Being a Responsible Dog Owner

Owning a dog in Whanganui requires you to take full responsibility for care of your dog and ensure that it doesn't create a nuisance or danger to the community.

Responsible Dog Owner criteria

The Responsible Dog Owner criteria helps to promote good dog ownership within the district (this criteria does not apply to working dogs).

Responsible Dog Owner status also entitles you to a $24.00 discount on your annual dog registration fee. A Responsible Dog Owner is someone who:

  • has not received any substantiated complaint, abatement, seizure, impoundment or infringement under the Dog Control Act 1996 in the previous 12 month registration period
  • has signs erected on or near the front entrance of their property alerting visitors to the presence of the dog
  • demonstrates good control over their dog(s) when council staff inspect the property
  • has paid their registration in full by 31 July of each registration year (which attracts a prompt payment discount).

Your Responsible Dog Owner status will be renewed each registration year provided that you continue to comply with the Responsible Dog Owner criteria.

Responsible Dog Owner training courses

Anyone wishing to gain Responsible Dog Owner status must also attend an approved training course on responsible dog ownership. The courses are free to attend. This applies to dog owners who:

  • are registering a dog for the first time
  • currently have a dog registered with the council but do not meet the Responsible Dog Owner criteria. 

Upcoming Responsible Dog Owner courses

  • Thursday, 15 August, 6.00pm
  • Thursday, 24 October, 6.00pm

PLEASE NOTE: Working dogs are not eligible for Responsible Dog Owner status.

Enrol in a training course

Once you complete this course your Responsible Dog Owner status will take effect in the next registration period. This means that if you complete the course between 1 July 2024 and 30 June 2025, you will be eligible for a $24.00 discount on you registration fee after 1 July 2025.

Completing the course does not entitle you to a refund of the $24.00 discount on the registration fee for the current period. 

PLEASE NOTE: Working dogs are not eligible for the Responsible Dog Owner discount.

Current Responsible Dog Owners

If you are currently a Responsible Dog Owner you do not need to take part in the responsible dog owner training course and will continue to enjoy the annual $24.00 discount on your annual registration fee.

To find out if you currently have Responsible Dog Owner status, check your dog registration invoice.

Dog owner responsibilities

For more information on dog owners' responsibilities please refer to the Dog Control Policy 2021(PDF, 899KB).


Microchipping was introduced in 2003 as a way to link dogs with their owners. This makes it easier to reunite them if the dog is stolen or goes missing. It also helps us to identify dogs that have been aggressive or a nuisance.

Dog registration and microchipping are two different processes. You must register your dog every year, but you only need to microchip your dog once.

The following are required to be microchipped:

  • all dogs registered in New Zealand for the first time (excluding working dogs that are exempt)
  • all dogs that have been classified as dangerous or menacing on or after 1 December 2003 (including working dogs)
  • all unregistered dogs that are impounded
  • all registered dogs that are impounded twice in the same registration year

Microchipping can be done at your vet or at the animal pound.

Preventing your dog from wandering

Wandering dogs can cause annoyance and danger to the community. They are a threat to wildlife and can be threatening to people and other dogs. They can also be a road safety hazard. 

The animal control team responds to complaints about wandering dogs and takes action if appropriate. We also carry out patrols of urban areas to identify wandering dogs.

Wandering dogs will generally be returned to their owners if they are known and an infringement notice may be issued.

Dogs will otherwise be impounded and owners will be liable for impounding and daily sustenance fees, in addition to any infringement fines issued.


Any dog classified as 'dangerous' or 'menacing' according to the Dog Control Act 1996 is required to be neutered. The 'dangerous' and 'menacing' classifications are defined in sections 32 and 33A of the Act respectively.

See the section 15 of the Dog Control Policy 2021(PDF, 899KB) for more information.

Dealing with barking

All dogs bark naturally – it is their way of communicating. However, loud and persistent barking can create a nuisance.

Always check to see if there is an obvious reason as to why your dog is barking. For example, a lonely dog will bark to attract attention.

Often owners are unaware that their dogs bark when they are not home. Ask neighbours to monitor your dog when you are not there. Barking can be beneficial to you and your neighbours – it may be warning of an intruder.

Treating and preventing excessive barking

  • Teach your dog to accept regular visitors.
  • Keep your dog occupied and comfortable by ensuring that it has things to amuse itself with when left alone i.e. bones, balls, toys, etc. Pick them up while you are at home and give them to the dog when you leave.
  • Have your dog on a running wire rather than a fixed wire.
  • Ensure the dog receives plenty of daily company and exercise.
  • Leave a radio on in the house when you leave.
  • Change the feeding times. Feed the dog when you go out.
  • House the dog so it is unable to see things to bark at.
  • House the dog near other pets for companionship.
  • Familiarise your neighbours with your dog so that it does not challenge neighbours every time they are outside on their property.
  • Change your daily routine – this prevents anticipation barking.

If we receive a complaint about your dog's barking our animal management officers will make an assessment and an abatement notice may be issued.

If further justified complaints are received, the dog may be seized and impounded in accordance with the Dog Control Act 1996.

Dealing with faeces

Dog faeces can harbour bacterial disease and parasitic infection, which can cause illness particularly in young children who play on the ground in our parks and playgrounds or even around home.

When walking your dog in a public space it is your responsibility to remove dog waste immediately. This is easily done using a bag, slid over the hand to collect the waste, which can then be disposed of in a waste bin.

We also encourage you to collect and dispose of dog waste on your property daily to prevent odour and flies breeding.

The council will provide bag dispensers and disposal containers for dog faeces where possible – particularly in high-use areas. However, we still encourage you to take an appropriate waste collection bag with you when you are out and about with your dog.

Number of dogs allowed

Having multiple dogs on premise increases the likelihood of those dogs creating a nuisance to your neighbours.

No more than three dogs over the age of three months, and not more than one unspayed bitch, will be allowed to be kept on a premises within the urban area at any one time.

Multiple dog permits

Council may approve four or more dogs on a premises within the urban area where it is satisfied that any potential impacts on surrounding neighbours and activities can suitably be managed. Enquiries about multiple dog permits can be made at Customer Services, 101 Guyton Street, or by phoning 06 349 0001.