoying habits to release tension.

Give your dog the opportunity to dig

First of all, it is of course important to ensure that your dog does not experience too much stress, and that it can expend its energy every day in a normal way. Providing an alternate place to burrow will reduce the need to burrow in his bed. The best way to provide this is with a sandbox or a small plastic paddling pool filled with sand. You can encourage your dog to use it by hiding its favorite toy there or by hiding tasty treats in it. Searching and digging is a good way for your dog to release excess energy and stress.

Wash the bedding

If your dog's pillows and blankets are machine washable, wash them in hot water to kill any fleas and eggs. Any blankets or pillows you put in your dog's bed should be washed regularly to remove flea eggs and larvae. It's also a good idea to disinfect your dog's bed once a week before putting clean blankets back in. This helps to keep the basket and bedding clean and free of dirt or bacteria.

Buy a sniffing mat

Sniffing mats were originally designed to keep dogs occupied and to help dogs that eat too quickly. Sniffing mats have lots of pleats and pockets to hide treats. Your dog has to use his nose or paws to get the food out. Not only does this give your dog a chance to satisfy his need to dig, but it's also mental enrichment. View for example this sniffing mat for an example of a good, versatile mat that can keep your dog busy for a long time.

No leftovers to hide

To prevent your dog from burying leftover food in his basket, you can feed your dog according to his needs. This way he has no leftovers to bury in his bed. Your dog will want to dig less if he has no food to hide. If you have several dogs that want to protect their bones and toys, it's better to remove them when they're not using them. This also gives your dogs more peace of mind.

Give your dog something to do

If you have a particularly active dog, try taking more walks or doing more with your dog at home to keep him mentally stimulated. This includes things like playing hide and seek, searching or learning new commands. A great trick that most dogs love is teaching them the names of all their toys. If you run out of new tricks, read the book "50 Dog Tricks" once for inspiration.

Buy a firmer bed

If you've exhausted other methods and you're confident that the digging isn't due to a behavioral problem, buying a stronger basket will at least give you one less thing to worry about. We like to buy our dogs a bed that looks soft and cozy, but for dogs that dig, a sturdy bed is best. You can add a cozy blanket or pillows to soften it up and add something for your dog to dig into to make it comfortable.

If you think your dog is digging in his bed because of a behavior problem, it's best to seek advice from a behaviorist. These can best help you come up with solutions for your dog's behavioral problems.

Author: Tom Marr
Illustrations: Antonia Oana

This BLOG has been posted on our website as a guest blog with the author's approval.


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