How to Choose a Dog Bed

How to Choose a Dog Bed

Dogs like a place of comfort and refuge. That’s why crate training works so well for pups and why pet beds are so important for dogs of all ages.

Dogs spend about 12 to 14 hours a day snoozing, and most welcome the warmth, comfort, security and support of a dog bed over a hard floor. Some say a dog bed can even prolong the life of your beloved pet by cushioning joints.

A pet bed can be a training tool, too. Asking your dog to go to their “place” is not a punishment but rather a request to kindly relocate during family dinner or when it’s best that dogs are not underfoot.

When you travel with your dog, bringing along a pet bed provides a sense of familiarity, making the dog less anxious and more likely to settle down.

If you prefer your dogs not to sleep in your bed, moving their dog beds near your bed at night helps drive home that point. Yes, they put their chins on your bed waiting for an invitation — but when none is forthcoming, they retreat to their beds next to mine.

Which shape, size, design and other features to choose for your dog’s bed depends on several factors. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Size and fit. Measure your dog from nose to base of tail in the sleeping position, then add 8 to 10 inches or round up to the next-biggest bed size for optimal comfort.
  • Type of sleeper. Dogs tend to fall into four types of sleepers: “curlers” that like to be securely surrounded by the bed’s contours, “burrowers” that dig in and make a cozy nest, “sprawlers” that spread out in all directions and “leaners” that prefer the support and security of a bolster-style bed or dog couch.
  • Home decor. Dog beds come in a wide array of fabrics, colors, patterns and styles, making it easy to harmonize with your room decor, space and furniture.
  • Materials inside. Nearly all dog beds are made with flexible polyurethane foam — either conventional or memory foam. As with any mattresses, pillows or furniture containing foam, for indoor air quality be sure it’s made with CertiPUR-US® certified foam, which meets rigorous standards for content and emissions. If you do a word search for “dog” and then “pet” in the CertiPUR-US online directory, you’ll find close to a dozen companies offering certified foam in pet beds. Certified foams are screened for relevant chemicals, including flame retardants, that are classified as carcinogens, mutagens or reproductive toxins and are harmful to human health. Certified foams are made without formaldehyde; ozone depleters; mercury, lead and other heavy metals; or phthalates regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. It also means the foam has low VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions for indoor air quality (less than 0.5 parts per million).
  • Materials outside. Observe the type of material your dog gravitates to and choose a dog bed with a similar cover. Some dogs prefer fleece (which also can be better in cooler climates); for others, a flatter suede, cotton or twill is preferred.
  • Washability. Be sure your dog’s bed is machine-washable or has a removable, machine-washable cover in case your dog has accidents, gets fleas or mites or has muddy paws on a rainy day.
  • Support. Young, healthy dogs will do fine on high-quality foam, but older, arthritic or injured dogs may require the extra support of an orthopedic bed containing high-density orthopedic foam. You can also find special pillows, pads and mats that provide extra comfort for special needs pets.

Some dogs take a few days to adjust to a new bed. Placing the bed close to where you are, putting treats or a favorite toy on the bed or even temporarily placing an article of your unwashed clothing on the bed are all ways to make the new bed feel like home.

Once you determine your dog is happy with your choice, you may want to consider buying additional dog beds so that you don’t have to bother moving the bed into different rooms or levels of your home.

Another benefit of a dog bed? For those who want to keep dogs off the sofa, it’s a way to provide a happy alternative!

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