It's not often that you see a news story concerning dogs that strikes such debate. Germany's new law - known as the Hundeverordnung, or the 'Dogs Act' - means that all German dog owners must walk their dogs twice a day. And that doesn't mean a quick stroll around the park - each walk must be at least one-hour long.
The new rules also mean that dogs can't be left alone all day, nor can they be kept on a chain or leash for long periods.
With 19% of German households owning at least one dog, it means that a fair chunk of the population will be affected by the new rules.
Cons to the New Law
Not all dogs are capable of walking for such long periods of time; age, illness and injuries are all things that will affect the amount a dog can exercise.
It also doesn't take into account weather. Walking a dog in heat is never a good idea as it can lead to dehydration and even heat stroke.
It is also confusing for people who own large amounts of land or large gardens where their dogs are capable of running and burning off energy throughout the day.
It also doesn’t take different breeds into account. Some breeds are built for running and large amount of exercise, while others are less so – excessive exercise may even injure them.
There is also the question of how they intend to monitor whether the rules are being followed. It would be impossible to check on each dog-owning household each day to ensure their daily exercise quota is fulfilled.
Why the New Law?
Two hours is a hefty chunk of time out of each day, but there is good reason for it. More people should take this into account before getting a dog; if a person is unable or unwilling to make the time to sufficiently exercise their dog, they shouldn’t have one.
There are also thousands of dogs who get left alone for extended periods of time each day while their owners are at work. Some get locked in the house or garden, while others get locked in their pens or chained somewhere to prevent them getting up to mischief. Leaving a dog for such lengths of time is cruel. Dogs are social creatures and are not just there for when the owner has time for them.
Dogs are a huge, life-changing part of their owner’s lives and more owners need to be more honest and less selfish about whether they can spare the time to properly take care of them.
The new law is not there just so dogs are getting the right amount of exercise. It is also to give them time to socialise with other dogs, interact with the outdoors and give them a chance to… well, be a dog.
This new law will force owners to be more responsible. While dog owners shouldn’t berate themselves if they are unable to meet the 2-hour requisite walking each day, it is a great goal to aim for and shows owners just how much time they are supposed to be spending on their dogs.
How to Give Your Dog Enough Exercise in the UK
The new law doesn’t affect the UK, but it should make every dog owner question whether or not their dog is getting the right amount of exercise and mental stimulation each day.
For many dog owners, two hours may seem like an impossible task – but it shouldn’t be viewed that way.
Dogs should never be left for longer than 4 hours at a time, and that should be a rarity. If you’re the type of owner who works 9-5 and leaves their dog alone for extended periods, you should be thinking of ways to keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated while you’re away.
· Get up earlier and take your dog for its first walk before work. Some dog owners love the quiet solitude of an early morning walk. This will also help tire your dog out before you go off to work so they will be more inclined to snooze and not wreak havoc in your living room.
· Look into dog walkers in your local area. Hiring a dog walker to walk your dog for an hour at midday will save you from finding the extra time and will help burn off some energy.
· Ask a neighbour to help out. Some neighbours – particularly retired people – are more than happy to dog-sit for neighbours as it gives them the chance to have company without the responsibilities of full dog ownership.
· Think about doggy day-cares. These are like the dog equivalent of sending your toddler to nursery. They get to play and run around with other dogs while you’re at work. Some will even pick your dog up from your home.
· Take a long lunch. Head home and take your dog for a walk on your lunch break. This is a great idea for anyone working in an office as the walk will be beneficial to you as well as your dog.
· Ask your boss if you can take your dog to work. Some offices love having a dog around as it boosts moral. Not only will this give your dog a chance to socialise and be in the thick of things (helping to tire them out) but it is also good for dogs who show separation anxiety when left alone.
· Some forms of play is exercise, too. A good game of fetch, swimming, or obstacle courses may all feel like fun but your dog will also be getting plenty of exercise, too.
Never tie your dog up for extended periods of time. If you do this to prevent unwanted behaviours, address the behaviours with a dog trainer.
One of the first things you should do if you dog is showing behavioural issues is to exercise them. Many dogs are not receiving the right amount of exercise and this pent-up energy shows itself in behaviours that many owners find frustrating.
Come rain or shine, your dog should be taken on AT LEAST one good walk a day. Allowances can be made for extreme weather, illness and injury, but otherwise this is what you should be aiming for at a minimum.
Are you looking for a dog to suit your lifestyle? Do you already have a dog but are struggling to train it? Get in touch via the contact form now.