Dogs gazing at you from their dog beds?

Do you have good eye contact with your dog? Does he lounge around on his various dog beds, gazing at you and do you gaze back at him? An exciting piece of research has been done by Japanese scientists where they have looked in to Oxytocin, a hormone normally associated with child birth, but which is increasingly associated with social interactions too. They found that humans who gaze at their dogs and have a gaze back from their dogs produce oxytocin in their blood during the gaze and the dog also produces oxytocin in its blood.

 Gaia sitting on the lawn gazing at me.

The question was very much about what makes a dog a dog and not a wolf? In other words, when did the wolf become domesticated from being a wild wolf? It is fascinating to think that at SOME stage the humans got so familiar with wolf individuals that they eventually invited them inside their dwellings and gave them dog beds and food leftovers and cared for them the way that we care for our dogs today. When human mothers gaze their babies, both mother and the offspring develop oxytocin in their blood stream reinforcing the loving bond. When wolves became dogs they also developed the ability to express oxytocin in response to the gazing eye contact. We “mother” our dogs to smaller or larger extent and only when the wolf also liked to be a sort of “child” did we develop the strong, loving bond as we see today between dogs and humans. Just look how SOME dog beds are actually looking like little cots!!!!


The interesting control used in the experiment was that no matter how much you cuddle a pet-wolf or how many luxury dog beds you give it, no matter how early you take care of the wolf puppy, it will never develop oxytocin and it is not interested in eye contact. This is purely reserved for the domesticated dog.

 Gaia up close looking me in the eyes.

As all good research, the scientists conducted a reverse experiment. They gave dogs oxytocin through a nasal spray. This worked best in female dogs and the researchers found that the dogs with added oxytocin started to gaze more at their humans. When this happened, the humans also started to produce oxytocin in their blood in response to the “loving” dog gaze. In other words, the rise in oxytocin is mutual and interlinked. So when you climb into one of your dog’s dog beds and “talk” to him, you are probably both bursting with loving oxytocin.


We all experience our dogs gazing at us, but sometimes they also want to kiss. Here Gaia is simply desperate to nibble my nose. It’s hard to tell them off and send them to their dog beds just because you don’t want dog slobber, for they will surely sulk and feel rejected as they only wanted to show their love. Aren’t they just simply man’s best friend. We love them.

Gaia now KISSING lovingly, full of oxytocin.

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When did the First Dog Beds Appear?

There has been much said and written about how and when the wolf evolved from wild animal to domestic dog. The experts are still not sure, but it seems to be between 10 and 30 thousand years ago. The wolves became more friendly as both man and wolf could “see the benefit” of each others company. Often people say that man began to understand that having the wolf/dog around provided him with protection and hunting became better. While I think this is undoubtedly true, there is also just the simple fact that man is fascinated when he comes close to friendly and half tame animals in the wild. We love feeding badgers and foxes (well, some people do when they don’t quite understand the damage this does) in their garden and it becomes a great pleasure to a lot of people to see these wild animals coming in close for their food. We love feeding the little birds and even the pigeons in town. I am convinced that early man simply liked to get close and friendly with the wild wolves whilst at the same time he surely would be weary of the wolves as they did pose a threat to early man.


So although the wolves didn’t yet come in to sleep on man’s simple and primitive dog beds that they might have been wanting to prepare for their new canine friends, the wolves would still be hanging around for some food scraps etc. I can just imagine how early man would want to get closer and closer to this inquisitive wild wolf in an attempt to eventually feed it by hand and perhaps stroke it. I don’t know a lot about wolves, but apparently they have nursing “aunties” as in other female wolves that will help out at the time of another wolf’s whelping time. You could imagine how perhaps the early man was able to take that role and almost prepare the “early dog beds” for whelping purposes and hence be a great benefit to the wolf.


Getting enough food home to the pups is always a problem for a mother, so if man was actually turning out to be providing whelping dog beds AND plenty of food for the growing pups, the relationship would have got off to a very good start!


So I wonder how these primitive and simple dog beds would look like. Would they be animal skins or dried grass and straw? Let’s be sure they were not waterproof dog beds as this is almost a very modern invention making use of the best and latest and strongest synthetic materials.


And I also wonder where the dog beds would be for the wolf. At what point did the first wolf/dog spend its first day or night inside the human’s dwelling? I guess that people thousands of years ago would have exactly the same empathy and emotions sprung out of love as we have today, so that first night where a wolf slept inside with the humans would have been on a cold and nasty night where the humans could not bear the thought of their wild canine friend having to huddle outside in the cold. He or she would have opened the door and begged the wolfy dog in on the world’s first dog bed!!

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Raised Dog Beds

We are still working on producing a fantastic new raised dog bed, it’s just difficult to get the manufacturing price down enough to make it a reasonable purchase for our customers. However, it is very funny to see how dogs like their dog beds in the height. It must have something to do with being able to see what is going on a bit better for they all prefer to be up higher rather than close to the floor. Obviously, as most dog beds are placed low on the floor, most dogs are used to this position and they simply accept it as normal, especially if they have been given one of our really good, warm dog beds. As described earlier, I showed a photo of a dog making his dog bed at the top of a snow covered roof in the Alps. He obviously had a thick coat, so he was cosy enough and first and foremost, these kind of roofy, icy dog beds gave him superb view of what was happening in his neighbourhood.

Hairy dog using a snow clad roof as dog bed

At the other end of the spectrum, here is a picture of an English Pointer in Turkey. It belonged to a shop and was the friendliest creature you could ever meet. She was beautiful and although I don’t know what kind of dog beds they have in Turkey, it was now warm enough for her to spend the day on the roof top. Here she is with the mosque tower behind her, as if it was all set up for the photo opportunity.

English Pointer on a roof in Turkey with mosque


There seem to be a surprising lot of pointers in Turkey, I have spoken to many people, who have been there and it seems to be a popular breed. Turkey welcomes 40 million tourists every year, so it’s not difficult to find someone who has been.

Turkey is a vast country with the warm climate around the Mediterranean and a continental climate in the North Eastern part, where it gets down to minus 40 degrees in the winter. I think the dogs up there will be needing really warm dog beds where as the dogs by the Med will be pleased to sleep on a little mat on the roof.

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Wet Coats, but Dry Dog Beds

So it’s pouring down here now. The day started out lovely, but when you are in Scotland, you can never really expect the weather to stay the same all day. I had the two younger dogs out training this morning and it was beautiful. The hens and the cockerel were also out in full featherly outfit from early hours and when I got back from the dog training, all the dogs lay down on their dog beds on the patio or just in the grass, gassing in the sun shine.

Cockerel in the garden with his four hens

Tippex, the GWP, in garden with a hen. Sunshine.

But now it’s another story. The cockerel has waddled home with his hens, given up on all pecking and scratching. Luckily he didn’t walk through the dog garden with the hens as my dogs would have got up from their warm dog beds to go get them. Yes, I must admit that the hens are only surviving because they seem to walk round the dog fence. Once inside they are only too tempting to the dogs.

I knew it had started to rain as one of our workshop staff turned up with Tippex, as she had jumped the fence. She does it regularly and I need to make sure she stops. I picked her up to chuck her back in to the garden, but she was all wet. Of course they have a kennel each with beautiful dog beds in there, but she just prefers to get in the house when anything seem a little unpleasant. Any rumbling, threatening to become thunder, is too scary for her and lawn mowers are not good either. But now it seems that boredom or a bit of rain also compels her to jump out. She just goes round to see the work shop staff, especially to see Jodie.

I never take the dogs in before 5pm, where they get their food and then settle in to the house for the evening and night, but today they all look sodden and wet, so I caved in and took them in early. They have been out in the rain, so they will make their waterproof dog beds quite wet on the surface, but the great thing is that they won’t make them wet and smelly right through. I am perfectly happy to have them here in the office on their warm dog beds because they will just make the fleece covers slightly damp, but nothing will go smelly as everything will stay on the surface from where it easily and quickly evaporates.

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Stolen Dogs and Dog Beds

A bit of a funny story to contrast the most appalling experience a dog owner can have: We were called by a customer, who told us that he wanted to buy another one of our dog beds because his one had been stolen. He had attended an outdoor fair and the back of his car had been broken in to where the thieves had taken his Tuffies dog bed. There was a Barbour jacket lying beside it, but they had not taken that. Kind of funny and of course flattering to us as our dog beds must be extremely attractive. Luckily he had his dog with him at the time.


However, there is no joking about dog theft, it is experienced every day by dog owners in this country and something has to be done about this terrible crime. I have children and losing a dog would be NOTHING compared to losing a child. But still, we all invest an enormous amount of love in our dogs and the thought of having one stolen is a terrible thing. Out of the two scenarios, having it stolen or killed on the road, I would always see the road accident as a better option you would be able to get over. If a dog is stolen, you will never know if it is being kept in terrible conditions with no dog beds to sleep on, producing puppies four times a year. Our dogs spend a lot of time in the garden, but never if we are not in the house. If we are out, the dogs are behind lock and key with CCTV and burglar alarms installed.  


Whatever happened to the idea of having a guard dog to protect your property? The biggest danger these days seem to getting the guard dog stolen. It’s insane.


We all invest a lot of money in our dogs, buying the best dog beds and the best dog kennels, so we must also invest in the best anti-theft devices possible, such as locks and CCTV. Once the dog is gone, it’s gone.


I would still insist that the best method for stopping dog theft will have to be through harsher punishment. At the moment, as far as I understand it, the theft of a dog is seen, by the law, at the same level as theft of a bicycle. It’s an object, which you can replace by paying some money, but it is NOT. We love our dogs ALMOST like children and we kiss them good night (don’t we???) on their dog beds as we go to bed, we say good morning to them as we get up and in my life at least, the dogs are the first creatures I see and talk to in the morning and they are the cause of my first smile of the day. When I get in to the dog room in the morning, they all say good morning in their own way from their warm dog beds. Gaia is the funniest, she closes her eyes in super submission and wags her tail. Tippex doesn’t stir, but you can hear her little tail hammering at the base of the dog bed while Gollum rolls over in a morning sigh to get his belly scratched.

 Happy dog on its back in nest dog bed

We love our dogs and the law ought to change so that the punishment for stealing a dog is much harsher than that of stealing an object.

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Draught eliminating Dog Beds

Along the theme of last week’s article, where we highlighted the sneaky temperatures in the kennel, there is more to be said about dog beds sitting in places that are too cold. If you have ever had the urge to get on to the floor and do some yoga or stretching, you will probably agree that there is a very different climate down there, but that is exactly where your dog beds are. I am sure that in a modern house you will find the floor warmer than in an old draughty house, but still. Warm air rises and cold air sinks, so there is always the best chance of finding a cooling place at the lowest place in the house. This is great for many Labradors and other hairy dogs that find our central heating too much, but beware of the quietly cold wee dogs. If you have an old house, you should probably get a bed with sides on, such as our Tuffie Nests. In a nest your dog can snuggle in to the sides and escape any cold air. The mattress cushion in the middle is also so thick that it insulates from even a cold concrete floor. You will also need to think about dampness in the room because if the relative humidity in your house or in the area as such, is high, you will not be able to avoid some condensation under the bed. This has nothing to do with the thickness of the dog beds or that the warmth from the dog is sneaking through, it is simply a fact that anything that insulates on top of a very cold surface will trap condensation. Of course it is a help to have waterproof dog beds because at least the dampness does not sneak in through the fabric making the dog beds soggy inside.

If you are aware of the floor level temperature being lower than up where your face and most of your body is, then think how cold it is in the middle of the night when the heating is off and the whole house cools down.

There is nothing wrong with giving your dogs pyjamas on and there are many warm fleece ones on the market. Equafleece has the best and they have been making wonderful fleeces for many years. So say good night to your small, or big, dogs on their dog beds and rest assured that they are warm and comfortable for the whole night cuddled up in their dog beds or nests with their pyjamas on.

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What’s the Temperature on your Dog Beds?

Dog laid on green Durasoft Tuffies mattress dog bedThe temperature can be very deceiving at this time of year because the sun has now got some power in it, yet the ground and the wind can be rather freezing. If you keep your dogs in a kennel outside and if the dog beds are directly on a concrete floor, you need to make sure that the base of the dog beds are really good and thick so that the sneaking cold from the floor does not chill the dog. The concrete will take months to warm up during the spring and summer along with the soil underneath it, so it’s worth checking with your hand to see if it is acting like a fridge inside the kennel, keeping the kennel too cold for too long. Of course you can’t really do much about the kennel construction, but you can ensure that your choice of dog beds is the right one for the kennel. Find a type and quality of dog beds that are really thick with a futon mattress inside to make sure that the insulation is perfect and even along the bed. It is also hugely important that you use waterproof dog beds so that you don’t find your beds slowly getting soggy and damp inside. If they are damp, they are cold for your dog.


If, in addition to a cold floor, your kennels are a little less than draught proof, you could also consider dog beds with sides on to give total draught exclusion. You may pop your head inside the kennel and decide that it’s reasonably warm in there, but if you stay for a bit longer, and at night, you might find that there is in fact a sneaking draught, which would be eliminated if you had nest beds. Imagine the difference between lying on a mattress only, against lying tucked in with soft, insulating sides right round you. Big difference.


You could also consider raised dog beds, but most of these are without sides and they are really very cold. I don’t know if you have ever fallen asleep on the kids’ trampoline, but I can tell you, it’s really cold from underneath. In a kennel this is also a problem.


When you come out to your dogs in the morning, they might look happy as anything, but they can’t tell you that they were bitterly cold during the night. One good check, I find, is to go out late at night when they have been out for some time, and see if they have cold ears. If the ears are freezing, it is because the blood has been taken back from the extremities to keep the body warm. Your dogs are cold and they need warm dog beds.


Lastly, if you are struggling to keep the temperature up in the kennel, you could consider the entrance. The wind on the doorway can be a source of much heat exchange. I have got some lovely kennels with total insulation right round the walls, floor and ceiling, but it doesn’t matter if I put in the best dog beds, there will still be a lot of heat loss. So I made some curtains for the door way and sewed in some stones in the bottom. That way they don’t swing in the wind, but the dogs can push them aside to walk in. It works really well.


Check the ears regularly…..

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Dog Beds for Spring and Summer

During the long, cold winter we all know how our dogs love the feeling of sleeping on their dog beds in front of the fire. More and more people are using wood burners and open fires instead of oil heating, which is right up doggie street. It is a common request here at Tuffies that customers want a bespoke size dog beds to fit in front of the fire or a colour that will match the AGA as the dogs are always sleeping by the warmth. We have no shortage of testimonial pictures of dogs enjoying their luxury dog beds in front of the crackling fire in the winter.

Three dogs on their Tuffie by the fire

Once spring and summer arrives, I also see my own dogs out there on their patio basking in the sun. In the very early spring the sun doesn’t quite get to the patio in the morning and if it’s a bright day, they will abandon their outdoor dog beds on the patio and find themselves a little natural nest in the grass, right there where the sun strikes. They curl up in the sun and sleep as in heaven.

 Gollum does look for a nice bed and if the old, battered lawn mower is sitting in the garden, I have seen him curled up, uncomfortably looking, sleeping on the seat. Dogs love being a bit higher up, they like to know what is going on on the road outside just in case there is a cyclist that needs to be barked at.

Gollum, the GWP, asleep on the lawn mower seat.

Gollum, GWP, sitting on the lawn mower, looking out.

The lawn mower is also very good as an outdoor dog bed when you need to have a good look out.

I tried to make them all a variety of summer outdoor dog beds that can be left outside. There are various factors to take in to account: for example, if you want to leave it on the grass, you want something that doesn’t yellow the grass underneath due to lack of sun light. I guess there are many raised dog beds for sale, but we do find that they all seem really cold and draughty. I guess the lawn mower remains the best option as it will be moved regularly and is high up.


Another requirement for outdoor dog beds would be drainage. You don’t want to be forced to take it in every night or to put something over it in case it rains. So I made some very well draining patio dog beds, which consisted of chopped up cow matt inside a seriously permeable cover. So when it rains, the water runs straight through the cover and content without leaving the “bed” wet. As soon as it stops raining, these dog beds will be dry and ready to be slept on. Once I had made them, I realised that they were not very comfortable and I would certainly not like to lie on all these lumps myself, but it turns out that the dogs are actually using them. To them it seems more important to have a bit of insulation and warmth than anything super soft. These were prototypes that never came to anything other than an idea that might be revisited some time in the future.


We have, however, a new product in the pipeline, which will be a perfect outdoor dog bed. Watch this space. I can’t reveal any more, but it will be awesome.

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Is Your Dog Scratching on his Dog Beds?

This is the time of year where you could be led to believe that your dog has got some kind of allergy that makes his feet itchy. It can look rather fierce when dogs, in absolute desperation, start digging up their dog beds. I have seen my dogs have a good dig, then turn round, dig some more and then get really frustrated and run off for some relief. So what is going on? It can be the annual return of one of our most hated weeds, the stingy nettles. In the early spring these hardy and feisty plants start growing as soon as there is the slightest power in the sun light and they are at that fresh, new stage, very stingy and not very visible. Long before the grass starts getting green and long, the nettles send out their stingy leaves and that is a doggy problem.

 Small nettles in the dead spring grass. Very stingy.

 This happens every year, but it seems like the dogs forget from one year to another and every year in April they get taken by surprise. So when they run across the fields, they don’t notice straight away that the soft skin in between their pads is getting stung by the nettles. Only when they return home to lie on their dog beds do they start noticing the problem and get up and scratch. A dog can’t scratch himself in between the pads, so he just digs. It is aggravated by warmth, so if he is in a warm house it will be more annoying for him. You can try and apply a little bit of antihistamine cream in between the pads on the underside where he can’t lick it , but it is unlikely to solve the problem. There is not a lot to do about it and the itchiness will settle down again after some time. While it is at the most irritating stage dogs will be digging a lot on their dog beds (or on your carpet) and it would make sense to have the strongest dog beds you can get, which is probably our Durasoft mattress beds. We have tested our fabrics extensively and we have indeed our in-house digging tester, who always digs his beds just for the sake of it. He has not managed to dig a hole in our Durasoft Mattress Beds while they are out on the veranda with him, where we can see him give it hell. There are claw marks across the fabric, but the texturised Nylon easily stands up to the stress.

 Collie on Durasoft bed. Very scratch resistant surface.

So although it is annoying for your dogs, at least you are not going to lose your dog beds to excessive digging. The Tuffie beds will stand up to the abuse.

 Just one thing to come back to whether a dog learns from year to year. I have noticed that they certainly learn by the first few weeks of spring and when the nettles are further up, I have seen my dogs simply smell the field and because it’s full of nettles, they won’t run over it and play. Nettles have, even to our crude noses, a very strong and characteristic smell.

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Easter is a good time for washing dog beds

This is a good time to look at the outdoor facilities for your dog. When the warmer weather comes along and you have some time around the Easter holidays, it is a perfect time to arrange the kennels in the garden and make sure everything is good. The garden will be looking a bit tired right now, but you know it will soon spring in to action when the grass starts growing and the weeds are trying their best to win over the grass for sun, water and space. Before the big weeding jobs begin, you can pay the kennels and the dog beds some attention. If you already have kennels, in which your dog has been living, perhaps just during your working day or only during the night, it is nice to perform a good old spring cleaning. The dog beds might look pristine, but they will probably be a little bit smelly. If you have a Tuffies waterproof bed with one of the machine washable covers on it, you can take the covers off and simply bong it in the machine with any detergent you like. At the recommended 40 degrees wash, they come up like new.

 Lady washing and rinsing a Tuffie dog bed

Tuffie covers on the clothes line

It is also nice, on a sunny spring day to wash out the kennels thoroughly and air it all while the dog beds are also drying out. In our kennels there is always lots of leaves that have been blowing in and there are dry dirt from all the mud that the dogs drag in from running round the wet grass via their paws. With the lovely washable dog beds and washable covers, this is no problem while it happens because the dogs are not feeling wet or damp, but over time, this all dries up to dust and needs cleaning out. I also usually find weird and funny things in the corners of the kennels and once I found the mummified body of a black bird. I know my dogs won’t eat a black bird if it has hit the window and died in the garden. I have seen a bird out there, untouched for days till I remove it from the lawn, but obviously one of the dogs, probably the young one, has picked it up to have a closer inspection in ‘’privacy’’ on the waterproof dog beds inside the kennel only to conclude that it was not edible.

 Lady washing a Really Tough Tuffie

If you feed raw food like I do, and I mean proper raw food like whole deer-heads, you will find various remains like teeth and jaws from the deer or the odd femur which the dogs have given up on. All this needs to be chucked out in the cleaning process.

 Tippex, GWP, eating raw roe deer meat

It is a lovely feeling to put all the clean and fresh waterproof dog beds back in to a clean kennel as part of the spring cleaning. Usually I will do the same in preparation for winter when the autumn arrives. But for now, let’s enjoy the warm spring time and get the doggies nice and tidy.

 White mountain hare running in the snow

I have been on spring grouse count and found this little Easter bunny that the young dog managed to point.

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