Choosing the Perfect Dog Bed
By Honor Tarpenning, NextDayPets.com Staff
Dogs seek a comfy place to catch their Z’s just like we do, and often this is at the expense of our good night’s sleep. Purchasing your pooch a bed of his own will help to keep him out of yours, and if you pick a bed that your dog will really use, it will keep him and his hair off the rest of your furniture as well. Even if your dog already stays off the furniture, a bed will get him off the cold, hard floor, help him sleep better and longer, and protect his joints as he ages. A good dog bed will also help keep your large-breed dog from developing unsightly and uncomfortable elbow calluses.
But with all the dog beds on the market today, how do you know which one is right for your pup? There are several factors to consider that will help you find a bed your dog will not only use, but one he will adopt as his favorite comfy spot. To find the perfect bed for your pooch, consider why you’re in the market for a dog bed, how your dog prefers to sleep, your dog’s size, and your dog’s special needs.
Why Does My Dog Need a Bed?
Is your dog always outside? A dog house provides a good amount of necessary shelter from the elements, but even in the height of summer there can be chilly nights. Ensure your dog’s comfort out in the back yard with an outdoor heated dog bed.
Does your dog spend a lot of time in his crate? Crate floors are hard and cold, which doesn’t exactly create the coziest environment. While crate training, use a blanket or towel for doggy’s comfort--There will be accidents and it is a lot easier to take a soiled towel out and throw a new one in than to wait until a bed is washed and dried; or you can use a water-proof mat, which can just be wiped down. Once your pup is accident-free, however, a crate mat is a great way to make his crate feel more like home. Older dogs and thin or especially bony dogs will benefit greatly from a crate bed or mat.
Are you constantly on the road? You can give your dog the same comfort he would have at home with a travel bed. Sure, you can throw any dog bed in the back of your car, but who has space for a big, plush bed when the car’s already packed tight? Travel beds fold or roll up to next to nothing so you can always have a comfy spot and a piece of home handy for your jet-setting hound.
Does your dog just insist on taking over your bed? Are you tired of the wear, tear, and dog hair on your furniture? Don’t worry; there are plenty of options for you.
Observe Your Dog
Take note of where and how your pup most often catches his Z’s. This will be your biggest clue to what kind of bed your dog would most appreciate.
Do you often find your dog laying smack dab in the middle of your pillow? Does he curl up dead-center on couch cushions and comfy chairs? Then a pillow bed is a good choice. Pillow beds come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are extremely comfortable, especially for the little dog who thinks he’s a little prince. These beds are not so great for dogs with orthopedic issues, as they do not provide much support. They are, however, fantastic for miniature and toy breeds.
Do you tend to wake up to find that your dog has shimmied himself all the way under the covers? Is it not always apparent that the pile of blankets on the couch is actually your carefully concealed canine? Does your pooch live to snuggle? A nest bed is the right fit for your dog. Nest beds offer your dog a warm and snuggly place to burrow without pulling your throws and stealing the blankets from you at night. They offer comfort and security and are perfect for burrowing breeds like Beagles, Dachshunds and Jack Russell Terriers. These beds are a little harder to get into and out of, and are thus not ideal for older or injured dogs.
Does your dog think he’s people? Do you often open your eyes in the morning to see your pooch looking right back at you with his head on your pillow? Does he like to curl up snug in the corner of the couch? When you’re hanging out with him, watching TV, does he like to snuggle right up against you? Your dog needs a bolster bed. These beds have a firm foam or plush rim that your pooch can snuggle-up against or use as a pillow. Bolster beds come in lots of different designs and orthopedic varieties are available for dogs with arthritis, and older and injured dogs. Otherwise, though, they are great for any breed and any size dog.
Have you tried a pillow, bolster, or nest bed before and your dog still preferred the couch? Is it important to you to maintain a clean design aesthetic in your home? Try a furniture bed. These beds are made to look like real couches and beds, just smaller. They are attractive and durable and are raised to keep your dog out of the bugs and dirt on the floor and away from chilly drafts. There is a furniture bed to match any home style and they are sure to only improve the look of your living room. These beds are not suggested for dogs with arthritis or hip problems as they have to jump up to climb in.
Has your older, injured, arthritic, or overweight dog stopped jumping into bed or on the couch? Is your dog suffering from hip dysplasia or other joint issues? Is your dog skinny or bony? An orthopedic bed is ideal for these issues. Orthopedic beds are filled with firm foam made to evenly distribute weight, lessening stress on joints. These beds prevent pressure sores and calluses and eliminate pressure points, stiffness, and soreness. They are easy to climb into and out of which lessens the stress on your ageing dog’s back and hips. Orthopedic beds are marvelous for greyhounds and whippets, working dogs, ageing dogs, and really, any dog.
Does your tiny dog tend to shiver? Does your pooch insist on sleeping directly between you and your partner for the cozy warmth? Try a heated bed. Heated beds come in indoor and outdoor varieties and are ideal for hairless, short haired and small dogs. They are also wonderful for working dogs, and dogs recovering from injury, as the warmth soothes tired joints and muscles.
Is your dog’s favorite spot in the house a cool stretch of tile, or on top of an AC vent? Is your dog always getting overheated? Does your working dog need a cool spot to rest after the daily grind? Does your dog tend to turn his nose up at other dog beds? Try a cooling bed. Many of these beds are filled with water or gel to keep them cool; and others are made of materials that allow plenty of air flow and draw the heat away from your pooch. If your dog is a floor-sleeper and could use a little cushioning without the warmth, a cooling bed is just perfect. These beds are superb for long or thick haired dogs, and breeds that are easily overheated, like the bulldog.
Does your dog take up more space in the bed than you do? Are you forever coming home to see a stretched out, belly up dog on your couch? A mat or pad is ideal for your dog. They provide maximum space to spread out and are perfect for large dogs that like to sprawl. These beds are great for labs and other large dogs. They don’t require any climbing so they are great for older and injured dogs too.
How Do I Measure My Dog For a Bed?
Choosing the right size bed is important. You want to purchase a quality, long-lasting bed, which is a good investment. However, if you chose the wrong size, you’ll have wasted your money because your dog won’t use it.
Don’t even worry about dragging the cloth tape measure out of your sewing kit, you can just use a piece of string to measure your dog, and measure the string when you’re done. Measure your dog when he is lying down. Lay the string along your dog’s back from the tip of his tail to the tip of his nose. Add ten to twelve inches to this length and you will have the necessary length for your dog’s bed. If your dog really likes to stretch out, add another two or four inches.
Other Things to Consider
Does your dog have an uncontrollable urge to roll in the mud? Make sure the bed you purchase has a removable, machine washable cover. Many beds have zip-off covers so they can be easily removed and thrown in the washer. Also consider purchasing a second cover so your dog’s bed is always available, even when one cover is in the wash.
Does your dog scratch and claw at his bed to get the filling in just the right places? He needs a bed with a durable, thick fabric cover; the best being ripstop nylon. Leather beds are cool, comfortable, and long lasting, but not ideal for scratchy dogs.
Is your dog a flopper? Does he enter the room and collapse dramatically onto his bed? Does he dream big, with lots of flailing about? Is your dog’s bed going to sit on tile or hardwood? He should have a bed with a non-skid bottom. This will keep the bed where it belongs and it won’t scoot out from under your dog while he’s chasing rabbits in dream land.
If you take the time to get to know your dog and his sleeping habits, you’ll have no trouble picking out the best bed for your best friend. If your dog is accustomed to sleeping with you, and doesn’t take immediately to his new bed, be patient. Praise him when he lays in it, and put a treat or toy in it at bedtime to encourage him to use it. It’ll only be a matter of time before he figures out that you bought his bed with his best interests in mind.