Just like you do, your dog will spend a lot of time in his bed so it is important that you choose the right one. Unlike you, your dog isn’t going to test a lot of different dog beds and then say “this is the one I want”. This article will help you make the right choice on your dog’s behalf.
Your first concern is to make sure that you are looking at dog bed models that are big enough and strong enough to match your dog’s breed. Your next consideration is climate and location. Is this an indoor bed or an outdoor bed? Does it snow where you live, what are the seasonal temperature ranges? You will need to select a bed that can stand up to whatever mother nature throws at it.
How to select the basic shape
Dog bed shapes are generally defined as nests, balls, or mattresses. To select the right shape for your dog, pay attention to how he sleeps. If your dog curls up when sleeping, then a nest or ball is the right choice for him. Nests provide excellent cold-weather insulation as well since your dog can snuggle down inside of them.
If your pet stretches out when sleeping, then a more conventional dog bed mattress should be your choice. Mattress beds let your dog toss and turn, curl and stretch, and find whatever position suits him best.
How to select the right size dog bed
Don’t you just hate sleeping on a mattress that’s too small for you? Well, your dog will too, so let’s take a look at how to select the correct dog bed size.
When selecting a bed size keep in mind that bigger is better. You want to allow room for growth, if you dog is still growing, and you want to allow rom for movement regardless of whether your dog is still growing or if he’s already at maximum size.
For nest and ball-type beds measure the length of your dog while he is curled up. Measure from the top of his head to the point where his tail meets his hindquarters, and then add 7 to 9 inches.
If you will be buying a mattress dog bed, then measure your dog, from nose to where his tail meets his hindquarters, and add 12 inches.
How to select the right filler material
Your basic dog bed filler choices are either solid foam, or stuffing. Since the type of filling that you choose will impact your dog’s comfort, you should make an informed decision that takes into consideration your dog’s size, age, and health.
Poly-fill beds are stuffed with little pieces of foam. There are different types of Poly-fill to choose from. You want to make sure that your dog bed uses “high-loft” which means that it will not flatten out and lose its “spring” over time. Also make sure that you choose a bed style that uses “baffled chambers” which keeps the fill evenly distributed throughout the bed and keeps it from shifting to the outer edges as your dog snuggles in for the night.
Solid foam dog bed mattresses are best for large breeds and older dogs who are still in good health. If your dog has arthritis, or any back or hip problems, then you need medical-grade orthopedic foam bed.
The two key issues when choosing a solid foam mattress are firmness and density. Just like your mattress, the firmness determines how hard or soft the mattress is, while density determines how much “bounce” is in the mattress A good quality solid foam bed mattress will have a higher density and more firmness.
How to select the right dog bed cover
Let’s face it, dogs can be messy so make sure that your dog bed cover is up to the challenge. Choose 100% machine-washable fabrics that can be removed form the mattress when it’s laundry time. Choose a durable fabric that can stand up to sharp toenails. Make sure that the seams are double-stiched and insist upon a “self-repairing” synthetic zipper. Of course, a stain-resistant fabric for your dog bed is another must-have feature.
Your dog’s health and comfort depend upon his getting a good night’s sleep. Make an informed decision when you purchase a bed and your dog will benefit for years to come.
Training Your Dog to Use a Dog Bed
If you start right out teaching your dog to sleep in her bed while she is still a puppy, you won’t have any problems when she grows older. However, this article will work equally as well for those of you who have older dogs, and are facing first-time dog bed training issues as well.
Understanding the Natural Denning Instinct
As with any dog training exercise, results are gained more quickly if you work with a dog’s natural instinct rather than against it. Wild dogs will always try to find a sleeping den that is safe, warm, and dry. When puppies are born in the wild, the mother always seeks out a safe and cozy den for the birthing. She teaches them to keep the den clean by correcting them if they use it for a bathroom. Understanding that domestic dogs have these same instincts will help make the dog training process go more smoothly.
Selecting a Location
The dog bed should be placed in an area that is safe, warm, and dry. Try to keep it away from common areas where there may be loud noises and constant interruptions. Keep the bed away from drafty areas or areas that receive direct airflow from your home’s heating or cooling vents. It is OK to place the bed in the same area where your dog eats as long as that area meets the conditions that I just outlined.
Pre-Conditioning the Bed
The dog’s sense of smell is an all-powerful motivator. She uses it to detect food, danger, friend and foe. The most important use, as far as bed training is concerned, is that she uses it to detect the “Alpha Male” or “Alpha Female” in her “pack”. Since her pack is your family, and the alpha male or female is the family member who the dog thinks of as the “boss”, your sent means a lot to her. She knows that you represent food, protection, fun, and love. As a result, your scent is soothing to her. You can take advantage of that by placing your scent on the bed before your dog uses it for the first time. Here’s how:
Remove the bedding and rub it up against your skin. The goal here is to transfer your odor to the fabric. If you’re a bit hot and sweaty, so much the better. Don’t be afraid to really rub your scent into the fabric, your dog is going to derive great comfort from the scent. Next, rub your hands along any railings or non-fabric pieces that make up the bed. Again your goal is to transfer your scent.
Once you have permeated the bed with your scent, allow other family members to do the same. Your dog’s nose is keen enough to pick out each of the individual scents and will immediately recognize that this new object “belongs” here and that all of the members of her pack have visited it.
Leading Your Dog to the Dog Bed
Once you have pre-conditioned the bed, take a few of your dog’s favorite toys and place them into the bed. Call your dog to the bed and point to the toys and get her interested in sniffing around the toys and bed. Pat your hand and try to get her to hop into the bed. If she won’t then pick her up and gently place her into the bed. She does not have to lie down yet. Your goal here is just to get her interested in the scents and to add her own scent to the mixture.
Once she is in the bed, praise her with “Good dog” or whatever your usual praising terms are. Touch and rub the bed and bedding while you pet her, or rub her head, or scratch her behind the ears. Your goal in this step is to have her associate the bed with love and pleasure.
As you continue to praise and pet, have her lie down in the bed. Continue to praise and pet so she will be relaxed and unafraid. Lie down on the floor next to her and continue to praise and pet. Keep this up for a few minutes and then gradually walk away. She may stay or she may hop out. Either way is no problem.
When your dog appears to be ready to lie down for the night call her to the bed and repeat all of the steps above. make sure that her favorite toys or blanket are in the bed. Lie down with her, if possible, until she falls asleep. If she refuses to sleep in the bed at first, do not discipline her. Take your time and repeat the procedure every day until she gets the hang of it. It could take up to a week, or more, for her to start thinking of her new dog bed as her own cozy den.