Germany is planning to execute a law for pet owners: All dogs must be walked twice a day.
Julia Klöckner, the agriculture minister, introduced the new law after she discovered that many of the 9.4 million dogs in Germany are not getting proper exercise.
Details of the Law Requiring Owners to Walk Their Dogs
With the new regulations in the Dogs Act, or Hundeverordnung in its native language, owners will be required to take their dogs outside for at least one hour each day. To clarify, that means that both walks should total an hour combined; owners are not required to walk their dogs for two hours every day.
So a lazy walk around the block isn’t going to cut it, and dogs who need more stimulus than that are probably grateful.
Klöckner explains that the regulations are based on scientific research that found that dogs require “sufficient measure of activity and contact with environmental stimuli.” This includes people, other animals, and nature.
The rules also challenge the habit of keeping dogs on a restricting chain while the owner isn’t around. People who tether their dogs for extended periods of time may face a complete ban.
Additionally, dogs are not allowed to be left alone at home all day. Owners are required to take care of their pups “several times a day.”
As Klöckner says, “Dogs are not cuddly toys. They also have their own needs, which need to be taken into account.” 
The law continues with requirements for dog breeders and owners. For example, purebred pups with “agony breeding characteristics” — like Cavalier King Charles spaniels who suffer from early-onset hip and heart issues and pugs who develop breathing issues — are banned from being showcased at dog shows. Hopefully, this will lower the demand for these unhealthy breeds and discourage breeders from investing in them.
Read: New Video Reveals ‘Deeply Disturbing’ Treatment Of Cows Killed For Leather
The Controversy and Debate of the Dog Act
This law is sparking debate in Germany.
The main question people ask is how the law will be enforced. After all, 19% of German households own dogs. It would be rather difficult to ensure everyone is upholding these regulations. One spokeswoman from the agricultural ministry stated that the responsibility of enforcing this law would fall to the authorities over each of the 16 states in Germany. She assured the public that they would not be knocking on doors to ensure Rover got walked that day.
However, it may be that the policies are intended to be more directed at dog dealers, breeders, and kennel owners, that at individual dog owners.
But the controversy and ridicule targeting Klöckner’s proposition also stem from her own political party, the Christian Democratic Union. Saskia Ludwig, a CDU MP who resides in the state assembly for Brandenburg in Potsdam, argues that the current heatwave makes the outdoors unhealthy for dogs to linger in for so long.
On Twitter, she posted: “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.”
One resident of Berlin agrees with this sentiment, like Bärbel Kleid, the owner of a five-year-old Yorkshire terrier called Sam. “I find it patronizing to be told how long I should take my dog out for. And who is going to check up on me? Will the neighbor call the police if they suspect me of not taking Sam for long enough walks?”
Many owners who have dogs with illnesses and disabilities also spoke up. For example, Walther Schweiz’s dog, a 14-year-old Alsatian named Blu, has cancer. Short walks close to home is all the pup can manage at this point.
“They should trust people to get on with their own lives,” said the Cologne resident. “They’ll be telling cat owners how often they need to change their litter trays next.” 
Read: Animal Shelter Creates ‘Real-Life’ Living Room for Dogs to Show off Their Personalities
Praise for the Dog Act
Animal rights activists, however, praise the new law. They also believe that there should be more strict requirements for aspiring dog owners to prove that they are responsible and caring enough to raise a pup.
“A dog needs daily exercise in the open air and social contacts according to its needs. We welcome the fact that there are now more specific requirements,” said Thomas Schröder, president of the country’s animal welfare association. He adds that, “If you want to protect dogs, you should also require owners to identify and register their four-legged friends.”
Individual dog owners are in favor of the law as well. Julia Duden, owner of a 6-year-old Labrador said, “Going for a walk should definitely be a must! It is absolutely correct and important that you go out with your dog for at least an hour every day.” 
The Importance of Walking the Dog
For the average, healthy pup, daily walks are more than just bathroom trips. They are crucial to their physical and mental health. Bored dogs stuck inside all day can lead to destructive behavior. It’s no wonder dogs look so excited when it’s walk time. 
Responsible owners are already aware of the needs of their pets, and whether they need shorter bouts of exercise or longer ones. Hopefully, this act will motivate the more negligent owners to appreciate their doggies and give them the exercise they need.
People who don’t have enough time for their pets should reconsider whether they should truly have them. Also, don’t forget that dog walkers exist and could help out!
Keep Reading: Animal Cruelty Is Officially a Nationwide Felony
 “A new law in Germany will require dogs to be walked twice a day.” Joshua Bote. USA Today. August 21, 2020
 “Germans must walk their dogs twice a day, new law will say.” Kate Connolly. The Guardian. August 19, 2020
 “Germany’s Proposed Dog Walking Law Stirs Consternation Among Pet Owners.” Laurel Wamsley. NPR. August 20, 2020
 “The Importance of Walking Your Dog.” The Animal Foundation. September 25, 2018