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How to make large comfortable dog beds that last for many years

 
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Location: Middle Georgia
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Seven years ago I put these dog beds together and even with daily heavy use (6 med-large dogs use them) they are still like new with not so much as one tiny tear. One is even on the front porch and gets wet every winter.  It is hands down the best type of dog bed I have ever owned and the key is the material. If this type of dog bed was sold commercially (without the frame) it surely cost $200 or more.

How to make them:

1) Acquire a baby mattress Baby mattresses are frequently available at garage sales, thrift stores and they are incredibly comfortable especially for large/giant breeds.

2) Buy approx 1.5 yards of heavyweight 600 denier waterproof fabric.  This part is key, the right heavyweight fabric will protect the mattress for many years and it will stay like new. If you skimp on the fabric type your bed/mattress may not last very long.   I buy from this site: http://www.rockywoods.com/FABRICS/Heavyweight-Fabrics/Heavyweight-Polyester-Fabrics  

Most all places that sell denier fabric will tell you what it is used for so look for waterproof denier suitable for backpacks, dog vests and beds etc... Purchase material that is 60" wide and pay attention to the weight. The weight I buy is 8.5 to 10.5 ounces per square yard, if the weight is significantly lighter then that the denier was not designed for this purpose. Darker prints work best since over time dirt will slightly discolor the cover.

3) Make a snug pillow case style cover for the mattress. No need to finish the seams, this material will not unravel or shrink. Finish the corners of the closed end with a "hospital corner" so they don't poke out and get chewed. Make sure the seam is on the SIDE not the bottom so fluids/pee cannot penetrate it, also so the cover can be used on both sides. Close the open end with velcro or whatever is handy.

4) Optional -- the denier fabric feels cool to the touch which is perfect for warm weather. In cold weather I usually make fleece covers that go OVER the cover and this where thrift store fleece blankets and the like are great for repurposing.  

Here is a pic of the dog bed in my bedroom, this one is set up on a toddler bed I picked up at a thrift store though the others are mattresses on the floor.


 
pioneer
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This is a really great idea.  Can you sew that material with a regular sewing machine?  
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Trace Oswald wrote:This is a really great idea.  Can you sew that material with a regular sewing machine?  



Yes, I even used regular (not heavyweight) needles and it did fine for two flat layers of material. The baby mattresses are also super comfortable (I have napped on them once or twice and was impressed).

Forgot to mention washing. Dirt and fluids do not penetrate the cover at all so I usually use a broom/vacuum to clean them and once or twice a year wash the outside with mild dish soap and a sponge, hose it off and hang it outside to dry.  If the covers were washed frequently in a machine and then a hot dryer I have to assume the water proof coating may eventually deteriorate.
 
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Oh wow that's such a great idea! I'm short on space right now but I will definitely keep it in mind for my pup later. She's a pet Pyr (high prey drive) and I've sacrificed a number of blankets to her dirt and hair. Normally she sleeps on the floor. She'd probably like that.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Natasha Flue wrote:Oh wow that's such a great idea! I'm short on space right now but I will definitely keep it in mind for my pup later. She's a pet Pyr (high prey drive) and I've sacrificed a number of blankets to her dirt and hair. Normally she sleeps on the floor. She'd probably like that.



It is perfect for giant breeds because it lets them stretch all the way out with even back/neck support but takes up less floor space than a square shaped dog bed.

Livestock guardian dogs typically have a very low prey drive and a high predator drive. My boy gets triggered by hawks, coyotes, and suspicious humans, when he sees a deer, rabbit, or baby chicks he hardly takes notice.

Once a year a caravan of horse drawn carriages/wagons goes down my road, the first time it was so surreal I briefly wondered if I was seeing a civil war era ghost caravan. LOL. Anyway normally any unusual people in odd vehicles would freak my Anatolian out BIG time and send him into full threat mode,  but since they had horses he thought it was super cool and he just watched quietly so as not to scare the livestock. Once they are past their hyper puppy stage most livestock guardian dogs have an amazing ability to put vulnerable easily spooked animals at ease.

 
Natasha Flue
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Livestock guardian dogs typically have a very low prey drive and a high predator drive. My boy gets triggered by hawks, coyotes, and suspicious humans, when he sees a deer, rabbit, or baby chicks he hardly takes notice.  



Ha, she's not actually a puppy, she's 4ish and a rescue. High prey drive was for sure why she was dropped at the rescue because she chases rabbits, squirrels and lots of other things. And catches them! For eating. She's fine with our indoor cat but is incredibly interested in outdoor cats although she mostly seems to want to say hello. Just at speed. Hard to tell.

Deer are something she desperately wants to chase. Doesn't seem interested by the goats. She really doesn't like buzzards and other large birds including geese.

But she's incredibly good at guarding me, gets all huge and people are a lot less likely to approach me. She doesn't like other people either, although that's fear rather than aggression. She'll hide behind me if they try and touch her when we're out on a walk. But in the yard, it's running and barking her head off.

She's a good dog and I love her to pieces. Just, not quite a good livestock guardian dog.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Natasha Flue wrote:

Livestock guardian dogs typically have a very low prey drive and a high predator drive. My boy gets triggered by hawks, coyotes, and suspicious humans, when he sees a deer, rabbit, or baby chicks he hardly takes notice.  



Ha, she's not actually a puppy, she's 4ish and a rescue. High prey drive was for sure why she was dropped at the rescue because she chases rabbits, squirrels and lots of other things. And catches them! For eating. She's fine with our indoor cat but is incredibly interested in outdoor cats although she mostly seems to want to say hello. Just at speed. Hard to tell.

Deer are something she desperately wants to chase. Doesn't seem interested by the goats. She really doesn't like buzzards and other large birds including geese.

But she's incredibly good at guarding me, gets all huge and people are a lot less likely to approach me. She doesn't like other people either, although that's fear rather than aggression. She'll hide behind me if they try and touch her when we're out on a walk. But in the yard, it's running and barking her head off.

She's a good dog and I love her to pieces. Just, not quite a good livestock guardian dog.



Ahhh...yeah that may have been why she became a rescue. They need to stay focused on threats and not get distracted by every deer/squirrel in the vicinity. Though Great Pyrenees have been bred as pets more and more over the last few decades and the pet breeding messes up original inbred drives.

My boy was raised as a working dog guarding goats, then I bought him and he became a house dog (that transition was more challenging than I expected, I lost my dinner more than once when I turned my back on a steak that had been left on the counter, I quickly learned once he had it I was NOT getting it back). I am lucky that he is good with the chickens as a lot of dogs don't do well with birds if they aren't raised with them. He is a perfect house dog now.
 
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After our dogs have destroyed several bed we purchased, what's worked best for us was simply using those large round black platic tubs. We put a bunch of old towels inside each to act as cushioning and that the dogs can scratch and pull with thier mouths to move it around so its to thier liking without us having to worry about whether they get destroyed. We can wash the towels in the washing machine and the tubs get a quick spray down with the hose once a week to keep them clean. Very easy and cheap plus the dog love them. Although they do have to jump to get in and out a bit so may not be ideal for older pooches.
 
pollinator
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I really like this idea, Lucrecia.

My husband used to have a business making custom heavy duty clothing - mostly dirt and street biking gear.  He has lots of the type of fabric you're talking about.  He used some to cover a piece of closed cell foam to put in our dog's house, but a crib mattress is a great idea.  And, yeah, the bed is seven or eight years old now and still in great shape.

Oh, and a piece of mylar slipped in on top of the foam, but under the cover made our short haired dog pretty happy.
 
pollinator
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We did this ! Or rather a less pretty/tidy version. Wrapped a foam toddler bed in plastic garbage bags (or maybe an old mattress bag) And taped down really tightly with packing tape. Then simply bought two toddler matress fitted sheets and put one on the top the other on the bottom. When they got dirty/stinky/doggy tossed them in the washing machine. When they get really gross the sheets are cheap to replace at a thrift store.  Every few years you may need to replace the plastic. Our St. Bernard loved this bed and it was the only one we ever found that was large enough. Very durable too, it lasted the whole life of the dog and was still in grest shape. We had an expensive commercial dog bed made with ripstop nylon she refused to touch... maybe because of sliding or too thick padding?  This version looks nicer and neater though.
 
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Dunno what your dogs/cats want inside and even with a bed?

They are not humans. Though they are highly respected family members and important help. Without the dogs we had nothing, there are so many predators, like deer, wild boar, wolves, lynx, chamois, badger, fox and more.

Only the dogs keep them on distance from fruit trees, and everything else planted.
 
gardener
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This is such a good idea. Our dog, Frankie, has a leg missing and now suffers from pains in ther back and hips due to rebalancing her body. She neds a really comfy bed. We use crates for them and are now considering making their crates into rather large bedside tables for us in our new bedroom so we can all sleep together. (Before the comments come, these are rescue dogs and part of the rehoming agreement means they can't sleep outside, part of the boxer thing means they can't  be trusted unsupervised inside, and part of the Mandy and Roy love their doggy woggies thing means we're happy to keep them close.)
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