Do Calming Dog Beds Work? We Asked Some Experts

Filed in Dog Health, Dog Products on March 7, 2021

do calming dog beds work

Does your dog get anxious about things like loud noises or new people? While every dog is different, many dogs can struggle with stress and things like separation anxiety and changes in their surroundings.

If this sounds like your dog, then it’s understandable you want a way to help them relax. Many dog owners swear by calming beds to help ease their pup’s anxious feelings. In fact, I wrote an article on the best calming dog beds.

You may be asking do calming dog beds work?

Short answer: Likely yes according to the anecdotal reports from dog owners, as far as reducing anxiety symptoms. However, I can’t find a single research study on the subject.

According to certain experts, it’s likely a matter of conditioning where the dog comes to associate the bed with relaxation. These beds also should not be used as the sole treatment for their anxiety.

What Are Calming Dog Beds?

Dog on calming dog bedCalming dog beds provide a comfortable retreat, usually featuring a soft faux-fur and special design that help give dogs a sense of security and relieve anxiety.

Certain situations, like thunderstorms, fireworks, or being in a new environment, can be very stressful for dogs.

Oftentimes, to feel safer and more secure, dogs might try to burrow into a blanket or furniture or find a place where they feel snug and protected.

When your pup uses a calming bed in conjunction with proper training and vet-directed treatment, you can help reduce your pup’s stress.

Plus, many beds feature other qualities like raised edges, special padding, and even self-heating to provide extra support for dogs.

What Are the Benefits of Calming Dog Beds for Dogs?

Here’s a snapshot of the potential benefits calming dog beds have on dogs, according to anecdotal reports from owners:

  • They can help alleviate mild stress and anxiety.
  • They can help your pup feel more at ease when you need to be away from home.
  • Your dog will rest more comfortably, which can also help them handle stress better.
  • Many calming beds help support your dog’s head, reducing the stress on their neck and other joints.
  • Your dog may get more restful sleep.
  • Your dog can fall asleep more quickly.
  • They can help your dog stay warm, especially beds with self-heating properties.
  • Better sleep could help improve your pup’s memory, according to an EEG study by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

What Do Experts Say About Calming Dog Beds?

I decided to contact some dog professionals to get their opinion and experiences with calming dog beds.

First, I asked dog trainer, Steffi, from SpiritDog Training for her opinion on the subject:

“Picking a comfortable dog bed will make your dog more likely to seek it out when he is tired. Beds with fake fur or walls remind puppies of their littermates and mother and can help them settle at night.

It’s important to note that no dog bed alone will turn your dog into a well-behaved and calm companion. He always requires exercise and enrichment to be happy and balanced.

If you’re struggling with your dog’s energy level, a dog bed alone will not turn him around.

Most dogs, especially working breeds, require 1-2 hours of activity with their owner every day to be calm and relaxed around the house.

Once you fulfill the exercise needs of your dog, he will happily settle in his comfortable dog bed.”

I also asked another dog trainer, Jessica Gore, CPDT-KA from Competent Pup for her opinion:

“Yes, calming dog beds work depending on the pup. The calming beds I’ve seen and used are great- the pups seem to love them, they are soft, comfortable, and easy to wash.

But to each their own, and not every pup likes a fuzzy bed, like most calming beds are. A safe spot to lay is important for any individual, including a pup!

We all hope our companions are cozy and relaxed when they need to be. Just like humans, many pups may have a preferred snoozing location, or particular spot.

It is a matter of conditioning. Just like for humans, a bed is a calm place to be! If an individual or dog uses a bed to sleep, relax, nap, snooze, lie down – these are behaviors being conditioned to that environment or stimulus (the bed).”

How Do Calming Dog Beds Work?

The main features of calming beds include raised bolstered edges and super-soft faux-fur. The theory is that soft fur tends to resemble what puppies would feel when nestled next to their mother and littermates. Plus, it provides cozy warmth.

The raised edges help simulate a den or cave-like surrounding for your pup, helping them feel enclosed and protected.

This quality adds to a dog’s sense of ease and security because they won’t be so distracted or over-stimulated by their surroundings. Therefore, they can settle and feel safe, which in turn helps reduce anxiety.

The raised, bolstered edges also help support your dog’s head and spine while they rest. This alleviates the pressure on their neck and back, helping ease tension and aches in their joints and muscles.

When Could a Calming Bed Be a Good Idea for Your Dog?

Chihuahua in calming bedIf your dog suffers from occasional stress or separation anxiety, a calming bed could offer a good solution.

Also, if your pup has issues with their joints, suffers from arthritis, or deals with similar conditions, then the orthopedic properties of certain calming beds could offer some relief.

Think about some of the things your dog does when they get anxious. If they tend to hide, shake, or want to be held constantly, then a calming bed could be a good idea.

If your pooch hates the cold, a self-warming bed could be just the ticket to help feel better on chilly days.

Do you have a pup that whines a lot at night because they want to be in your bed (but you don’t share the same sentiment)? If so, providing your pup with a super-comfy calming bed could help them relax (and leave you in peace).

Styles of Calming Dog Beds

Calming beds come in various sizes, colors, and styles. However, when it comes to style, here are some of the main categories to consider.

  • Donuts – These appear to be the most popular style. Named for their round shape, these beds are a favorite of small pups (and cats).They provide the perfect shape for your friend to curl up and snuggle, with a raised edge all around for head support and a cozy nest-like feel.Note: there are donut beds for larger dogs, but they’re not as round and are more oval.
  • Bolster – Almost like a donut bed, but only featuring a raised edge on three sides. These beds provide many of the same qualities as a donut bed but are a better fit (literally) for large dogs.
  • Cave – Cave-style beds provide the ultimate burrowing nest and shelter for pups that love to be alone or hide when they’re stressed. Some look like a dome or tent, while others resemble a sleeping bag.
  • Memory Foam – Certain memory foam beds can be classified as calming dog beds. Often called orthopedic dog beds, these resting places feature dense, quality memory foam designed to cradle and support your pup. They can help decrease pain, increase mobility, and ease tired joints and muscles.
  • Self-Warming – Many donut beds also are also self-warming beds. These soft beds contain a layer that is able to reflect your dog’s body heat to help keep them warm. There are no electric cords or heating blankets to worry about, so you don’t have to worry about safety hazards. If you have a pup that becomes stressed when the temperature drops, this type of bed can help.

Keep in mind that some calming beds might mix several styles. For example, a bolster-style bed could also feature memory-foam and have self-warming properties.

Therefore, when choosing the best calming bed for your dog, consider what they need it for the most. Then, find a bed that provides the necessary qualities to make it a good fit.

FAQs About Dog Calming Beds

What size calming bed should I get for my dog?

You want the calming bed to be small enough for your dog to feel snug and secure. However, it needs to be large enough for your pup to circle around in it.

If you opt for a flat type of bed, make sure your pooch can stretch out without hanging over the sides.

What are some essential factors to look for when choosing a calming bed for my dog?

If you get a good-quality bed, it can last for a while. Therefore, search for beds that are machine-washable (or at least feature washable covers). Some might be spot-clean only but will have a waterproof liner.

Also, opt for beds with a microbial shield that can help resist odors. Plus, consider one with a non-skid bottom so your pup doesn’t go slipping and sliding.

Will a calming bed cure my dog’s anxiety?

The short answer is no. A calming bed is not a cure for anxiety or any other condition. Only proper consultation with a veterinarian can help you work toward treating your pup’s stress and anxiety.

A calming bed could be part of that treatment. It’s a support device that can potentially help ease certain symptoms when used appropriately.

Typically, there will be behavioral changes you need to make (on your part and your pup’s), and in some cases, medication might be necessary.

Therefore, it is advisable not to rely solely on a calming bed if your pup struggles with serious issues. Make sure to schedule an appointment with your dog’s vet to ensure they get the proper care.

Conclusion on Whether Calming Dog Beds Work

So do calming dog beds work? As mentioned, these calming dog beds likely do have some positive effect on dogs as far as reducing anxiety. However, this support comes from the anecdotal reports of dog owners.

I have found no actual studies confirming the benefits of these beds. As a result, you may need to try them out with your own pup and see the results.

According to some dog professionals, it may also be a matter of conditioning or associating the bed with comfort, which makes them work.

Regardless, there isn’t much harm in testing out a calming dog bed and seeing its effect on your own dog.

You should also check out my article on the best calming dog beds.

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