Dog Beds: Choosing The Right Dog Bed For Your Pet Dog
As the old saying goes: “you should let sleeping dogs lie”.
But where on earth will they lie? Will your dog be content with lying on the floor, or do they need a bed like the rest of human civilization?
Dog beds have a variety of benefits for your dog that amount to more than just comfort—they can be quite important to their health, hygiene, and mood, among others. When you considering all the factors, buying dog bed for your loyal companion is a great way to invest in your dogs health and happiness.
In this article, we’re going to explore the benefits, and the potential downsides to dogs beds. And we’re going to take a look at the many different kinds of dog beds that are available, and how to choose one.
How Sleeping Dogs Lie
Every dog sleeps differently, and will have different needs. It’s important to understand your own dog’s needs before you venture into buying a dog bed.
How Long Do Dogs Sleep?
The amount of sleep any dog requires can wildly vary depending on the size of their breed and their age. The average adult dog is said to sleep between 12 and 14 hours per day—not quite feline levels of lethargy, but still considerably more time spent lying down each day than the 7-8 hours of the average human.
Puppies will spend even more time asleep, regularly exceeding 18 hours a day. Larger breeds like St. Bernards, Newfoundlands, and mastiffs have similar sleeping hours, to the point that some call them “mat dogs” due to their resemblance to stationary mats for most of the day.
With half of the day devoted to being asleep, there’s still more time left to lounging around. Dogs are only active 20 percent of the time each day; they spend the remaining 30 percent wide awake, but merely lying down and resting.
Sleep and resting time can be skewed even further through exercise and activity. A short walk can put a dog out of commission for an extra couple of hours.
What A Dog’s Sleeping Position Says About Them
Dogs’ sleeping positions can also vary depending on their mood or demeanor. Knowing how your dog sleeps can be an indicator for whether they need a dog bed or a change in environment.
Side Sleeping: Your Dog Is Feeling Comfortable & At Ease
A dog sleeping on their side is most likely feeling very much at ease and comfortable with their environment. Sleeping on their side exposes their unprotected belly, which is something that dogs avoid at all costs while in the wild or in unfamiliar places.
If your dog sleeps on their side all the time regardless of who’s around or where they are, they’re probably the kind to be mostly unstressed and relaxed.
On Their Belly “Superman” Style: Your Dog Is Ready For Action
Some dogs sleep on their belly, with their chin flat on the ground and their limbs sprawled across the floor. This is sometimes called the “Superman” position as it reflects how Superman stretches himself out, stomach down, when he flies, though some dogs who do this resemble starfish more than they do the Man of Steel.
This position allows the dog to get back on their feet and start playing immediately when the action ramps up. Many puppies enjoy this position because they’re so energetic, and they want to immediately run to where the fun is as soon as they see it.
Oftentimes, tired puppies will also adopt this position after a lot of activity. They need their 18 hours of beauty sleep, so they just plop down wherever they want without even getting comfortable and call it a day.
On a less energetic note, the Superman position might also be an indicator that your dog is feeling warm. Lying on their belly exposes their body to the cold floor, and since their stomach often has less fur than the rest of the body, it’s a great way of cooling off.
Curled Up: Your Dog Is Feeling A Little Defensive Or Cold
Many dogs curl up into a little furball when they sleep, with their tail curved inwards close to their snout. This is similar to the way cats sleep, and it’s an excellent way of conserving heat if your dog is feeling cold.
A curled-up position is also a defensive stance, keeping vital organs out of harm’s way while your dog sleeps. This may indicate a little bit of insecurity or unease about the current environment, whether it’s a new place to sleep in, or unfamiliar persons in the area.
This is a good position to watch out for, as it potentially indicates discomfort, whether your dog is feeling chilly or apprehensive. However, curling up doesn’t always mean these things—some dogs simply enjoy this position.
On Their Back (Legs Up): Your Dog Is Feeling Hot
A dog sleeping on their back with their legs up is often feeling warm. By exposing their belly and the sweat glands in their paws to the cool air, they can bring down their temperatures to more comfortable levels.
Just like lying on their side, dogs who lie on their backs in this manner may also feel comfortable and safe with their surroundings, as it leaves their belly exposed.
Why You Should Get A Dog Bed For Your Canine Companion
Dog Beds Help Your Dog’s Overall Comfort
The most obvious benefit of a dog bed is comfort. Hard wood, stone, concrete, and tiles are terrible for any heavy creature to be lying down on all day.
Try it yourself sometime, without a comforter or pillow for your posture, and you’re sure to wake up to an aching back the next day! A dog bed will keep your dog cozy and comfy throughout the night.
Dog Beds Can Improve Your Pet’s Health
In the long run, sleeping on the floor may damage your dog’s posture or muscle and bone health. This is especially true if they have conditions such as arthritis or obesity.
On top of this, the rest of their health and well-being can be affected if they have sleep issues because of these.
Even the most bog-standard dog beds with minimal comfort can be a vastly superior alternative to the floor, as long as it fits them properly.
What’s more, there are orthopedic dog beds designed to support your dog’s bones and reduce the painful symptoms of joint disease.
Keep Your Pup Warm
Have you ever stepped on your bare floor during the winter months or even just a particularly cold morning? The shock to your system from the piercing chill is no joke.
Now imagine your dog sleeping on that kind of cold floor all the time! Dog beds protect your dog’s body from excessively cold temperatures on the floor that could get them sick.
Insulated pet beds can also keep your dog warm when the air is frosty. There are even heated beds that can actively control temperature for your dog.
A Pet Bed Can Help Your Dog Stay Clean
Floors pick up all sorts of dirt and unsavory detritus from the outside, especially if you live in an area with plenty of soil. If you don’t clean up regularly, your dog may end up dirty or even sick from lying in all the outside filth that gets in.
This is especially bad for dogs who have skin conditions or allergies that are exacerbated by dust and dirt. Dog beds prevents them from lying down on the dirty floor and keeps them clean, reducing the need for baths and improving their health.
The hygiene advantage works both ways, too. By having a specific place to sleep instead of rubbing their furry little selves all over your couch or bed, you keep your own spaces free from the fur that they shed, or from the dirt that they pick up when they go outside.
A Place To Recharge
Dogs are sometimes described as “extroverted,” in contrast to cats who may appear “introverted.” However, even man’s best friend needs to take a break from man every once in a while, and they won’t be able to do this if they have to compete with your butt for the sofa.
They need a place that they can call their own, to mark as their territory.
Your dog’s bed will be their place to retreat when they need time alone, and it’s important to their emotional needs that you give them that pleasure.
How To Choose A Dog Bed
Every dog will have its own needs and preferences that must be taken into consideration when selecting a dog bed. There’s no real one-size-fits-all solution, especially because dogs come in so many different sizes!
Here are some of the things you need to take a look at when choosing a dog bed.
Your Dog’s Size
The first thing to consider is how big your dog is. A bed that’s too small simply won’t fit your dog, while one that’s too large might not confer some of the warming or orthopedic benefits that dog beds have.
Sneak up to your dog while they’re asleep and measure them from nose to tail. Add about 8 to 12 inches to the resulting measurement, and use that as a reference when choosing your dog bed.
If you have a puppy, look up the average length of their breed when fully-grown, and use this as a reference for how big of a bed to buy. Then, to give them extra comfort while the bed is too big, introduce some blankets or additional pillows to wrap them up.
How Your Dog Sleeps
As demonstrated earlier, every dog has their own choice of sleeping position, and this position might not always correspond to the entire length of their body.
If your dog likes to curl up when they sleep, for instance, you might want to choose a dog bed without the additional 8 to 12 inches of leeway.
With your dog’s sleeping position in mind, also consider that they might be too hot or cold during night. Choose a bed that has cooling or heating features accordingly.
If you have a destructive dog who likes to chew on things, consider a cheaper bed that won’t be too expensive to replace, or get a bed made of a material that doesn’t tear easily.
Indoor Or Outdoor Dog
If your dog sleeps outdoors, you’ll have a few more considerations to make on top of everything else.
First, you’ll want to pick a dog bed that will resist fungi, fleas, and other pests. Nylon is known for being resistant to these pests, and so is a good choice for an outdoor bed.
You should also consider that an outdoor dog bed will probably get dirtier, so it should be made of a material that is easily washed. It should also have a removable cover that can be thrown into a washing machine, or is otherwise easily cleanable.
Outdoor beds may get wet due to the weather, or perhaps if your dog likes to fool around in puddles. A waterproof bed is a must for an outdoor dog.
Finally, an outdoor dog will be more vulnerable to rapid temperature changes, so consider getting a bed that either warms or cools effectively.
If your dog has joint conditions, then an orthopedic pet bed is perfect for them. Orthopedic beds are perfect for dogs who are healing from injury or surgery, who are experiencing muscular degeneration, or who suffer from illnesses such as hip dysplasia and arthritis.
You should also check if your dog is allergic to certain materials, and avoid these when choosing your dog’s bed. You can opt for hypoallergenic dog beds to reduce the risk of any allergic reactions.
Dog Beds: The Many Different Types
The simplest kind of dog beds are mats. They’re easy to lay out, easy to wash, and can be placed anywhere, including on top of a bed or furniture.
These aren’t true dog beds, per se, but rather act as a layer of comfort and protection between your dog and the floor or the furniture that they like. This will keep your dog somewhat comfier, and will also protect your furniture and keep it cleaner.
You can also use a mat in conjunction with a dog bed for extra warmth or padding.
One of the more popular kinds of dog beds, donut beds have raised sides and a recessed bottom, somewhat resembling their namesake.
Donut beds are great for smaller dogs, as they’ll fit snugly around their little bodies and provide comfort and warmth all around, as well as a wonderful sense of security.
Elevated Hammock Beds
Hammock beds are raised slightly off the ground, and consist of a durable material that is stretched across a frame. They can provide better cooling and air circulation for your dog, as air can flow beneath them. They’re also easy to clean, very durable and can even last for years.
On top of this, they lack any kind of stuffing that a destructive dog can tear out. They’re not as comfortable as a bed with plenty of padding, though, and other dogs may not like the feeling of being elevated.
With their cave-like structure and roof, tent beds provide great warmth for chilly dogs. On top of this, because of how they’re partly enclosed, tent beds can allow anxious dogs to burrow in and feel safe and secure.
These beds are basically giant pillows, filled with a loose filling such as polyester, foam, or cotton. They’re great for dogs who like lots of space, and shift their positions regularly or stretch out a lot.
Loose-fill beds are not a good choice for destructive dogs, however, as they might tear out the filling.
Many dog beds today have self-heating function. Some of these heated dog beds feature electric heating elements, powered by either plug-in mains electricity or a rechargeable battery. These beds may include thermostat control, allowing them to maintain a fixed temperature that’s just right for your dog.
Other dog beds have no active heating element, and instead have a slot for a thermal pack that can be heated in the microwave to provide warmth. These packs can be repurposed during summer months, and placed in the refrigerator to provide cooling when your dog is hot.
There are also “self-heating” beds that consist of heavy insulating padding that traps your dog’s body heat when they sleep in it.
Any of these beds are appropriate for dogs who are often found curled up or shivering when it’s cold. Dogs with short fur, puppies, and small breeds will especially benefit from heated beds, as they’ll provide the extra warmth that they need to stay comfy during winter or transitional seasons.
Heated beds aren’t just for chilly canines in cold places. They’re also very helpful for dogs with particular health issues.
For example, senior dogs with circulation problems, arthritis, or the all-too-common hip dysplasia will love heated beds, as the warmth will help ease the pain in their bodies. This would make their bed an amazing place to relax after spending all day standing up and moving around with painful joints. This can also help them if their chronic pain results in sleep issues.
To make things even easier, you can buy orthopedic dog beds with a heating element, providing further comfort and therapy for your ailing dog.
The warmth that a dog bed provides can also be great for relaxing any dog, as it would remind them of your own body heat when you embrace them.
How Can You Get Your Dog To Sleep In Their New Dog Bed
To get your dog out of their comfort zone and into their new bed, you need to start by incentivizing them to try out the bed in the first place.
Place your dog bed somewhere that isn’t your bedroom, and not too close to the place where they normally sleep. During the daytime, place toys or treats on the dog bed, and lead your dog over to their new bed. They’ll be attracted to whatever you put down. Then, use your “Stay” or “Down” command to get them to lie down on the bed, and say “Go to your bed.”
Reward your dog every time they respond to the command on the dog bed, and lead them back over to the bed if they refuse and leave. Over time, they’ll get used to the command, and even get accustomed to the bed itself.
Dog beds are an important part of your dog’s comfort and happiness. They’re not a treat reserved for affluent dog owners or a little extra layer of luxury—for many dogs, they’re the difference between good and bad health!
That’s why it’s so important to choose the right dog bed for your dog’s needs. Take into account how they feel about their environment, their health and preferences, and then get them whatever they need to be comfy.
Of course, some dogs will reject their beds. It falls on you to see what’s wrong — maybe they’re allergic or itching. Or maybe the bed is too small or too big. But if it’s simply that your dog prefers to sleep on their own terms, don’t force things.