When you love your dog, watching them get stressed out and restless can feel heartbreaking. You’re likely eagerly awaiting the day that science affords us with the capability to ask them what’s bothering them so we can respond appropriately. Until then, management of the situation involves trial, error, and reading cues.
There are plenty of products on the market that bill themselves as calming products for pets. Everything from dog shirts to ambient noise machines to pet beds exists in some calming variant that promises to help your dog relax.
But just how effective are these products? More importantly, are they even the right solution to the issue?
What Is a Calming Dog Bed?
Calming dog beds are very comfortable dog beds designed to mimic the experience of burrowing. They often have high walls, designed to box your dog into a cozy fortress.
The simplest explanation for a calming dog bed is that it’s a dog bed designed to be vastly more comfortable than your standard run-of-the-mill dog bed.
How Do Calming Dog Beds Work?
Calming dog beds don’t necessarily have any special properties that make your pet calmer. They work in a very pragmatic way. When you’re stressed out, think about how good it feels to slip into your favorite pajamas and tuck yourself into bed to watch your favorite show. A calming dog bed is the canine equivalent of the same experience of an anxiety blanket or a fluffy comforter.
Most calming dog beds offer better support to joints, which is especially helpful for older dogs and dogs with canine arthritis. They need a place to lay comfortably and find relief from their aches and pains.
Some calming dog beds even have heating features. If your home is very cold in the winter, a heated dog bed can keep your dog cozy enough to sleep through the night.
Should I Get a Calming Dog Bed?
A calming dog bed is a good addition to any household with a pet. All dogs should have a comfortable place to lay where they feel secure. Most dogs don’t have their own bedrooms, but they crave the same sense of security that comes from a personal zen space. Your dog may treat their calming bed like a reprieve, even if they don’t have any issues with emotional tension.
Is a Calming Dog Bed the Right Solution?
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving your dog a comfortable place to lay. In fact, it’s something you undoubtedly should be doing. Sleeping on the hard floor isn’t good for any animal, and senior dogs may wake up sore from the discomfort.
While a calming dog bed may be functionally useful, it’s not always the best solution. It won’t address the underlying source of your dog’s stress or discomfort. It simply gives them a designated place to calm down, and that only works if they choose to use it.
Stressed or uncomfortable dogs may not want to lay down. They may prefer to pace or hide. They may look out the window and try to find the source of the noise they don’t like. You can’t control or predict how they’ll feel inclined to use their calming bed.
In short: It’s nice to have a calming dog bed in the house, but you need to modulate your expectations about exactly how helpful that bed will be and what it’s capable of doing.
How Can I Calm My Dog Down?
While a calming dog bed is an excellent comfort object, it doesn’t work to address stress or emotional tension at the source. In some cases, a calming dog bed is an underwhelming solution to a significant state of emotional distress. It’s best not to assume the solution will be simple, especially if your dog’s behavior has radically shifted with no clearly identifiable cause. Talk to your vet about comprehensive ways to address your dog’s emotional state.
Medical or Behavioral Intervention
If your dog has separation anxiety, a calming dog bed is merely a small part of a larger solution. Dogs with separation anxiety require behavioral intervention and, sometimes, medication to help them cope with the feelings they’re experiencing. These feelings are just as real to a dog as they are to a person, and it’s important that a dog receives the same quality of care that a human in a similar situation would.
Calming dog beds, white noise machines, and a holistic wellness plan are important aspects of anxiety relief, but the situation as a whole will require a multidisciplinary approach. With consistent and proper care, you might find that your dog no longer exhibits symptoms of separation anxiety over time.
Modifying Your Environment
If there are persistent stressors in your environment, it helps to ameliorate them.
- If your dog is very sensitive to loud noises or crowds, moderate the volume and traffic in your house. Keep the TV volume low or listen to music with headphones if your dog is sensitive to loud sounds.
- If you often have people over, give your dog a comfortable room where they can go to remove themselves from overstimulating situations.
- If your dog is afraid of the dark or is visually impaired, strategically place some nightlights in key areas of your home.
- If your dog has limited mobility, using raised food dishes and placing accessibility ramps can make life less stressful or overtaxing for your animals.
Promoting a Calm Mood
CBD may be helpful for animals that experience occasional distress. If your dog is afraid of thunder or fireworks, you can’t control the weather or the festivities. You can administer CBD to your animal. CBD works to holistically promote a calmer mood that can minimize feelings of distress your dog may experience as a response to unavoidable stimuli.
CBD is also helpful for dogs that don’t like to travel. You need to be able to get them to the vet safely. CBD, in conjunction with a calming dog bed in the back seat, may be the least stressful way to get your pet where you need to go.
In addition to promoting a calm mood, CBD also works to support overall joint mobility. If your dog is unhappy due to general joint discomfort, CBD may help to take the edge off.
Supporting Your Dog’s Wellness
Your dog is counting on you. People who refer to their pets as their children or their fur babies may sound silly to some people, but they aren’t too far off base. Your pets depend on you the same way a child would. The biggest difference between a pet and a child is that children usually have the words to communicate their needs and feelings. It’s a little trickier to get to the root of the issue with your dog.
If your dog seems out of sorts or tense, a trip to the vet and a thorough examination of the circumstances is necessary to uncover the root of the issue and help your dog find some relief.
In some cases, tools like calming dog beds and CBD tinctures may help your pet. These are ideas you should raise when you’re working with your vet to create a comprehensive wellness plan for your dog.
Managing Canine Arthritis | AKC Canine Health Foundation
How To Tell If Your Dog Is Stressed: Body Language And Warning Signs | American Kennel Club