Calming dog beds to help ease your dog’s anxiety
By Kristen Levine
Welcoming a new dog into your life is one of the most joyful and rewarding experiences you can have. But don't be surprised if your furry friend needs some time to adjust to their new home and sleeping area. According to one study, over 70% of dogs suffer from some form of anxiety. And problematic behaviors, such as hyperactivity, aggression, or excessive barking, often mean that the dog is experiencing fear, anxiety, or stress.
Thankfully, as a pet parent, you are in the best position to help your newly adopted dog feel better. The right calming dog bed can do wonders to help soothe your furry (and frazzled!) best friend.
What are calming beds?
Calming dog beds are specifically designed to help relieve stress in dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds. They often include features like memory foam, raised edges, and covers to help anxious dogs feel safe and secure. There are many varieties of calming dog beds out there! With a little help, I'm confident you'll find one that both you and your dog will love.
Compared with other types of pet products, calming products for pets are relatively new to the market. It's only in the past few years that pet beds have been specifically designed and manufactured to help alleviate stress and anxiety.
How to know if your dog needs a calming bed
It can be difficult to recognize whether your newly adopted dog is experiencing separation anxiety or generalized anxiety. So here’s a helpful checklist to help you identify some key signals. Does your dog display any of the following anxious behaviours.
- Barking or howling
- Clawing, chewing, or other destructive behaviors
If you recognize any of these signs in your newly adopted dog, it may be a good idea to try a calming bed.
How calming beds for dogs work
Just like weighted or snug dog vests designed to reduce anxiety, calming beds give dogs a sense of safety and security. While there are many types of calming beds, most of them include raised rims that comfort your sleeping pup while providing neck and spine support.
Different styles of calming beds provide different features that can help dogs calm down and fall asleep faster. For example, some calming beds are made with orthopedic memory foam to relieve arthritic joint pain. Other beds are heated, which can help soothe dogs who get stressed when they're cold. Certain calming beds have covers, which dogs can burrow beneath for an added sense of protection.
Since every dog experiences anxiety differently, you'll need to observe your dog's behavior to choose the right bed for them.
Best calming dog beds by type
What kind of calming dog bed would your furry friend enjoy the most? Well, that varies from dog to dog. While general guidelines exist to help you pick the right calming bed for your dog's size and age, it's also important to consider your dog's individual preferences.
To get started, take a look at these recommendations:
- If you have a large dog, try a bed with bolstered edges they can lean against.
- If you have a small dog, try a donut-style bed they can sink into for deep sleep.
- If you have a senior dog, try an orthopedic memory foam bed to support their joints and muscles. Look for waterproof lining in case of accidents.
- If your dog is always looking for warmth, try a self-warming bed. Use caution with senior dogs, pets on sedatives, or those with mobility issues, as burns can occur.
- If you have a dog that likes to dig, try a cave-style bed with plenty of room for burrowing.
Best calming beds for large dogs
Large dogs generally prefer bolstered beds that they can lean against or flat beds that allow them to stretch out while still observing their surroundings. Bolstered edges will better support your large dog as they sleep, but both flat and bolstered beds allow large dogs to curl into a cozy “bean” shape. Whatever bed shape you choose, keep in mind that memory foam is ideal for supporting a large dog’s weight and protecting their joints.
PRO PICK: Best Calming Bed for Large Dogs
Orvis Memory Foam Bolster Dog Bed (My large senior dog LOVES this one!)
Best calming beds for small dogs
Smaller dogs tend to prefer comfy round calming beds. Many smaller breeds love self-warming beds, cozy covered beds, or donut-style beds.
As for material, memory foam is less important for smaller dogs because they weigh less. However, if your small dog is a senior, they will benefit from memory foam.
PRO PICK: Best calming bed for small dogs
Katie Puff Nest Dog Bed by Animals Matter
Best budget-friendly calming dog beds
When it comes to price, there are a few different styles of calming beds for dogs that will give you the most bang for your buck. Basic bolstered beds are often extremely affordable. You also can't go wrong with a simple, furry donut bed. However, if your dog is older or displays more severe symptoms of anxiety, it may be best to search for a calming bed with more advanced features. To keep your choice budget-friendly, identify your pet’s must-have features before you go shopping for a calming bed. That should help you avoid getting sucked into pricey options with lots of bells and whistles your pet doesn't really need.
PRO PICK: Best budget-friendly calming dog bed
Best Friends by Sheri The Original Calming Shag Fur Donut Cuddler Cat & Dog Bed
Most durable calming dog beds
If you're going to spring for a specialty calming pet bed, it's important to choose one that will last. Beds will be more durable when made with quality fabrics. High-quality beds often have a machine-washable, removable cover protecting the memory foam or bedding inside. With occasional washings, these beds should last 3-5 years.
PRO PICK: Most durable calming pet bed
Buddy Rest “Tough Beds”
Most stylish calming dog beds
Any decent luxury dog bed will not only pamper your pup but will also complement your home decor. It's hard to find something classier than a neutral-colored furry donut bed. But, it's possible! If you want the most stylish dog bed available, look for patterned, flat beds or retro-style bolstered beds shaped like antique sofas.
PRO PICK: Most stylish calming pet bed
The Rosie Pet Sofa from Frontgate (For all the fashion-forward pet parents out there, sites like Muttropolis, Wayfair, and LaZboy have a great selection of stylish and calming pet beds!)
What to look for in any calming dog bed
When shopping for a calming dog bed, be sure to consider your dog's size and individual preferences as well as the overall quality of the item. It's important to buy a bed that is large enough for your dog to circle inside, but not so large that it is no longer cozy. Additionally, if you're planning to buy an orthopedic bed for a senior dog, it needs to be large enough for your dog to stretch out fully without hanging off the bed.
The shape of the ideal dog bed depends on how your dog likes to sleep. If they like to lean against something while they sleep, try a bolstered bed. Or, if they like to curl up or burrow inside blankets, try a donut-style or cave-style bed, like the Cozy Cave Dog Bed from Snoozer Pet Products.
No matter which style or size of dog bed you choose, look for ones with removable, machine-washable covers and quality zippers. For the very best ease-of-use and cleaning, look for beds with non-slip bottoms, odor-resistant and anti-bacterial covers, and waterproof linings. Avoid beds with sewn-in, non-removable covers since they’re a real pain to clean!
How to get the most out of any calming dog bed
Once you’ve done your research and invested in a calming bed, you’ll want to do everything in your power to ensure your anxious pet finds refuge in their new retreat. Here are some best practices to help you get the most out of your calming dog bed.
- Place the bed wherever your pet is most likely to feel safe and secure. For a new dog, that may be a calm, quiet location where they can retreat from any stressors. But if your dog is used to sleeping in a certain spot, try the calming bed there, first. Establishing a calming routine, or maintaining an existing one is an important first step.
- If your dog doesn’t seem to like the bed at first, remember that it probably doesn’t smell safe and comforting to them yet. You can change that by placing familiar toys, blankets, or even one of your old shirts in the bed to signal that it’s a safe place to rest.
- Whenever your dog appears anxious, lead them to the bed using a calming voice and gentle strokes to reduce their stress. You can reinforce this at bedtime by taking a few minutes every night to rub your dog’s chest or belly, massage their ears, or stroke the sides of their face to promote relaxation.
Of course, a calming bed is not a complete solution to anxiety in dogs. In fact, calming beds often work best when used together with other calming therapies such as pheromones, vet-recommended calming supplements, and acupressure. No matter what kind of calming bed you choose, be sure to discuss your pet’s anxiety with your veterinarian to ensure you’re taking all the proper steps to soothe your anxious dog.
With the right bed and combination of treatments, you can be confident in your efforts to help your furry friend live their best – and calmest – life.
Kristen Levine is a renowned pet-parenting expert, pet advocate, speaker, entrepreneur and guide, whose Pet Living website helps pet parents navigate common problems and make informed choices about caring for and bonding with pets at every stage of their lives. Kristen is married and lives in Florida with her dog, two cats, and a pair of miniature donkeys.