Versatile helpers on four paws

Dogs have been loyal companions to men for millenniums. Thanks to their extraordinary capabilities, dogs are highly appreciated and tremendously popular as helpers and as buddies. Hardly any other domestic animal or pet lives and works so closely together with human beings. Nevertheless, it is in particular because of the special character of dogs that some people abuse them for their own interests.


Loved and held in disdain

Dogs are lifesavers – they watch and protect us and our property and they serve as faithful companions. Dogs are given much tender loving care; they are sometimes treated as if they were humans; they are held for reasons of prestige and are often misunderstood. Because of their ability to adapt and integrate into groups easily, they are often exploited – held inappropriately, subjected to abuse and punished with disdain. It is humans who primarily influence how a dog develops, but in order to understand dogs, we need to study their biology and behavior.


Animal protection issues

  • Acquiring a dog without having considered the changes to your everyday life often leads to the holder being overtaxed and the dog being underchallenged.
  • Breeding abuse can translate into a dog suffering physical and mental pain.
  • Overfeeding and a lack of exercise as well as being mentally underchallenged lead to health difficulties and behavioral disturbances.
  • Insufficient social contact with other dogs and human beings makes dogs uncertain and weak in will as well as being potentially dangerous.

Improvements in the new Swiss Animal Protection Act

The new law comprises stricter regulations for dog holders. Everyone who acquired a dog after September 1, 2008 must now take a practical course in dog keeping. First-time dog holders must attend theoretical as well as practical courses.


Dogs must be allowed social contact with people and with other dogs. Moreover, dogs must be able to move freely outdoors.


Despite progress made, there is still need for action. It is, for instance, still allowed to tie dogs to a running chain (minimum radius of movement for the dog is 20 m²).



Mischling auf einer Wiese
© Gabi Trachsel

Further information


Legal stipulations

  • information portal of the federal food safety and veterinary office (in german, not available in english)
  • Availability and booking information on dog courses complying with the stipulations of the Swiss Animal Protection Ordinance (article 68) as well as the regulations of the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office and are updated here on a daily basis. The Zurich Animal Protection Association does not issue any recommendations for individual course providers or courses.