Which type of bed is best for your dog?
You may not think that choosing a dog bed is as important as picking out your own, but actually your dog spends more time in its bed than you. The average dog sleeps for around 12 hours a day and some breeds spend a whopping 18 hours out of 24 in dreamland. Therefore it’s hugely important that they have a dog bed that ensures each and every nap is relaxing and enjoyable.
However, there are a huge range of beds on the market – so it can be difficult to decide which one is best. Here’s some advice to make sure the next bed you buy for your pet is the right one.
How big is your dog?
If your dog is still a puppy, it can be hard imagining them getting any bigger, but one day they will. Not only will they probably grow out of their first bed, it might not support them very well either. Beds not designed to hold bigger dogs can bottom out and lose their orthopaedic support. This is worth bearing in mind because large dogs are more at risk from developing arthritis and so need something that is going to support their weight.
When your dog is lying down, measure from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail and add on about 12 inches for stretching room. That should give you a good indication of what bed size you need. Your dog shouldn’t have their head or feet hanging over the edge of the bed – unless that’s how they like to sleep.
Watch your dog sleep
Just like humans, dogs have different sleeping positions. Some like to curl up into a ball, whereas others are bed-hoggers; stretching out across all the available space. Watching how your dog sleeps is vital for choosing his or her bed.
Dogs that are used to sleeping outside tend to favour curling up in their beds, as it’s what they’re used to doing to keep themselves warm. Indoor dogs may also do this because it makes them feel secure. However, this isn’t necessarily the best position for a dog to sleep in, as the muscles have to be tense in order to hold this shape. To make them more relaxed at night, try buying a bed with walls. This will make them feel secure, so hopefully they won’t feel the need to scrunch up into such a tight ball.
If your dog likes to chase bunny rabbits whilst he or she is asleep you’ll want to get a bed that doesn’t come with any annoying bedding that their feet might get tangled up in. A flat bed is best for these types of dogs. They also suit dogs who love to stretch out during their naps.
Dogs that enjoy snoozing on the sofa with their head on the arm of the chair might prefer a bed that comes with head support; whereas dogs who lie on their backs need proper spinal support – so make sure their bed is firm but soft.
Does your dog have any special needs?
Sadly, all dogs get old eventually and their needs will probably change. Not only will they suffer from more aches and pains, they might also start wetting the bed. Raised beds are great for accommodating dogs with special needs. They stay dry, even when the dog wets the bed, as they are off the floor so air can circulate underneath them. Raised beds are also ideal for dogs with skin allergies and are good at keeping any insects or fleas at bay.
If you have a puppy or dog that likes to chew, they should never be left alone with a bed that contains stuffing. When eaten, the stuffing can cause intestinal blockage, which can result in a very poorly dog and an expensive visit to the vet. Avoid any beds that contain stuffing if they chew and instead get one with a frame that cannot be bitten through. Once they realise they can’t destroy the frame, they will hopefully become bored of chewing and find something else to entertain them instead. Most puppies grow out of chewing when they reach adulthood too.
Where will the bed be used?
Another important factor to consider is where the bed will be used. If you’re planning on using it outside or taking it on a camping trip, you’ll need a bed that’s waterproof. On the other hand, if it’s going in your bedroom or living room you might want the colour of the bed to match the room’s décor. You’ll probably find that a single bed won’t fit all your requirements, so don’t be afraid to purchase one for outside, one for travelling and another for everyday snoozes.
Whilst your dog may love to sleep on the sofa during the day, it needs to snuggle down into its own bed at night. If it’s used to sleeping with you as a puppy, it can be difficult for it to accept and try a brand new bed. The best way to get a dog to use its bed is clicker training. To do this, all you need is a clicker and a few dog treats. Essentially as soon as the dog has done something you want, such as sit or lie down, you click and give the dog a treat. They might not like the sound at first, but they will soon associate it with a reward.
Once they understand that the click indicates positive behaviour, you can start training them to use the bed. You should click and reward as soon as they look at the bed and again if they step towards it. Click again if they sniff the bedding and for each paw they put on it. Once they sit or lie down on it, click again and click once more if they stay relaxed on the bed for a sustained period of time. Don’t expect the dog to do all of this in one session, but once they’ve used the bed to lie in once they should be content to do so again – unless you’ve bought the wrong sort of bed.
Cleaning your new bed
Raised dog beds and ones that come with removable covers are incredibly easy to clean and are ideal if you don’t have time to wait for a whole bed to dry. If you bed doesn’t come with removable covers and is too big to put in the washing machine, you should first spend some time vacuuming and using a lint roller on it. This will remove any fur, insects and their eggs. Then you should wash it thoroughly in hot water, using a dog-friendly detergent. The bed should then be air-dried, something which is obviously much easier to do in the summer; so you might want to get a bed with removable covers for the winter.
If you were buying a new bed for yourself you wouldn’t spend just five minutes choosing one and the same should go for your dogs. Take a good amount of time doing your research into your pet’s behaviour, so you can make the right decision for both you and your beloved dog. After all, you don’t want to go to all that hard work finding a bed just to see your dog turn its wet nose up at it.