Why Does My Dog Dig At My Furniture?

furniture damage and dog
Dogs can make a real mess of furniture.
This is a question I've wondered about for some time now.

I've had a few dogs in my lifetime so far, and I know not all dogs do this digging at the furnishings thing. Even the ones that do only do it some of the time. But it can be a frustrating habit when they dig the couch like they’re trying to come out the other side, or make some kind of "rabbit hole" in the furniture.

So why on Earth do they do this?

Well, as with most things, there are a few explanations that could be the reason. Most research suggests that the reason is instinct. When dogs live in the wild, they are always going to sleep on a hard bit of ground. So they dig a small hole where they are going to sleep. This signifies two things to them. One is that they will not go to the bathroom in this spot, which is important for one's sleeping area. This is also a form of marking their territory. The other factor in this theory is that they are making the ground more comfortable to lay in. A dog in the wild will stay in the spot they dug for hours at a time. They use it to sleep, sure, but they also sit around in it and to watch the scenery like a primitive television.

So when a dog digs your couch or favorite recliner at home, although it may be annoying, he isn't doing it to make you mad. The instinct is still there, and in a way the dog is showing his respect for the indoor area. It means they have no intention of using your furniture or rugs as a toilet, which again is a good thing! While the dog can obviously distinguish that your furniture is different from the ground outside, he can't change the instinct in his head to make a spot for himself. This is sometimes called “denning”.

Another thought many people have is that the dog does it for protection. Some dogs may fluff a blanket and burrow under it. This is a natural feeling of protection, to be able to look out at the world from a den that feels safe. Theoretically, your dog may be trying to dig a hole in the furniture to go inside it. Hopefully they wont get to that point with your favorite rocker!

Of course many people also think that the behavior is just for making things more comfortable. Just like you making the bed or fluffing a pillow, your dog may be trying to move the cushions or rug around till its just the right amount of “fluffiness”. However, many dogs simply like to sleep on a blanket or their own dog bed, and won't feel the need to dig around.

What it seems to come down to is this: Many pieces of furniture, and the floor, are firm or have a firm covering, and to dogs those pieces feel something like the ground. Digging at them naturally feels to the dog like he is making it more comfortable and den-like. With some small dogs it is relatively harmless, as they won't accomplish much. If this is not the case for you, and you want to stop the behavior, correct it or put down a blanket where your pooch likes to lay!


  1. Ihave a 13 yr old Cockapoo and she even digs in her dog bed finding the rite place to sleep. Plus I have a black and white cat and they both sleep together in a dog bed!!! It kind of makes you really laugh!! thx, cheryl

  2. I have had 4 adult/senior Pom's and three of them "dig" on the couch and bed. One of the three "diggers" will sometimes dig the area rugs. The three never dig outside either. They usually prefer cold hard surfaces to lay down on. The fourth Pom would hide Milkbones in the house and sneak them outside in her mouth and bury them. They never damage anything though so I don't worry about it.

  3. My small Shi tzu is constantly digging wholes only on my bed comforter. I have gone through 4 so far. What can I do. This has become VERY COSTLY. No matter how thick or thin the comforter is, he will STILL dig holes in it ONLY when I am asleep. No other time of the day or night. Any advise?????

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