Practical Advice on Choosing a Dog Bed

Practical Advice on Choosing a Dog Bed

Dogs spend about 12–14 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. 

I’m a big believer in proper crate training to housebreak puppies, but post-crate training, dog beds provide a place to feel safe and to relax during the day. This is true even if they share your bed at night—which is not always a good idea for light sleepers or those with allergies—or as a second-best place to sleep if your bed is off limits.

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

My daughter’s two dogs are trained to retreat to their beds when she says “place.” The command is not meant or seen as a punishment, just a request to kindly relocate during family dinner or when it’s best that dogs are not underfoot.

What shape, size, design and other features of your dog’s bed you choose 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-size bed for optimal comfort.
  • Type of sleeper. Dogs tend to fall into four types of sleepers: “curlers” that like to be securely surrounded by their 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.
  • Materials outside. Observe the type of material your dog gravitates to and choose a dog bed with a similar cover. Some dogs prefer fleece (and that 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 heated beds, special pillows, nappers, 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 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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