There’s a lot of information on the internet about how to choose a dog bed that both you and your dog will like. This post won’t go into all the detail that’s readily available to you but will highlight some things that I think you need to be aware of.
But here’s the thing: no one knows your dog better than you and sometimes we overthink or research something until we get our tails twisted in the proverbial knot of indecision. You don’t need to do that. Trust that you know what’s best for your dog because, well, they’re one of the family and you just know.
Here are some things you can easily take into consideration and take action on:
Weigh In & Measure Up
How many of us have struggled with getting our dogs on the vet’s scale? They love it so much. We need to convince them to stand still long enough until the dang digital scale beeps. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we get close and say, “Good enough.”
While it’s useful to know how much your dog weighs, so they don’t flatten their new bed too soon, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t know exactly. Some beds are better suited to lighter and heavier dogs so do take it into consideration.
You could always weigh yourself (your dog doesn’t care what the truth is) and then pick your dog up and weigh the two of you together. That’s assuming you don’t own a Saint Bernard or another giant. Then simply subtract your weight and presto, you have your dog’s weight.
The length of your dog would be more important because you want to ensure you get the right size (see below). Measure him or her from the tip of their wet muzzle to the end of their wagging tail, if you can catch it. You can actually use the top of the tail instead as they will often wrap it around themselves when they’re laying down anyway.
Just make sure that you take into account those long, luxurious stretches that can turn a beagle into a Labrador or a Great Dane into… I’m not sure what…but it would be big.
There are some practical things about choosing a dog bed that you should be aware of:
- Do you want sides or do you want a flat bed? Our lab ignores those pesky sides and just splashes himself over everything, but our beagle likes to snuggle herself into a corner sometimes.
- Do you want a cooling dog bed that allows heat to escape a panting dog or to allow an older dog to get some relief from their inflamed joints?
- Alternatively, some dogs want more heat: such as those with little hair, or, again an older dog whose blood doesn’t pump as much to keep them warm, or especially during the colder months (an added bonus is that a heated bed might keep them out of yours.)
- If you believe you have the cutest dog then there’s nothing wrong with buying the cutest bed. I asked a friend who fosters dogs and this was the absolute number one requirement as far as she’s concerned. Dogs may not know “cute” but they know when we’re thrilled with them and fuss on them at how wonderful they look in “their cute little bed.”
- Do you want to match the furniture? This actually makes sense to me and I’m a guy. I like pleasing and warm looks in our house and I want our dog beds to flow into that, even in the bedroom.
- You might also need to take into consideration the dirt that is attracted to dogs, especially on rainy and muddy days. White would not be the best choice if you live in climates that contribute to this.
- This leads to washability. Don’t do what I did and cut the instructions off a new bed so the dogs didn’t think they were built in chew toys. At least save them in the laundry room if you must remove them. You want to know that the cover and even the bed itself (often foam) can be washed and fit in your washer and dryer.
Size of the Bed
“A little dog will fit all beds…a big dog, not so much.
As mentioned above, this is one of the most important things you need to consider when choosing a dog bed. Sometimes a big dog will spill over on a small bed just to make a point or because he’s convinced he’ll fit (like our lab does with our beagle-size bed.)
It’s worth taking the time to figure out what size will be best; mostly for the dog but also because of the space you have to put it. You don’t want to be tripping over corners because you went too big, nor do you want your dog hanging over the sides onto the cold floor.
Some stores allow you to shop with your pet so it may be worth your while to take your dog, or your pack, on a shopping trip with you. The store may not allow you to actually have your pet lay on the bed due to hygiene or other reasons, but you can always “eyeball” the bed and your dog and get a good idea if the size is right.
One size does not fit all, even little dogs. They often like to snuggle and may feel lost (you’ll see it in their eyes) on the broad expanse of an extra-large bed. That being said, some dogs will sleep together so you may find the larger bed works for you. You’ll know what best for your dogs once you’re standing in front of a bed or looking at them online.
Again, trust what you know about your dog(s) and let your intuition and knowledge guide you. However, just in case, keep the receipt should you guess wrong and need to return the bed; and know the store’s policy for returns before you buy, whether it’s in person or online.
Rule of thumb:
Extra-small dog (1 – 10 pounds) = extra-small bed: approximately 18 by 13 inches.
Small dog (11 – 25 pounds) = small bed: approximately 24 by 18 inches.
Medium dog (26 – 40 pounds) = approximately 30 by 20 inches.
Large dog (41 – 70 pounds) = approximately 36 by 23 inches.
Extra large dog = buy the biggest bed you can find!
Where Will You Put It?
Dogs already know how to get underfoot so you don’t need to put their bed in your way as well. We have ours on the “less-lived” sides of our room; in both the living room and the bedroom. With some encouragement and firmness, your dog will learn to lay down where you put their bed.
This is, of course, after they celebrate your return home with whatever hyper activity they use to greet you. Once all the excitement is over and they know you’re still in their lives, they will settle down. As long as they can see you, they will be content – usually.
So once you know where their bed will go, start training them to use it (and not move it). Let them know that is their corner and they’re expected to stay put. Over time they will become quite comfortable on their bed as their scent permeates it and their hair possesses it.
You will also need to decide if you’ll buy two beds – one for each dog probably – so that you can keep a bed in the rooms you spend the majority of your time in; i.e. living room and bedroom. Alternatively, you could carry it back and forth. This might be easy enough for apartment dwellers but not so much for those of you living in a two-story house.
I trust this gives you some beginning thoughts on how to choose a dog bed that suits both you and your dog’s lifestyle. There’s more information online, of course, so hopefully this article has triggered the things you need to know.
Dogs sleep, on average, 12 – 14 hours per day so you’re essentially investing in “half their lives.” Which bed to buy is important and you need to ensure you find the right bed – and at the right price if that is a factor for you, like it is for most of us.
Take your time. Research online. Go to the stores and ask the staff. Pull a few dog beds off the shelf and test them out, ideally with your dog in attendance and if you’re able to let them test out the bed. We often sit or lay down on a mattress before we buy it so why wouldn’t we do the same for our dogs.
And above all else: trust your gut that you will know the right bed when you find it. Isn’t that how you picked out your dog?
Thanks for your time, I appreciate it and hope that I’ve added some value to your search.