Dog BedSay 'dog bed' and what's the first picture that comes to mind? A tough, plastic container - oval-shaped and chew-proof. Situated in the kitchen, perhaps, or the living room. Or even in the bedroom alongside whoever owns the dog.

But dog beds don't have to be conventional in shape. Today's creations are as interesting and varied as those of their human counterparts. How about a doggie divan, a collapsible folding or blow-up bed?

Languishing on a chaise-longue

Pampered poochess can have her own Victorian chaise-longue for languishing on, on lazy afternoons. Her male partner can be all sniffy and sophisticated in his lord-of-the-manor four-poster. Surrounded by brocade curtains when entertaining his lady friend, of course.

The season's latest dog beds can be specially designed, or they can be made from long-lasting leather, metal, or wood. They can be raised, heated, waterproof or orthopaedic. They can even be novelty-shaped - like a little house, or a tent.

Car boot liner

Technically speaking, a mattress in a car crate might not qualify as a dog bed, but the very fact of sitting - or lounging around - on it tells the average canine that an exciting walk is imminent. So what dog wouldn't be happy to park himself in there for the duration of the journey?

Likewise the car boot liner, which can be the ultimate in comfort and style.

Towel him dry

On the subject of travel, why restrict the dog's items to a bed, or mattress? He'll need a selection of accessories as well. Don't overlook his portable food and drink bowl (preferably non-spill).

A dry-dog bag is a good idea too because it can be used as a towel to dry him after a run in the rain, or a swim, then turned inside out, he can sit in it and feel all warm and cosy.

If he prefers to sit in the body of the car, rather than in the boot, a car seat cover is adviseable. Preferably waterproof.

Luxurious accessories

What can you buy the dog-that-has-everything for Christmas? Apart from a new bed, of course. How about some super-comfy bedding for starters. A big warm thermal blanket to put under (or over) him when he's about to snuggle down will provide perfect protection against the weather.

And if he will insist on ignoring his bed and lying on the floor? Then put his thermal blanket down there first and encourage him to lie on it. He's unlikely to turn his nose up at a lovely plush blanket.

Most dogs like to lay their head on a pillow. Or a soft cushion. These come in a variety of colours, all with removable (machine-washable) covers. Offer him a fluffy, or furry type and watch the tail-wagging response.

Measure him for size

So... you've got yourself a new dog and your old dog's bed doesn't fit him. He's a cross-breed and not a standard small, medium, or large. How can you work out the best sized bed for him?

Over to a company called Ideas for Pets for the answer.

They suggest you just measure the space he takes up on the floor. Next time he's curled up on the rug in front of the fire, get out the tape-measure and size him up.

If he thinks the whole idea's a game and starts getting frisky, abandon the measuring process until he's asleep, then try again.