Whether you have already brought your new pup home, or you are taking some time to plan out everything your dog needs before adopting, congratulations! Choosing to become a pet parent is both a huge responsibility and a huge blessing. Part of the responsibility of being a good dog owner is to provide them with a safe and comfortable atmosphere, and to ensure their basic needs are being met.
Especially when it comes to establishing an inviting shelter for your dog, one of the first things that comes to mind is finding a suitable place for your dog to sleep. Now, we have all seen dogs sleep everywhere – on the hardest of floors, perched on a chair they don’t fit on, and the list goes on and on. So perhaps you might be wondering, does my dog really need a dog bed? The short answer is yes, and we will tell you why.
If not a dog bed, then where?
The first thing you need to consider is where you are planning for your dog to sleep at night. While your dog will be trainable in this regard, it is worth pointing out that each dog will have their own preferences and we all know what they say about the best laid plans. Will your dog be allowed on the sofa? The armchair? The bed?
If the answer is no, then the need for a dog bed is even greater. Remember, establishing a cozy and comforting home is one of the most crucial things you can do when welcoming your new furry friend, especially in those first few months when you are still getting to know each other and your dog is still unfamiliar with their new environment.
What is the purpose of a dog bed?
Besides the practical function, of well, being a place for your pup to rest and sleep, they also play a huge role in creating a “safe space” for your dog. You may notice after time that when your dog needs some time alone, or they are scared, they may retreat to their bed. This is a really good thing!
Dogs are “den animals” which means that they will appreciate having a spot in the house that is all theirs and allows them a degree of separation when they are overwhelmed or just tired. It’s up to you if you want to pair the bed with a crate to really give your dogs their own little den, and the opinions on a crate are varied. However, the opinion on dog beds is universal.
It is absolutely essential that your dog has a good dog bed of their own, even if you plan for them to sleep with you.
Types of Dog Beds
Choosing the right dog bed can seem a bit overwhelming, with so many options on the market. The good news is, while materials and design may change, the beds can be broken down pretty easily into a few major categories.
It’s also totally fine if you want to get something simple and inexpensive for your dog’s first couple of nights at home, and observe their sleeping preferences (hard vs. soft surfaces, cold vs. warm areas, etc.). This will help you make sure you are investing in a bed they will really love.
A nest bed most closely resembles a bean bag chair for humans. Essentially, these beds are a giant, mouldable pillow that will shape around your dog’s body when they are in it. This is a really great option for dogs with anxiety.
As we mentioned before, dogs are den animals. A cave bed has a pillow hood to create the shape of a cave that your dog can snuggle inside. This is especially great for anxious dogs who like to hide.
The bolster bed is essentially a regular dog pillow in a rectangular shape, that has a built in cushioned wall on 3/4 sides, kind of like a sofa. For this reason, it is also sometimes referred to as a sofa bed. This extra cushioning is great for creating a sense of security, and giving your dog somewhere to rest their head.
The Donut bed is very similar to the bolster bed, only round. The bed is a circular pillow, with a cushion wall built all the way around it.
The Orthopedic bed is the perfect of example of a “typical” dog bed – a comfy but simple pad that’s perfect for stretching out. However, it also comes with some added health benefits. These beds are designed to reduce joint pain and prevent issues such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. If you can afford it, this is a really great investment in your dog’s wellbeing, especially with breeds like Golden Retrievers, who are prone to joint issues.
What to avoid when choosing your dog bed
Don’t buy anything that does not have a removable cover for washing
We all know that having a dog can be messy sometimes. Dogs may throw up, have accidents (especially in the new puppy phase), track in mud and unfortunately, though less common, get fleas or get sprayed by a skunk. Regardless of the source of the mess, you are going to want to clean it effectively and efficiently- which is where the removable, machine safe cover becomes so important. You will also just want to clean your dog bed every now and again, just like you would wash your own bed sheets, so your dog has a nice, clean home to live in.
Make sure you choose the right size bed
You can reference our sizing guide below for more information on how to make sure your bed is an appropriate size for your dog. Obviously, you want to avoid a bed being too small, because how uncomfortable is that? But in some situation, a bed that is far too big for a small breed may also cause your dog some discomfort.
Do not ignore safety because a bed is cute
Unfortunately, all the cute bells and whistles that come on a bed are going to be a hazard for a new puppy, or any dog who likes to choose. Don’t choose the bed with ribbons or buttons, and try to get a bed that does not have loose stuffing if you can help it. Getting a “chew-proof” bed is a good plan for heavy-chewing breeds, but when it doubt, just go for the simpler, safer option and remove any bits or pieces that may be hazard.
Materials to look out for
Just as choosing the right bed shape and design will be important for the quality of your dog’s sleep, you may also want to consider the impacts some fabrics may have on their experience.
Choosing a polyester bed is often an inexpensive and can be soft depending on the quality. The good news is, it traps enough heat to make your dogs feel comfortable, but will maintain a relatively neutral temperature. These aren’t the comfiest beds on the market, but they are not uncomfortable by any stretch.
Especially with Sherpa fabrics being so hot on the market right now, you might be considering a faux fur bed. These are great because they simulate the experience of cuddling with another dog which will be comforting, and they will also keep your dog nice and warm if they enjoy blankets. Just be aware that these beds aren’t usually easy to clean, so check for washing instructions and ensure the fabric cover is detachable.
Microfiber is an excellent choice for the dog who tends to run hot. If your dog is always sleeping on the cool hardwood or tile and generally avoids sleeping under blankets, this is probably a good place to start. Microfiber beds are soft, but they will tend to remain cooler, preventing your dog from overheating during the night.
How big should a dog bed be?
Especially if you are buying a bed for a new puppy, finding the right size can be a challenge. Since puppies grow so fast, we would recommend choosing a bed based on their average adult measurements. Certainly, you may want to replace their bed later, but this will allow you to make that choice, instead of being forced to replace it as soon as they start growing.
Simply start by getting the length of your dog from nose to tip of the tail. Then add 6-12 inches. This is not a perfect science, as the position your dog likes to sleep in will matter too. Do they curl up in a ball, do they sleep diagonally? Do they stretch out as far as they can?
This measurement, though, is a great starting point for finding a bed your puppy can grow into. If you notice it doesn’t suit their sleep style, you can always swap it out for a different shape. When in doubt, just add some extra surface area.
That being said, little dogs will want to feel cuddled up in their beds, so try to avoid getting them a king size mattress – this will be almost as uncomfortable for them as sleeping in a bed that is too small.