Summer is here and it’s time to enjoy more outdoor adventures with our four-legged friends.
As we look forward to some summer fun with our canine companions, Auckland Council’s Animal Management team has some great tips for looking after the dogs of Tāmaki Makaurau – and they’re not just for dog owners.
Is it time for walkies yet?
“As we make the most of summer and explore Tāmaki Makaurau, it’s important to plan ahead for outings with your dog,” says Animal Management Manager Elly Waitoa.
- 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 since lockdown with many pooches being over-stimulated or experiencing higher levels of human interaction than they would have previously.
“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.
Remember that dogs can be territorial
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.
If you’re a dog owner welcoming friends or whānau onto your property, remember that you’re bringing people into your dog’s territory and your dog may feel protective. Keep an eye on your dog during the visit, especially around tamariki. Make sure your dog is comfortable and relaxed, and should they seem nervous or agitated, secure them somewhere safe on your property until your guests have left.
Elly says issues can also arise when dog owners allow their dog to roam beyond their property. The dog’s sense of its territory can expand to the surrounding area, increasing the likelihood of aggressive behaviour and attacks.
“We urge people to be responsible dog owners by keeping their dogs contained on their property and not allowing them to roam. This will go a long way towards keeping our communities safe.”
The council’s Animal Management team respond to many incidents where people, owners and non-owners alike, have been attacked by a dog, with the majority of these occurring either within the dog’s own property or just outside it.
“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 to ensure the safety of the public.
“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 125,000 dogs registered in Tāmaki Makaurau and registration is the best tool for keeping our beloved pets and communities safe.
“Lastly, and by no means least, 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.