We dogs are funny when it comes to our sleeping routine. There’s a certain pattern we need to follow whenever it comes the time to settle down and rest.
We know you look at us in confusion and wonder why we don’t just sink into the softness of our beds.
The reason we behave we do actually has a lot to do with the evolution of our species. My ancestors, the wild wolves, would have to have marked their territory to prevent other animals from interfering.
Keep reading and I’ll explain it all to you.
First, some doggy biology. We have scent glands in our paws which release pheromones. These can be found in between our paw beans and excrete scents when we scratch the ground.
We also have sweat glands on our foot pads and sebaceous glands in the fur found between our toes.
This is similar to what humans do, only we are much more aware of it. Where humans have their own bedrooms, we need an equivalent way to mark our territory.
Since you won’t let us just pee in the house to ward off intruders, we need to find some other way to show this space is ours.
Humans fell in love with us centuries ago and have been fascinated by everything we do since.
There are so many people who study us as a job – imagine that! These experts think that we walk in circles before lying down as an evolutionarily developed trait.
My great-great-great-great- (you get the picture) grandma was a wolf, or so I’ve been told. She would have been living in the wild and would need to defend herself before sleeping.
Doggy experts think that the circling is a way to check for and ward off any potential dangers before we settle down to sleep.
Another theory is that my ancestors would have slept with their noses up to sniff out danger, even in their sleep.
To do this effectively, it’s important to know what direction the wind is blowing in. It is believed that the circles helped us work out the best sleeping position.
Like I said before, the main reason that we scratch the ground is to mark our territory. You never know who’s going to come along while you’re sleeping, and I’m taking no chances.
Marking my bed with my scent like this makes it clear to everyone that this is my bed and no one else is having it.
Some doggy experts think that this would also have helped to improve our comfort in the wild. This scratching action would have moved leaves, dirt, and debris out of the way so that we can lie down in comfort.
In female dogs that are close to giving birth, this behaviour is increased. She’s marking her territory in a natural process known as nesting.
It is a hormone driven action and helps her to feel safe in the knowledge that she’s made a safe space to welcome her babies into.
This action is also referred to among doggy experts as denning. It is driven by natural instincts and we should not be criticized for it.
This is particularly obvious when it’s hot outside. Everyone knows that underneath the ground is cooler than on top, especially if it’s sunny.
It’s really hard for us to cool off, so we have to resort to unorthodox methods. We might try to dig holes in your yard to bury into and cool off. Don’t get mad at us, we don’t know how a fan works.
If it’s really cold, you might also see us digging outside. If we curl up in a hole then all of our body heat will be more concentrated, keeping us warmer.
If you leave blankets or pillows near us, there’s a big chance we will burrow underneath them. Hey, we’ve seen you make forts, we just want to join in with the fun! This gives us a sense of security and protection too, so if we look happy snuggled up then please leave us alone.
Digging in our beds is usually just another way that we are marking our scents. It can also be our way of getting comfortable. Think of how often you need to plump your pillows – we need that level of luxury too!
Controlling the Digging
Please don’t try to stop us digging completely. It’s a natural process and is completely healthy for us to do. If we are digging on your bed, or wooden floors that can be damaged, just tell us to stop firmly.
If you notice us doing this, we probably need a better sleeping area. A large doggy bed with some old blankets and pillows in my own area of the room is a great idea.
Tell us we’re doing good when we go there to sleep and dig, and pretty soon we’ll learn where we can and can’t go. Make it as comfortable as possible, and we won’t be bothering you anymore.
You should also keep an eye on the temperature in your house. Like I said earlier, we can’t really sweat or control our body temperature very well, so we need some help. It would be way easier if we could just ask you to turn down the heating, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
If you notice us panting, drinking, or drooling loads, it’s often a sign that we’re warm. Other indications include our gums turning a darker red color and our bodies just feeling more warm. We will probably also start digging more to try and cool off.
If you notice any of these things, turn the heating down PLEASE. Or open a window, or use the magic fan to cool us off.
If you are concerned about your dog’s behaviour, it appears detrimental to their health, or is becoming a compulsion, please consult with a qualified veterinarian.
There may be something more serious wrong that we don’t know how to tell you.