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Legal Requirements

Legal Requirements

Puppy in prison

Dogs Now Have Rights

The new Animal Welfare Act (i.e. the Federal Animal Welfare Regulation (german: Tierschutzverordnung TschV) of April 23, 2008 (as of March 1, 2009)) now protects the rights of dogs and other animals. We will quote a few excerpts from this exemplary piece of Swiss legislation:

Art. 70 Social Contact

  1. Dogs must on a daily basis have sufficient contact with people and, where possible, with other dogs.
  2. Dogs held in boxes or kennels must be kept in pairs or groups, excepting incompatible animals. Dogs may be kept on their own for short periods should no suitable kennel-mate be available. 
  3. For working dogs contact with people and other dogs is to be tailored to the dog’s function.

Art. 71 Exercise

  1. Dogs must on a daily basis be walked outdoors according to their needs. Where possible dogs should be given the opportunity to roam off the leash during these walks.
  2. If a dog cannot be walked it must have daily exercise outside. Time in the kennels or attached to a chain is not considered exercise.
  3. Dogs that are kept on a tether must be allowed to move freely for at least 5 hours every day. In the remaining time they must be chained in such a way as to allow the dog to move about in an area of at least 20 m2. They may not be tethered with a choke collar.

Art. 73 Handling Dogs

The rearing and training of dogs as well their handling must allow for their socialization with other dogs and humans as well as habituating them to their environment. For working dogs the process of socialization is to be tailored to the dog’s function.
Shooting at the dog to punish, the use of barbed collars and excessive severity, such as striking with hard objects are all prohibited when handling dogs. Corrective measures must fit the situation.

Dual Mandatory Training

All these animal welfare laws will remain irrelevant so long as they are not acknowledged or if dog owners are unable to maintain control of a dog that is off the leash, i.e. free roaming, and has contact with other people and dogs on a daily basis. Doing so requires substantial training in dog handling.

For this reason, Art. 68 of the new Animal Welfare Act (german: Tierschutzverordnung TSchV) mandates a dual mandatory training for dog owners.

  • You must now attend a theoretical course before purchasing a dog. 
  • And after you have bought the dog, you must within the first year complete a training together with your dog. In this training course you will learn about your dog’s needs and behaviour as well as how to control it in a variety of everyday situations.

Both of these courses must be run by an authorized dog trainer who himself must have received a certification that is recognized by the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office. This trainer will, after you have successfully completed the course, issue you a so-called Attestation of Competence (SKN). You will have to produce this document when you purchase a dog. Afterwards you should keep it in a safe place in case you at a later point need to verify that you have completed the training.

Order to Attend Basic and Additional Training (Art. 191 TSchV)

  1. The cantonal authority may order animal owners, caretakers or organizations to attend basic or additional training courses if shortcomings in the feeding of, or the care for the animals or other violations of the Animal Welfare Act have been established.
  2. The cantonal authority may require that dog owners attend dog training classes or that their training be reviewed, should they find shortcomings in the treatment of the dogs. 
  3. The expenses incurred by these basic or additional training courses shall be borne by the organization in question or by the individual animal owner.

The above may also apply if a dog bite is treated by a doctor or veterinarian and his obligatory report calls attention to the dog owner. If this happens and it then, for example should come to light that the dog owner never even received his Attestation of Competence (SKN) ...

You can find the original text of the TSchV here in German if you wish to know more. And here in French or in Italian.

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