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Dog "driving licence" to become mandatory for owners in Baden-Württemberg

Dog "driving licence" to become mandatory for owners in Baden-Württemberg

Dog "driving licence" to become mandatory for owners in Baden-Württemberg

Dogs have never been so popular in Germany. But keeping and handling a dog requires just as much knowledge and experience as driving a car - at least that’s what state authorities in Baden-Württemberg believe. They’re now going to ask owners to prove that they know how to look after their pets. 

Dogs more popular than ever in Germany

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, dogs were one of the most popular pets in Germany. And with working from home increasingly becoming the new norm, and lots of people spending more time at home on their own, demand for dogs and puppies has soared

According to estimates, there are now more than 1,1 million dogs living in Baden-Württemberg - a federal state with a population of just over 11 million. Officials collected a total of 48 million euros in dog tax last year. 

Baden-Württemberg looking at dog driving licences

On top of paying taxes, dog owners in the southwestern state could potentially soon be facing a new obligation, according to a number of media reports. Preparations are apparently underway to introduce a so-called “certificate of competence” for keeping dogs, a kind of driving licence for dog owners. The state is modelling this on a similar scheme that has been in operation in Lower Saxony since 2013. 

In a nutshell, the dog driving licence would require owners to prove knowledge of their dog’s social behaviour via a written test and a practical test in front of experts. In Lower Saxony, the exam costs 40 euros. Its aim is to protect people from dog attacks and, in the interests of animal welfare, to further enlighten owners as to the needs of their dogs. 

The measure would also force dog owners in the state to have their pets microchipped, entered into a central database, and covered by liability insurance

Not only fighting dogs bite

According to the State Commissioner for Animal Welfare, Julia Stubenbord, a large proportion of dog attacks actually involve popular family breeds and take place at home. She told Stuttgarter Nachrichten that so far only owners of so-called fighting dogs have to prove their knowledge and skills in handling the animal. “But not only these types of dogs bite,” she said. “I advocate for the introduction of a certificate of competence for keeping every dog, regardless or size or weight.” 

The move was welcomed by animal rights activities and dog training schools in Germany. According to Daniela Lisenfeld from the Baden-Württemberg State Animal Protection Association, the problem is that, currently, anybody can get a puppy, even if they don’t have the necessary expertise. If these animals are not properly trained, it can lead to problems later down the line. 

Abi

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Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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