Whanganui dog owners could be asked to pass a written test to gain "responsible dog owner" status - and the 20 per cent reduction in registration fees that comes with it.
It's the most significant of proposed changes to Whanganui District Council's dog control policy and bylaw.
Council compliance operations manager, Warrick Zander, told the council's strategy and finance committee that dog owners who have existing responsible owner status would not need to take the test unless they had incurred infringements during the year.
"The more tools we can give new dog owners, the better it encourages compliance," Zander said.
Deputy mayor Jenny Duncan said it was disappointing such a test should have to be considered.
"I support the proposal because it provides a way to deal with people who don't take responsibility for their dog's behaviour," she said.
Some councillors asked for a proviso that the test should be available online or could be completed at home by owners with limited mobility.
Other proposals include increasing dog access on Castlecliff and Mowhanau beaches.
The proposal would allow dogs to be under control and off leashes from the southern bluff of Mowhanau Beach to the north of the northern end of Castlecliff Beach carpark at all times.
Dogs would be allowed under control and on a leash from the south of the northern end of Castlecliff Beach carpark at all times.
Some councillors expressed reservations as to whether owners would adequately control dogs off-leash and it was suggested that maps could be included with public information describing the area specifications, because the wording is unclear.
Another part of the proposal would require dogs to be on a leash on walkways, cycleways and shared paths.
Councillor Philipa Baker-Hogan asked for clarification and specified the Whanganui riverbank area between the Aramoho and Dublin St bridges as an example.
Officers said dogs would be required to be on leashes on the pathway and controlled off-leash in the grassy areas.
"Is it practical or just dog policing?" Baker-Hogan asked.
Officers said that as part of the council's Dog Access Survey, respondents were asked what the dog access rules should be for walkways and shared pathways.
The majority of respondents - consisting of both dog owners and non-dog owners - said dogs should be under control on a leash.
The last proposal would also formalise the council's existing policy on rehoming dogs.
Officers said "significant numbers" of dogs have been successfully rehomed and while some dangerous dogs still had to be euthanised, the policy had been successful.
The committee voted to put the proposed changes out for public consultation.
The Whanganui dog population currently stands at around 8000 and around 97 per cent of those are registered.