OK, we admit it - We're a nosey bunch @berkeleydog beds. So when any new developments occur or new products are launched in the dog bed world we always like to know what's going on.
This sometimes leads to us touring the pet stores and even ordering a few sample beds online to check the beds out for ourselves and test them on our own dogs.
Following hot on the heels of 'Orthopaedic' Dog Beds the latest marketing craze seems to be all about 'Calming' Dog Beds.
What are Calming Dog Beds?
A quick internet search reveals a huge variety of Calming Dog Beds available in a wide range of sizes, shapes and colours. However, there are some common traits, namely beds which -
are usually circular or oval in shape with long pile faux fur linings.
have a deep, very soft filling with a central base and stitching or foam supported sides
reportedly have a significant impact on calming dogs and reducing anxiety.
In addition, many purport to be 'self-warming', fully machine washable and have a waterproof, non-slip base.
Do Calming Dog Beds work?
The theory behind the bed design is that the long pile and deep soft filling emulates the feeling of your dog being comforted by their mother and /or other pack members and this in turn contributes to a calming sensation. The dog also lies deep within the bed thus contributing to a heightened sense of security.
Whilst we can buy into this a little, we could find precious little scientific basis to support it and we were certainly far from persuaded that the beds have any significant effect on actively reducing anxiety. Reducing anxiety, in our humble opinion, is much more about 'active' remedial measures such as stimulation / boredom reduction, exercise regimes, regular routine and training rather than any 'cure-all' claims from a dog bed manufacturer / retailer.
We tested a couple of higher-priced Calming Dog Beds – one store-bought and a so-called Extra Large one ordered online. We roped in the services of Amos, one of our own working Labradors, Finn, a working Cocker puppy and Tina, a rather cute Yorkshire Terrier for our less than scientific test and this is what we found -
The two beds tested were noticeably light in weight with the result that even the Cocker Spaniel was able to push and pull both beds around on a tiled surface.
Both beds WERE soft and fluffy with a pleasant but rather synthetic plush feel which initially seemed to please all 3 dogs.
Amos and Finn both struggled with positioning themselves centrally on the beds and their respective sleeping positions once finally settled certainly looked very restrictive. Both dogs spent quite a lot of time being 'half in and half out' of the beds and appeared to almost 'swim' to get into a comfy position on the very soft bedding.
The depth of filling in the middle of both beds was worryingly thin and without structure / support.
The larger bed was marketed as 'self warming' and contained a filling of Memory Foam chips which had a distinctive strong chemical smell from the outset. Our views on Memory Foam and Flame Retardants are well known (See other articles in our Blog) but the prospect of our dogs nuzzling into the crevices of the bed and inhaling this filled us with trepidation.
We would be concerned about the use of the 'self – warming' bed with any long haired breeds as the combination of the Memory Foam and the deep sleeping position may cause overheating.
Similarly, we were greatly concerned that this bed was labeled as 'Orthopaedic' and could find no real justification for this claim.
Both beds strangely stated that they had waterproof bases. Surely, any protection from the ingress of moisture should be between the faux fur and the filling and not on the floor where it would only protect from condensation?
Both beds purchased were machine washable which is fine, but we would question the practicality of active dogs using such bedding. In addition, the fact that the beds could be bundled into a machine indicates that the beds had no real structural integrity and are liable to clump / break down over a potentially very short time.
Are Calming Dog Beds worth it?
The two beds we purchased retail at c. £70.00 and £140.00. Regrettably, with insider knowledge of the industry, we felt that there was little material cost and a great deal of hype that went into determining these end prices.
As an example, high-end faux fur is lovely – we use it in the production of our Luxury Faux Fur Blankets – but regrettably the long pile faux fur used on both sample beds was of mediocre quality at best.
Both beds 'squished-down' in size making them ideal for cheap transportation in shipping containers from the Far East to be sold via retailers in the UK.
We searched long and hard for a British-made bed although some carried British brand names. Similarly, few offered any meaningful warranties.
Tina the Yorkie did seem to enjoy the smaller bed – we know she loves being handled and cuddled and the feeling of being physically enveloped by the bed did seem to suit her. The filling was blown polyester fibre which is a largely safe and inert material and her body weight doesn't really require too much support.
However, I'm afraid to say that we returned the larger bed and we would not feel comfortable in recommending it to any dog owner.
In conclusion, we very much felt short-changed with both beds and by the claims made. Whilst we recognise that some dogs will love them we felt that a similar end result could be achieved by combining a more substantial bed with a natural 'topper' such as our 100% natural pure wool Sheepskins or our Non-Slip Wool- Mix Deep Pile Vet Bedding – both British products.