Most humans are lucky to get a solid 8 hours of sleep at night, but did you know that your dog requires even more? The average dog sleeps over half the day, needing about 12 to 14 hours on average.
It’s important to consider where your dog is laying her head for all that time. Does she doze on the couch or find a comfy corner to lie down in? Or do you have a spoiled dog who’s gotten used to helping herself onto your bed?
Finding your dog the perfect dog bed of her own is more than just getting your space back—it’s about her well-being, too. “If your dog is not getting good sleep, it can result in stress, behavioral problems, and ongoing health issues,” says Paula Nowak, Head Trainer and Behavior Consultant for Canine Country Academy in Lawrenceville, Georgia. What’s more, a recent study in Scientific Reports found a correlation between sleep and a dog’s ability to learn new tasks and retain memories.
But choosing the right bed for your dog can be tricky and may take some trial and error. How can you make sure you end up with a happy dog in bed? Start by observing your dog’s behavior and preferences around your home, suggests Nowak. Look at where she usually sleeps, what surfaces she prefers, and other behavioral traits.
“Your dog’s bed and sleep preferences are also specific to her personal preference,” Nowak says. Note that these preferences may change over time as your dog ages, and may even change by season.
Different sleeping dogs have different needs. Nowak suggests looking for these indications to guide your decision in choosing dog beds and mats.
• If your dog often turns to the tile to sleep, consider a basic bed without too much fluff. Many dogs seek out cool places like your kitchen tile to nap or rest. Good beds for these dogs may be a foam rectangle bed, a blanket, cooling mat, or an elevated bed to allow for airflow.
• If your dog prefers sunny or warm spots to lie in, she may like a bed that she can snuggle up in. Choose something with warm fabric and edges to make her feel secure, says Nowak. You can also add a blanket your dog can burrow under.
• If you have an older dog with arthritis, you may see her seeking out small, cozy places where she can ball herself up. If that’s the case, look for a small round bed with plush, fluffy stuffing.
• If you have a young, active dog who tends to overheat, she may like a simple mat-style bed without edges. That way she can either stretch out or curl up depending on her preference. Nowak notes that the location of the bed is also important: placing it in a cooler part of the house or near an A/C or vent could help your dog acclimate to her new bed.
• If your dog likes to chew on cushy things—and especially if she’s chewed up a previous fluffy bed—consider looking for a plastic shell or mat that you can add blankets (just a few!) to later. These beds tend to be easy to clean since you can throw the blankets in the wash and wipe down the surface.
• Remember: Opposites may attract. Whether you have a big dog who likes to squeeze into tight spaces or a tiny dog who lies in the middle of a gigantic bed, don’t fight it, says Nowak. An over- or undersized bed may be perfect for your dog.
4 Steps to Acclimating Your Dog to a New Bed
Do you have a begging dog who’s dying to sleep in her usual spot instead of the new dog bed? Some sleeping dogs may take to a new bed instantly, while others resist the change in routine. Follow these tips to help your dog get used to her new bed:
1. Wash the bed. “Smell is very important to dogs,” says Nowak. “You may want to wash the bed after purchase (if you are sure it won’t need to be returned) so it has more of a ‘my home’ smell.”
2. Add toys and blankets. You can also help make the smell of the bed more appealing to your dog by placing her toys and other items in or near the bed. And if your dog has a favorite blanket, throw that in there as well to transfer more of her familiar smells to the new bed, suggests Nowak.
3. Think about location. You wouldn’t sleep near a noisy furnace or a drafty door, and neither should your dog. “Be sure the bed is in a place that’s quiet to promote good sleep,” says Nowak. And look at other environmental factors that could affect your dog’s interest in the bed.
4. Try it out yourself. It’s not just spoiled dogs who may be wary of sleeping in a new bed. But fight the urge to encourage your dog to go near the bed, says Nowak. Instead, check out the bed yourself to pique your dog’s interest in the new addition.
Top Bed Picks for Sleeping Dogs
For dogs that have trouble finding a warm or cool enough spot to sleep, the Frisco Steel-Framed Elevated Pet Bed can help them regulate their temperature. The beds come in three sizes and feature a tight, breathable fabric that won’t sag with extended use. They’re also durable enough for use indoors or outside.
If your dog loves to spread out, consider a low-to-the-ground mat like the MidWest Quiet Time Ombre Swirl Dog & Cat Bed. The machine washable cushion can be used on its own or in a crate or plastic shell, depending on your dog’s preference.
If you find your dog in bed often, curled up next to the pillows or under the covers, look for a bed with ridges around the side and plenty of stuffing, like the West Paw Design Bumper Bed. This style is perfect for begging dogs that love to steal your favorite spots or snuggle up in the corners of your couch.
If your dog is used to sleeping on a bed at home, that shouldn’t change when you’re on the go. Look for a travel bed that packs down, but still has plenty of comfort. The Chuckit! Travel Bed is packable and machine washable, making it perfect for trips to a campsite or just a friend’s house.
“It can be tricky picking just the right bed for your dog,” admits Nowak. “Each dog is an individual, and their bed choices will also be unique to them.” Imagine how many beds you try when mattress shopping. The same holds true with your dog, and it may take a few options for your dog to choose the best bed. Be patient and know that you’ll have a happily sleeping dog soon.