Dog Sleep Rituals

(Picture Credit: Photo by Rick Hebenstreit/Getty Images)

Imagine the end of a long and tiring day. When it comes to finally getting some time to rest or sleep, we can simply collapse into our beds or couches and drift to dreamland.

But our beloved dogs, on the other hand, might not simply just plop into their bed and fall asleep. In fact, you may have noticed your dog has some short rituals before finally lying down.

If you’re a pet parent, then you might have seen your dog do a sort of show and dance before they snuggle into their beds. If you’re wondering if this behavior is normal, don’t worry — it is, and it’s something they’ve inherited from their wild canine ancestors a long time ago.

Here are three things your dog does before lying down and resting — and why!

1. Circling Their Bed

You might have seen your pup circling their bed before they collapse into it. Dog behaviorists believe this was inherited from wolf ancestors.

During the days of the wild, wolves would do the same ritual, which is believed to be a self-preservation method to ward off or spot any attacks in the wild before they fell asleep.

Wildlife enthusiasts believe wolves slept with their noses to the wind in order to pick any threatening scent in the air. Circling where they slept helped determine the direction of the wind at the time and better position themselves before they went to sleep.

Another reason they did this was to stamp down the grass, leaves, or snow and create a level, comfortable surface before finally resting.

2. Scratching The Ground

Scratching the ground before settling into bed is another ritual you might have noticed your dog doing. And though you might feel like it’s only purpose is to scratch up your floors, it’s actually another innately inherited behavior handed down by dogs’ non-domesticated ancestors.

Dogs, like wolves, have scent glands in the bottoms of their paws as well as between their toes that secrete pheromones. Scratching the ground is away to spread their scent and mark their territory, communicating to other dogs or animals that this is their nest or place of rest.

Scratching the floor was also a way for them to create a shallow nest where they can retain body heat in case they were sleeping in the cold.

3. Digging

Though this is less likely or common, there are dog breeds that might dig at their bed or try to make a hole in the yard for a place to sleep. In fact, you might notice them do this on a hot day out in the yard.

When dogs overheat, they will pant and sweat through their paws. They have a harder time cooling off than humans do, which is where digging comes in.

Dogs will try and find a cool area to rest and, if given the opportunity, will dig a small hole to nest in.

You might notice your dog doing any of these rituals especially when they receive a new bed or receive a newly washed blanket they sleep on from the laundry. This is because they simply want to mark it with their scent and make it theirs.

Does your dog do any of these rituals before lying down? Why do you think they do that? Let us know in the comments below!

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