Before I had Janice and Leroy, I had a Boxer named Gloria. She was my first Boxer, and I loved her very dearly – enough that I never wanted to be apart from her. Rather than kennel train her, as I did with Janice and Leroy, Gloria slept with me in my bed. I don’t have any problem waking up to dog breath if it means that I get to be with my best friend first thing in the morning. But with the two that I have now, there’s often just not enough space in the bed. So I’ve compromised by having them in my room, if not in the bed with me.
Last update on 2019-01-18 at 13:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
But once I decided to do that, I was faced with a whole new concern: how to choose the right bed for them. We’ve talked before about choosing a specific type of bed (a heated bed), where I mentioned that when it’s cold out, I just forget about the lack of space and bring the dogs into the bed with me. But what about just a regular old dog bed? How do you choose one of those? Here are nine things that can help you choose the right dog bed for your pet.
The first thing that any dog owner needs to do when it comes to choosing a new bed for their dog, is to make sure they get the right size. If you are putting this bed in a kennel, remember that the dog only needs enough space to stand, turn around, and lie down. Any more room, and they could be tempted to use the bathroom in the corner away from where they sleep.
This rule basically applies for a bed as well. You do want your dog to have room to be comfortable – but too much room either goes to waste or gets turned into a bathroom. Measure your dog, and then find a bed that measures just a bit larger than them. Often dog beds will have suggested dog-to-bed pairings on the tag.
Does your dog like to sleep in a tight little ball or sprawled out like he’s king of the mountain? If your dog always sleeps in a compact position, then a smaller bed with sides for cuddling them in may be more comfortable. On the other hand, a dog that likes to stretch out may want a big pillow that they can roll around on to find a comfy spot. Additionally, consider your dog’s behavior before laying down. Do they like to burrow or nest before they sleep? There are dog beds that have features that make them ideal for “nesters”, which are especially good for dogs that have anxiety and need to feel safe.
Does your dog struggle to get warm, or to stay cool? There are beds that can help with these problems. Does your dog have a bed already in desperate need of replacement, but you aren’t sure how to get them to make the transition? We’ll also talk about how to introduce your dog to a new bed.
A pillow bed is probably the most common type of dog bed you’ll see. They look like big pillows or couch cushions. They are ideal for dogs that like to sprawl out when they sleep, and they come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and patterns. It’s a good idea to measure your tog from nose to tail when he’s all stretched out and sleeping, before you buy a pillow bed. Add about seven inches, or maybe a little more, in both directions, and you’ll know how big a bed to get. Remember to consider the fabric choice when shopping for a pillow bed. Big gangly dogs might be tough on delicate fabrics. This affordable dog bed from MidWest is a stylish option for a dog that just needs a place to park it.
If you really want to spoil your pooch, an ultra plush snuggle bed is a great way to give them some luxury. These beds are often circular, and are covered in very soft fabric. These are usually very puffy, like big clouds for a dog to sleep on. If you live in a cold area, or your house tends to be drafty, these beds can be good for small dogs or puppies who want to bunker down to keep warm. These can also be good for arthritic dogs. You can find these bean-bag style beds in any size or shape for the most part; I’ve even see gigantic versions that would hold Janice, Leroy, and me all together! Here’s a good example of a giant plush bed for a big dog.
Some dogs cannot sleep until they have performed a weird little ritual of burrowing into the blanket or bed. This may go back to their wild ancestors, who would clear a “nest” – removing sticks and debris – before sleeping. Getting a nest bed, or a bed that has sides all the way around, can help burrowers feel safer and more comfortable. These beds are extremely popular and easy to find, but be sure to get the right size. The walls all the way around can make it cramped if you get one that is too small. Here’s an example of a standard burrowing bed for dogs.
If you’ve never seen these, they look like tiny doggie caves, or tents, with an overhead covering that covers about three-quarters of the dog bed. This is great for small dogs who get anxious often, because they’ll feel like they have a very safe space to retreat to. These are also good for dogs who have a hard time staying warm, like hairless dogs, puppies, or older dogs. Really these are mostly made for toy breeds, but you can sometimes find them for medium-sized dogs as well. They usually have a very snuggly material on the inside to make them even cozier. This example makes me laugh!
Sometimes a heated bed is all that will work. If it gets very cold where you live, or you like to go camping in the winter for some reason, a heated dog bed will help your pet stay just as comfortable as you are. Be sure that you choose a heated bed that can be washed, and that has safety features built in. I’m a bigger fan of the battery operated versions, because the cord could be tempting for a dog that likes to chew. This is a very good option for an arthritic dog or a dog with an injury, because gentle heat can help sooth sore joints and muscles.
Another option for sort of the opposite situation is a cooled bed. This usually means that a cooling gel pad is inserted into the bed. This is great if you live in a very hot and humid area, and if your dog has a very thick coat of hair. If you often notice your dog sprawled out on the cool tile of the kitchen, then a cooling gel bed may be something to look into. These beds are typically in the pillow style, and can be a bit difficult to find.
Some beds are designed specifically with arthritic or injured dogs in mind. These can look like any of the beds listed above, but are often of the pillow bed variety. The key difference though is that these beds are made with thick memory foam, and may even have a heated pad or cooling gel built in to the bed. These are specifically designed to support a dog while still being plush and comfortable, very much like a bed designed for humans with the same affliction. You can even custom order orthopedic beds for your dog in a variety of sizes and shapes. This one by FurHaven is an excellent option.
When you first get a new dog bed for your dog, you’ll have to take care to introduce them to the bed the right way – or they could decide from the start that they have no interest in this new bed, and then you’re out all that money! First things first: if your dog loves their current bed, your best bet is to get them the same exact bed, or the same type of bed, unless there is a medical reason why you can’t.
Start by ensuring that they see the bed as something positive. Give them a treat for sniffing the bed; give them a treat for getting on the bed; give them a treat for lying down on the bed. Go out of your way to make their first experience with the new bed very positive in their minds. Once your dog has tentatively settled onto he bed, you can spend some time petting or cuddling them while they lie there or give them a new bone to chew while they stay on the bed. This will help them start to see the bed as a place they really want to be. Eventually, their scent will take over, and they’ll know that the bed is theirs.
If your dog just really is not in love with the new bed, don’t give up. There are a few things you can try to convince them. If your dog has a blanket, a pillow, or something else that they always sleep with, put it on the new bed. It can help transfer the smell, making the new bed more comfortable. If you don’t have anything like that, then put one of your old shirts that you don’t mind losing on the bed. If it doesn’t smell like them, at least it will smell like you. That’s a comfort for a dog.
You can also put a sheet or blanket over their old bed, and let them stay there for a few days. Then move that sheet or blanket to the new bed and get rid of the old. Slowly, over several days, fold back the sheet or blanket as more and more of the new bed is revealed. Eventually you can take away the covering altogether and your dog will be acclimated to sleeping on the new bed.
Last update on 2019-01-18 at 13:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
At the end of the day, I’m a big fan of co-sleeping, and did it for many years up till recently. If Janice and Leroy could learn to share a little more room, I’d probably just go back to that. But in the meantime, choosing good beds for my mutts is important to me. My dogs sleep very differently, so I chose different beds for them. Leroy likes to sprawl and loves to roll around on his back and be obnoxious when he sleeps. His giant pillow bed is perfect for all the space he needs. Janice on the other hand is cuddlyand wants to curl up into a tight ball when she sleeps. I managed to find a nest bed that was big enough for her, with very soft fur lining that she seems to adore. Both of them can now sleep exactly how they want to, right next to my bed.
Taking the time to choose a good bed for your pet like this can make them much more prone to staying in bed when you need them to, and can also help them feel more comfortable and happy throughout the day. If their “safe space” is a bed that they’ll love, they’ll be more than happy to retreat to it when they need to. And that’s a big part of how you keep a dog healthy and happy while you raise them. What kind of bed does your dog need? Watch them sleep for a few days and make some observations. You’ll have it figured out in no time.