Stop a puppy from digging at your bed sheets by:
- Redirecting their energy to a game of fetch or a walk outside
- Giving them something else to dig at, such as an old blanket
- Gently removing them from the bed when they dig
- Keeping the bedroom door closed
Digging is instinctual for a puppy. Never punish or scold your dog for doing it.
Instead find them something better to do with their energy.
In this article, I’ll explain how to stop puppies from digging bed sheets in 7 simple steps. I’ll also dig into why they behave in this way.
1. Make Sure Your Puppy is Getting Enough Exercise
First, make sure your puppy is getting enough exercise throughout the day. This is a crucial step to addressing most problem behaviors.
If your puppy is bored, they’re bound to find some mischief to entertain themselves!
Most puppies need a few short walks daily along with some playtime either in or outdoors. It’s recommended to exercise them in short sessions throughout the day, as their energy levels peak and drop off quicker than an adult dog.
Of course, exercise requirements vary heavily depending on breed.
Energetic breeds need hours and hours of exercise to satisfy them and keep them healthy, while less active breeds may be satisfied with one walk or a quick game of fetch.
If you’re unsure how much exercise your puppy needs, look up the requirements for their age and breed. If you’re unsure about either of these things, make your best guess or choose a breed with a similar shape and size.
Some things to keep in mind are the length of the muzzle as well as the leg-back ratio. These affect how and when your pup can exercise.
For example, breeds with long backs and short legs such as Dachshunds shouldn’t jump or climb stairs. Short-muzzled dogs such as Pugs have trouble breathing and regulating their temperature, so don’t exercise them outdoors in hot weather.
Alongside this, of course, are the more basic elements like your dog’s height, weight, and muscle.
2. Gently Move them off the Bed When they Dig
Whenever your puppy digs at your bed sheets, gently pick them up and place them on the floor. Continue doing this until they know that the bed isn’t a place for digging.
While this tactic can work on its own, especially when the puppy is getting enough exercise, it works best when paired with step 3 below.
3. Redirect their Energy to Toys or Another Digging Spot
After you’ve taken your puppy off the bed, redirect their attention. Or, use the redirection as a method of getting them off the bed. (For example, by tossing a ball across the room for them to chase.)
Make sure the redirection is immediate, as puppies learn best when corrected very quickly.
If you wait until a couple of minutes after they’re done digging at your sheets, chances are they aren’t even thinking about it anymore. Puppies have incredibly short attention spans.
There are three options when it comes to redirecting your puppy:
- Redirect your puppy to another activity
- Redirect your puppy to another digging spot
- Redirect your puppy with a treat
Activities can include anything you like, but most common would be playtime with a toy or a walk outside. You might even let them out into a fenced yard to run around and burn off some energy.
Another option is to give your puppy something to dig at that’s their own. Since they like digging in sheets, you can give them an old blanket or bed that’s just for digging and redirect them to it whenever they dig at your bed.
My dog Charlie has his own blanket, and he loves it! He’s constantly pushing his face under it, burying and digging up his toys, or even tossing it onto his back and walking around the house with it on him.
Lastly, you can redirect or train your puppy with a treat. Choose a command to use when you want your puppy to stop digging.
The first few times, wait for them to stop, say the command, and then give them the treat. Next, you should be able to say the command and wait for your puppy to listen.
You can also simply lure your puppy from the bed with the treat and praise them for getting down.
Never scold your puppy or grab them up too roughly when taking them off the bed. Remember that they’re still learning, and also that this might be a tough one for them. A dog’s instinct is to dig, after all.
4. Keep the Bedroom Door Closed
As a last resort if you are having trouble training your puppy, or even if you don’t want to spend the time doing so, keep your bedroom door shut.
If the puppy can’t get to the bed, no digging will happen!
Sometimes, we have to pick our battles. If you don’t want the hassle of training your pup not to do this one specific thing, that’s perfectly okay.
5. Crate Train Your Puppy
An alternative if you’d still like your puppy nearby at night is to crate train them. This will also be helpful if they’re digging at the sheets to wake you up.
Remember that crate training is a long process that takes patience. Be sure to purchase a crate that’s the right size for your dog, and don’t expect your puppy to get used to the crate overnight.
6. Stay Consistent
No matter how you choose to keep your puppy from digging at your bed sheets, you’ll need to stay consistent in order for the method to work.
Remove your puppy from the bed every time that they dig at the sheets.
The same goes for redirecting them to activities or another digging spot.
Even if your puppy digs at the sheets multiple times in ten minutes, you still have to stop them every time if you want them to know it isn’t okay.
7. Avoid Punishments
Lastly, avoid punishments and don’t try to dominate your puppy. This isn’t effective and will likely only harm your relationship, and potentially your dog.
Positive reinforcement is key to training your dog in a way that works, and also sets up a positive and loving relationship between the two of you.
Why Puppies Dig at Bed Sheets
Natural Instinct to Dig
A puppy’s natural instinct is to dig. They dig when hunting, to bury food, and to den.
Denning is how dogs dig dens for themselves. Although our dogs no longer need this skill while living in our homes, it’s still an instinctual behavior for them.
Some breeds are more prone to denning than others. For instance, breeds that prefer cooler climates, such as Huskies, are more likely to den in order to find cool ground.
Pregnant dogs are also more likely to den.
Puppies may also dig out of boredom or lack of physical and mental stimulation.
To prevent this, ensure your puppy is getting enough exercise. Try playing games that stimulate their mind.
When planning activities for your puppy, keep their breed in mind. For example, a dog that’s bred to hunt may enjoy games that engage their hunting instincts.
Have them sniff out hidden treats around the house or back yard. Small dogs may enjoy puzzle toys or other objects they can dig at.
Larger dogs may too, but it’s more difficult to find toys like this for them that won’t break or rip. Instead, you might want to try a DIY with an old blanket and a hidden treat or toy for them to dig up.
To Wake You Up
Lastly, your puppy may be digging at your sheets because it works to wake you up! They’re ready to start their day and think that you should be, too.
Maybe they want breakfast or their morning walk, or perhaps they just want you to get out of bed and pay attention to them.
Writer: Katelynn Sobus