Have you ever gotten a good laugh out of your dog while they dig and paw at their bed and then make multiple circles (often getting up and down several times) before finally laying down and sleeping? Maybe they even do it on the bare floor, pawing and moving invisible “things”. Have you ever wondered why they do this, especially when there is nothing there to move around?
All this commotion before a dog will finally lie down is referred to as “denning” and it’s considered to be a natural instinct for dogs. Your dog’s ancestors didn’t have the luxury of a home with a bed, blanket and pillows, so they would spend time searching for a well protected, natural “den” to sleep in. And once that den was identified, they would often dig a small hole and then paw and move the dirt around to get it all in an ideal position, as well as to remove stones and sticks so that would be comfortable. (Can you blame them? If you’ve ever gone camping, you know sleeping on rocks is no fun).
Even though your dog isn’t living in the wild and doesn’t need to create a den anymore, he still possesses the centuries-old instincts that tell him to den.
Source: Jayme Dukart