Does my new puppy need a dog bed?
Friends of mine have just become new puppy owners. As would be expected, the first thing they did was go shopping for all the new equipment that is required for a new puppy. Leashes, collars, toys, sweaters, booties, etc. They bought a cage for crate training their new puppy, but they just weren't sure about whether they should get a dog bed along with the cage.
I told them to hold off on buying a dog bed. This doesn't mean I am not a avid proponent of dog beds. I am. However, I don't think it is appropriate for a puppy to use a dog bed. More accurately, I think it might be impossible for a puppy to be expected to stay in a dog bed. For at least the first 8 to 12 months in their new homes puppies need to sleep in a cage.
Once a dog is a year old or more it is time to consider letting him out of the cage at night. Just to be clear, letting a dog out of his cage at night isn't always necessary. Many older dogs are very content to stay in their cage at night (even with the door open) and some will even go to cage when they are tired and ask to be let in.
So if you have already passed the puppy stage and your dog is ready for bed shopping, here are some things that you need to remember when you are trying to decide what type and size of bed to get for your dog. First, have you ever watched your dog when she is asleep - does she always curl up very small, or tend to stretch out and take up more space? Watch your dog for a few days so you know what kind of a sleeper they are, both during daytime naps and for full nights of sleeping. This will tell you whether you need a round curl up bed, or a bigger bed with more space, maybe even a mini mattress that fits your dogs size.
After figuring out whether your dog prefers to curl up against a wall, or whether they prefer more leg and paw room, you now need to find the size range that suits your dog the best. Again, watch your dog when they sleep, and this time take measurements of the space they occupy when they sleep. Do this at different times to see whether it changes - if in doubt, take the larger measurement. You can always add a cushion or two to take up extra room, but you dog won't be comfortable if the bed is too cramped. Once you have the final length and width sizes, add a few inches to each measurement, and take this shopping.
Now that you have determined a proper size for your dogs new bed, you will suddenly be faced with a number of new decisions, such as style, shape, material and quality. These factors warrant their own article in themselves, but be happy in the fact that once you find a bed that looks like the perfect fit for your dog, you will know that you really are getting the perfect sized dog bed.