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Expert advice for dog owners this school break

While it’s been a bumpy start to the year for us humans, our canine friends may have enjoyed more walks and more time with their owners.

As the school holidays and Easter holidays approach, Auckland City Council’s Animal Handling team share some expert tips for caring for Tāmaki Makaurau dogs, and they’re not just for dog owners.

Who wants a ride?

With more people working from home than ever, the family dog ​​has been walking a lot more, and local parks are a popular destination.

“As we make the most of the beautiful fall weather and explore Tāmaki Makaurau this school break, it’s important to plan ahead for outings with your dog,” says Elly Waitoa, Manager of Animal Management.

Visit the Auckland Council website to find out where and when you can exercise your dog in parks, open spaces and on beaches.

Make sure you have food and water with you if you’re away for a long period of time and don’t leave your pup unattended in the car

Respect the rules about where dogs are allowed and prohibited and where they must be on a leash

Remember, while your dog may be well behaved and obey your commands, you may find yourself with other dogs that are not so well behaved or with a situation that is out of your control.

Keeping yourself, your whānau and your community safe

Whether you have a dog or not, we often all share the same trail or open space. School holidays often mean that our parks and beaches are in high demand, and no one wants to ruin their vacation plans with an encounter with a dog.

“We hope no one sets out to wreak havoc with their pet, but sometimes sticky situations do arise.

“We have noticed that the lockdowns have changed the behavior of the dogs a bit, as many dogs are overstimulated or experience a lot of human interaction.

“While this is in some ways a good thing and increases a dog’s patience with people, it can also push the limits of his tolerance.

“The most unacceptable behavior of dogs is their aggression towards humans. Unfortunately, many people, young, old, owned or not, are bitten or hurt by dogs because they do something that causes the dog to react,” says Elly.

Some tips to stay safe around your own or other people’s dogs:

  • Plan your visit – some places are more popular for dog walking and exercise than others. If you have a dog, you may choose to stay away from popular places of general recreation. If you don’t have a dog, you may choose to stay away from popular dog parks or exercise areas.
  • Create Space: Give dog owners and their dogs ample space when walking past or sharing the same space
  • Ask Before Petting: Always ask the dog owner if it’s safe to touch or pet their dog, and never touch the back of a dog’s neck unless necessary.
  • Show children what not to do: Teach them not to disturb dogs when they eat and not to pull on a dog’s ear, fur or tail.
  • Dogs Get Angry Too – Supervise dogs around children and provide a safe space for your dog to retreat when he’s had enough.

“Just because someone tells you your dog is friendly or just because they’re being held or secured on your property doesn’t always mean it’s safe. Be careful, respect a dog’s space and stay alert,” says Elly.

Remember that dogs can be territorial

Dogs can be naturally territorial, guarding their territory, or possessive of their property. If you are visiting a home or property with a dog:

  • Make your presence known by jingling your keys or yelling
  • Watch for signs of a dog, such as toys, bowls, or bones
  • Approach with caution and don’t assume there is only one dog.

And if a dog runs towards you:

  • Keep calm and don’t panic
  • Stand sideways to the dog and back slowly toward your escape.
  • Keep an object between you and the dog, such as a bag, book, or umbrella.
  • Try harsh commands, like “SIT DOWN!” or “GO HOME!”
  • Calmly call the owner to call their dog back.

If you are a dog owner and welcome friends or whānau to your property, remember that you are bringing people into your dog’s territory and your dog may feel protective. Keep an eye on your dog during the visit, especially around the tamariki. Make sure your dog is comfortable and relaxed, and if he seems nervous or agitated, secure him in a secure spot on your property until your guests have left.

Elly says problems can also arise when dog owners allow their dog to roam off their property. The dog’s sense of its territory can spread to the surrounding area, increasing the likelihood of aggressive behavior 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 toward keeping our communities safe.”

The council’s Animal Management team responds to many incidents where people, owners and non-owners, have been attacked by a dog, and most of these occurred on or off the dog’s property.

“Unfortunately, the consequences for a dog that has attacked a person or another animal are not very good: we have to enforce rules like picking up an animal to ensure the safety of the public.

“If you are under threat, remember, don’t turn your back on a dog; do not run; don’t make direct eye contact and don’t yell or yell. This can further excite the dog.

“If you are attacked or bitten, do not fight or walk away. Curl up if you are knocked down and protect your face, chest, and throat. Go to a safe place as calmly as possible and seek medical attention.

“And of course call our Animal Handling team on 09 301 0101,” she says.

a dog is forever

If you’re adding a pup to the whānau, make sure you’ve thought about it carefully, says Elly.

“Dogs need a lot of attention, so make sure you have thought about how much time you can spend with your dog, how often he can be left alone, what training he will need to do and his grooming schedule.

“You’ll also need to consider the size of your property and daily exercise, and make sure you’re aware of any potential health issues that particular breeds experience, often as they age.

“Adding a dog to the family can also affect your lifestyle: can you take your pet on vacation? And anyone young or old who lives with you or frequently visits you who doesn’t get along with dogs.

“Finally, none of us like to talk about money anymore, but can you afford a new pet? Vet bills, annual registration, and proper food can be expensive. While you don’t need to have all the fancy accessories, it’s important that your dog is well cared for at all times,” says Elly.

Be a responsible dog owner

Being a responsible dog owner means:

  • registering your dog
  • taking care of your dog
  • controlling your dog
  • Prevention of discomfort and damage.

“There are over 125,000 dogs in Tāmaki Makaurau and ensuring control of your dog is the best tool to keep our beloved pets and communities safe.

“Responsible dog ownership is paramount!

“Last, and by no means least, please pick up after your pup. Nobody likes dealing with what their dog has left behind or getting into it. Never forget to take a poop bag with you and pick up your pup’s waste every time,” says Elly.

You can find guidance information for dog owners on the Auckland Council website here, and information on our Responsible Dog Owner License program which allows for cheaper registration here.

To learn more about what we do, you can read our latest Annual Animal Stewardship Report here.

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