Although it may not seem like it when you get a 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 dogs, 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, it helps to get them a good dog bed. A comfortable bed will make for a healthier, happier, and better behaved dog. To find the best dog bed, we want to consider our dog’s breed, favorite activities, preferences, age, as well as external factors such as temperature, rain, and more.
1. Soft Dog Bed
When I was looking for dog beds, I naturally gravitated towards the soft, fluffy ones. After all, *I* prefer soft, fluffy beds, so it seems like my dogs would find them comfortable as well. Soft dog beds are indeed comfortable in certain circumstances, but they have some important weaknesses.
Weaknesses of soft dog beds:
- They are too warm during the summer. Dogs will commonly avoid these beds during hot weather, and lie on the hard, cooler floor instead.
- They look and feel a lot like a soft dog toy. Some dogs will want to attack it, 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, Sephy. Sephy will frequently attack and chew at them. When he does this, we would non-mark him (No) and take away the bed. However, as soon as we 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 them. However, she usually prefers to sleep on the tile floor, which is a lot more cooler. She even prefers the floor during colder weather, because she has such a thick coat.
Finally, my Shiba Inu started marking the soft bed, probably because it smelled like my Siberian Husky.
For all these reasons, I have stopped using these soft, fluffy dog beds.
2. Outdoor Dog Bed
These are the less fluffy dog beds, that are more durable, and waterproof. As such, they can be used both indoors and outdoors.
Strengths of outdoor dog beds:
- They are less soft, and thus less of a fluffy, 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 the soft dog 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 airflow, which makes the elevated bed cooler for our sleeping dog.
Weaknesses of outdoor dog beds:
- They are usually thin, and may not be as comfortable as the soft dog beds.
I currently have three elevated outdoor dog beds (two in the backyard, and one inside the house). They are waterproof, durable, and extremely useful.
My Shiba Inu does not show any inclination for biting his outdoor dog bed, and he seems to like sleeping on it. My Siberian Husky also likes the outdoor dog bed because it is much cooler 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 heat stroke.
During hot weather, it is important to make clean water available to our dog all day. 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 ice-bottle inside a sock cover) so that she can keep cool inside her crate. I also give her a cool dog bed (I am currently using the K&H Cool Bed 3).
Cool dog beds are basically water beds. They are useful during the summer, especially for inside the crate.
Strengths of cool dog beds:
- They can help keep our dog cool when it is hot outside.
- They are comfortable because the water provides a nice cushioning system.
Weaknesses of cool dog beds:
- Some dogs may get a bit fearful of stepping on the water mattress. It may take some time, and some dog treats to get a dog 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 the bed if not regularly cleaned and aired.
There are also cool dog beds (e.g. the MiraCool bed) that work by immersing the mattress into water, rather than filling it with water. I prefer to use the latter (i.e. the water filled bed) because it is more convenient and it won’t dry-out.
4. Heated Dog Bed
Most dogs do not need heated dog beds because they have sufficient heat insulation from their thick fur.
However, when it is really 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 dog beds:
- They usually require a power source, which limits where they can be used.
- The power cord may become a chewing hazard for dogs. Dogs should be supervised when using these beds.
There are some heated dog beds, for example the SnuggleSafe Heat-pad, which are power cord free. We warm up the heat-pad in the microwave, then 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. It usually only works well for a couple of hours.
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