Why Dog Registration is Important

Get up to date on why and how council registration and vet microchipping matters when it comes to identifying your dog.

In New Zealand, every dog owner is legally required to have their pet registered with their council and microchipped. You may think this is because your local council needs to keep tabs on your dog, and you as a dog owner.

However, the main benefit is to be able to reunite an animal with its owner if it goes missing or it’s stolen. Other than it being a legal requirement, are there additional benefits to registering and microchipping your dog, and are there other options?

Why register your dog?

Your dog's registration is a simple way for your council to identify your dog as yours – as long as you keep the tag attached to a collar they wear all the time. And, the fee you pay also funds local dog control, as well as facilities like dog parks and even poop bags! Exactly what’s covered by the fees will differ between councils.

How do I register my dog?

Most councils allow you to register your dog online. Simply fill in the form, pay the fee, and a registration tag will be sent to your address. If you’re registering your dog for the first time, there may be some extra questions you will need to answer, and you’ll need to provide proof of de-sexing and microchipping, if these have been done. You may need to provide additional certification or evidence if your dog is a special breed or a working dog.

You can also register your dog in person at your local council office, if that’s more convenient.

Some councils also offer the opportunity to gain a Responsible Dog Owner Licence. Apart from being a good educational process, as a RDOL holder, you may be eligible for discounts on your registration fees. Your local council will have more details on this.

Why microchip your dog?

Unfortunately, tags on collars aren’t a fail-proof way of identifying your lost pet. Collars can be removed, or the tag could get lost or faded. Microchipping, on the other hand, is permanent and, as long as you keep your contact details up to date, your local council, vet, or the SPCA will be able to find them and contact you if they find your dog. A microchip is also very useful if the ownership of the dog ever comes under dispute.

How do I get my dog microchipped?

Your local vet or SPCA centre are great places to get your dog microchipped. And it’s just as simple as getting them vaccinated, so it takes no time at all. Once the microchip is in place, the vet will also be able to register the microchip against your details and add it to the NZ Companion Animal Register so that no matter where in New Zealand your dog ends up, everyone will know it belongs to you.

It’s important to note that if you move, or change your contact details, you’ll need to update your listing in the NZ Companion Animal Register. You can do this online via their website or ask your veterinarian for help. It’s also good to get your vet to scan your dog for the microchip once in a while. This will ensure it’s still working and will let you know if your details aren’t up to date.

And, if you adopt a dog that’s already been microchipped, make sure to get the ownership details changed to yours.

It is also a good idea to get your dog's microchip tested regularly by your vet to make sure it is functioning correctly - and this type of vet visit can be a good training tool for pets who may be nervous about vet visits when they are not feeling well!

And, if If you don’t want to rely just on council registration and microchipping your dog for identification purposes, you could always add a personal name tag to your dog’s collar with your contact details on it. This way, if someone on the street comes across your lost dog, they’ll be able to contact you directly rather than needing to take it to the council, local vet or SPCA centre - it can often be the fastest and simplest way missing pets are reunited with their grateful owners! :)