Although it may not seem like it when we get a new puppy, dogs really like to sleep.
In fact, dogs sleep an average of 16 hours a day. The exact sleep time will vary depending on age, temperature, breed, and activity.
Dogs are also crepuscular. This means that they are most active at dawn and dusk.
Since getting my Shiba and Huskies, I wake up a lot earlier, so that I can let them out for a dawn play and potty session.
Given that dogs sleep so much, I decided to spend some time looking into dog beds, so that I could get my dogs something that suited them. To find the best dog bed, we want to consider our dog’s breed, favorite activities, preferences, age, routine, as well as environmental factors such as temperature, rain, and more.
1. Soft Dog Bed
When I started looking for dog beds, I naturally gravitated toward the soft, fluffy ones. After all, *I* prefer soft, fluffy beds, so I thought my dogs would find them comfortable as well. Soft beds certainly provide more cushioning, but they have some important weaknesses.
Weaknesses of soft beds -
- They are too warm during the summer. My dogs will avoid these beds during hot weather, and lie on the cooler tile floor instead.
- They look and feel a lot like a soft toy. Some dogs will want to attack a soft bed, and chew it up.
- They absorb more dog scent, and are more difficult to clean.
- They can encourage dog marking, because they absorb so much scent.
After purchasing several soft beds, I discovered that they were not appropriate for my Shiba Inu, who will frequently attack and chew on them. When he does this, I would no-mark him, and take away the bed. However, as soon as I return it, he would start attacking the bed again.
To him, a soft bed is more rewarding as a soft toy, than it is as a bed!
Soft beds work better for my Siberian Husky who is less interested in chewing on them. However, she usually prefers to sleep on the tile floor, which is a lot more cooler. She sleeps on the floor carpets, during colder weather.
Finally, my Shiba Inu started marking the soft bed, probably because it smelled like my Husky.
In the end, I decided to stop using these beds, and look for a better alternative.
2. Outdoor Dog Bed
These beds provide less cushioning, but they are waterproof and more durable. As such, they can be used both indoors and outdoors.
Strengths of outdoor beds -
- They are less soft, and less of a chewing temptation.
- They are easy to clean, and can be used inside and outside.
- They are thin, they absorb less scent, and dogs are less likely to mark or urinate on them.
- They are much cooler than soft beds. This is especially true of the elevated beds, that are lifted off the floor by a steel frame. The empty space below, allows for free airflow, which helps to cool our sleeping dog. The elevated frame also prevents water from collecting under the bed, when it rains.
Weaknesses of outdoor beds -
- They are usually thin, and may not provide much cushioning for joints.
I currently have three elevated dog beds (two in the backyard, and one inside the house). They are durable, and extremely useful.
My Shiba Inu enjoys resting on his elevated bed, while inside the house, and does not show any inclination for biting it. My Siberian Husky also uses her outdoor bed quite frequently, because it is cooler and more comfortable for her, than the soft beds.
3. Cool Dog Bed
Some dogs, especially breeds with long fur or breeds with double coats, can easily overheat in the summer. When the temperature is high, these dogs may have trouble sleeping, and may even get heatstroke if not properly managed.
Therefore, it is important to always have clean water available for our dog. Good shelter is also necessary, so that he may rest in the shade.
On hot summer days, my dogs prefer to stay inside the house. On hot nights, I give my Siberian Husky an ice-bottle (plastic bottle containing frozen water, that is covered with an old sock), so that she can stay cool. She also has a cool bed inside her crate. I am currently using the K&H Cool Bed 3.
There are two general classes of cool dog beds.
- Water beds – Most water beds need to be filled with water, need to be cleaned regularly, and may spring a leak after some use. Some beds, for example the MiraCool bed, work by immersing the mattress into water. I prefer to use the water filled bed, because it is less messy and it won’t dry-out. However, I have had to replace my dog’s water bed many times, because of small leaks, which usually develop at the seams.
- Gel beds – Gel beds come ready with cooling gel, which make them more convenient, and easy to use. However, gel beds may not cool, as well as the water-filled beds.
Some cool beds need to be frozen before use. I find cool beds to be most useful during the summer, especially for inside the crate.
Strengths of cool beds -
- They can help keep our dog cool when it is hot outside.
- The water or gel provides some extra cushioning for our dog.
Weaknesses of cool beds -
- Some dogs may get a bit fearful of stepping on the water or gel mattress. It may take some time, training, and yummy treats, for a dog to get used to the bed.
- Dogs can chew through the bed, or pull out the water tab (i.e. the plastic cover closing the water hole). This may create a big mess.
- Mold may grow at the bottom of a water bed, if not regularly cleaned and aired.
4. Heated Dog Bed
Most dogs do not need a heated bed, because they have sufficient insulation from their thick fur.
In addition, when it is cold, I prefer to keep my dogs inside the house. If a dog has to be outside, make sure he has appropriate shelter. Put blankets and enough bedding inside the kennel, so that he can stay warm. If there are strong winds, cover the entrance of the kennel with a makeshift curtain, to preserve heat.
Heated dog beds are most useful for older dogs, sick dogs, dogs recovering from surgery, and dogs who have joint issues.
Weaknesses of heated beds -
- They usually require a power source, which limits where they can be used.
- The power cord may become a chewing hazard for dogs. Supervision is necessary when using these beds.
There are some heated beds, for example the SnuggleSafe Heat-pad, which are power cord free. We warm up the heat-pad in the microwave, and the gel within the pad captures and keeps the heat. These pads can be useful, because there is no power cord hazard, and we can use them anywhere.
However, we should still supervise our dog, to ensure that he does not chew on the heat-pad itself. Make sure that the heat-pad is not too hot, especially when we first take it out of the microwave.
A weakness of this type of dog bed, is that it may not retain heat for long periods of time. As a result, it may only work well for a couple of hours.