7 steps to Lead the Way

Become wildlife wise this Conservation Week

With Conservation Week upon us, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and its newly-announced Lead the Way Auckland programme partner, PD Insurance, are encouraging a Wildlife Wise approach from all dog owners.

A national celebration encouraging involvement in and care for nature, Conservation Week/e Wiki Tiaki Ao Tūroa is celebrated from 5 to 11 September 2022.

Lead the Way – an ongoing national initiative – shares seven simple steps New Zealanders can follow to help make our sensitive coastlines safer for other people, dogs and especially our precious Aotearoa taonga of unique birds and wild animals.

“The initiative encourages our communities to become Wildlife Wise, so pets don’t cause damage to coastal wildlife,” says Michelle le Long, Chief Operating Officer for PD Insurance (pd.co.nz). “It also encourages dog owners to be aware of the dangers their fur kids face along the coast, which many are unaware of until their dog is injured or becomes ill from poisoning.”

Dog owners in particular are invited to participate and commit to improving the health and happiness of wildlife and others who share the beaches and beyond. They have a significant role to play; while a perennial joy, dogs can unintentionally endanger wildlife, especially in sensitive coastal areas where their curious nature can cause confrontations with kiwi, fur seals, penguins, dotterels and other animals.

Lead the Way for Conservation Week with these 7 steps

  1. Be aware: Check out the Lead the Way website and take the quiz so you understand what to do at the beach with your dog – https://www.doc.govt.nz/our-work/lead-the-way/
  2. Know before you go: Visit doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/know-before-you-go/dog-access/ and local Council websites for the dog rules at your destination.
  3. Show your commitment: Consider buying an exclusive Lead the Way lead. Look out for other dogs with coloured leads and respect their temperaments.
  4. Train: Managing your dog generally requires training during the puppy stage and maintaining that training throughout its life. It doesn’t have to be intense; they just need to be taught basics like ‘LEAVE IT’. Recalling your dog is also essential (‘COME’) if hitting the beach. Need help? Contact Companion Animals New Zealand and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers New Zealand for a list of qualified trainers.
  5. Lead the Way: Always carry a lead, even if you think your dog doesn’t need one. It’s a legal requirement and may come in handy if managing your dog is tricky.
  6. Watch out: For dangers, including other dogs, birds, sleeping seals and any signs of wildlife. Some toxic objects include washed-up puffer fish, sea slugs and blue bottles.
  7. Spread the word: Encourage others to Lead the Way and become Wildlife Wise. Also warn others who are out and about enjoying the coast when there’s wildlife around.

Extra important steps

Importantly, show your commitment to being a Wildlife Wise dog owner by doing a simple quiz that educates you about the risks and rules on the coast, and by buying an exclusive, locally-made Lead the Way lead. A portion of sales is donated to BirdCare Aotearoa, a registered charity dedicated to providing care and rehabilitation for sick, injured, and orphaned wild birds.

The colour-coded lead indicates your dog’s temperament, so passers-by know what to expect from your pet – Green for friendly, Orange for sometimes not OK with other canines or people, and Red for keep your distance. A Yellow lead indicates a disabled or vulnerable dog.

“Remember, as with many things in life, prevention is far better than cure,” says Le Long. “If your dog attacks wildlife, there’s the burden of knowing a native animal has suffered. There are also serious consequences for dog owners breaking DOC rules, including fines under the Dog Control Act 1996, which includes prison time or a fine of $20,000 for the owner of a dog that kills protected wildlife.”

“None of that needs to happen, so long as you’re Wildlife Wise,” Le Long stresses. “And when you Lead the Way, your participation in Conservation Week contributes to ‘Ka ora te whenua, ka ora te tangata – when the land is well, the people are well’.”


Media contact 

Leandri Smith – The Mail Room 
027 365 9003 | [email protected]