Dogs are known for their curious and sometimes quirky behaviors. One such behavior you may have observed as a dog owner is their tendency to burrow under blankets. This adorable behavior may make you ask this question: Why do dogs burrow under the covers? Is it just for warmth, or is there something more to this behavior?

Although it may seem odd or amusing, this behavior is deeply rooted in their instincts. However, certain dog breeds are more likely than others to exhibit burrowing behavior.

So, why do dogs burrow under the covers, you ask? Read on for the answer!

But first:

Which Dog Breeds Are Likely to Exhibit Burrowing Behavior?

Some dog breeds are more predisposed to this burrowing habit than others. 

Certain toy breeds, like terriers or dachshunds, for instance, are one of them. Historically, these breeds were raised to squeeze into tight spaces as vermin exterminators. As such, they would instinctively feel at ease underneath a warm blanket.

Additionally, breeds with thick fur, like Huskies, love to burrow in the snow. 

Other dog breeds that are likely to have burrowing habits include:

  • Border collies
  • Australian shepherds
  • Beagles
  • Chihuahuas
  • Alaskan malamutes

Understanding why certain dog breeds are prone to burrowing and the motivations behind their behavior can help you determine your dog's needs. 

Why Do Dogs Love to Burrow under Blankets?

Burying oneself under blankets or pillows can be a fun distraction for animals. However, there are other reasons dogs love to burrow under blankets:

  • Denning instinct: The denning instincts in dogs can be traced back to their wild ancestors. These would dig burrows or find sheltered spaces like tunnels to create a safe environment for themselves and their offspring. This natural behavior shielded them from harsh elements and predators.

    Despite domestication, dogs' denning behavior persists. This instinct becomes particularly apparent when dogs seek refuge in their den or even under the table to cope with emotional discomfort. Burrowing under blankets mimics the feeling of being in a secure, confined space.
  • Warmth: Why do dogs burrow under the covers? Another reason is to seek warmth. Dogs are warm-blooded animals, but their body temperature can fluctuate, especially during colder seasons or if they have short fur. Burrowing under blankets offers an additional layer of insulation that helps retain their body heat, keeping them warm and snug.

    As pack animals, dogs also enjoy the warmth generated by the close proximity of their human family members when they nestle under shared blankets. This warmth provides a sense of companionship and contentment. This behavior can be traced back to their ancestors, who relied on shared body warmth to get through the colder nights in the wild.
  • Scent and familiarity: Dogs have a unique way of associating scents with comfort and safety.

    Your blanket carries your scent and the familiar smell of their immediate environment. This, therefore, creates a calming effect that reduces their stress levels and separation anxiety.
  • Comfort and relaxation: Above all, dogs burrow under blankets for comfort and relaxation. Blankets offer a soft, cushy surface that can be molded to their liking.

    The gentle pressure created by the weight of the blankets can have a calming effect on dogs, similar to the soothing sensation experienced when swaddling an infant. This comfort and security help lower their stress levels and encourage relaxation, making it easier for them to fall and stay asleep.

Can Dogs Breathe Comfortably under the Covers?

The answer is not really. While dogs have an excellent sense of smell and hearing, their breathing isn't as efficient when obstructed. An average dog’s breathing rate is around 10 to 30 breaths per minute when they’re at rest, but the range will depend on the animal’s size and breed. 

Brachycephalic dog breeds like pugs, Boston terriers, and boxers, in particular, are already susceptible to breathing problems as they are because they have shortened snouts. What more if they stay under a comforter or a blanket they probably can’t even lift on their own?

So, as a pet owner, what should you do? Since, as we mentioned earlier, burrowing under covers is more of a dog’s instinctual behavior, completely eradicating it yourself might be next to impossible. 

That said, as a responsible pet owner, you can only ensure your furry friends remain in a safe environment even when they’re at it. So, just follow these tips, whether your dog is of a brachycephalic breed or not:

  • Use lightweight blankets: Dogs can regulate their body temperature, but they can overheat in certain situations, like if the environment is too hot. To prevent this, always use thin and breathable blankets to ensure air circulates easily.
  • Monitor your dog: Always watch your dog when they're under the covers, especially if it's their first time doing so. Remove the blanket if your dog shows signs of distress, such as heavy panting, restlessness or if your furry friend is struggling to get out from under the covers.
  • Provide an exit route: Leave an opening in the blanket, so your dog can easily poke their head out if they need to breathe more freely.
  • Teach your pet a different burrowing technique: Teach your dog to burrow on top of the blanket instead of underneath it. This can be achieved through positive reinforcement training and treats.

With these tips, you won’t just ensure your furry friends are safe and sound. You’ll also ensure they get the best burrowing experience possible.

In Closing

The instinctual behavior of burrowing under blankets is rooted in dogs’ natural instincts and serves several purposes. It provides them warmth, a sense of security, familiar scents, and a comfortable place to relax. While some breeds are more prone to burrowing, it is a common behavior observed across various canine companions.

It's essential to prioritize your dogs’ safety when they’re under your blankets. Use lightweight blankets, monitor your dog when exhibiting this behavior, and provide an exit route. Alternatively, you can teach your pet a different burrowing technique.

By following these tips, you can create a harmonious environment your canine companion will enjoy.