After consulting with the community, Waikato District Council adopted the Dog Control Bylaw and Policy on 11 April 2022 with changes.

Council decided to make changes based on the feedback received. One of the changes is to remove the proposed permit requirements for rural zoned properties. This means dogs owners in rural zoned properties will not need to get a permit for three or more dogs.

For all changes following consultation, please refer here.

Copies of the adopted Bylaw and Policy can be found at:

Hearings and Deliberations

The proposed amended Bylaw and Policy were consulted from 1 December 2021 to 26 January 2022.

666 submissions were received, and 71 individual submitters spoke at or were represented at a Council hearing on 22, 23, and 24 February 2022. The Hearing Report and Supplementary Agenda can be found here.

Deliberations were held on 22-24 March 2022. The Deliberations Report and accompanying attachments can be found here.

The Committee deliberated on the Bylaw and Policy and directed staff with required changes.

Key themes

The majority of submitters did not support the proposed amendments to the Bylaw or Policy.

The key matters identified from the submissions include the following:

  1. Opposition to limiting the number of dogs in the rural zone to two, with three or more requiring a Council permit
  2. Opposition to removal of dog exercise areas
  3. Whether dogs should be allowed in cemeteries
  4. Options for new dog exercise area in Tamahere
  5. Utilising Whangarata reserve, Tuakau as a new dog exercise area
  6. Playgrounds, skateparks, and sports field surfaces
  7. Improvements sought for current dog exercise areas


What are we changing?

The proposed changes include:

  • Limiting the number of dogs in rural areas to two. Three or more dogs would require a Council permit. (Note: there are some exemptions, including working dogs). In the past five years, Council has received 58 complaints about multiple dogs in rural areas. This has led to 156 dogs being found in poor conditions and showing signs of neglect.
  • Proposing a new dog exercise area at Whangarata reserve, in Tuakau
  • Consulting on two options for a new dog exercise area in Tamahere
  • Changing some of the current dog exercise areas from off-leash to on leash because they are considered unsafe for dogs or are located in busy areas. These are in Tuakau, Taupiri, Ngaruawahia, Tamahere, Raglan and Newcastle.
  • We are proposing to prohibit dogs on sport surfaces at Whatawhata Recreation Reserve and Te Kowhai Recreation reserve.
  • Some changes to where dogs are permitted - including changing rules for playgrounds, skateparks and cemeteries

To see where these dog areas are, and the reasons for the proposed change, please refer to the map below or page 6. of the Statement of Proposal.


The Dog Control Act 1996 sets out the legal requirement in place for dog controls and ownership. Under law, Council is required to have a dog control bylaw and policy.

The bylaw and policy are Council's regulations and management plan for dog ownership and recreational dog activity in the Waikato district. Its purpose is to allow people to enjoy the benefits of owning a dog and to provide for recreational and exercise needs, while also protecting the public from nuisance and keeping people safe.

Council is required to review the bylaw every five years.

There are approximately 15,000 dogs in the Waikato district. It is important that the bylaw and policy meets the needs of dogs and their owners, as well as the wider community. We want to check if we've got it right.

You'll find details about all the proposed changes in the Statement of Proposal.

Paper copies of all relevant documents and submission forms are also available at all Council offices and libraries. You'll find details for all our locations here.

For any queries, please contact us on 0800 492 452 or email