Under German law, it could become mandatory for dog owners to take their furry friends for at least two walks per day.
A ban could also be made on keeping dogs chained up for long periods. The potential new rules come in the wake of a cracking down on puppy farms in Germany.
German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner said, “Pets are not cuddly toys, their needs have to be taken into account.”
Under the new plans, dog owners would be expected to:
- Take their dogs for walks at least twice a day, for a minimum of one hour in total
- Never keep their dogs chained for long period of time
- Never leave dogs alone the whole day
Breeders would also be restricted to looking after a maximum of three litters, with puppies being required to spend a minimum of four hours a day in human company to ensure they are properly socialised.
Klöckner said 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.
When will the new rules be implemented and how will they be enforced?
A draft of these new regulations has already been drawn up, and could become law early next year. If passed, German states will have to enforce them.
A spokesperson for the agriculture minister said it was unlikely that private dog owners would receive visits from the police to check whether they had taken their dog for a walk. Instead, the emphasis would be on ensuring that dogs kept in kennels were being treated well.
How has Germany reacted?
News of the rules regarding mandatory dog walks has drawn criticism from members of the German public, as well as from within Klöckner’s own party, the Christian Democractic Union.
Saskia Ludwig, a CDU MP, who also sits in the state assembly for Brandenbury in Potsdam, said that the current heatwave affecting Germany makes it unsuitable to take dogs out for so long.
She tweeted, “VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE: I will not be taking my Rhodesian Ridgeback for two rounds of walks in 32 degrees heat, rather we will jump in the river for a refreshing cool down instead.”
Talking to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, dog trainer Anja Strigel, said that the level of exercise a dog needs is dependent on a number of factors, including its health, age and breed.
She said, “For a young, fit Labrador, two hours of walks are healthier than for an arthritic pug with heart problems.”