Position Statement: Responsible dog ownership

Policy type: Position statement
Reference: 9g
Status: Current
Date ratified: May 2018

Position Statement

The NZVA supports principles of dog ownership and dog control that contribute to a harmonious relationship between people, dogs, and the environment.

Animal welfare standards and guidelines for dog ownership set out in the NZ Animal Welfare Code (Dogs) (2018) should be followed and enforced.


Dog ownership is a privilege that improves human health and childhood experiences1. Many critical services in society are carried out by dogs, such as police and security work, search and rescue services, and disability aid. Ownership of a dog however comes with responsibility, both to the animal and the environment around them. Veterinarians have knowledge and expertise on the principles of responsible dog ownership and dog welfare. This knowledge can assist dog owners to meet their responsibilities, ensure their dog has a good life, and retain the benefits that society enjoys from living with dogs..


  • Factors including time, cost, size, lifestyle and living environment should be considered before acquisition of a dog.
  • Adequate quantities of nutritious food and clean water, and appropriate shelter should be provided for the dog over its lifespan.
  • Preventative healthcare measures, regular health checkups and appropriate exercise for the dog should occur.
  • Permanent identification including registration and microchipping for the dog should be undertaken by owners.
  • Dogs not intended for breeding should be de-sexed.
  • Emergency action planning and alternate care arrangements should be made with the cat in mind, should unforeseen circumstances arise.
  • It is imperative that the environmental impact of the dog is minimized. Measures to avoid predation should be taken (such as leashing), socialization should occur early, and waste should not be left in public spaces.


1. Cutt, Giles-Corti, Knuiman, & Burke, 2007

Related pages and documents