And she is the inspiration for this story..
Once Upon a Time…
I’ve owned dogs (or dogs have owned me?) all my life, and I must have purchased hundreds of dog beds.
Some wear out, some are not worth moving with, and some get destroyed. This guide is for people with that last issue.
If you’ve ever purchased a new dog bed because the old one got chewed up and spit out by your very-own furry terrorist, then this guide is for you.
But first let me tell you about the inspiration for this guide. Her name is Gwen, and she is a little terror-dog. In fact, I think that’s where Terriers get their name from…or maybe not.
She is all of 14lbs soaking wet, and yet, she kicks Dojo -my 100lbs German Shepard- out of his bed and assumes control over all of which she surveys. Poor Dojo has to sleep on the little-dog bed.
One day, Dojo and I came home to find this in the aftermath of Gwen being left alone for about 45 minutes. Notice the bewildered look Dojo is giving Gwen (off camera). As if to say “whut did ya do, yoo crazy lil dog”.
Forgive Dojo, he’s a dog so his spelling leaves something to be desired.
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes Gwen the Destroyer allows Dojo to sleep on her bed. But only on those cold, Arizona nights, when Gwen needs a warm body to snuggle up to.
So after many, many, MANY, destroyed beds -both dog, and human- I decided never to buy another dog bed. Why bother, it only gets destroyed.
Unless it’s Free
Or at least 50% Off…
Nice thing about being a blogger is that every once in a while, company will offer you free stuff. In exchange for free stuff, they hope you’ll write favorably about them and their product.
The best social media campaigns are usually creative and take a holistic view of the process. And of course, Jennifer, being a pro that she is, figured dog beds and human beds are close enough to be fun, and gave away like 50 of these. I was a lucky recipient of one of these dog beds.
Nature Sleep also gave me a 50% Off code for anyone interested in buying anything on their site. Human beds, dog beds, or anything else they got there. The Code is BEARS50 and you can use it directly on their site or find out more by Liking Nature Sleep on Facebook.
That New Dog (Bed) Smell
The dog bed Jennifer sent is AWESOME. It’s giant, it feels great to the touch, and I wouldn’t mind sleeping in it myself.
So, HOW do I protect this dog bed from Gwen the Destroyer? That is the hundred dollar question.
I’ve done some research, and instead of trying to come up with a million and one way of preventing dog-bed destruction, I’ve decided to roll up all the techniques into an overall strategy.
Before I share my strategy, keep in mind that not all techniques are meant for you and your dog, and your situation. The best technique is the one that works for you as a human, is effective on your dog, and works in your unique situation.
Also, NEVER GIVE UP on your dog. The idea is to keep searching for a solution until you find one that works for human, dog, and situation.
With the disclaimer out of the way, let’s check out some techniques you might want to try.
Dog Bed Preservation Strategy
Dogs usually behave “badly” because they’re under-exercised, bored, and/or stressed.
I will share my strategy with you, the exact implementation of which will be left up to you to find what works best.
I think that 80% of all issues with dogs can be fixed if only you could leave them in a state of utter exhaustion when you leave the house.
If a dog is happy to get some “me” time away from his human it means the dog has been exercised enough. Give yourself a gold star in dog ownership.
How you accomplish this is entirely up to you. My favorite ways are:
- When we’re on the east coast, Dojo and I like going for a hike on the Appalachian Trail
- A nice, long walk around the neighborhood is also a good choice
- Bike runs (Dojo is sometimes too high-energy for an ordinary walk, so we go biking)
- A game of fetch in a large, open area
At the end of the exercise, the dog should be happy to be left alone for a while to doze and recuperate.
Here is Dojo after a vigorous game of fetch:Entertain
Of course, it’s hard for humans to spend that kinda time exercising the dog, so let’s try making sure they don’t get bored while you’re away.
I usually fill their toys with treats and make it really hard for them to get the treats out. This keeps ’em busy for hours.
Assuming the dog has been exercised and entertained (toys stuffed with treats), the next thing you might want to try is working with their natural proclivities.
If a dog likes to chew the bed, give them a bed to chew.
Just make sure you remove the real dog bed from the equation all together. An old, cheap, raggedy, piece of cloth stuffed with another piece of cloth would play a nice surrogate-bed role and give an outlet to their destructive behavior without costing an arm and a leg.
This is a same technique used for dogs who love to dig up a yard. A way to preserve a pretty yard might be to designate a safe dig-zone and encourage your dog to dig there by burring toys and other objects of desire.This is essentially a redirection technique.
And if exercise, entertainment, and redirection doesn’t work, you can try the repelling technique.
Before you introduce the new dog bed to your dog, spray it with something like NaturVet Bitter Yuck No Chew Spray For Dogs.
My grandma told me I was a thumb-sucker when I was a baby. Way past the point of when that type of behavior usually ends. So she put some pepper on my thumb and when I stuck that thumb in my mouth I got a yucky surprise of my life.
I don’t remember any of this, but the end result seams to by that I really, really, like pepper.
The idea here is to give a dog a yucky surprise of a lifetime, and that should be enough to keep them from chewing up the bed. It certainly got me to stop sucking my thumb.
If your dog likes to put things in her mouth whilst getting to know them, this spray will leave a very bitter taste. Hopefully this will be enough for even the most persistent Destroyer to swear off chewing on that bed forever.
This might have a side effect of the dog not wanting to even lay on the bed, but luckily dogs usually don’t generalize well. So you should be ok.
In my case, Dojo -the intended user of the bed- is the one I want to lay on the bed anyways. So if Gwen is totally repelled by it, well, I guess I’ll find a way to carry on. #hehe
So far, the 4 techniques have been focused on the dog. We could also take a different tack and manage the behavior from a different perspective.
There are companies who sell “indestructible dog beds“. I haven’t tried any of these so I can’t vouch for their indestructibility, but it does seam like a valid approach.
Nature’s Sleep dog bed is made so that the zipper is on the floor-side of a very heavy bed.
This is tailor-made for me since Gwen is too small to flip the bed, and her usual point of entry is to start chewing on the zipper, get to the soft innards and then proceed to systematically disassemble the innards all over the place. See human bed example above.
A Week Later
I started writing this article about a week ago and I’m happy to report that thus far, Gwen the Destroyer has been kept at bay.
She hasn’t chewed up the bed, AND Dojo seems to be winning the ownership thus far. Here he is, caught on camera during an early Tucson sunrise.
These 5 techniques, -exercise, entertain, redirect, repel, and manage- are best used in combination for a maximum effect, thus creating a solid strategy.
I bet even Gwen the Destroyer will be deterred if I’m consistent -and persistent- in applying at least 2 or 3 out of these 4 techniques every time she’s left alone.
And if you thought that the best way to protect a dog bed from being destroyed is to hire another dog to guard the bed, well, you might be onto something.
But you can’t hire Dojo because he has hopelessly succumbed to the charms and magnetism of Gwen the Destroyer. As I have succumbed to the charms and magnetism of Gwen’s rightful owner.
- What issues have you encountered?
- What solutions have worked for you and your dog?