What was your dog bred for?


What was your dog bred for?


All dogs are good dogs, and all of them are mans best friend. But do you know why your dog bred? Even our mixed breeds have specific characteristics and traits from the breeds of their parents. Knowing these traits can help us provide the best care for our fuzzy besties. These breeds are split up in to the following basic breed groups:


Sporting Dogs:

These dogs can generally be split into four groups: spaniels, pointers, retrievers and setters. These pups are highly trainable and were first bred to work closely with hunters to locate or retrieve game. Labradors and Golden Retrievers were bred to retreive game or fish. Springer spaniels were bred to flush birds and other game from long grass so that hunters could shoot them down, and then would retrieve the grounded quarry. English and German Pointers were bred to track game and retrieve it, whether it is night time or in water. Sporting dogs have high energy, strong work ethic and are keen to please. These dogs enjoy games like fetch, going on adventures or doing nose work activities. They love having something to do and are very active, so require more than your 10 minute stroll around the block to keep the boundless energy in check.


Working Dogs:

These dogs are usually big, powerful and smart – think rottweilers, bred to move cattle, work as police dogs or for personal protection; newfoundlands bred to save people from the water and haul in fishing nets; and . These dogs require a job, or they are likely to assign themselves a job; this could be anything from chasing a ball all day every day to barking at people walking past the house. These dogs have very strong instincts and, without an outlet for their strong work ethic, these instincts can cause them to develop beavioural issues in suburban life. Because these dogs are usually large with protective instincts, socialisation with dogs and people and lots of consistent training is essential. With the correct stimulation and plenty of opportunities for for these dogs to express themselves, the working group are lovely, loyal teddy bears that are a fantastic addition to the family!


Terrier Group:

Think West Highland White Terriers, Rat Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Fast, agile and clever, terriers were historically bred for pest control. Their compact bodies allowed them to easily hunt for small prey and pests in burrows and tunnels that would be difficult for humans or larger dogs to access. Terriers love to chase and dig so it is important to give them outlets for these instincts or your back yard could turn in to a digging pit! Terriers are lots of fun and full of character, but make sure you are prepared for some high energy levels if you are thinking about adding one of these gorgeous dogs to your household!


Hound Group:

The beautiful Hound Group can be split into two groups – scent hounds and sight hounds.


Sight hounds are historically used for chasing down the fastest prey and will chase anything that moves, the faster the better. These are the greyhounds, salukis and whippets. This means that they sometimes do not do well in places that have lots of cats or small critters that could be chased!

Scent hounds are the hounds that were trained to track injured prey over long distances. They have powerful noses and have been bred to have distinguishing physical traits that make them excellent trackers. Typically they have long ears, lots of facial skin rolls that trap scents and they can be low to the ground to follow scents better. These are dogs like basset hounds and blood hounds. While these guys are not as athletic as their sight hound counterparts, they are specialists in their field! A family with a scent hound would have a lot of fun doing treat hunts around the house but walks would be really slow as their pooch would need to stop and smell everything!


Herding Group:

What breed do you think of when you hear the word herding? Is it the border collie?

You would be right! Their athletic prowess and focused stare make them some of the worlds best herders. In the herding group, we also have breeds like the Australian Shepherd, Corgi and German Shepherd. All of these dogs have strong instincts to control the movement of other animals, making training essential to ensure they do not end up herding the children of the families that adopt them!


Toy Group:

Toy dogs were bred specifically for companionship and are a great choice for city living as they are highly adaptable to different life styles! Breeds in this group include the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Brussels Griffon and Chihuahua. Don’t let their small size fool you, they can be very protective, but their affectionate demeanour make them a fabulous addition to any home.


Non-Sporting Group:

These dogs don’t really have anything in common except they don’t fit into the other groups! They are generally great housedogs and watch dogs. English bulldogs, once bred for fighting bigger opponents have now retired to a non-sporting status and now are more revered for their big personalities and rolly bodies! Dalmatians, once given the job to trot along side horse drawn carriages and keep the horses safe, are now known for their spots and are great company for families. Bichon Frises, originally bred as companions to French royalty, are smaller dogs known for their wooly fur and delightful personalities. While these breeds typically don’t have jobs assigned for them in modern day life, they are great at being mans best friend! They are great at keeping man company and enriching our lives.


All dogs are individuals and may not follow the same characteristics as the rest of their breed so it is always up to their owners to find out what their dog likes best as it’s not always that clear cut! If you are unsure about what makes your dogs tail wag, or need ideas on new fun tasks that your dog would enjoy, talk to our friendly team in reception at CCC!

Top 5 Indoor Games for Rainy Days

Top 5 Indoor Games for Rainy Days

We are coming out the other side of winter so we will be able to take our dogs out more often for exercise! Yay! However, some wet days can still be expected so it is always a great idea to keep a stash of indoor activities for when the weather is not so great! Here are our top 5 indoor games for keeping Rover entertained while they are stuck inside!


  1. Muffin Tin Game


This one is an easy, inexpensive toy you can use with your dog to tire them out mentally! Grab a muffin tin, a few tennis balls and your dogs favourite treats. Place a few treats in a few of the cups of the muffin tin and then place the tennis balls on top so your pup can’t see the treats. You can pop some tennis balls over empty cups to make it a little harder too! Encourage your dog to find the treats by moving the tennis balls out of the cups – you may need to hold on to the tray as this process can be a rough one depending on how keen on treats your pooch is! Once they have found the treats, simply reset the tray and repeat as needed!


  1. Find it!


Organise a fun scavenger hunt for your pooch with their favourite treats! Pop them in another room and ask them to wait, or shut the door while you hide some treats around your room of choice. When your dog is learning concept of the game, start out easy by ‘hiding’ treats in quite obvious places so your dog understands that there are yummy things to find! As your dog learns the game, start increasing the difficulty of the game by finding harder hiding spots (like under the coffee table, or under a magazine on the floor)
However, one important thing to keep in mind: do not hide treats somewhere that your dog is not allowed. For example if your dog is not allowed on the couch but you hide a treat there for them, they could begin to associate the reward of the treat with getting on the couch which could reverse any training you have done around staying off the couch!


  1. Learn a new trick!


Pick a new trick to teach your pooch! A few popular ones are roll over, shake, high five, sit pretty/beg and leg weave but the possibilities are endless! There are lots of great videos on youtube that can help you train your pooch or feel free to ask our friendly staff for some pointers!


  1. Obstacle Course


This one can be a bit difficult in smaller spaces, but if you can clear out space in your lounge, it can be good fun to create an obstacle course for your pooch. Be creative too! A broomstick can double as a hurdle, and the legs of a chair can double as a tunnel for our smaller pooches. As your pooch gets used to clearing these obstacles, add more or change up the order of the obstacles to keep your pooch engaged in the activity! Remember to use lots of treats to encourage them around the course and to reward for completing commands.


  1. Treat boxes


Save up your old egg cartons or small cardboard food boxes for a rainy day! When you want to entertain your dog, pop a few treats in a box, fold it shut and give it to your pooch! If your pooch finds this too easy, try popping a treat box in another box so they really have to work for their treats! Disclaimer: dogs make a mess when they play this game! Be prepared to pick up some cardboard! If you aren’t too keen on the mess that comes with this game, purchasing a kong is a great way to keep your pooch entertained and it works on the same principle – smear some peanut butter on the inside of the kong and then let your pooch spend some time trying to lick it all out of the kong!

Never Punish the Growl

There is a popular saying among some dog trainers; NEVER PUNISH A GROWL. Do you know why we say that?

We tell people to never punish a growl because a growl is a warning signal. Your dog is communicating that something is making them uncomfortable.

Think about smoke alarms. They alert people that there is smoke and/or fire in the house. But the point of a smoke alarm is that it alerts the home owner to the source of the smoke BEFORE it is a raging fire. That’s how they work right? however, if you don’t have batteries in your smoke alarm it cannot warn you of the impending fire.

Think of your dog’s growl as a smoke alarm. They’re warning you that something bigger (potentially a bite) is coming. If you punish your dog for growling, they’ll stop growling. But then what warning do you have that the bigger thing is coming? YOU DON’T. You punished the growl. Essentially you’ve removed the batteries from the smoke alarm. Punish the growl and your dog is more likely to bite first, ask questions later.

Why might I be bringing your attention to this important piece of information? Because, if you haven’t already noticed, I am the parent of both a dog and a baby. Now that my baby is moving around he likes to pester our dog; pull his ears or his tail, grip Dudley’s fur, hug him, pull on his ears and more. The dog is very patient and I AL

WAYS interrupt this type of interaction and try to show Arni how to pat the pooch gently. However on occasion Dudley has growled at Arni. Do you know what I’ve done? I’ve moved my baby away and left the dog in peace.

So please, if you are a parent or a soon-to-be parent (congratulations!) and your dog growls at your baby for whatever reason, move your baby and thank your dog for warning you they were uncomfortable


Learning to “talk” & “listen” to your dog

Dog Body Language 101


I really wish my dog could talk to me – or maybe it’s a good thing she doesn’t. I’d never hear the end of how she’s hungry again or how there MIGHT be someone at the door but she’s not sure. Even though she doesn’t talk, she definitely does communicate with me! All dogs communicate using their body language and as humans, we can interpret how our dogs are feeling based on the signals or dogs are giving us. Below are a few signals you may see your own dog give you or other dogs:


Circle Tail Wag or “Helicopter Tail”

This behaviour is when your dog wags their tail by rotating at the base causing the tip to draw big circles, much like a helicopter! This means your dog is super happy and is usually given when playing or when the see someone they haven’t seen in a long time!
Lip Licking and Yawning

These two behaviours can usually be seen displayed at a similar sign. Most dogs will lick their lips when there is food around, however if there isn’t food around and your dog is licking his lips, this is his way of telling everyone he is uncomfortable with his the situation. This is the same as yawning. Of course, if you’re sitting at home watching tv and your pooch yawns, hes probably just tired, but if you’re sitting in the waiting room at the vet and he yawns, it is more likely to be because he is a bit nervous. If you see either of these behaviours in your dog, have a look around and see if you can spot anything that may be making your dog uncomfortable.


Hackles Up or Piloerection

Hackles is the term for the hair that stands up from time to time on the back of our dogs from the shoulders to the base of the tail. For a long time, we thought that a dog having his Hackles Up means that he is or will be aggressive however this is not always the case. A dogs hackles are an involuntary reflex, just like we can’t control when we get goosebumps, and it just shows that your dog is in an alert state. If you see your dog with his hackles up, see if you can spot what he is interested in.


Play Bow

I love this one! Play bows are usually dispayed when dogs are trying to initiate play with each other. It is when they will drop their front legs down as if they are going to lie down, but their rears will stay in the air, usually with a tail wagging flat out! If you haven’t seen a play bow, check out our CCC Logo, that’s what a play bow looks like! This is usually seen in puppies that are trying to get another dog to play with them!


Look Away

Yip, even your dog looking away is a signal! This usually means that they are uncomfortable with the situation and by looking away, they are trying to ignore it. For example, when our dogs think they are in trouble, the will not make eye contact with us, they will usually move away and look away from us. This is them saying “Please, I don’t want any trouble!” but as humans, we sometimes interpret this as guilt.


Fun fact: No studies have confirmed that dogs have the mental or emotional capacity to feel guilt. So for example, you come home and find your favourite shoes torn up on the floor and you know who did it – “FIDO!” You find Fido sitting in a corner and won’t look at you. To humans, this seems super guilty, but to Fido, he is just trying to stay out of your way so he doesn’t get punished while you’re angry. He is reacting to your behaviour now, rather than feeling guilty for what he did hours ago.


For dog body language, this is just the tip of the ice berg! There are so many other parts of the body to look at for signals but these few are some great ones to start with! For more information on dog body language, or if you would like to discuss behaviours that your dog displays, feel free to get in contact with our knowledgeable team members at CCC!

Time To Learn a New Trick!-Roll Over

HOW TO: Teach your dog to roll over!

Bree Collins- Assistant Manager @ CCC


I love teaching tricks to my pooch! It’s lots of fun for both of us and it’s a great bonding activity, plus it’s awesome to have party tricks to show off how awesome my dog is when we have friends and family over! One of the first challenges we took on was “Roll Over!”


Brooke picked this one up quickly because she already knew how to sit and lie down on command. These skills are important to teach before attempting to learn this trick!

There are a few different components to it which we will break down into 4 steps below:

Step 1: Sit  
Start with your dog in a sitting position in front of you. Reward them for this action – training should be fun with lots of praise and lots of treats!


Step 2: Down.

Ask your pooch to lie down and once they are in the down position, reward for this behaviour too.


Step 3: Get the ball rolling

Or dog, I should say! With your dog in the down position, take a treat in one hand and use it to lure your pooch’s head around to the right. Reward your pooch for following the treat and then start again. Slowly increase how far your pooch turns each time. The goal is to lure your pooch into placing their shoulder flat on the ground.


Once your dog is able to place their shoulder flat on the ground, you can continue luring your dog into a full roll over by slowly dragging your hand over your dogs head while they are on their back. Your pooch should follow your hand with their nose and cause them to roll right over onto their other side!

Step 4: Finish the roll!


With all tricks, if your pooch is struggling, slow down your progression and take a step back. Make sure they have enough practice with each step before you moving along to the next step! If your pooch can’t quite seem to get the hang of it, ask us in reception and we can give you some tips and tricks!


Happy Training!


A Dog Owner’s Easter Survival Guide

A Dog Owner’s Easter Survival Guide

Bree Collins

Easter weekend is a great time to have family around and make the most of the last of the summer sun. A huge part of our families are our furry friends so here are six top tips to surviving Easter with your pooch!


  1. Chocolate is a no no!

There are lots of foods that we shouldn’t be feeding our dogs as they are poisonous to them. Chocolate contains caffeine and a chemical called Theobromine which must be avoided,


Theobromine is the chemical that gives dark chocolate its bitter taste. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is to dogs. Although white chocolate contains very little Theobromine, it is better to keep safe and avoid chocolate all together. Symptoms of Theobromine poisoning in dogs can include vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive water intake, excessive urination, panting, restlessness, muscle tremors and seizures. If you suspect your pooch has eaten some chocolate and is showing these symptoms, get them to a vet as quickly as you can.


  1. Don’t share hot cross buns with your pooch!

Hot cross buns usually contain chocolate chips or raisins which are both toxic to canines. Grapes and raisins can be fatally toxic to dogs. While the exact substance in grapes and raisins that causes the toxic reaction has not been pinpointed yet, this type of poisoning has been well documented. It can lead to severe kidney damage and failure. If your pooch has eaten a raisin (or a few) you may notice vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, restlessness or discomfort, seizures or muscle tremors. If you notice any of these symptoms, get your pooch to the vet asap!


  1. Supervise kids and your pooch at all times

It is very important to ensure children are supervised around your pooch at all times. Ensure kids aren’t feeding the dogs anything bad (i.e. chocolate) or annoying them. 


According to BARK NZ, New Zealand’s only charity dedicated to providing free safety and animal related education, a very high percentage of reported dog bites around the world are towards children, and most are by dogs that the child is familiar with i.e. their own pet or a relative’s dog.


Dogs give off subtle signals when they are becoming uncomfortable and they are easy to miss if you are unsure what to look for. Practice looking for the following signals:


  • Licking lips out of context (i.e. when there is no food present)
  • Yawning when they are not tired
  • Turning head away or moving away from whatever is making them uncomfortable
  • Hunching over to make themselves look small


Growling is a very late signal given by pooches and by this time, it is very important to remove whatever is worrying them, or remove them from the area. Have your pooch’s bed or crate in a quiet area where they can pop themselves if they are feeling overwhelmed or tired. Remember to explain to children that this is a quiet area and that when your pooch is in there, he is to be left alone.


  1. Tire your pooch out before having people over

They are usually just as excited to see your guests as you are and some of our pups like to jump up on our friends and run around while we are trying to enjoy dinner! Luckily there is an easy fix for this! Prepare for the evening with a trip to the dog park, a long run or even a trip to the beach to make sure you pooch is tired for the evening. You can even give them a chew treat toy with a bit of yummy peanut butter in it to keep them busy for a while!


  1. Going away? Be prepared!

Whatever your destination, it is important to be prepared if you are taking your pooch with you. Here are a few things to consider before going on holiday:


  • Find the nearest vet and save their number in your mobile phone in case you need it
  • If there is an after-hours vet in the area, save their number in case of emergencies
  • Take your pooch’s food and any medications they are on
  • If you need them, take your pooch’s bed, water bowl and food bowl
  • If your pooch is going to be around water, it can be a great idea to invest in a doggy life jacket!
  • If you need a repeat of your pooch’s medication or you’re worried about your pooch in anyway, make sure you sort all of this before your vet closes for the long weekend.


  1. Someone else to look after your pooch?

Whether you prefer to have a friend look after your pooch, a dog sitter at home or use a kennel facility, make sure you prepare well and chose carefully. 


More on that at another time.

Have a great Easter weekend!




Complete Canine Care’s Guide to Guy Fawkes

Complete Canine Care’s Guide to Guy Fawkes

By Bree Collins- Assistant Manager 


Guy Fawkes is one of the most stressful times of the year for our pets. The fireworks that are enjoyed by humans can be terrifying for our pets and this can cause lots of issues for our pets, and even put them in danger. Here are our top tips for surviving Guy Fawkes with your pet:


Keep your pets inside while the fireworks are on outside

Bring your pets inside before the fireworks start and create a calm place for them to spend the evening while we enjoy the fireworks outside. It is best to set up a quiet area with their familiar belongings such as their bed or crate, their toys and some water. It is an animals immediate instinct to hide during scary situations so giving them a small area to hang out in can help them calm down.


Play calming music or turn the tv on to distract from loud bangs outside.

Making your home as calm as possible will help your pet get through a stressful time. Playing calming music or leaving the TV on can be a fantastic distraction from the fireworks outside. Youtube and Spotify have some great free videos containing calming music for dogs, or alternatively, you could purchase the Through A Dog’s Ear CD which is a collection of classical music pieces that have been clinically proven to assist with anxiety issues in dogs. It is a we use here at the CCC day care centre to help our day care dogs calm down during nap times and we love it!


Shut curtains, shades and blinds.

We love the pretty flashes of lights from fireworks, but these lights can leave our dogs worried and anxious. We can minimise this part of the stressful situation by shutting curtains, shades and blinds so our pets can not see the lights. Shutting these can also help to muffle the sounds of the fireworks outside.


Lock all doors and windows

As well as muffling the sound of the fireworks, locking our doors and windows can stop our pets from escaping the house. Every year, lots of pets go missing as they are trying to escape the fireworks so it is important that we keep them safe and in one place while the fireworks are going. When our pets are scared, they can do things that we wouldn’t normally see them do, such as jump a 6 foot fence, or break out of a crate. The best way to stop them from escaping your property is making sure they stay inside. Remember to shut any dog or cat doors too!


Make sure your dogs details are up to date

Both on the microchip database, their registration and if they wear a tag, make sure this is up to date too. In the event of your pooch escaping the house, it is important that whoever picks them up can trace them back to you. To change the address that your dog lives at, use this link here.


If you need to change your pet’s microchip details in the NZ Companion Animal Register:


If you have recently changed your phone number, make sure you change your contact details on your pets registration and microchip. Remember to get them a new ID tag to increase the chances of your dog being returned to you.


Use anti-stress aids to your advantage

There are lots of great anti-stress aids out there! We recommend:

  • Adaptil:  this is a wonderful product that uses a synthetic pheromone that mimics the pheromone mother dogs emit after giving birth to help their puppies feel calm and secure. Dogs of all ages recognize this pheromone throughout life. It comes in a couple of different forms but the most popular products are the adaptil collars and the spray. The spray can be sprayed on a bandana worn on your pooches neck, or can be sprayed on their favourite blanket or pillow.
  • Thundershirts:  these are vests that are wrapped around your pooch to create a constant, even pressure that gives the same effect as swaddling a baby. This secure feeling can help pooches feel safer in stressful situations.


Tire your pooch out!

A tired dog will have more of a chance of sleeping through the fireworks than a dog that has a lot of energy! Take them for a massive walk or a swim, and remember to use some fun mind games like puzzles and ‘find the treat’ to make sure your dog is mentally as well as physically worked out for the day.

Trick of the month

Trick of The Month

Lacey Knox

I love training tricks. It was a skill I never appreciated until I enrolled my own dog in a weekly tricks training class at our local dog club. While it is vital to teach your dog basic manners, impulse control, and recall, tricks are informal behaviours to teach a dog and there is no end to where you can go – think of service dogs trained to push the button to cross at traffic crossings, to ring a bell when they need to go outside to tinkle, to alert their deaf owner that the phone is ringing – they are all advanced and fancy tricks. You can even teach a dog to empty the washing machine!

When you first begin teaching a trick you must start small and work up to the final trick – not many dogs will offer you a spin or perfect paw shake on the first attempt. Personally, I believe this is what makes trick training so enjoyable as both you and your dog have to work together to build the behaviour into the final party trick.

Teaching your dog even basic tricks has many great benefits:

  • Its mentally exhausting for your dog. My dog snores the half hour car ride home from our tricks class and he goes straight to bed when we get home. Why is it so tiring? Because your dog has to WORK to get rewarded and that uses brain power.
  • For older dogs or dogs that are recovering from surgery and therefore have a limited exercise allowance, teaching them simple tricks is a great way to keep them occupied, tire them out and have fun in the process all without overdoing it.
  • Trick training is a great rainy day activity for those winter days when it is difficult to get the dog outdoors for a walk
  • It is a fantastic way to bond with your dog!
  • It takes less time than you think! Use your dogs dinner or devote 15 minutes a day to teaching one trick or part of a trick.
  • You can show off to your friends at dinner parties ?
  • IT’S FUN!


We have introduced Trick of The Month to our Monday day care days as an additional activity that our clients can sign their dog up for. Every Monday your dog will receive 15 minutes of training in that months designated trick. This provides your dog with extra stimulation throughout the day, increases bonding with staff members, and provides a point of difference in your pooch’s time at day care. We take videos and pictures and fill out a form to go home with the dog. This form has a progress report, homework, and how-to instructions for the owner so the trick training can continue at home and all family members can participate!

So far our tricks have been leg weave, spin, and now Hi-5 with many more to come. There is always an advanced level for the smarty pants dog that masters the trick within a couple of sessions so owners get two tricks for the price of one!

Top 3 Day Care Tried and Tested Toys

Running a day care centre can be hard work. We are always looking at ways we can enrich the dogs days at day care while sticking to a budget. We went through so many toys that we decided it was time to research and test which toys could stand the test of the toughest chewer and last for longer than a week in a day care setting.


Coming in at #1 The Goughnut 

We imported these toys from overseas. The best deal we found was through Amazon. They come in a range of sizes and colours including a ball, ring, stick and figure eight. We got our first lot of Goughnuts in early 2016 and have since ordered a second lot. Not a single one of the toys ordered has been thrown out yet. They have proven to be the most durable toy I’ve come across in the market.


Price range: $16-$30 + international shipping


Pros: Incredibly durable and long lasting a range of style to suit your dogs preference

Cons: The ball is very hard so be careful it doesn’t boop your dogs head when throwing it

The stick shape is somewhat unfortunate in its aesthetics. We did have one owner of a day care dog mention that it somewhat resembled an adult toy

As far as I am aware you cant purchase them locally which is unfortunate as it good to support local companies




#2 The Nylabone – Durachew

While not as hardy as the Goughnut, the Nylabone is a much loved toy at Complete Canine Care. Specifically there Durachew range. A bunch of 15 Nylabones tends to last a month which isn’t bad considering they get used on a daily basis by a large number of dogs. This toy is an extremely safe chew toy, just be sure to throw it out once the dogs have chewed it down to a size the dog could possibly swallow. They come in flavours such as chicken, beef or original and a range of different shapes and sizes.


Price range : $10-$25


Pros: cost effective, range of sizes, easy to purchase in NZ

Cons: lasts roughly a month depending on the chewer


We stock these at Complete Canine Care’s retail section as they are such a wonderful, value for money toy for dogs of all shapes and sizes






#3 The Boomer ball

This ball is tough! So tough it gets used at the zoo with a range of different animals. It comes in blue or red and has a few different size options. We have been using boomer balls at CCC since day 1. They aren’t as popular as the other tough toys but they are certainly a favourite for some ball loving dogs. We find dogs either love this toy or completely ignore it.


Price range: $30-$45


Pros: will last you a year in most cases


Cons: not suitable for very small dogs unless they are happy to just push it around the floor as they cant pick it up


Complete Canine Care stocks boomer balls in a range of sizes

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Dog Walking- A closer look into an unregulated industry

Recent media attention on dog walking services has highlighted the issue of quality of care and service provided by dog walking companies. Specifically, the issues of (1) transparency about whether the quality of care and service that you’ve been promised by the service provider is consistently provided, and (2) as an owner, how do you really know if your seemingly quiet, tired dog is that way because of a stimulating, fun filled adventure, or is depressed because of a stressed filled outing in which the dog has spent time in fear.


Dog walking in New Zealand is an unregulated and unlicensed industry. Instead, the industry is self-regulated by the dog care provider. This leaves a vast range of ‘quality of care’ options depending on the integrity of the service provider. Consistently providing the highest standard of care and running an economically viable business are not mutually exclusive. However, the lucrative nature of the business, with few external controls lead some providers to primarily focus on profit once a devoted dog owner has signed up- and kept so by the regular photo postings of Fido against a back drop of a beach or bush.


As a pet care professional, with the goal of providing the highest standard of care, and as an advocate for regulation of the dog care industry I address the two issues of concern highlighted by recent media attention below. My goal is to inform owners and provide a knowledge base on which to evaluate quality of care, and identify the signs of a tired happy dog from a stressed /depressed dog.  In a similar way to other industries (e.g. fitness, diet) that in the past offered variable quality of advice and services, informed and knowledgeable consumers can, together with responsible pet care providers drive much needed change in the dog care industry.



Transparency in the Quality of Care and Service for Your Dog

Mostly dogs love their dog walking adventures and their walkers.  For dog walkers that have an understanding of canine behaviour, and interact with a dog in a positive manner especially when dealing with a dog- – over excited, eager to get walking- akin to children on too much sugar – the dog grows to trust and bond with the walker. For these dogs, the daily/weekly walks are the highlight of the day. For a few, their daily collect by the dog walker can signal a very anxious and negative experience. Factors that contribute to a stressful experience include: oversized walking packs, low walker to dog ratio, inappropriately constructed groups, inadequate transport means or aversive walking methods. Aversive walking methods currently being used in New Zealand include tethering dogs together because some don’t want to walk- due to pain or age, the use of shock collars or physical force to enforce compliance. For instance, in Riverhead Auckland, a dog walker has been consistently sighted using a bamboo stick to hit dogs if they don’t stay behind and in line on a walk. Owners who use this service would be totally unaware that these methods are being used. It is imperative to opt for a force free walker who is up to date with the latest, humane training and management methods.


Standard and Nature of Communication

Most owners have left for work by the time their dog is collected for a walk and dropped back. Consequently, they do not have the opportunity to identify verbal or nonverbal (body language, gestures) behaviours, in either the walker or the dog that may indicate all is not well. Therefore, a critical, and much neglected factor in delivering a top quality dog walking service is that the provider have a communication policy. A good standard of practice is for your walker to communicate any issues they may notice while your dog is in their care. This communication maybe be in the form of a note, a text message, an email or a phone call.


Like us, dogs have their off days when they aren’t feeling their best. Dogs instinctively hide their pain- it’s a survival strategy in the canine world.  By the time we notice that our dog is sick or in pain- because he’s limping or isn’t keen to eat- it’s likely that he’s already been sick for a while. Dogs communicate pain/ sickness very subtlety, through body language, vocalisations and behaviour change. I’ve personally experienced cases where the dog has disliked his/her walks purely due to health issues and how the exercise aggravates conditions such as arthritis


A walker knowledgeable about canine communication will be able to identify these early subtle signs. It is important that your walker is tune with your dog’s needs and is able to honestly and effectively communicate any issues including if your dog is not/is no longer suitable for their service



How Do You Know If Your Dog Consistently has a safe, happy time with the service provider?

The reaction of your dog to the dog walker when they arrive at your property is the first important sign to notice. Does the dog get excited and bound up to them? Or does the dog run the other way? I have a client whose dog meets me happily at the front gate each morning. In fact, he is usually waiting by the gate for my arrival. This same dog once ran inside, fearfully, when his previous dog walker arrived to collect him. Why? Because there were stress factors on his previous walks causing him to form a negative association with the dog walker, and consequently the walk. If it wasn’t for the fact this dog owner often works from home and gets to see her dog before and after his walks she may have never realised just how much her dog was not enjoying his previous walks.


We should first look to our dogs for answers about the walker and the walk. If you have a day home sick, don’t cancel that dog walk. Keep it booked in and then watch your dog’s reaction as the walker arrives. Watch your dog’s body language on pick up, and drop off. Look at your dogs (and the other dogs) body language on social media posts. What body language are the dogs displaying? Do they look happy, relaxed, aroused, fearful or shut down?

Signs of stress include (but are not limited to):

  • Lip licking
  • Yawning (when not tired)
  • Look away
  • Half moon eye (showing the whites of the eye)
  • Tail between legs
  • Body posture low
  • Ears flat against head
  • Excessive panting
  • Avoidance



You can ask questions about your dog’s walk to the walker but in some cases the walker will tell you what you want to hear.



How Do You Know If Your dog walker is honestly communicating with you?


Science shows that, for the most part, our first, split-second judgments, impressions are remarkably accurate


Potential Signs of dishonest communication(not limited to):


  • When asked a question that requires a detailed answer- the person will pause more, use nonfluencies (e.g., hesitates, delay) which can indicate that they have to think more about the story they are telling.  Alternatively, the person speaks a bit faster than normal.


  • Facial expression- we are all skilled at picking the ‘phoney smile’ that never ends!


  • Eye contact- they may maintain less direct eye contact, look away, blink more often-a sign of increased anxiety       


  • Do the nonverbal behaviours they are communicating contradict or compliment what they are saying verbally?


  • Gestures – shift posture, fidget, shrug their shoulders, etc – use gesture that indicate increased nervousness



You can’t buy loyalty, they say, I bought it though, the other day

You can’t buy friendships, tried and true- Well just the same, I bought that too.

I made my bid and on spot- Brought love and faith and a whole job lot

Of happiness, so all in all- The purchase price was pretty small

I bought a single trusting heart that gave devotion from the start

If you think these things are NOT FOR SALE

Buy a brown-eyed puppy with a wagging tail (unknown)


Together, dog owners, and responsible pet care providers can change the dog care industry.



Rhiannon Taylor

Complete Canine Care Ltd