Owners who prevent their dogs from roaming can sleep easier knowing their dog isn’t in danger.

Save the Kiwi and the Department of Conservation are joining forces to encourage dog owners to make a pledge to prevent their dogs from roaming.

The “Where’s Your Dog At?” campaign aims to raise awareness about the risks roaming dogs can pose to themselves, other dogs, people, and wildlife.

“Just because your dog was on the deck when you went to bed, doesn’t mean it stayed there all night,” says Save the Kiwi dog specialist Emma Craig. “Even the loveliest, cuddliest homebody of a dog can be prone to roaming, and dog owners don’t necessarily know it’s happening.”

Roaming dogs are more likely to be hit by cars, attacked by other dogs, and shot at if they’re seen to be near or disturbing stock or poultry. In December last year, a border collie was attacked by two roaming dogs that came onto her owner’s property in the Bay of Plenty. Dogs can also frighten and harm people.

A roaming dog is any dog that is in a place it shouldn’t be. It could be a pet dog let off-lead to run around unsupervised, or a family pet that’s great with kids but gets bored at home during the day so jumps the fence and explores the neighbourhood.

“People often assume roaming dogs are feral or wild dogs that don’t have a place to go home to,” says Ms Craig. “In fact, most roaming dogs are ‘dogs with homes’ who have owners who are responsible for them and their safety. Together with DOC, we want to encourage dog owners to always know where their dogs are.

“By keeping their pets safe, they will help keep people and wildlife safe too.”

In August 2023, at least six kiwi were killed by dogs in Northland’s Ōpua Forest. Footage from cameras operated by local kiwi conservation group Bay Bush Action identified two different roaming dogs in the forest.

“Roaming dogs can harm themselves and people, but they also pose a threat to wildlife like kiwi,” says DOC Kiwi Recovery Group Leader Emily King. “Any dog can kill kiwi, even friendly ones that are great with kids and other animals at home.

“Dog owners who prevent their dogs from roaming can be secure in the knowledge their dog is safe. By protecting their dog they’re also helping to protect wildlife.

“Keeping your dog safe is a win-win, both for your dog and for nature.”

Dog owners who want to prevent their dog from roaming should:

  • Keep their dog tied up, in a kennel or inside at night
  • Keep their dog on a lead when walking in areas where kiwi and other wildlife live
  • Exercise their dog off-lead in public dog parks or designated dog-friendly locations
  • Be aware of and follow any bylaws about dogs in the areas they live and visit

For more information and to make a pledge to prevent your dog from roaming, visit www.savethekiwi.nz/wheres-your-dog-at.