25 Oct 2018

How to train your dog to be wildlife ready

3:19 pm on 25 October 2018

Summer is fast approaching and the Department of Conservation (DOC) is wanting dog owners to get their beloved pets wildlife ready.

The Department of Conservation is trying to keep wildlife, like the fur seal, safe this summer.

The Department of Conservation is trying to keep wildlife, like the fur seal, safe this summer. Photo: Department of Conservation

Back in August, DOC rangers were called to Ngāti Domain in Porirua after a leopard seal was left bloodied in a dog attack.

DOC community ranger for the Wellington Region Lee Barry said it was not just seals who fall prey to dog attacks.

"Last summer we had a few unfortunate incidents around Wellington, there were little blue penguin deaths in Whitireia Park, where they had just started nesting in the next boxes that the community had put out for them.

"We also had some penguins killed in central Wellington and on the South Coast," she said.

Mr Barry said that was why DOC was trying to promote some rhyming tips and tricks people can use to keep wildlife and their dogs safe.

"'Feet on sand lead in hand', 'Give a shout help them out'...telling people to let other dog owners know if they see wildlife like penguin or seals on the beach," she said.

She also recommended people keep their dogs four car lengths away from wildlife.

At Ngāti Toa Domain on Mana's waterfront, just north of Wellington, Department of Conservation staff member, Laura Boren and her dog Mack showed off their obedience skills.

Ms Boren said practising recall, not pulling on the lead and learning simple commands like 'leave it', are all skills dogs should learn before going to areas inhabited by native wildlife.

She said the humble tennis ball can also be a great tool on walks.

"You can use it as a point of focus on the beach, if you you're walking and there's a distraction around that you want to keep your dog away from, you can use that, hold their attention until the distraction has passed until you get to a safer place."

She said as a general rule, she doesn't keep Mack out of sight and listens for his collar, and if she can't hear it, it's clear he has seen or smelt something close by.

Easy tips for coming across wildlife on the beach

  • Put your dog on the lead when you are within 20 metres
  • Lead your dog away
  • Warn other dog owners on the beach
  • Notify DOC if you see wildlife being harassed by people or dogs