Many dog owners happily walk their four-legged friends of their own accord but some, it seems, are a bit slack about it – and German authorities are putting them on a tight lease.
The country’s agriculture minister, Julia Klöckner, says she is introducing a new law based on evidence that many of the nation’s 9,4 million mutts are not getting the exercise or stimuli they need.
And a quick jog around the block or ball chuck in the backyard won’t do. According to new regulations in the Hundeverordnung, or Dogs Act, owners must take their dogs out for at least one hour at a time.
Klöckner says the rules were based on new scientific findings that show dogs need a “sufficient measure of activity and contact with environmental stimuli”, including other animals, nature and people.
She also outlined additional rules including a ban on tying up dogs for long periods of time as well as leaving dogs alone all day at home.
“Dogs are not cuddly toys. They also have their own needs, which need to be taken into account,” Klöckner says
The news is a win for some animal lovers, many of whom believe animals are sentient creatures who feel happiness and sadness just like humans.
However, the new law has prompted divided opinion with many wondering how the government will possibly check on those households that own dogs.
“I find it patronising to be told how long I should take my dog out for. And who is going to check up on me? Will the neighbour call the police if they suspect me of not taking Sam for long enough walks?” says Berlin resident Bärbel Kleid, owner of a five-year-old Yorkshire terrier,
Walther Schweiz says his dog, a 14-year-old Alsatian called Blu has cancer, and can manage only short walks.
“They should trust people to get on with their own lives. They’ll be telling cat owners how often they need to change their litter trays next.”
According to experts, how much exercise a dog needs is based on their size, breed, age and other factors. Yet most agree one walk a day is necessary for mental and overall physical health.
What do you think – should there be a law to walk your dog?
Source: theguardian.com, sciencedaily.com