This may be difficult for dog-lovers to believe, but some research indicates dogs pose just as great a threat to wildlife as cats, both in terms of predation and introduced diseases.
Studies from both Tasmania and Victoria indicate that unleashed domestic dogs in urban and suburban bushland reserves accounted for more wildlife attacks than domestic cats.
Furthermore, they have a greater negative impact on these habitats through foraging and digging behaviours. Lastly, dog faeces entering waterways has adverse affects on aquatic ecosystems.
The Level 5 ReWild value reflects the importance of keeping introduced predators away from wildlife. The natural instincts of our domestic animals, including hunting for sport or play, should not be underestimated.
Of course, none of these impacts are the dog’s fault. It falls to us to manage our dogs for the benefit of wildlife.
Unlike other ReWild activities, Keep my dog away from wildlife is a behaviour-change action, which can significantly increase your ReWild score [see below].
Behaviour change goals allow us to protect the environment without necessarily adding habitat to our site. Because they require a longer term commitment, we have determined that any one of the following actions will automatically earn one full ReWild star to your rating. However, you can only achieve the behaviour change star once – you can’t add them together – although this shouldn’t stop you from doing more if you can.
Practical measures to protect wildlife from your dog
Leashes and poop bags
These basic measures, widely used by most dog owners, are the first line of defence for our wildlife. Importantly, most recorded attacks occur in reserves with remnant habitat – where it is most likely that owners will want to let their dog off the leash.
Remembering to maintain basic leash and poop bag protocols when in wildlife habitat is an important ReWild behaviour.
Seek out enclosed dog parks that provide physical barriers between your dog and wildlife to let them get a good run in.
Keep up the good work!
The entire purpose of the ReWild program is to create habitat for wildlife in your home. This means attracting wildlife to your dog’s home, too.
Instead of designing a wildlife garden and then working out how to keep your dog out, think about the areas your dog uses less and focus your ReWilding activities there. Verges, side gardens, and the front yard are good alternatives if you are not wanting the dog to rumble through your new native plants and disturbing wildlife.
If you find that your ReWild garden is successfully attracting wildlife to your home, consider introducing built habitats and spaces where birds and even small marsupials (fingers crossed!) can retreat to when doggo gets curious.