Colour-coded dog leads initiative a success in Otago

Must See 07/02/2019

A dog safety initiative undertaken in Otago is proving to be so successful that The Department of Conservation in Dunedin is looking to spread it to other parts of NZ.

The programme, called 'Lead the Way', gets dog owners to take a quiz to become wildlife certified. They are then sent a link to access traffic light leads and pick a colour depending on their dog's behaviour.

The leads come in four different colours to show their behaviour and temperament: green for "friendly," orange for "cautious with interaction," red for "prefer to keep to themselves," and yellow for "blind or deaf".

DOC Dunedin community ranger Jesikah Triscott said the colours let people know what dogs need space, keeping the community safer. Her own dog, for example, wears an orange lead:

"My dog sometimes doesn't like dog interactions because she was attacked when she was a puppy, but she's fine with humans so it just indicates maybe asking before interacting or allowing your dog to come up," she said.

Since the initiative launched in December, hundreds of coloured leads have been bought.

"The public really like the idea they can highlight their dogs' social behaviour, as well as helping to protect native wildlife," Jesikah said. As well as raising wildlife safety awareness, the campaign is raising money too.

"[For] every lead we sell, 50c goes towards the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital, which we've already make bulk donations to because people have been adding on further donations, which is incredible from our local dog owners," 

The next is to see where else they can roll out the initiative:

"We've already had national interest so we're starting to look at how we can implement Lead the Way throughout New Zealand."

Hopefully we see more success for them soon!