Blog Archives

January 2015 Photos from the Doggy Day Care Centre – enjoy!

Dogs will use eyes to express moods, and we love dog’s squinting, this is usually a positive sign of contentment, joy and happiness.

A confident socialised dog, during dog to dog induction will squint whilst gazing elsewhere. This is a clear indication your dog is not at all interested in rough play or even a hint of aggression.

Sometimes if you tell your dog of, your dog may squint, but this is usually followed by your dog nudging your hand in an act of saying “sorry”.

When you next give your dog a belly rub, have a look at his eyes, hopefully you can detect a squint and maybe even a smile!

When you’re next  taking your dog out in Redhill or Reigate,  just watch the dogs for 10 mins.

Here’s a wonderful picture of Abby and Lexi, taken at our Doggy Day Care Centre. This picture demonstrates squinting – Abby is in  a very happy, content and joyful mood, you can even see her smile, with her friend Lexi.

Dog's Squinting

Dog’s Squinting

Why does my dog flatten his ears?

This is a more complicated expression and can mean a varying of emotions. This can vary widely at both ends of the emotional scale. (From play to submission and right at the end of the scale, aggression)

  • A fearful dog will have a smooth forward, ear back and cower
  • An aggressive dog’s forehead will be tense and usually wrinkled
  • A curious dog will pull his ears back to concentrate
  • A sad dog may lie on his front paws with ears back and usually won’t move

Also, dogs will pull ears back just before a fight in order to protect them from bites or stretches.

The main ear movement we look for is for a sign of submission, this is the method a dog will use to demonstrate his lower ranking to other dogs.

Here’s a perfect example of “Lexie”, a stunning, compassionate, friendly dog showing her kind and submissive nature, taken at our Day Care Centre:

Flat ears like Lexi's show case a kind, gentle submissive dog.

Flat ears like Lexi’s show case a kind, gentle submissive dog.

Lovely isn’t it?

At Zara’s Doggy Day Care we’re always studying dog behaviour but more specifically in a group environment.

Every dog is required to be vetted by Zara and her dog Bentley before your dog can join the fun, so we’re going to start blogging same of the behaviours we actually look for during the dogs induction or whilst we’re monitoring our clients dogs at the centre.

 So….. why does my dog lick his lips & other dog’s lips?

As with humans, people often forget mouths are not just for eating, drinking, barking, they can reflect expressions and moods. – Same for dogs too!

A dog may lick his lips when they feel unsure about something, say meeting a group of dogs at a training session or new dogs at the park.

When your dog is licking his lips, near another dog, your dog is actually saying:

 “Just to let you know, I am okay”


Some more anxious dogs may lick their noses repeatedly and glance sideways with raised eyebrows so you can see the white eye areas. This is a more nervous gesture, in human terms, they would be biting their finger nails.

Dogs can sometimes lick their lips of they are thinking, for example, you’re teaching them agility or new training tricks such as roll over. – We, humans, actually do the same whilst we exercise high levels of concentration.

Dogs and more frequently puppies lick lips of senior dogs to show respect whilst adult dogs will lick a more superior dogs lips.

So next time you’re watching your dog, especially when they meet another dog, carefully watch your dog’s lips and tongue – you might be surprised what you find out about your dog.

….And here’s a lovely example of Rufus taken at Zara’s Doggy Day Care:


Rufus - dog licking - one happy dog

Rufus – dog licking – one happy dog!


Dog agility – great fun to watch isn’t it?  Some owners never attempt agility whilst others are masters and attend courses every week.

One thing they all have in common is that the dogs enjoy it. Agility is fun and a great way to bond with your dog.

So how do we use agility at the doggy day care centre?

Well, we built our own equipment, it’s basic, strong and safe. We find it look’s great and encourages safe play.  – Even small dogs feel safe on the low and wide a-frame.

Dog agility is a great way for the dog to learn voice commands & hand gestures or arm movements.

Using agility successfully like you see on the TV requires practice and plenty of dedication.

Jumps, weaving poles, running fast, slow, turning, waiting, changing direction, not to mention the sequencing.

Sequencing is the path from A to B, for each course, the same sequence must be followed against your competitors.

We also have a full plastic dog agility set including a 30 ft tunnel, great fun and a great way to bond with your dog or keep the kids entertained.

We’re yet to find a regular dog agility club in Reigate, however our dog agility course may not be the most complicated, but it’s perfect for the dogs we look after and even more fun when we have 15 dogs following Sam or Stanley who are the experts in the pack! 


Most dogs love swimming; it is interesting watching how different dogs react and play around water.

Just like humans, some dive, some paddle, some swim non-stop and a very small percentage don’t enjoy it.

Luckily at the doggy day care centre we have a purposed built pool – big enough and deep enough for a dog to swim yet small enough for us to manage the water without the use of dangerous chemicals.

Dog swimming is great, it’s safe and is one of the only exercises that dogs will work 100% of all muscles.

Some of the other benefits are:

  • Increases the range & flexibility of joints
  • Aids weight loss
  • Strengthens muscles
  • Improves Cardio

At the day care centre we care for two dogs with mild dysplasia, we have found the dog swimming sessions have really help them relive the pressure and increase muscle mass.

We generally use the pool to introduce dog swimming to dogs, for fun and as an aid to cool down during the summer months.

I have also been known to get in the pool with the dogs whilst on dog lifeguard duty, all part of the job!

It’s important to remember that most pools contain dangerous chemicals, considering a dog will always drink and swallow large amounts, certain procedures are required and dogs certainly shouldn’t swim in a pool designed and maintained for humans.

If you dog requires hydrotherapy treatment we would recommend using, based in Surrey


Did you know 53% of dogs are overweight? This is according to veterinary research conducted in 2011.

I am shocked how high this figure is, at the doggy day care centre, I’d say it’s less than 3%, owners who see the benefits of doggy day care tend to ensure there dog is looked after well and fed correctly.  One of the major benefits of doggy day care is the increased exercise your dog will be exposed too.

It’s the same as humans, exercise improves the quality of life, increases life span and fights fat.

Many of my clients ask me what to feed their dogs, this is always a personal preference. I always say you don’t have to feed expensive foods, just read the labels.

Some of the most expensive dog food is raw food; it’s getting quite popular as the suppliers suggest it’s the closet food to the dog’s natural, wild, food. I remain uncertain as dogs didn’t live very long back then and since the introduction of high quality dry dog food, live expectancy of a dog has increased.

I believe you can’t beat a balanced diet, meat and vegetables for your dog.

Here are my tips:

  • Look at the label for food ratios
  • e.g. 45% meat, 30% vegetables – what makes up the remaining % ?
  • Ensure protein content is high
  • Look for fillers e.g. wheat and avoid
  • Avoid foods with BHA / BHF – look for quality preservatives such as vitamin E.
  • If the pack contains the word holistic – it means the ingredients are fit for human consumption – a sign of good quality product.

I tend to shop at Pets at Home in Redhill, it’s not the cheapest, but it allows me to compare many different brands in one place.

I have also been lucky enough to speak directly with Pero Pet Food ( who seemed to really care about the content and quality of the dog food they produced, and Bentley loves it….


My friend was at Earlswood common in Redhill today and called me in regards to 1 year old dog of which she couldn’t catch.

The dog was coming within 10 feet, but ducking and running away thinking it was a game.

It’s very hard in this situation not to become frustrated, this can come across in your body behavior and voice. 

7 simple steps:

  1. Call your dog in a calm manor with your hand held out with a treat
  2. If you dog comes near you say praise and throw the treat at his feet
  3. Remember it’s not a game – do not chase your dog, raise angry voices (turn your back and walk away, see if your dog follows)
  4. Repeat step one but try to stroke him
  5. If so, in a calming way continue to stroke your dog whilst reassuring him its ok.
  6. Clip him on lead, pull him close to you, firmly. You are the boss.
  7. Release the dog with a training lead – 40 ft until you feel confident enough he performs recall successfully.

Give this ago, I’d be interested to know how you get on. Should you need any more dog walking and training tips, get in touch.


Some more dog training! – I met one of my new clients today who has recently joined Zara’s Doggy Day Care. Dilian is 9 months old, still young, but, should be able to understand the recall command in dog training.

We went for a long walk, collecting Diliian from Redhill and heading over to Reigate, for a walk around the park.

I asked the owner to demonstrate the issues, and quite simply, Dillan does not return.  There is no quick fix, no magic toy you can buy, you just need to understand your relationship with the dog.

So we headed back to the day care centre where dillian could be let of in a safe, secure environment. I introduced a bell, which I would ring every time I wanted him to return.

To start with he was on a long lead (40 ft!) every time I rung the bell, a little gentle tug and the command “Dillan come” I pulled the lead back and gave him a very nice dried beef reward.

After a while Dillian associates the bell with food. – It is so much clearer than the vocal command. I suppose, bit like why schools have the dinner bell!

Then he started to understand the command “Dillian come” mean’s food”

Trust me, it does not take long for the dog to learn, all you need is the right environment, some basic controls, a reward system and you can really change how a dog act’s on a walk.

Hopefully after a few dog training sessions, the owner will conduct the same process and it will make for a relaxing enjoyable walk in Reigate.


Great weekend lead training in priory park, Reigate. One of the most popular dog complaints I hear is that dogs pull of leads. I often find that a dog pulling on a lead is more of a symptom of a behaviour problem, such as the dog being too dominate with the owner.

You will notice that one of the first exercises a training class will or should teach you is walking around without your dog pulling.

In my experience, many owners try to address and “stop” the pulling where I feel it better to address the dogs over dominance. 

So last weekend we took a dog that pulls for a walk in Reigate and after 3 sessions he stopped pulling. When I first met the dog I walked in front of him, backwards, on the lead, so he could not pass. After a while, I slowly turn around, he is on a short lead, every time he goes pass me I walk in front of him, turning my body into him.

As I do this, I clearly state the command “Heal”

After a few sessions he was learning that for him to enjoy a walk, he had to follow me.

On walk number 3 we had the most wonderful walk around priory park in Reigate. He kept looking at me, waiting for the command “heal”.

Zara’s Doggy Day Care provide advice on lead training your dog. They also supply a wide range of dog day care services, dog walking and dog house training advice.