SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Is a dog the right companion animal for you?

Dogs can make delightful pets, but before you decide to take on this new responsibility, please look into and consider carefully the needs of dogs and remember that these animals will rely on you to meet their needs every day of the year.

Many dogs can live 15 years or longer but this is very dependent on the dog’s breed and size.

Dogs need companionship but the right kind depends on the dogs. Some dogs love human companionship and need a lot of time and attention from their humans. Most dogs like the companionship of other dogs and some even like to have companions of other species, such as cats.

Dogs should be desexed; there are not enough homes for all the companion dogs already in New Zealand, so please do not breed any more. Desexing also brings a range of health and behavioural benefits.

Dogs need a secure living environment with lots of enrichment. Dogs are generally active (particularly when young) and need opportunities daily to run, jump, play, stretch, walk and interact with other dogs (if they like other dogs).

Responsible animal ownership is more than just having the right equipment. Dogs need daily care, daily exercise, good nutrition, lots of attention, and regular veterinary care. The time and money involved in looking after dogs is an important commitment that should be carefully considered prior to taking on the responsibility.

If you do decide to bring a dog into your home, please consider rehoming a dog from the SPCA or another animal welfare organisation. There are more companion dogs without permanent homes in New Zealand than there are homes available and breeding irresponsibly or for profit makes the situation worse.

Click here to see some of the dogs currently looking for a home.

Your legal obligations to care for your dog

As a dog owner, you have many legal obligations. Below is a summary of some of these.

The Animal Welfare Act 1999 requires that you provide your dog with:

  • Proper and sufficient food and water.
  • Adequate shelter.
  • The opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour.
  • Protection from, and rapid diagnosis of, any significant injury or distress, and appropriate veterinary treatment.
  • Protection from distress and pain.

The Dog Control Act 1996 requires your dog to be under control so that the dog does not:

  • Cause a nuisance (e.g. barking or fouling).
  • Cause damage to property.
  • Injure, endanger or cause distress to people, stock, poultry, animals or wildlife.

When on your property your dog must be:

  • Under the direct control of a person, or
  • Confined so the dog cannot leave the property. Fences must be tall enough to contain your dog and should not have holes or gaps (especially hedges).

For detailed information, please refer to the website of your local council and the Code of Welfare for Dogs.

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