Owner Responsibilities


The Dog Control Act 1996 places responsibility on dog owners to look after and control their dog. This means ensuring that their dog receives proper care and attention and is supplied with proper and sufficient food, water and shelter at all times. The dog must also receive adequate exercise.

Dogs must be controlled on private property within physical limits (fencing, kennels, indoors), or by command and on a lead in all public areas. Dogs that are roaming or off leash can;

  • intimidate and harm people and animals
  • create health and hygiene problems by fouling in public and scattering rubbish
  • cause traffic hazards

Council's Animal Control team can help you to be aware of your responsibilities as a dog owner and to understand problem behaviour in dogs.

Helpful informations for owners can be found in Council's K9 newsletter

If you want advice on any part of dog ownership call us on 03 687 7200 or the South Canterbury SPCA on 03 688 2234

Obligations of dog owners 

Owning a dog is a big responsibility. Any person in charge of a dog for more than 72 hours is deemed to be responsible for the dog.

Dog owners are obligated to:

  • register their dog(s)
  • advise territorial authorities promptly of any change of address/ownership or if your dog dies
  • keep their dog(s) under control at all times, even when walked by children
  • treat their dog(s) with proper care and attention
  • provide sufficient food, water and shelter for their dog(s)
  • provide adequate exercise for their dog(s)
  • take all reasonable steps to ensure that the dog does not cause a nuisance to any other person (e.g. through persistent and/or loud barking/howling, or by any other means)
  • take all reasonable steps to ensure that the dog does not injure, endanger, or cause distress to any person, stock, poultry, domestic animal or protected wildlife or damage or endanger property belonging to any other person
  • remove dog droppings from public areas should these be fouled by your dogs(s)
  • comply with the requirements of the Dog Control Act 1996 and of all regulations and bylaws made under this Act

Clean up after your dog

Owners are legally responsible for cleaning up after their dogs on any property that is not their own. This means carrying a plastic bag whenever you are in public with your dog. See our flyer for more information.

De-sexing your dog

De-sexing means your dog will not sire or have unwanted litters, and female dogs will not attract aggressive male dogs.

De-sexed pets generally have improved longevity, are healthier and have a lowered risk of disease. They are also less likely to wander, fight and get lost or injured. Other benefits can include reduced antisocial behaviour and reduced aggressive tendencies in male dogs.

De-sexing your dog also reduces your annual registration fee by half. Contact your local vet to talk about de-sexing your pet.


All dogs must be registered on or before 1 July every year or when they turn three months of age. Registration is due on 1 July, to be paid by 31 August. If your dog is neutered or spayed or you have Selected Owner Status, you'll get a discounted fee.


Under the Dog Control Act 1996, the following dogs must be microchipped:

  • Dogs registered for the first time after 1 July 2006
  • Dogs classified as 'menacing' or 'dangerous' after 1 December 2003
  • Unregistered dogs impounded after 1 July 2006
  • Registered dogs impounded twice after 1 July 2006

The microchip must be inserted within two months of the registration date.

Exercising your dog

There are a number of areas within the Timaru district where you can exercise your dog off a leash, within a safe and controlled environment. Remember when exercising your dog in parks or beaches to be especially vigilant of our wildlife. Please keep your dog from disturbing or endangering any other animals.

For detailed information on where you can exercise your dog can be found on the dog exercise areas page.

If your dog dies

You need to notify the Council if your dog has died or has to be put down. You may be eligible for a refund of part of your dog registration fee if it is part way through the registration year.

You will need your current dog registration tag and some formal proof of death (e.g. veterinarian euthanasia certificate etc.) to claim the refund. This will be calculated at the time you notify the Council.

If your dog has been destroyed under a court order you must produce a certificate from a veterinarian surgeon, animal control officer or ranger confirming your dog has been destroyed.

Owner details

If you leave the area or change your contact details, you need to let the Council know in writing.

Last updated: 20 Jul 2021