Dogs and other animals

Be safe around dogs

Our animal management team is currently reviewing the dog safety education programmes on offer.

There is more information about being safe around dogs on the Dog Safety website.

For movie clips on dog safety for kids see the Stop the 77 website.


Keeping children safe

All dogs have the potential to bite or attack under certain circumstances.

Children can be unpredictable and may frighten and hurt dogs. Dogs will defend themselves with their teeth or may hurt a child by knocking them over.

Around a third of all dog attacks in New Zealand are on children under 12 years of age.

Teach your children how to interact with dogs and always supervise dogs around children and children around dogs.

Remember dogs can have bad moods just like people, or may even be in pain. If your dog seems grumpy, don't let children play with or aggravate it.

The Stop the 77 website has videos and posters to help keep children safe.

For more information contact us.


If an unknown dog approaches you

  • stand still, be like a tree
  • let the dog sniff you, this is how it gets to know you
  • move slowly and speak softly - quick movements and loud voices can scare a dog
  • don't try to pat it, even if it seems friendly
  • don't run away.


If approached by a threatening dog

  • remain calm and still (like a tree). Quick movements and loud noises can cause a dog to react
  • keep hands by your sides
  • turn so you are “side on” to the dog
  • keep the dog in sight but don't stare directly at it - look down at your feet or the dog’s feet
  • try firm and simple commands such as "No", "Stay", "Down" or "Go Home" in a calm voice
  • use the dog's name if you know it
  • if you have a child with you, keep him or her behind you. Don’t pick your child (or dog) up
  • slowly and quietly back away from the dog, keeping it in sight.

If the dog is not acting (or stops acting) in a threatening way, confidently and quietly move away.


If you are attacked

Our natural reactions to fear like running, waving arms, squealing, and screaming may make the situation worse.

Practise the steps under "If approached by a threatening dog" and the following steps - and teach them to your children.

  • put an object between you and the dog: a bag, parcel, bicycle, car door
  • if a dog leaps at you, cover your face and neck with your hands and arms
  • don't turn your back or scream
  • never lie down
  • If you are knocked down, lie down with your face down, curl up in a foetal position (roll up into a ball), and put your hands and arms over the back of your head and neck
  • if a dog bites you, wash and disinfect the area, and see a doctor as soon as possible
  • remember to take notice of the dog's details; breed, size, colour, any collar or tags - and the time, location and direction should it escape
  • call us on 0800 462 685 to report the incident.

Do not:

  • face the dog head on
  • look it in the eye
  • run or scream.


How to recognise an aggressive dog

If a dog is barking, growling or snarling with its teeth showing, it is getting ready to bite. If its ears are laid back or its legs stiff and tail up, it is warning you. The hair on its back will also stand up.

A wagging tail does not always mean that the dog is happy or friendly.

Do not:

  • try to stop two dogs fighting, seek help by calling 0800 462 685
  • hurt a dog, e.g. pull its ears or tail or jump on top of it
  • reach your hand into a car window or through a fence to pat a dog
  • enter someone's property until the dog's owner knows you’re there
  • bother a dog when it’s eating or sleeping
  • scream, wave your arms about or run away
  • make a dog feel trapped by cornering it or boxing it in (by suddenly hugging or kissing it)
  • surprise a dog by creeping up on it
  • leave a dog alone with an infant or child
  • approach an unfamiliar dog without the owner’s permission.

Be very careful if you

  • approach a dog playing with toys
  • approach a mother dog with her puppies.

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