It’s been an up and down year for everyone this year, including our canine friends who have perhaps had more walks than ever (during lockdowns) and more time with their owners.
Auckland Council’s Animal Management team has some great tips for looking after the dogs of Tāmaki Makaurau this summer – and they’re not just for dog owners.
A dog is not just for Christmas
If you’re adding a pup to the whānau this Christmas, make sure you’ve thought it through carefully says Animal Management Manager Elly Waitoa.
“Dogs need a lot of attention so make sure you’ve thought about how long you can spend with your dog, how often it might be left alone, what training you’ll need to do and its grooming schedule.
“You’ll also need to factor in the size of your property and daily exercise, and make sure you’re aware of any potential health problems that particular breeds experience – often as they get older.
“Adding a dog to the family can also impact on your lifestyle – can you take your pet with you on holiday? And any young or older people that live with you or visit often who might not cope well with dogs.
“Lastly, and none of us like talking about money, but can you afford a new pet? Vet bills, annual registration and the right food can be costly. While you don’t have to have all the fancy accessories, it’s important that your dog is well looked after at all times,” says Elly.
Who wants a walk?
We’ve all heard the lockdown anecdotes of the family dog getting more walks than ever as we’ve been able to venture out safely in our bubbles to our local parks.
“As the weather improves and people explore Tāmaki Makaurau more this summer, it’s important to plan ahead for outings with your dog,” says Elly.
- Visit Auckland Council’s website to find out where and when you can exercise your dog in parks, open spaces and beaches
- Make sure you’ve got food and water with you if you’re away for a long period of time and don’t leave your pup in the car unattended
- Observe rules on where dogs are allowed, prohibited and where they must be on a leash
- Remember, while your dog might be well-behaved and obey your commands, you might encounter other dogs that aren’t so well-behaved or a situation that is outside of your control.
Keeping yourself, your whānau and your community safe
Whether you’re a dog owner or not, we often all share the same footpath or open space. Summer often means that our parks and beaches are in hot demand and no one wants to ruin their holiday plans with a run-in with a dog.
“No one, we hope, sets out to cause havoc with their pet but sometimes tricky situations do arise.
“We’ve noticed that dog behaviour has changed a little during lockdown with many pooches being over-stimulated or experiencing high human interaction.
“While in some ways this is good, and increases a dog’s patience around people, it can also push the boundaries of their tolerance.
“The most unacceptable behaviour from dogs is their aggression towards humans. Unfortunately, many people – young, old, owners or not – are bitten or harmed by dogs because they do something that triggers a dog to react,” says Elly.
Some tips to keep you safe around your own or other people’s dogs:
- Plan your visit – some places are more popular for dog walking and exercising than others. If you have a dog, you might choose to stay away from popular general recreation locations. If you don’t have a dog, you might choose to stay away from popular dog parks or exercise areas.
- Create space – give dog owners and their dogs a wide berth when walking past them or sharing the same space
- Ask before you pat – always ask a dog owner if it is safe to touch or pat their dog and never touch the back of a dog’s neck unless you have to.
- Show kids what not to do – teach children not to annoy dogs when they eat and not to pull a dog’s ear, hair or tail.
- Dogs get annoyed too – supervise dogs around children and provide a safe space for your dog to retreat to when it has had enough.
“Just because someone tells you their dog is friendly or just because they are holding the dog or have it secured on their property, doesn’t always mean it is safe. Be careful, respectful of a dog’s space and stay vigilant,” says Elly.
Respect a dog’s territory
Dogs can naturally be territorial, keeping watch on their home turf or being possessive of their property. If you’re visiting a home or property with a dog:
- Make your presence known by rattling your keys or calling out
- Look out for signs of a dog, like toys, bowls or bones
- Approach with caution and don’t assume there’s only one dog
And if a dog runs at you:
- Remain calm and do not panic
- Stand sideways to the dog and back away slowly towards your escape
- Keep an object between you and the dog, like a bag, book or umbrella
- Try stern commands, like “SIT!”, or “GO HOME!”
- Call out calmly to the owner to call back their dog.
“We respond to many incidents where people, owners and non-owners alike, have been attacked by a dog,” says Elly.
“Unfortunately the consequences for a dog that has attacked a person or another animal aren’t very good – we have to enforce rules like uplifting an animal and sometimes destroying it, under strict legislative rules.
“If you’re under threat, remember, don’t turn your back on a dog; don’t run; don’t make direct eye contact and don’t scream or yell. This can excite the dog even more.
“If you’re attacked or bitten, don’t struggle or pull away. Curl into a ball if you’re knocked over and protect your face, chest and throat. Get somewhere safe as calmly as you can and seek medical attention.
“And of course, call our Animal Management team on 09 301 0101,” she says.
Be a responsible dog owner
Being a responsible dog owner means:
- Registering your dog
- Caring for your dog
- Controlling your dog
- Preventing nuisance and harm.
“There are more than 118,500 dogs registered in Tāmaki Makaurau and registration is the best tool for keeping our beloved pets and communities safe.
“Responsible dog ownership is paramount!
“Lastly, and by no means least, please please please pick up after your pup. No one likes dealing with or stepping in what your dog has left behind. Never forget to take a poo bag with you and pick up after your pup every single time,” says Elly.
Read about our latest Animal Management Annual Report here.