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Explained: What’s really in Germany’s planned ‘dog walking law’?

A proposal by Germany’s agriculture ministry to make going walkies twice a day compulsory for all dog owners has caught the attention of dog owners well beyond the borders of Germany. But what does the law mean for you?

Explained: What's really in Germany's planned ‘dog walking law’?
Photo: DPA

Germany’s agriculture ministry has been roundly ridiculed for the proposal, with international and domestic news outlets hounding Minister Julia Klöckner for the perceived nanny-statism of the proposal.

“This is the dumbest idea any ministry has ever come up with,” wrote Bild columnist Hans-Jörg Vehlewald. “Who is supposed to control this: police, the public order office or neighbours?”

MUST READ: Everything you need to know about having a pet in Germany

Dog owners also took to social media to bare their teeth. Some said that their dogs couldn’t handle an hour’s walk a day. Others said that during a heatwave it would be better to take the dog to the lake rather than make it suffer through a long walk.

“Am I supposed to walk my dogs twice a day for an hour? He's physically and mentally exhausted after an hour,” wrote on Twitter user.

So what is the truth about the proposed law? Does Klöckner want to spy on every dog owner in the country or has a big fuss been made about nothing?

Doesn't have to be walkies

The first thing to say about the law is that it doesn’t specify that you have to take your dog for a walk. The wording is that “a dog should be able to exercise at least twice a day for a minimum of an hour outside (for example a walk, in the garden etc.).”

The wording is pretty open – generally it means that your dogs need to be outside for an hour a day. So taking the pooch down to the lake to allow it to cool off in the water, or just letting it run around at a dog run would be fine.

Not aimed at normal dog owners

A second clue that the law isn’t actually aimed at normal dog owners is to be found in the complete quote that has caused such shock.

“A dog should be able to run at least two times a day for a minimum of an hour outside (for example a walk, in the garden etc.) outside of its cage,” states the press release on the ministry website.

This suggests that we are not talking about household pets. Indeed the ministry has clarified that the law “is aimed at dog breeders” not everyday dog owners.

An official made clear that no one will be sent around to check up on how regularly dog owners are taking their pets out for a walk.

But the ministry only has itself to blame for the confusion. The introduction to the law references the fact that a fifth of all German households have a dog, clearly implying that the new rules affect everyone.

Photo: DPA

A law against pugs?

Another aspect of the law which has gained less attention, but is perhaps more relevant to city-based dog owners is that it seeks to “prevent an increase in demand” for dogs with breeding defects.

Concretely, a ban on entering these breeds into dog shows will be introduced. The ministry says that this will reduce the incentive to breed such dogs.

The ministry does not specify which breeds will be banned from shows. But pugs, French bulldogs, chihuahuas and dachshunds are all generally considered to have breeding defects.

What else is in the law?

Other aspects of the law which have been met with approval from animal rights activists are a ban on keeping dogs on a chain in the garden, and a limit on the amount of puppies that breeders are allowed to keep at one time to three.

Breeders are also expected to play with the puppies for four hours a day.

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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