DIY Dog Bed Project: Create A Special Place for Your Best Pal

Build yor dog bed
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Dogs love frolicking by your feet and would have no problem sleeping on your bed given half a chance. They also love whiling the time away on any of your couches and will even have sweet dreams on your carpets or rugs. So why make the effort to do DIY dog bed projects at all? The answer is simple – you and your lovely pet will gain a wide range of benefits, plus the ideas outlined below promise to be so adorable you can’t just ignore them even if you are a newbie DIYer!

Still not convinced? Find below the most important reasons why you should create a special bed for your pup.

Homemade dog beds

The benefits

Having his own bed is beneficial to your dog’s health

If you allow your pet to constantly lie on hard floors, sooner or later he will develop calluses, which can be itchy and prone to further infections. As your pet ages, the hardwood floor or tiles won’t be good for his posture and he might develop orthopedic problems. Cold floors can also lead to flu and other health issues. We’ve given dog owners the effects of hip pain in dogs from an earlier piece that’s worth looking into.

A comfortable dog bed will go a long way in preventing illnesses as it will make your furry best friend more relaxed. A well rested dog is a healthier dog; so really, getting a dog bed is an investment that pays you back in spades by saving you from future anxiety and vet bills.

Cleaning the house becomes easier

As a dog owner, you have probably resigned yourself to the presence of fur around your house – clumping on the carpet, gathering in corners or piling up on your couches. Not to mention the dirt your pet brings in after morning walks or after he has played in the yard. With a dog bed however, cleaning becomes easier. Because there is a dedicated space for your pet, this is where most of the shed fur and dirt will accumulate. Dog owners know how shedding can be a nuisance, but we’ve featured an excellent grooming tool when your dog sheds a lot that’s quite helpful.

So instead of doing thorough house cleaning more often, you’ll only have to clean the bed and its immediate surroundings. If you make sure the bed has a removable cover that’s machine washable, cleaning becomes even easier.

Dog beds keep dogs off the couch

Many dog owners swear by dog beds simply because these are great ways to get their four-legged best friends off the couch, especially when guests come over. Perhaps you’ve been in a similar situation wherein friends or relatives came visiting. You seat them in the living room and suddenly your overly excited pup jumps on the couch with them and excitedly befriends your guests.

There is no problem at all if the visitors are dog lovers too, but what if they are not? Worse, what if a guest is scared of dogs? For sure it won’t be a comfortable and peaceful visit. But with a dog bed in the living room, your pet will have his own space and can still be a part of any socializing done in the area. Incidentally, to counter this unwanted behavior in your pup, why not read our piece on the basics of training your doggy for your peace of mind.

They are not that expensive

There are plenty of affordable options in shopping centers and in pet shops and you are spoilt for choice. No matter your house’s interior design, whether your home is traditionally styled or has a contemporary minimalist feel, there are options that will fit your needs. If you really want to save more money on dog beds, go the DIY route.

A homemade dog bed will not only be easier on the pocket, it will be one of the most special gift you can give to your dog since you spent time and effort on it. Plus, you have all the creative freedom to make a quirky or super adorable one. Just think about all the fun you’ll have!

Different types of dog beds you can DIY

You are pumped up to create the best dog bed for your canine best friend. Excellent! There are a wide range of types and styles to choose from. Aside from that, there are various materials you can use. So here then are some great ideas on how to make a dog bed.

Orthopedic dog beds – best for older canines

Dogs are more prone to illnesses of the joints as they age, and many suffer from arthritis and hip dysplasia (hip joint disorder that leads to limping and painful movements). As such, they are more sensitive to cold hard floors. Allowing them to sleep on your couch is of little help because most couches can be uneven or too soft, which can lead to discomfort and aggravation of the joint problems.

Orthopedic dog beds

This is where orthopedic beds come in. They are thick and firm beds that will serve as a barrier between cold flooring and your pet’s body. They need to be firm because dogs with ailing joints need support when sleeping more than anything. This is especially true if you have senior dogs in the house, and our piece on meeting the  needs of your old furry friends may come in handy for you.

If you look at the market, however, orthopedic beds are one of the most expensive considering they are made with a canine’s specific body issues in mind. Some of them are even made using waterproof materials because aging dogs often have incontinence problems as well. But as mentioned above, if you go the DIY route, getting an orthopedic bed need not be too damaging on your bank account.

How to make one: Simply find an affordable crib mattress; a used one from a thrift shop or garage sale will do. If you know someone whose baby is growing out of his crib, try asking if you can have the mattress. Who knows, maybe you can get it free. Just make sure to get a really thick one and has ample space for your dog to lie on.

Standard dog beds – great for all dog breeds

These can be round, rectangular, oblong or what have you. Much like pillows or cushions, standard dog beds provide enough comfort and warmth for puppies and younger, healthier dogs.

Standard dog beds

How to make one: There are many tutorials out there that you can use, depending on your DIY skills level and the available materials you have. If you’re a total novice and cannot be trusted with a sewing machine, and you don’t want to spend anything – one good idea is to get an old pillow, put it inside a pillowcase of your choice and seal the open end with the use of simple needle and thread or tape if sewing isn’t really your forte.

Cots – lightweight and ideal for outdoor locations

Does your dog love hanging out on the porch or in the yard, especially during the warmer months? If so, then a cot is perfect for him. Generally made of light materials, the main benefit of this type of bed is that it is slightly raised and prevents your pet from directly lying on scorching hot patio floors. If situated in the garden, then your dog can have a nice nap any time without rolling in the dirt, which may have insects that could sting or bite and cause infection.

Cots for dog

How to make one: Ability to handle wood, metal or plastic frames is required. To make a cot, stretch a mesh material over your frame of choice, carefully taking account the size of your dog and how high the cot should be raised.

Raised dog beds – generally for indoor use

If a dog bed that’s higher than ground or floor level sounds great and you want one indoors, then a raised dog bed is the way to go. Cleaning the house becomes easier and your pet doesn’t have to continue lying on too cold or too hot floors. Getting all that fur becomes a breeze when you need to retrieve all that dander, and our review on top-notch vacuuming tools is an important read.

Raised dog beds

How to make one: once again, frames are required but this time you don’t have to be limited to wood, metal or plastic. Wicker can also be used along with other sturdy and stylish frame materials you can think of. For comfort, get a good mattress or padding, lay it on the frame and you’re done. If you have good woodworking skills, maybe you can cobble up a platform from pallets you have lying around in order to save money.

Nest beds – stylish and popular with many dogs

Think of a standard dog bed then add raised edges all around it. You now have a nest bed. A lot of dog owners have reported that their pets find this type extremely comfortable. Many pups seem to love just curling into one of these, a fact any pet lover can appreciate because they just look simply adorable sleeping there with not a care in the world.

Nest beds

How to make one: An easy do-it-yourself idea is to get a sizable basket or sturdy box big enough for your dog to curl into. Then fill it with comfortable padding, which can be old clothes or sweaters. An old pillow or a pile of towels can be good alternatives as well.

Kennel beds – make that kennel less of a cage and more of a comfortable dedicated space

Kennel beds are exactly what the name suggests – comfortable mattresses or padding within kennels. These are a great idea because now you can transport your pet in comfort.

Kennel beds

He doesn’t have to put up with papers or disposable pads anymore and you don’t have to use bulky and heavy blankets too. If you have a new puppy in the family, our important piece on the basics of kennel training will come in handy.

How to make one: Measure the size of the kennel you are using. Then create a standard bed but make sure this would fit the kennel later on. If your dog is older and he spends a lot of time in his kennel, then best get a firmer or orthopedic mattress. For easier cleaning, get a waterproof mattress. Once the mattress or padding is ready, simple place it inside the kennel and secure as you see fit.

Cave dog beds – hooded comfort, best for small breeds

If you’ve got a Terrier, Shi Tzu or Corgi for example, then they might just love to have a cave dog bed. They can get inside it and snuggle their stresses away. And speaking of stresses, dogs with anxiety issues or those that are not too social will further benefit from cave beds because these allow them to hide away for a bit and be comfortable. Done well, these will provide any needed warmth for breeds that have short or sparse fur.

Cave dog beds

How to make one: It’ll be easier if you find a workable pattern on the internet first. Then bust out your sewing skills because the hood part of the bed definitely requires them. If you can, make the hood removal for easier cleaning later. You can also make different hood styles to change up the look of the bed from time to time.

Bolster dog beds – couch-bed combination for dogs

Basically, these look like nest beds except there is no raised edge at the front side. The raised parts of bolster beds are also thicker and more padded, which invites dogs to rest their heads more comfortably. If you buy a bolster bed from a pet shop or online, expect high prices. The available choices often require a large space in your home too.

Bolster dog beds

How to make one: It is best to find a pattern you can follow online and make sure to select durable and comfortable materials. Take note that the raised edges of bolster beds (back, left and right side) need to be well padded. You can use microfiber, flannel or fleece for these. Beanbag filling or expanded polystyrene (EPS) beads may be a good option as well.

Travel dog beds – ideal for the intrepid

If you like bringing your canine partner along on your adventures, then his ‘luggage’ should include a travel dog bed. Much like a standard bed, the only difference is that this folds up easily. It’s best that you have a bag to effortlessly store and carry it during transport.

How to make one: Choose light, comfortable and durable materials for the padding. Then create the bed just like you’d create a standard bed, but don’t make it too thick or you’ll have a hard time folding it up. Create a snug storage bag for it if you can so that there’s no need to mix the bed in with your other luggage. Your pup will surely thank you for this added comfort during your trips.

Travel dog beds

These are just some of the types of dog beds that you can start creating at home. To ensure you end up with a great final product your pet will love, here are some more important tips worth noting down:

  • Make seasonal dog beds. For cold weather, create one with lining that provides warmth. Fleece, flannel or faux suede are great fabrics to use as lining.
  • Concerned about smelly dog beds? Consider filling them with cedar chips as these are great odor deterrents and they repel insects too.
  • Check out Pinterest for a wide range of cool dog beds ideas. You will find step by step guides and visual guides there too.
  • There might be some materials that your dog will not like or might be allergic to. So do consider his health history and discuss with your vet whatever concerns you have before you proceed with any DIY bed project.
  • To make any dog bed irresistible, add a blanket or a toy. Soon it’ll be hard to pry your four-legged best friend from his special space.
  • Do clean the dog bed regularly to avoid any health issues not only for your pet but for the other people in the house as well.
  • Feel free to make several dog beds and place these in different parts of the house. This way, wherever your canine decides to spend his time, he has somewhere comfortable to lie on.

For those of you who can’t wait to get started on something, you aren’t left out. Here are two DIY dog bed tutorials you can begin creating right away.

Tutorial 01 – sweatshirt dog bed

This project is hugely popular online and has been shared around multiple times already in pet and DIY websites and forums. It is especially great if you have an old sweatshirt lying around that you’re planning to give or throw away.

Sweatshirt dog bed

Time to re-purpose it! The final product is great for small to mid-sized dogs.

Materials needed:

  • Old sweatshirt that is still serviceable. If it has holes already, close those up first.
  • A pair of scissors, something that’s easy to handle and sharp enough
  • Thread and a bit of yarn
  • Sewing needle; get one that’s thick and easy to hold
  • Pins or chalk for marking fabric
  • Ruler
  • Pieces of cloth
  • Old pillow


  1. Get the sweatshirt and turn it inside out.
  2. Sew most of the collar part close but leave a small open hole. You can use thread/yarn and needle for this step or if you have a sewing machine, then feel free to use that for faster processing.
  3. Lay the sweatshirt flat on the floor and then mark out a straight line from one armpit of the clothing to the other. You can use pins for this or use your ruler and chalk.
  4. Sew along the line you just marked.
  5. Next, attach the sleeves to the sides of the sweatshirt body. Do not close the cuffs and bottom part yet. Once this step is done, you should have a sort of half moon fabric tunnel formed.
  6. Stuff pieces of cloth through the cuffs and into the ‘fabric tunnel’. If you prefer, you can use acrylic blanket instead, but you have to purchase that from the supplies store. Once done stuffing, the edges of the bed should now be formed.
  7. Open the belly part of the sweatshirt and stuff into it the old pillow. Alternative material to use is cushion filling.
  8. Sew close the belly edges.
  9. Join the cuffs by sewing them together. Again, you can either use thread and needle or the sewing machine, whichever is convenient for you.
  10. Take a cut up fabric and sew around the cuffs. This is just to have a finished look to the whole thing, just in case you don’t want the sewn up cuffs showing.

And that’s it. One sweatshirt dog bed is now finished. Give to your pup quickly and savor the adoration in his eyes.

Tutorial 02 – fluffy dog bed

This is a great project to DIY if your dog needs more warmth and comfort.

Fluffy dog bed

Great dog owner as you are, you’d naturally want to give him one fluffy dog bed.

Materials needed:

  • Cute cover fabric (choose an easy to clean material that matches the area where you’ll be putting the bed later on)
  • Fluffy insert (options include strips of cotton cloth, pillows, cushion filling, polyester stuffing or egg crate mattress toppers)
  • Needle and thread
  • Ruler or measuring tape


  1. Measure how big this fluffy dog bed should be. Make sure it can accommodate your dog comfortably and will fit the spot where you plan to put it.
  2. Cut up and then sew the cover fabric according to your measurements. Think of this as making a simple pillow casing.
  3. Next, place all your chosen stuffing inside the fabric case. Take care not to put in too much or the bed will be firm instead of fluffy. Put in too little and the bed will be lumpy and uncomfortable.
  4. Once done stuffing, sew close the cover fabric and voila, you have a fluffy standard dog bed.

Tip: If you want to create an extra comfortable and warm bed, line the cover fabric with fleece.

There you have it; hopefully the information and tutorials here have been helpful to you. Dogs are wonderful companions and best friends. They bring energy and life to an otherwise colorless day.

Most certainly, they deserve the love, attention and pampering given to them. So good luck and have fun making those beds. Do share any DIY tips that you have too; it will be much appreciated.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.