While it’s hard to believe a Shih Tzu or poodle ever ran with the wolves, some habits are particularly hard to break, even after thousands of years.
Some experts suggest that a dog scratching at his bed may be an evolutionary holdover from the days in the wild, before domestication. If so, this behavior was an important part of helping wild dogs and wolves stay comfy, safe and warm, becoming so ingrained that dogs perform the behavior even when it’s not necessary.
“There has been some conjecture that digging at bedding, upholstered furniture or soft flooring (such as rugs or carpets) is akin to digging a hole or spreading bedding to make a nest,” Dr. Elizabeth Stelow, chief of animal behavior services at the University of California, Davis, told The Dodo. “This is the most likely purpose when the dog then lies down in the specific spot it was scratching.”
Dogs dig holes for protection from extreme heat and cold, and other predators. If your pup is scratching up a storm, he may be hardwired to go through the motions of transforming his soft bed into a nest or den before he feels truly safe.