New law could order Germans to walk their dogs twice a day

Germany’s dog owners could soon be ordered to walk their pets twice a day, in a law to be introduced next year.

The law is based on evidence that many of the nation’s 9.4 million dogs are not getting enough exercise or stimulation, the country’s agriculture minister, Julia Klöckner, said.

Under the new regulations, owners would be required to take their dogs on two walks that last at least an hour in total.

According to Klöckner, the rules are based on new scientific findings that show dogs need a ‘sufficient measure of activity and contact with environmental stimuli’. Tethering dogs on a chain or a lead for long periods will also be banned.

Owners will not be allowed to leave their dog home alone all day, and will be required to take care of their dog several times a day.

Klöckner said: ‘Dogs are not cuddly toys. They also have their own needs, which need to be taken into account.’

News of the law has prompted debate in Germany after being made widely known for the first time this week – with the main question being how it can possibly be enforced.

A spokeswoman for the agricultural ministry said the authorities in each of Germany’s states will be responsible for making sure the law is followed.

Bärbel Kleid, a dog owner who lives in Berlin, told the Guardian she found the rules patronising, adding: ‘And who is going to check up on me? Will the neighbour call the police if they suspect me of not taking Sam for long enough walks? He wouldn’t manage two hours a day anyway.’

Even those within Klöckner’s own party, the Christian Democratic Union, have ridiculed the new law. Saskia Ludwig, a CDU MP, said it was not suitable for dogs to be out for so long in the current heatwave.

She tweeted: ‘VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE: I will not be taking my Rhodesian Ridgeback for two rounds of walks in 32 degrees heat, rather we will jump in the river for a refreshing cool down instead.’

Walther Schweiz, said his dog, a 14-year-old Alsatian called Blu, has cancer, and is unable to do more than short walks close to his house in Cologne.

He said: ‘They should trust people to get on with their own lives. They’ll be telling cat owners how often they need to change their litter trays next.’

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