A terrier wears the German colors.

Should Walking Your Dog Be Mandatory?

While every state has anti-cruelty laws on the books, U.S. pet ownership is mostly governed by unwritten rules. A county may require certain vaccines, a town might threaten fines for excessive noise, but most aspects of humane, responsible pet parenthood are the owner’s responsibility alone.

The German government may soon take measures to enforce new rules for pet ownership. These proposals have earned mixed reviews from pet parents and advocacy groups alike.

Germany’s Dog-Walking Proposal

Lawmakers in Germany are considering additional steps to ensure dogs live happy and healthy lives. In August, Julia Klockner (the country’s Minister of Food and Agriculture) suggested a law to ensure every German dog gets enough daily exercise. She’s proposing an addition to Germany’s Dog Act, requiring pet owners to provide at least an hour of exercise (through at least two walks) every day.

Dogs are not cuddly toys,” Klockner said. Her proposal is based on new evidence that dogs not only require exercise, but sufficient “contact with environmental stimuli” throughout the day. The law makes exemptions for dogs who are unable to safely engage in daily exercise.

If passed, the law will go into effect in 2021 and affect nearly 9.5 million dogs across Europe’s most populous country. 19% of German homes include a dog and skeptics have raised questions as to how authorities would enforce the law. Per a press release, this responsibility would go to individuals at the state level.

Less-publicized aspects of the proposal include new restrictions for breeding and showing dogs. The bill would bar dogs exhibiting “tortured breeding characteristics” from competing in shows.

Opposition to the Proposal

Many German dog owners are barking mad about the proposal. One Berlin-based Yorkshire Terrier owner spoke to The Guardian to voice her displeasure. “I find it patronizing,” she said, “to be told how long I should take my dog out for. And who is going to check up on me?” She’s not alone. A Cologne dog owner echoed her skepticism, remarking, “They should trust people to get on with their own lives.”

Animal advocacy groups believe the law would represent a good first step. Thomas Schroder hopes, however, that future legislation will go further to ensure responsible pet ownership. The President of Germany’s animal welfare association suggests that the nation should introduce an exam for prospective pet owners and a database of registered pets.

How Much Exercise Do Dogs Really Need?

Your dog’s exercise needs will vary based on their age, size, breed, and unique health profile. Talk to your veterinarian about designing an exercise regimen to suit your pup. If you’re especially busy, you may want to research options like dog walking services to keep your dog active.

Fewer than 1 in 4 dogs get exercise at least five times a week. Over time, that sedentary lifestyle can leave dogs feeling sluggish and struggling with extra pounds. Why not turn things around by getting out and getting active today?