Submission to the Government during its
Review of the Dog Control Act 2000

TOPIC: New Offence – Leaving a Dog Unattended

The suburban dog is commonly left alone in its backyard with nothing to do and nobody to play
with. A New Zealand animal behaviour expert has declared that leaving a dog isolated is torture
for this animal.

The Paper Noxious Barking elaborates further:

The dog is a social animal and perceives its owner as its pack leader. While unable to range as
nature intended and in effect abandoned all day it naturally gets bored and becomes unhappy.
The dog’s instinctive reaction in this circumstance is to bark with frustration.

This usually produces no response at all so it barks some more. Many dogs don’t have the
intellect to realise that if there’s no response then they should quit, for a time at least. It
seems many dogs can switch off their minds and go robotic.

This ubiquitous barking, most of it very loud and tending to set off other dogs, can carry for
quite some distance and annoy many neighbours, even causing so much anguish and torment
for some that they are forced out of their homes for various periods and sometimes even being
obliged to relocate. This should never happen.

It’s all too common for dogs stressed by such abandonment to bark loud and long and with
even just snippets of intermittent barking from each of a street’s many dogs the compounded
effect is that of an ongoing cacophony of continuous barking, howling or other canine noise.
This din can be heard everywhere and often characterises a whole area. Peace and quiet is

It is suggested that the simple new offence of “Leaving a Dog Unattended” would greatly
reduce this dreadful neighbourhood harassment for so many people.


1. That any authorised person in receipt of any form of complaint of persistent barking be
required to forthwith attend the premises alleged to contain the noisy dog and endeavour to
speak with the occupier in order to devise and implement an on-the-spot remedy that
terminates the problem promptly.

2. That if the premises appear unattended the ACO or other authorised person will note the
time and return within one hour for a second assessment.

3. That if the ACO or authorised person deem the premises still unattended then this be taken
as sufficient cause to assume that the premises containing the dog were in fact unattended for
the interim period.

4.That the above finding be sufficient cause, in the interests of neighbourhood peace or for any
other reason, to require and compel the animal’s impoundment forthwith unless it is apparent
that the owner will return within a sufficiently short period such as to render impoundment
inappropriate at that time.

5.That when offending animals are seized an official note is to be left for the absent owner
informing him what has been done, the time of his animal’s seizure and the reason for it, and
advising the times when the pound is officially attended or otherwise when and where he may
recover his animal and what the relevant fees are.