Seeing our pooches scratch at their bed and spinning around before lying down is a scene that most paw-rents are familiar with. There is a reason behind this odd (and adorable) behaviour of theirs, and as it turns out, it is a trait inherited from their ancestors!
In the wild, once a “sleeping spot” has been chosen, the dogs use their paws to dig and trample the surrounding leaves, sticks and stones to make the area more comfortable for sleeping. Before we go to bed, we like to fluff up our pillows, smooth the sheets, and maybe even rearrange the bed in order to have a good night’s sleep.
Think of the scratching as a dog's way of doing the same! The digging (and thus a hidden sleeping spot) also helps keep the wild dogs safe from predators.
So why does your pooch continue this strange behaviour despite the fact that there are neither prickly leaves and twigs nor animals hunting him in your home?
This can be explained by the studies of Charles Darwin (an English naturalist who is best known for his contribution to the evolution theory). It is called vestigial behaviour, which is an inherited action that continues even after it has become useless or irrelevant in the dog’s current lifestyle.
Most of the time, the scratching and digging is harmless. However, in extreme cases the scratching can lead to damaging and tearing at your home walls.
To stop this, be strict when disciplining your furkid. Provide him with more plush blankets and/or a big, cosy bed at his favourite spot—this way, he will be able to rearrange his bed and toys to his liking without destroying any furniture or the walls.
*This article was updated on 10 Dec 2020. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com.sg on 6 Jun 2016.