How Much Control Should Owners Have Over Their Dogs?

The amount of extreme headlines revolving around dogs lately has been overwhelming, to say the least. From Germany passing a law requiring citizens to get their dogs outside twice a day for at least an hour each outing to North Korea ordering everyone in its capital to surrender their dog, the question has to be asked: how do overreaching regulations undermine pet ownership?

The North Korea issue, frankly, turns my stomach, so we’ll touch on it quickly—while the official party line is that dogs are being confiscated because they’re representative of the bourgeois lifestyle and the Hermit Kingdom wants to level the playing field for its citizens, there’s allegations that the real reasoning could have something to do with a pandemic-related food shortage…

As for Germany, the new piece of legislature is overly controlling and too broad. While I agree that some dog owners don’t give their pups the time and attention the animal deserves due to various work, family and social commitments, this sort of policy isn’t the way to promote animal wellness. There are people who are disabled or physically/emotionally can’t commit to that sort of rigorious schedule, but it doesn’t mean they’re lesser pet parents for it. Additionally, does a smaller breed, like a Chihuahua, really require the same amount of physical activity as a larger breed, such as a mastiff? Furthermore, how can that law possibly be policed? There’s a lot of blanks that have to be filled in.

When bringing a pet into your home, they’re legally becoming your property and your responsibility, but it’s more complex than that. While there are policies that dictate certain requirements and restrictions—cars must be registered and operate according to the law, for example—pets are living things, and certain pieces of legislation aren’t an appropriate fit.

The other question that has to be asked is, how much of an authority is a government on the needs of animals, specifically dogs? Why isn’t it enough for pet owners to consult their veterinarians about their pets’ various health needs, and let the veterinarian draw their own conclusions about the dog’s quality of life and recommend lifestyle changes (if necessary)? Considering how many dog breeds there are and the complexities of each one, it’s just too dangerous to try and generalize a single law about the animals.