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Even if, in your house, the term “dog bed” means any place your dog chooses to sleep, it's a good idea to provide one real dog bed. Whether your dog sleeps with you at night or in his own bed, this will be his very own special place to snooze, keep you company in the family room, or spend the night. There are probably as many styles of dog beds as there are dog breeds, but you can choose the best dog bed by considering the bed's style and construction and your dog's sleeping habits. When choosing a dog bed, make sure it's large enough for him to stretch out on his side. Most important, the bed, or at least its cover, should be washable.

Dog Bed Styles

Mats: These are usually the least expensive and provide a barrier between the hard floor and your dog. Mats and pads are typically made of foam and are durable and lightweight. Some are made of memory foam with a soft fabric on the top and non-slip rubber on the bottom. These are also useful to put on a sofa or bed to keep furniture clean, and they work well as travel beds.

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Bolster dog beds: Some dogs like to sleep with their head on a pillow or armrest, and bolster beds give them that support. Some have bolsters along the back and sides, and some are made with a bolster all around the bed. Dogs who sleep curled up or like to snuggle will appreciate the security of these nest-like beds.

Pillow beds: A small dog or one with fine hair who needs extra warmth will like being able to nestle down into a pillow bed that lets him sink into the softness. Most are filled with shredded memory foam or other types of polyester fiber. Make sure the cover is removable and washable: you don't want to wash the bed itself because it can break down the fill material.

Dog Beds for Specific Needs

  • If you live in a hot climate, your dog may prefer an elevated dog bed, which allows air to circulate, keeping him cooler. Better models have a steel frame and legs and can hold even large dogs.

  • There are also heated beds for dogs that don't retain body heat: those with thin bodies like Greyhounds, very small dogs, or arthritic dogs.

  • Older or arthritic dogs will benefit from orthopedic mattress beds, which protect and cushion ailing joints. These beds come in various styles, but are typically constructed with memory foam, gel, or egg-crate foam. Some have several layers, incorporating a gel layer, memory foam layer, and a thick foam base. Some have built-in headrests or bolsters. These dog bed products are often more expensive than other styles, but an older dog or one suffering from arthritis will be grateful.

Naturally, the very best bed is the one your dog prefers. Short of taking him to the pet store and letting him choose it himself, you can help him get used to his new dog bed. Don't use the bed as a punishment, and encourage him by praising him whenever he lies down on it. You might want to put some treats or a special toy on the bed or cuddle with him there to teach him to associate his bed with positive experiences. Soon enough, he'll come to see his dog bed as his happy place.

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