Here are some simple, inexpensive and effective ways to keep your dog's bed clean and to make a great place for your dog to rest and sleep.
Pet supply stores sell a wide range of off-the-shelf beds for dogs. From the simplest design to heated pet beds, elevated pet beds and elaborately styled beds! I have ten dogs - so there are plenty of nice beds for them around the house; however not all the dog beds are actually dog beds!
SIMPLE WAYS TO MAKE A DOG BED
If you have many dogs as I do, the cost of purchasing multiple beds can be prohibitive - especially of you like to have nice places for them to rest in various rooms of your house. So here are some alternates to the store bought dog bed.
ONE - PILLOWS AND CUSHIONS
Pillows and cushions (manufactured for use by humans), come in many shapes and sizes - are inexpensive and available with many types of fill - from synthetic filler fibres to feathers.
Standard pillows make great beds for small breed dogs. One of the great things about a pillow is that you can change the look by simply changing the pillow case! Pillows are a readily available, easy to clean, comfortable and inexpensive solution.
For larger dogs you can also use couch seat cushions, outdoor lounge furniture cushions. If you are planning to replace your couch for aesthetic reasons and the seat cushions are still in great shape - consider keeping a seat cushion for a dog bed. I will show you further below how to make it attractive and keep it clean. If you live in a local where the weather gets cold couch seat cushions are great as they are thick - they keep your dog further off the floor (don’t forget cold air falls and drafts through doors, etc. tend to flow along at floor level, hard flooring is cold too!).
Second hand stores such as the Salvation Army, Value Village etc. always have a huge array of pillows and cushions in a variety of sizes and perfect condition, some have never used too!. If you don’t want to buy new you can always go to second hand stores. I also get a lot of plush toys for my dogs in these places. Just make sure you get the plush toys without the large plastic eyes and other small attachments that your dogs could choke on - simple plush toys in all sizes are always in abundance.
TWO - QUILTS
Don’t throw that quilt away! Again if the quilt is in good condition and you are replacing it for aesthetic reasons only it can be used to make a great dog bed. I simply fold the quilt neatly into the size I want and then make a cover for it as you will see further below. With the cover in place the quilt holds its folded shape and as much as the dogs paw at it remains as an intact bed! I use quilts of all sizes depending on how think and large I want the bed to be. You can also double up quilts to make thicker beds. Just make sure you make your folds neat, so the bed has a smooth, comfy surface.
I also keep lots of baby quilts around - they are great for added comfort in the colder seasons, for the short haired dogs such as Chihuahuas and Boxers.
A SLIP COVER FOR YOUR PET'S BED - simple to make, easy to remove and clean…
My dogs rest, eat treats and sometimes play on their dog beds. I have multiple dog beds/pillows (also shared with the cats), in almost all rooms in my house.
I have a comfy bench and beds for them to use in my front entry (a space measuring about 5’ x 14’) - there are slip covers on the pillows, seat and beds - this makes any dirt easy to remove! If it has been raining or snowing and we come in from a walk or potty break, the dogs know that they are to stay in the entry until their feet are dry. If they are really wet, they wait in the entry while I take a towel and dry them one at a time. Sometimes when I have been working in the yard - freshly cut grass and grass stains adorn their paws, or burrs may be stuck to their fur - it all ends up on their beds in the front entry, the kitchen and the great room.
Many attractive dog/cat beds that you can purchase at the pet supply stores have a nice fluffy top side - great for comfort but difficult to clean. Other beds have really beautiful fabrics but the fabric is easily worn out, picked and pulled by dog and cat nails. Fur and dirt are not easily vacuumed from many of these fabrics, and continual washing and drying of these bulky beds is neither practical nor convenient.
I like my house clean and I like to be able to easily remove fur, dirt, bits of outdoor detritus from the dogs’ beds. Some of my dog’s beds are store-bought, others I make out of a pillow or by folding up a quilt. I like their doggy beds to not only be clean but also look decent and remain comfortable.
To solve the conflict between daily use and quick and easy cleaning, I use a simple method to create inexpensive, attractive, easy to vacuum, remove and wash covers for all of their beds, large and small, square, rectangular or round.
For smaller beds I use linen pillow cases. For larger beds I use linen sheets that I fold around the bed in the same manner you would wrap a gift in wrapping paper. I then firmly secure the folded linen on the underside of the pet bed with safety pins (the pins normally used to secure baby diapers).
For high traffic areas I also add a layer of plastic between the bed and the linen - this way if the dogs’ paws are wet or someone has an accident (i.e. doggy throw-up) the bed will not be soiled and just the outer cover will need to be washed and changed..
Please do not use plastic or safety pins if your dog is a bed chewer, as the plastic or pins could cause injury. For this type of dog I suggest using pillow cases for smaller beds and for larger beds I make a slip-cover by quickly sewing three sides of a square of material to form a very large pillow-like-case.
CAN A CRATE BE MADE INTO A COMFORTABLE SPACE?
Yes absolutely! The following provides a few guidelines / ideas…
Make sure you get the right size crate for your dog; a dog should be able to stand up & turn around in its crate.
As long as your dog does not chew and destroy (if your dog does this, your dog has an issue that need to be addressed. The chewing is just a symptom of the issue!) you can put a dog bed or soft crate liner on the bottom of the crate to make it a comfy place to be. I also put pillows in some crates.
Never place a crate in a location that gets overly warm or where the air quality is very poor. We humans don’t appreciate such conditions neither do our dogs! Remember that cold air stays close to the ground. If your dog is not great with cold temperatures make sure the crate is not located where there is a cold draft.
If you would like to know a little more about crates, how to introduce your dog to a crate and when crates are useful you can read this article To Use, or Not to Use a Crate
AND LASTLY - THE COUCH, THE SOFA, THE LOUNGE CHAIR
My dogs do get to make use of the couches, sofas, lounge chairs in my home too. This is simply a personal chose. Is it bad to allow your dog to go on your couch? Well not necessarily - you can read more about that here - Your Dog, Your Couch