A dog staring down a soft toy penguin. Text reads: "My dog wouldn't hurt a penguin"
Image: Crystal Brindle | DOC

Introduction

Lead the Way encourages dog owners to become wildlife wise and know how to act to protect coastal wildlife.

Highlights

We are renowned for our scenic coastlines and protected wildlife, but species such as little blue penguins/kororā and yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho are in decline. Learn how you and your dog can help.

Pete the soft toy penguin was not harmed in this photoshoot.

Video

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Becoming a wildlife wise dog owner helps to keep our wildlife and your dog safe on the beach. This programme empowers dog owners know how to act to protect both coastal wildlife and their furry friend.

Why become wildlife wise?

Our beaches are home to marine mammals and coastal birds. They include New Zealand fur seals/kekeno, little blue penguins/kororā and red-billed gulls/tarāpunga. 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 sealion pups. 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

If you live in in Dunedin or Canterbury, take our quiz to become wildlife wise.

If you take a quiz, you’ll also gain access to exclusive ‘traffic light’ Lead the Way dog leads. Using one of these leads lets fellow dog walkers know whether your dog is:

  • friendly (green)
  • cautious with interaction (orange)
  • would prefer to keep to themselves (red)
  • blind or deaf (yellow).

With each lead purchased you'll also be donating to Dunedin’s Wildlife Hospital to help wildlife that is injured or distressed.

Take the quiz

Step 1: Complete the quiz for your region

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.

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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.

It encourages behaviour change so that dog owners 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. So more regional opportunities may be added when available.

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