A summary of information for all dog owners.

Laws relating to dogs

The Dog Control Act 1996 applies across the whole of the country and sets out the major rules for dog owners. Its intention is to ensure that dogs are well cared for, that the potential for dog-related nuisance is reduced, and that accidents, attacks and injuries to people, wildlife, dogs and other animals are minimised. It also sets out the penalties for not complying with the Act.

The Act requires each council to develop its own dog control policy, and a dog control bylaw to enforce its policy. It is the Council’s Dog Control Policy (PDF 386KB) that sets out where dogs are prohibited or where they must be on a leash in the district. It contains a lot of other useful information for dog owners.

Things you should know when out and about

  • Always carry plastic bags to pick up after your dog - and hygienically dispose of any fouling.
  • Always carry a leash when out and about – this is a legal requirement, but is also helpful, as you may come across an unexpected situation that requires your dog to be leashed to keep it safe or to protect people or wildlife.
  • Dogs must always be on a leash on roads and footpaths (including grass berms and verges), as well as in all car parks, boat ramps, state highways and private ways
  • Dogs are prohibited from all Council children’s playgrounds, skate parks and paddling pools.
  • All dogs need to be able to understand and appropriately respond to simple commands if they are to be off-leash in a public place.
  • Observe and obey all Council signs when exercising your dog

Leashed and prohibited areas

  • Dogs are prohibited in some areas, and must be on a leash in other areas. These are set out in the Dog Control Policy, and can be viewed on an interactive map.
  • If an area is not prohibited or leashed, it is an ‘under effective control’ area – this means that you must have your dog ‘under effective control’.
  • Under effective control means being aware of where the dog is and what it is doing, and ensuring it is responsive to commands and is not creating a nuisance.
  • Exercising your dog
  • Dog-friendly spaces

Other matters

  • All puppies must be registered by three months of age – view the Council’s dog registration page for more information.
  • Anyone over the age of 16 in charge of a dog is legally responsible for the actions of that dog.
  • All dogs riding on vehicles must be attached by a lead or chain short enough to prevent the dog falling off the vehicle or to be able to reach and attack people that may be walking by.
  • Dog owners must take all reasonable steps possible to ensure that their dogs do not cause a nuisance to people by barking or howling in a loud and persistent manner.
  • Barking dogs.
  • Micro chipping and de-sexing.
  • Dog health
    • Dogs must receive adequate exercise subject to the size, age and breed of dog. Consideration should be given to these factors when choosing a pet.
    • All dogs must be well fed and clean fresh water must be available at all times.
    • A warm weather proof suitably sized kennel, must be provided for all dogs. Consider things like dampness, shade, draft, sunlight and neighbours when choosing a location for your dog’s home.
  • If you have a female dog in season, you cannot exercise or transport her unnecessarily and should keep her confined.
  • If your dog has a contagious disease, it is illegal for you to walk them in a public place.
  • Dogs should be vaccinated annually for Distemper, hepatitis, Parvovirus and Kennel Cough. These viral diseases are highly contagious and potentially fatal, especially in puppies. For more information consult your vet. 
  • Never feed raw offal (any internal organs of sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, horses, deer,) to your dog. Always cook it thoroughly.
  • All sheep and goat meat must either be cooked thoroughly, or frozen for a minimum of seven days at ‐10 degrees.
  • Wandering dogs - Is your property fully secure to prevent your dog wandering? e.g. Dogs can push out loose fence palings to escape.
  • Lost / found a dog
  • Animal Shelter
  • Christchurch City Council fees and charges including Dog Control Act 1996 Infringement Offences and Fees

Current dog owners