Beds, harnesses, car seats and toys… How do you choose the best versions for the smaller dog?
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#1: Small Dog Beds
If you can easily imagine your own Scottie or Chihuahua as the petite star of a canine version of The Princess and The Pea then you know the search through small dog beds for just the right one isn’t always easy. Some beds are too hard, some beds are too soft, while a very few are just right for you tiny prince or princess. Your dog is not trying to be finicky he is just acting on his own breed type and instinct. Find the dog bed that suits him, and you will both sleep better.
Just as humans have their preference regarding soft or hard sleeping surfaces dogs experience the same issues. They might also have some other needs. Some little dogs prefer to sleep as high off the floor as possible because this makes them feel safer. Some nervous types like the Pomeranian and the Miniature Pinscher might prefer to have an enclosed bed or to have a spot under a table or high chair. If your dog wants nothing to do with his dog bed then observe where he does want to sleep like the soft pillows on the couch or on the firm surface of the rug on the kitchen floor. Perhaps you keep finding your little guy snoozing under the coffee table. This is your furry friend’s only way of communicating to you how he likes to sleep.
The first step when searching among the many small dog beds on the market is to measure your dog. You want to know how long your dog is while lying out straight and measuring from his front paws all the way to just under his tail. Also, measure the width of your dog as he is lying down. You will want to find a match that is no more two inches longer or wider than your dog so the bed will be better able to conserve his body heat. Conserving heat is especially important for smooth coated or hairless dogs like the Chinese Crested.
You can find a good selection of small dog beds in most pet stores, and online. Try to resist the urge to buy the cute ones that catch your own eye and look for those beds that have the features your dog has indicated will fulfill his needs. A lesson most dog owners learn eventually is the most adorable dog bed in the world is useless if your pet refuses to sleep on it.
Look for springy material that fits the choice of softness or firmness you have observed your dog prefers. Look for materials which are washable, waterproof or moisture resistant and durable. If your dog wants to be up on the floor find one that is elevated or place the bed on top of a sturdy surface which he can reach without strain. If your dog likes to sleep under the coffee table try to find a nesting contour shape that will make him feel protected or find one that fits inside his crate, so he can escape the cares of his small dog world and feel safe.
Once your dog finds the small dog bed of his dreams, he will get that good night’s sleep, and you can rest easier too.
#2: Small Dog Car Seats
Your dog likes to see out, and if you place him in a carrier for his own safety, he is likely to let you know just how much he doesn’t appreciate it. He will whine and complain the entire trip that he cannot see out, or know what is going, and he’s missing all the fun. A small dog car seat is a fantastic solution to this problem and there are many different kinds to suit you and your dog’s needs.
Depending on how your furry little friend likes to travel; there are booster seats, bench type seats, car vest harnesses, high back seats, and enclosed bed seats so your dog travels in style. You and your pocketbook decide which will work best for your family.
The booster type small dog car seat can work either in the back or in front on the passenger side. The booster type small dog car seat can work either in the back or in front on the passenger side. Unless your car does not have a passenger side airbag you should always put the dog in the backseat. With the booster, the seat is buckled in with the car’s safety belt, and then the dog is harnessed to the booster. Not only can your dog see out this way, he is, in fact getting a higher view than he would be riding on the seat alone. This keeps him from falling around when you have to start or stop suddenly, and it keeps him from scratching the car’s upholstery. He’s getting a people’s eye view from this vantage point and most dogs really enjoy this experience.
A car vest harness works much the same way fastening through the car’s safety belt and fitting around the dog to hold him and keep him from sliding forward. The only downside of the harness is if he is a very small or toy dog, he might not be able to see much of the great outdoors. Just as with the carrier you might hear complaints about this every time he’s in the car.
The high back small dog car seat looks almost like an addition seat placed on top your car’s back seat. The high back is anchored by the car’s safety belt and the dog is then fastened by a harness. Like the booster, this allows the dog to see out comfortably and to have a little more movement without the danger of sliding around during stops or starts.
An enclosed bed seat looks like a larger version of the dog’s bed with a nest shape that encloses the dog along with a harness to keep him from sliding around. The dog will have some limited visibility out the window, this way and the added protection and comfort of the bad seat.
A small dog car seat keeps your dog as safe as being in a carrier while letting him have the enjoyment of a car ride. He travels in style and you get a peaceful ride.
If you want to know more, why not check out our dog car seat recommendations here.
#3: Small Dog Toys
Selecting the right small dog toys can seem a little overwhelming given all the choices you have. The keys to always picking the one that will be a hit with your pet are to know his play style, his current needs, and what is safe for his use. Whenever possible it is a good plan to try to bring your dog along to gauge his interest in a new plaything.
As your puppy grows into adulthood, he is still going to need toys and objects you can keep around the house to engage his attention and give him a mental and physical workout. Dogs like the Toy Poodle and Brussels Griffon can become easily overstimulated if they do not get sufficient mental stimulation for example. Your cuddly little couch potato Pug will need a small chew toy to keep that big jaw and teeth strong.
Before running out and looking through the small dog toy’s aisle of your local pet shop take a look at toys he has and checking to see if he might have any new needs. As a puppy, your little dog probably needed a soft cuddly sock puppet type of toy to snuggle at night, or while you were away. He needed a chew toy and something that squeaked when he pounced on it. Look the cuddly toy over and assess whether he still uses it. Some pets will outgrow cuddly toys, but others will always need them. Some dogs only need a snug toy during times they are under stress. Check the chew toy and see if he is ready for a larger or more complicated one. Try engaging him with the squeaky toy. If he still shows interest consider getting him a similar new one.
In finding one that engages the dog’s intelligence, the hardest breeds to buy for will be the Papillon and the poodles. While each individual dog is different these are the smartest breeds and holding their interest without their becoming bored can result in some shopping around. Your Pekingese, on the other hand, is probably more easy going and not as hard to please when it comes to toys.
All dogs need some form of chew toy. They come in various sizes and textures. If your dog shows no interest in this sort of toy then try chewy treats and see if eventually, you can engage the dog interest in a toy also. Be careful when giving your dog dental chews or chew treats that are very hard and tough. Many small breeds like the Rat or Toy Fox terrier frequently chew such a treat by holding it between their front paws, and they whittle it down to a sharp point with their teeth. Be sure to watch for this and exchange the chew for a new one if your pet has this habit.
If your local pet shop allows it, try taking your dog along on the toy shopping trip. You can try squeaking, tossing and otherwise engaging your pet with the toy to see if he is interested.
#4: Small Dog Harness
Many small dog owners prefer a harness for those times when the dog will be on a leash. Small dog harnesses allow for overall greater control of the dog and work best for those dogs with a tendency to make quick or darting movements that might cause neck injury if the leash were attached to the collar.
If you have made the decision to try a harness the first thing you need to do is measure your dog. A good time to measure is after your dog has a nice long exercise session. He will be calmer and easier to measure after a good workout or walk, and it is best to find his chest size now that he is breathing deeply.
Use a standard tailor’s tape measure just as if you were fitting yourself for new clothes. If you do not happen to have this type of measure then use a long piece of string that you mark at the specific place and calculate the measurements with a straight ruler. Take the measurements from the middle of the neck and the chest just past the shoulders.
If possible, you want to take your pet with you. As carefully as you measured, and as well as you know your furry little friend somehow sizes can trick you. Most pet stores have open door policies when it comes to the four-legged since after all these are truly their customers. If this isn’t the case since you are fitting a small dog or toy breed talk to a clerk to see if a quick exception can be made. In cases when you have to buy without a true fitting, hold on to the receipt and never buy any harness you can’t return to the store for an exchange or refund.
Look at the tag on the type of harness you are looking for and see if it doesn’t have either the measurements or a size listing. Avoid buying any small dog harness that simply says toy sizes or extra small without giving you specific measurements. Also, harness that claims one size fits all are often not good purchases. One-size-fits-all Toys or one-size-fits-all small dogs are frequently made of elastic type material, which can be very uncomfortable for your pet after a few minutes of exercise.
As soon as possible try the harness on your pet. Check the fit first with the collar on your dog. The dog’s identification tags on his collar are very important to keep with him every time he goes out. If you are unable to use the harness along with the collar, get duplicate identification to attach to the harness, since this protects the dog if the two of you become separated.
Take the dog out for a good walk then check the fit again. Make sure the harness is not binding too tightly and that you can still put at least two fingers between the harness and dog. A good fit on the harness should give you more of a feeling of control when you are walking the dog which can come in very handy around other dogs or traffic.