Become wildlife-wise and Lead the Way
Image: DOC


Lead the Way empowers dog owners to know how to act to protect both coastal wildlife and their dog.


Aotearoa New Zealand is renowned for its scenic coastlines and protected wildlife. But coastal species such as little blue penguins/kororā and yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho are in decline. Here’s how you and your dog can help.

Become a wildlife wise dog owner to keep our wildlife and your dog safe on the beach.



Get wildlife wise to protect coastal species

Our beaches are home to marine mammals and sea birds. They include New Zealand fur seals/kekeno, little blue penguins/kororā red-billed gulls/tarāpunga and many more. They're also a great place for humans and dogs alike to get out and enjoy nature.

But dogs can pose great risks to native wildlife and are a primary threat for seal and sea lion pups. From disturbance to injury and even death, dogs can impact many species in a range of different ways. They have been known to disturb sunbathing seals and frighten penguins from returning to their nests. This is harmful to not only coastal wildlife, but our dogs as well.

How to become wildlife wise

There are lots of ways you can help protect coastal wildlife while out with your dog. You can also get a Lead the Way lead to show your support for wildlife protection.

Dogs on beaches guidelines

Our dogs on beaches guidelines cover the key things to know when going to a beach with your dog.

Dogs on beaches guidelines.

Get a Lead the Way lead

After learning about the guidelines, you can do a quiz that will give you exclusive access to buy a Lead the Way lead. Lead the Way leads have been designed to provide a visual clue of the temperament of your dog. You’ll also be showing your support for the protection of our precious wildlife.

Step 1: Complete the Lead the Way quiz

Test your knowledge of how to be safe with your dog and wildlife at the beach.

Lead the Way quiz.

Step 2: Purchase a ‘Lead the Way’ dog lead

Once you complete the quiz, you’ll receive an email. This will allow you to purchase an exclusive Lead the Way dog lead and to let others know you are wildlife wise.

Step 3: Use your lead

When walking your dog, use your ‘Lead the Way’ lead to help promote responsible dog ownership on our beaches and coastal areas.



About Lead the Way

Lead the Way is a DOC-led initiative that focuses on public engagement to minimise the impact of dogs on coastal wildlife.

We want dog owners to feel empowered and know how to act to protect wildlife.

This reduces pressure on vulnerable coastal wildlife. Limiting dog interactions with wildlife means we reduce some of the threats to them.


Project partners are the Wildlife Hospital and Traffic Light Bandana. The initiative is also supported by the Dunedin City Council.

We are working on making Lead the Way a national campaign throughout New Zealand. More regional opportunities will be added when available.

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