photo of a dog lying in a dog bed

Calming Dog Beds – Health Benefits And Must-Have Features

Are You Looking For The Perfect Calming Bed For A Dog? Check Out These Recommendations That Your Dog Will Love

So many dogs suffer from anxiety or fear, and having a bed that feels safe and calming can help reduce the emotional stress felt by your dog. Calming dog beds encourage a dog to relax. So what is a calming dog bed, how can it help your dog, and what are the features to look for when buying a new dog bed?

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WHAT IS A CALMING DOG BED?

Certain dog beds have a calming effect on pets. There is no magic ingredient in making a dog bed ‘calming’. Rather, a calming dog bed is one which has a variety of features that combine to make your dog feel safer, more comfortable and more relaxed.

Fireworks or storms can, for instance, be very stressful to many dogs. Since too much stress can lead to health problems, anything that we can offer our dogs for them to feel calm and safe has to be a good thing!

Countless studies have shown that poor sleep is bad for health, and this is true for dogs just as much as it is for us. Having a place to sleep that encourages deeper relaxation, and that is very comfortable, will result in better sleep.

Incidentally, you might also have heard calming dog beds referred to as cuddler dog beds, cuddle beds, nest beds, donut beds or bagel beds.

CALMING DOG BED RECOMMENDATIONS

BEST CIRCULAR CALMING DOG BED

This round dog bed gets top ratings from other pet parents and offers all the main features of an excellent calming dog bed

  • Super comfy
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Encourages deeper sleep
  • 4cm vegan fur cover
  • Removable, machine washable cover
  • Superior body support

GET THIS CALMING DOG BED

BEST RECTANGULAR CALMING DOG BED

A rectangular calming dog bed offers many of the same features as a round bed, though they don’t tend to be covered with fake fur

  • Super comfy
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Encourages deeper sleep
  • Removable, machine washable cover
  • Superior body support on memory foam base

GET A RECTANGULAR CALMING DOG BED

FEATURES OF A CALMING DOG BED

When looking for a calming dog bed, here are the most common features to consider:

  • Shape
  • Texture
  • Comfort
  • Non-slip base
  • Usability
  • Machine washable

Some also include additional features such as a waterproof bottom. This doesn’t make the bed any calmer for the dog, but it’s certainly a useful feature for pet parents whose fur baby has toileting accidents.

SHAPE

Many calming dog beds are circular, shaped like a donut, or a bagel. The outer rim is raised and padded, creating a sense of security. Since dogs often feel safer when they are ‘contained’, this design of being snuggled in a dip, with a wall rim around them, is perfect for helping dogs to feel calmer. The rim serves as a comfy pillow too.

However, it’s worth noting that not all dogs like a ‘den’ style bed – some prefer something comfy but open. Simple observation will tell you which kind of bed is best suited to your dog – does she snuggle in to cosy spots, or look for flat open spaces?

TEXTURE

A lot of calming dog beds are covered with soft fabric – often long, fake-fur type material – that makes the bed even cosier. It mimics the texture of animal fur, so could be reminiscent of snuggling up to a mother dog.

My girl likes to follow me around the house (she’s a dobermann, also known as a velcro dog!). I have lots of cushions on my bed, and when we’re upstairs, her favourite activity is to make herself a little nest in the cushions. While this infuriates me, she loves to push the cushions around and then snuggle up with a wall of cushions around her! Calming dog beds offer a ready made version of this, no cushion kicking necessary!

A psychologist called Harry Harlow did some experiments back in the 50s. He studied baby monkeys who he separated from their birth mothers. Instead, they were offered wire monkey mothers: one was fitted with a bottle with milk, the other covered in soft cloth. His experiment – whilst unethical and dreadfully cruel – demonstrated that the baby monkeys chose to spend time with the soft cloth ‘mother’, only going to the wire mother for food.

Further studies demonstrated that the baby monkeys also went to the cloth ‘mother’ for security and comfort, using her as a secure base from which to explore the surroundings.

Calming dog beds offer this same kind of safe and secure base.

COMFORT

The padded filling in a good quality dog bed makes for a super comfy base for any dog, but it is especially important for older or injured dogs that benefit from extra joint support or pain relief.

Some calming dog beds boast orthopaedic cushioning and memory foam too. Look out for this if your dog needs additional support.

The rim creates a pillow, providing head and neck support.

NON-SLIP BASE

A dog bed that slides around is not conducive to good sleep. Look for a calming dog bed with a non-slip base to make sure your pup feels safe getting in and out of her bed – this will also encourage her to more sleep soundly.

USABILITY

Calming dog beds are generally very light and can be moved from one room to another easily. They come in a wide range of colours so you’re sure to find something that suits your decor.

Most of them are made from durable materials, some of which are dirt resistant. Others claim to be scratch and bite resistant too, though I think it wouldn’t be true for some dogs I know!

MACHINE WASHABLE

Let’s face it, dog beds get dirty, even in the cleanest of homes, with the cleanest of dogs. It’s really not worth considering a new dog bed if you can’t wash it. Some calming dog beds have removable, washable covers. Others can be put straight into a washing machine and dried gently in a tumble drier.

photo of a dog lying in a dog bed with text - calming dog beds

HOW TO WASH A CALMING DOG BED

  • When you plan to give the bed a wash, take it outside first and give it a good shake
  • It helps to vacuum it before washing it. If you have an incredibly powerful vacuum like mine, you might need to lower the suction setting, otherwise the cover could end up in your vacuum cleaner!
  • If the bed has a removable cover, take it off. It’s best to do this outside too. That way you won’t fill your home with dust.
  • Wash it in the washing machine according to the care instructions that came with it – there may be a maximum temperature guide, for instance
  • If the care instructions direct you to dry it in the tumble dryer after washing, do that. If not, or if you don’t have a tumble dryer, hang it out to dry thoroughly
  • If the filling has bulked up anywhere, push it back into place to ensure that it is just as comfy for your dog as when you bought it

HELP FOR ANXIOUS DOGS

My dog has always been a little nervous. She used to be very scared of fireworks and storms. For her, having a safe, cosy space is really important. We’ve also done lots of training together to help her feel more confident and secure. If you’re looking for some great training for your dog, I highly recommend Grisha Stewart’s Dog Training And Behaviour School. There’s a lot of other good online training I could recommend but Grisha’s is, in my opinion, the best value for money, for really excellent quality training.

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CONCLUSION

A calming dog bed can help anxious and stressed dogs to relax. They offer a safe, cosy base, helping dogs feel more secure. There are certain features to look out for and consider when choosing a new calming dog bed.

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REFERENCES

Wikipedia – Harry Harlow psychologist

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