Dogs must be walked twice a day under new law

When it comes to looking after dogs, do you think providing a dog with regular exercise is a sign of a "responsible" dog owner?

If the answer to that question is "yes", then how much exercise per day do you think is necessary? And what counts as "exercise"?

The opportunity for exercise, explore and play are among those factors recognised as providing "positive states" for animals according to the scientific knowledge of the Five Domains. ["negative" states are conditions such as suffering, pain and distress].

Providing opportunities for pleasure is a "good" thing, right? Have you ever wondered how many dog owners recognise exercise as good, but still fail to take their dogs for a walk? If YOU had your way, what would you do about that?

In Germany, taking your dog for walks twice a day for at least an hour in total could soon become the law.

Under the planned rules, dog owners:

  1. will have to take their dogs for walks twice a day for a minimum of one hour in total
  2. will not be allowed to keep their dogs chained for long periods of time
  3. will not be allowed to leave dogs alone the whole day

Under the proposed laws, breeders will be restricted to looking after a maximum of three litters and puppies will have to spend a minimum of four hours a day in human company to ensure they get socialised.

A spokeswoman for Germany’s  agriculture ministry said it was very unlikely private dog owners would receive police visits to check whether they had taken their pooch for a walk. She said the emphasis would be on ensuring that dogs kept in kennels were treated well.

"Pets are not cuddly toys, their needs have to be taken into account," Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner said about the planned changes.

For a long time, International Animal Law ("IAL") has advocated for a legal reform that updates the law to make it a duty to provide animals with opportunities for "positive" experiences, rather than limit itself to a 200-year old model of law that permits almost anything so long as it doesn't cause an animal "too much" pain or distress. Look it up - "too much", in animal welfare legislation, is described as "pain or distress” that is "unnecessary" or "unreasonable".

Putting that another way, less pain - or less cruelty - is NOT the same as more pleasure. You could apply this to your own life experience - if someone said to you "this is going to hurt a little less", would that mean you are actually enjoying yourself more?

So, back to laws proposing to mandate exercising your dog and penalise you if you do not. Good thing, or a step too far?

  • One golden retreiver owner is reported as saying: "I don't believe in regulation! Every dog ​​is different, has a different age, different diseases, and we have different climates".
  • An owner of a Yorkshire Terrier said: "I find it patronizing to be told how long I should take my dog out for. And who is going to check up on me"?
  • And the owner of a 6-year-old Labrador said: "Going for a walk should definitely be a must!It is absolutely correct and important that you go out with your dog for at least an hour every day."

IAL Founder and Barrister Ian Robertson says it's a good start and that "the legal initiative obligating owners to provide their dogs with opportunities for a life enjoyed could be expanded to a lot more species with the proper legislative change".


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