Owning a dog comes with a number of responsibilities, and one of the most important of these is to ensure dogs get the right amount of exercise. Is Germany right in seeking to make it a legal requirement?
It’s been recently announced that Agriculture Minister, Julia Kloeckner, is planning to introduce a law to ensure dogs are taken for an hour-long walk or run in the garden at least twice a day – ACME Whistles gather the thoughts of experts to discuss the positives and negatives of the plans put forward.
“Dog owners have a duty of care to their pets, both to keep their health and to train them to behave and be safe in a public environment,” says Ben McFarlane from ACME Whistles. “If you make the decision to become an owner, then you take on the responsibility for that pet, in the same way, you care for a child.”
Exercise and stimulation for dogs are vital for their development. You see a much higher proportion of behavioural problems and aggressive traits in dogs that are cooped up inside and don’t get the necessary exercise; however, every dog is different.
Jason Mayhew, the UK’s leading gundog trainer, adds; “Dogs need exercise – that’s a fact. But each dog is different and will require a different level of physical activity depending on their breed, age, health. Putting a one-size-fits-all approach to this doesn’t work.”
“Pets are not cuddly toys,” Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner said. “Their needs have to be considered,” adding that the animals must get sufficient exercise and not be left alone for too long.
The new rule says dog owners must walk their pets at least twice a day with the 16 federal states individually responsible for enforcing the rule, but as yet it is unclear how.
In the UK, domestic dogs have the legal right to a suitable environment to live, food, training and behaviour management, and protection against suffering or illness. Owners can be taken to court if they don’t look after their pets properly and face a prison sentence of up to six months, and a fine of up to £20,000.
Ben McFarlane, ACME’s expert, adds; “The vast majority of owners in the UK are driven to do the best by their dogs, properly used aids like whistles can help with behaviour and exercise, allowing pets to spend time off the lead safely. I think this is as much about education before and during the ownership of pets, as it is making it an enforceable law.”
World champion gundog trainer, Jason Mayhew, added; “I think the sentiment around Germany’s plans is spot on, its just not the right way to go around it. I work with owners and dogs on a daily basis and, owners in my experience, want to do the right thing by their animals. There will always be a few who are unfit to own animals, and it is right that they are fully held accountable.”
If you are looking for more advice on ACME dog whistles, visit www.acmewhistles.co.uk.
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