Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.43 20 Aug 2020


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German authorities have started a debate about whether dogs should have the right to two walks a day.

The country's agriculture ministry is proposing new regulations which require dog owners to take their pet for at least two walks a day, for a total of an hour's exercise.

Minister Julia Klöckner said dogs "are not cuddly toys" and their needs must be taken into account.

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The new rules would also forbid dogs from being chained for long periods of time.

It remains unclear how the measures would be enforced by the federal states, while one German dog-owners association suggested a rule for all dogs is "probably well meant but unrealistic".

Gillian Bird, head of education and media at the DSPCA, spoke to The Hard Shoulder about the German proposal.

She said: "They're not pushing it as a compulsory thing: you don't have to bring your dog out, regardless of how fit or old they are, or the weather. It's more of a guideline.

"What they're trying to do is to encourage the dog breeders... to exercise dogs, that dogs have a right to be outside.

"It's more to do with the animal's well-being more than it is to do with other things that people seem to be picking up on."

However, Ms Bird said it is a good thing to see other countries' welfare laws reflect the need for dogs to go outside.

She observed: "A lot of dogs are yard dogs - all they do is live in a back garden all their life. It would be lovely to see that dog get out and see something other than the four walls it's been living in.

"There are other situations, especially where you have dogs being bred on puppy farms, to actually get out and go for a walk."

Welfare laws

In terms of the Irish animal welfare laws, Ms Bird said "our laws are actually very, very good" - but that they're quite new and often guidelines.

She said: "We do need a few improvements, but what we need to do is make sure the laws we have are followed."

Germany's proposed new regulations also include a range of new measures to tighten the requirements for dog breeding.

Ms Bird says kennel clubs here already work closely with organisations such as the DSPCA, and the clubs would be against many of the dog breeds that are being mass-produced.

She explained: "To take the pug for example... when they have a breeder who is registered with the kennel club, they are making sure that the puppies that are produced are produced by parents who are good, healthy and a standard breed.

"The problem is the mass-producing of puppies - the backyard breeders, who are breeding for profit - who don't actually care about the long-term health of the puppies they're producing."

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/PA Images

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