Key Points Owning a dog can be stressful and a dog owner’s stress can be detected by their dog. A dog owner’s stress can be reduced by a calm d...
The Best Calming Dog Bed: Worth the Hype?
Calming dog beds are effective for relieving pet anxiety.
The best calming dog beds are made of specific fabrics and scents.
Dogs are instinctually attracted to the cave-like environment that calming beds provide.
If you have a dog -- especially one with anxiety -- you have likely heard about a calming dog bed. These beds are designed to envelop your dog as they sink into super soft filling that also gives support to their head and neck.
Calming beds have recently become very popular as pet owners are more aware of stress-related behavior concerns, but does your dog need a calming dog bed? Before answering that, you should determine if your pet has any anxiety issues and if so, how best to treat them.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Ask yourself the following questions to help pinpoint the type of anxiety your dog may be displaying and how a calming dog bed may or may not be useful:
1. Does your dog show fear of new people, objects, and/or animals?
If so, a dog bed is likely not a viable solution to this problem. This type of issue needs to be handled with training, regular socialization, and exposure to other humans and dogs.
Taking them to a dog park is a good place to start. This way, your pup will get some much-needed exposure while still allowing for enough space to spread out and not feel cornered. It is best to leash up the first time you go, so your pup is not tempted to run away if they become scared (and because this is the law in most American cities).
If your pet acts fearful at the dog park, it may also be beneficial to avoid coddling or becoming overly protective. Most dogs will sense your behavior change which will confirm to them that they have something to fear. Act normally and calmly, but if their anxiety persists, casually leave the park and return another day.
If your pup seems comfortable in their regular environment but not in others, consider scheduling a puppy playdate in your own home or backyard. This will allow your pup to be more relaxed in familiar surroundings while still getting social interaction with another dog.
Once they are familiar with their new friend, they may be able to go to the other owner’s home or with their buddy to the dog park -- having a familiar face helps ease their anxiety and keep their mind occupied. Though a calming dog bed will not help your pet overcome fear, it may help them relax after an eventful playdate or dog park outing.
2. Does your dog go berserk when they hear loud noises?
Loud noises are a common trigger for many dogs. A calming dog bed is not going to silence a thunderstorm or keep your pet from hearing fireworks on the 4th of July. What it will do is help create a safe space for them to go to when they need to calm down.
A calming bed offers them some comfort with the assistance of other soothing aids, like CBD or hemp oil, calming treats, music, or other sounds to help distract them from the intrusive noises. Calming treats, CBD oil, and hemp oil seem to be the most effective solutions when a remedy is needed in a hurry, but a calming dog bed is a constant presence to soothe and regulate your pet's behavior more consistently.
Another method to employ is getting your dog used to certain noises before they happen. For instance, leading up to the 4th of July, play a video (at a low volume) of fireworks so that they get accustomed to the sounds while remaining in their safe space. Using a video is helpful because it also incorporates the bursts of light that will go along with the noises and you can turn it off if it becomes too stressful for your dog.
Judy Morgan, DVM, of Dr. Judy Morgan’s Naturally Healthy Pets in Woodstown, New Jersey says:
“You should get your pet used to a calming environment before [stressful events]. Dogs are den animals — they’re looking for that cave to get away from it all.”
As a result, these new beds help create that “safe space” when your pup begins to feel scared or anxious. The design of most anti-anxiety beds allows your dog to sink into it, and if they have a blanket to go along with it, that creates that cave-like experience.
3. Does your furry friend growl, bark, whine, or become aggressive when you try to leave?
A calming dog bed would be great in this situation; however, it will not be a standalone cure. It is helpful to employ some behavior modifications in addition to the purchase of a new bed. For example, before you leave, lead your dog to their bed, talk to them in a soothing voice, and pet them gently.
Typically, dogs will be keenly aware of signs that give away the fact that you are about to leave: the sound of your keys as you grab them and put them in your pocket, the sight of you putting on your shoes or jacket, the smell of your coffee as you prepare your morning brew before going out the door. Any (or a combination) of these signals might trigger feelings of anxiety in your pet.
Before simply leading them to their calming dog bed, attempt to disassociate these signals from the act of leaving the house. For example, put on your shoes and jacket, grab your keys, but then sit on the sofa for a while.
This will show them that these actions do not always indicate that you will be leaving the house. Whenever you do leave, there won't be any signals associated with you being gone and so their aggressive behavior won't be triggered. Without that trigger, they can simply go to their calming dog bed to relax.
4. Does your otherwise behaved pooch urinate or defecate in inappropriate places or destroy furniture and other objects when left alone?
In this scenario, your pooch may not be displaying negative behaviors when you are about to leave; instead, the behaviors are occurring while you are gone. These can be other indicators that they are experiencing separation anxiety.
One way to help curb these behaviors is to practice leaving the house for just a few minutes at a time. If your pet becomes used to the fact that you will be returning in a short time, they will not likely engage in those inappropriate behaviors. Gradually, you can stay away for longer spans, even varying the lengths each time.
Your dog will anticipate your return rather than occupying themself in more destructive ways. A calming dog bed gives them a temporary place of comfort while they await your return.
Again, in this case, an anti-anxiety bed is not an end-all solution. You should leave things for them to do in the house or yard in case they get bored. Dogs of all ages should have toys or puzzles to occupy their mind so they aren’t focused on the fact that they are alone and without their favorite human.
If you leave a puzzle toy for them to decipher, make sure it is not immediately “solved.” If it takes them 10 or 20 minutes to finish, that time will replace the initial separation they are normally so keenly aware of. If your pet has something to occupy them while you're gone, they are more likely to eventually tire and retreat to their den-like calming bed.
5. Does your dog exhibit multiple or more frequent symptoms of anxiety?
Maybe your dog always gets anxious when new people come around or every time they go outside. Perhaps it's common for them to growl, bark, or whine whenever they think you’re about to leave or they are destroying furniture and other objects while you are away for even the shortest amount of time.
If these behaviors are descriptive of your dog, then the situation calls for a more serious look at attempting to solve the problem. These nervous reactions show that their behaviors point to more than merely separation anxiety, but to a more generalized sense of fear or apprehension.
In a case such as this, an anti-anxiety dog bed alone is not going to “cure” them of their anxiety. However, a bed will decrease anxiety when used in conjunction with other calming products and behavior modifications.
Especially in this type of situation, consult with your veterinarian to diagnose possible underlying health issues that have the potential of causing stress-induced behaviors.
Purchasing a calming dog bed and creating a consistent and secure space for a fearful and apprehensive pet are excellent first steps in establishing a sense of safety and comfort they can depend on.
6. Is your dog getting older and exhibiting new anxiety symptoms?
Many symptoms can pop up as your dog enters their senior years:
Increased sensitivity to noise due to hearing loss
Pain in muscles, bones, and joints
Loss of appetite
Increased fear of unknown people or other pets
Their out-of-the-ordinary behaviors could be the result of cognitive dysfunction, so you should make an appointment with your vet to determine if this is the case.
By giving your dog an anti-anxiety dog bed, you’ll be giving them a place where they feel safe at a time in their life when they are going through changes that they don’t fully understand.
Suitable for More Than Just Anxiety
When some dogs age, they develop hip and joint issues, osteoarthritic conditions, or the like–especially large breed dogs. It becomes uncomfortable and even painful to lie down on a hard surface for any significant amount of time.
A firm mattress or thin dog mat is not going to be appealing. A soft bed that is not going to put pressure on the muscles or joints which are the sources of pain is more helpful. The calming dog bed meets this need perfectly.
Why are Calming Dog Beds Popular?
Amazon does not have a category that is specifically made for anti-anxiety dog beds. Their top product in the general category of “Dog Beds,” however, does happen to be a calming dog bed.
What does this tell you? It could mean that a LOT of pet owners have dogs with anxiety issues. However, it is more likely that this bed is made of high-quality materials and is comfortable for any dog.
Besides those individuals who are buying the bed for its intended purpose, the fact that it is specifically designed to help with anxiety is a bonus.
The Best Calming Dog Bed
Best Friends by Sheri The Original Calming Dog Bed is the best-selling dog bed on Amazon and chewy.com with several different sources claiming it's the best calming dog bed. Over 63,000 consumer ratings rank this bed a 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon. The Best Friend bed comes in many different colors and sizes as well.
Sheri's Original Bed is made with vegan faux shag fur and has a specifically designed purpose: to help relieve anxiety in your dog. Due to the materials, this product comes with a hefty price tag. However, when looking at other dog beds in the same category, it seems to be fairly priced.
Go to calmingdog.com to see a full review of this product.
As dogs come in from outside, they’ll likely be covered in dirt, debris, and occasional pests like fleas and ticks. Naturally, you’ll have to wash their bed. Before buying a dog bed, take a look at its washing instructions. Does it have a removable cover? Does it require hand-washing only, or do you have to put the entire thing into the washing machine?
Also, consider the size you’ll need as well as the size of your washing machine. If you have a large dog and the bed does not have a removable shell, will it fit into your washing machine? Best Friends by Sheri advertises a removable shell for the larger sizes of their dog bed, so that will be much less of a hassle when it comes to laundering.
Will there be negative consequences for getting your dog a calming dog bed if they don’t have anxiety? No.
The top-rated dog beds are soft, plush, donut-style beds that cradle your dog as they sink into them. Doesn’t that sound pleasant? If the bed came in your size, you might get one for yourself! The bottom line is that this is a comfortable bed for any dog -- whether or not they have anxiety issues.
Back to the Beginning: Is It Worth It?
Dogs have all different types of issues resulting from their anxiety, and a calming dog bed may help to provide your beloved pup with some relief.
As your dog gets older, they may develop issues common among many senior dogs, and having a calming dog bed might come in handy.
Giving your dog a calming dog bed won’t hurt them, so it comes down to you. Is it worth giving them a bed that will cradle and support them with a soft lining for comfort? The question then becomes: Is your dog worth it?
You already know the answer.