Keeping a dog
Dogs are considered to be adaptable and usually cope very well with our everyday lives. However, they are only loyal companions when we know their needs and satisfy them.
In addition to an adequate supply of food and water, there are other basic needs of dogs:
- social contact and communication with other dogs
- rest and sleep
- hunting and playing
- protecting and defending
You can find more information about the needs of dogs in our leaflet.
Equipment for dogs
- collar / harness
- food and water bowls
- sleeping place
- transport box
- equipment for training (dog whistle, clicker)
For the complete equipment, one has to expect costs of at least CHF 800. Depending on the size of the dog and the quality of the items, the expense can be significantly higher.
Nutrition for dogs
Dogs are carnivores. However, a certain percentage of vegetable ingredients in the food is not a problem. On the contrary, it plays an essential role in intestinal passage due to the raw fiber content.
We provide detailed information on nutrition for dogs in our leaflet.
Health and care of dogs
Felted fur, fleas, or kennel cough are unpleasant and mostly avoidable. There are a few things to bear in mind to keep your dog healthy – because prevention is better than cure. You will find information on care measures, parasite prevention, and vaccinations in our information sheet «Infos zur Gesundheit und Pflege von Hunden» [Information on the health and care of dogs]. In addition, you will find essential points in our checklist «Wie bleibt mein Haustier lange fit und gesund?» [How does my pet stay fit and healthy for a long time?]. Consult a vet if your dog behaves conspicuously, appears ill, or is injured.
Always have the emergency number of your vet or a veterinary clinic handy so that your dog can quickly receive help in an emergency.
Breeding & castration of dogs
Breeding dogs requires a lot of expertise and time to ensure that mating results in healthy and characterful puppies. Precautions should be taken to prevent mating if these conditions are not given. Since dogs can be well controlled and led on leashes, castration is not mandatory. You can find more information in our info sheet.
Training of dogs
Dogs accompany us in everyday life. However, they should never bother other people and animals nor pose a danger to their environment. At the same time, dogs should be able to move freely without fear. To achieve this, dogs must be trained and accustomed to everyday situations from an early age.
You can find more information in our info sheet.
Dog obedience school
In the canton of Zurich, the obligation to attend a dog obedience course will be extended to dogs of all breeds and sizes. In return, the number of hours is to be reduced. That means that all dogs must now complete practical lessons at a recognized dog obedience school. New dog owners must also attend a theory course. The new Zurich Dog Regulations will define the exact number of hours.
Legal basis of keeping a dog
Keeping dogs is subject to various laws: the Protection of Animals Act and the Animal Protection Ordinance are valid throughout Switzerland. Several complementary acts concerning dogs apply at cantonal or municipal levels and can vary greatly. Cantonal laws include, for example, mandatory training for human–dog teams or leash requirements during the breeding season. In addition, each municipality can define areas where dogs are prohibited, leashes are required, or free running is permitted.
Dog owners are, among other things, legally obliged to ensure that their dogs:
- can live out their natural behavior as far as possible and are not overstrained in adapting.
- are regularly and sufficiently supplied with suitable food and water.
- are treated and cared for appropriately when they are sick or injured.
- have sufficient social contact with people and, if possible, other dogs every day.
- are walked every day – if possible, they should be able to walk off-leash where this is permitted.
- be trained with regard to other dogs, people, and the environment.
Chip & registration obligation
- Chip dogs when they are three months old
- Register 15-digit chip number in the national database for dogs (AMICUS)
- New dog owners must register (AMICUS) through their municipality of residence
- Any change of ownership or the death of the animal must be reported to AMICUS within ten days
Police, customs, veterinary practices, and animal shelters can read the chip to identify the dog and, if necessary, find the owner.
Obligation to report
When you get a dog or move house, make sure to register the dog at the municipality of residence within ten days or deregister in case of departure or death. For each dog, a tax must be paid annually – the municipality determines the amount of the tax.
Any accident in which a human or another animal is bitten must be reported to the cantonal veterinary office.
When dealing with dogs, the following actions, among others, are explicitly prohibited:
- the trimming of ears and tails without medical indication
- the use of tools that injure, hurt, or frighten the dog
- the use of electric and spray collars containing chemical substances, as well as devices that produce unpleasant acoustic signals
- the use of pull collars and spiked collars
- the use of excessive force, such as hitting with heavy objects
- the use of aids to prevent expression of pain (so-called anti-bark collars)
- tethering dogs permanently for more than 19 hours per day
- the use of muzzles that do not allow dogs to breathe sufficiently
Before buying a dog, check with the veterinary office in your canton of residence about special training and keeping regulations for certain types and breeds of dogs, as well as any breed bans. The municipality will also provide information about dog-specific guidelines in your place of residence.
Animal protection issues when keeping a dog
When keeping a dog, various developments are relevant to animal protection. The main animal welfare issues are:
- thoughtless dog acquisition
- trade of puppies
- dogs from abroad
- torturous breeding of dogs
- forced training methods
- overstraining dogs
- wrong nutrition
Thoughtless dog acquisition
Since dogs can be ordered very quickly, thoughtless purchases have become more frequent. We highly recommend informing yourself before getting a dog. Our checklist highlights crucial questions that you should ask and answer honestly. That will prevent you from having to give the dog away because you cannot do it justice or are overwhelmed.
Trade of puppies
Nowadays, puppies can be ordered on the internet with just a few clicks. They usually get delivered free of charge to the buyer's house or at least to a car park near the border. These dogs usually come from mass breeding in Eastern Europe, and are often insufficiently vaccinated and ill. When buying dogs, make sure that you only support reputable suppliers. You can find more information in the section "Where should you get the dog?".
Dogs from abroad
Dubious animal protection organizations from abroad often do not select the dogs they place in Switzerland well enough. Thus, dogs end up unable to cope with living with humans, especially in the city, when they could have lived a free life in their home country if they had been neutered and cared for. No one benefits from this situation, apart from the organization that collects the money. Dogs often need to be rehomed as a result
Depending on the breed, the dog might show different health problems. For example, dogs with short snouts regularly suffer from shortness of breath, tiny dogs have a greater risk of life-threatening hypoglycemia, and dogs with irregular fur patterns may suffer from deafness, itching, or hair loss. You will find more information in the section "Acquisition of dogs" under "Torturous breeding".
Forced training methods
Due to wrong assumptions, dogs used to be trained with a lot of pressure and sometimes even forcibly. These methods are outdated but still widespread. Particularly the use of electric collars and similar aids inflicting pain or fear on dogs is prohibited in Switzerland. You can find pet obedience schools practicing modern methods at the "initiative for non-violent dog training".
It is already quite exhausting for dogs to cope with the incredible amount of stimuli in our fast-paced everyday lives. However, some people have too many good intentions concerning their dogs' activity and do not pay any attention to sufficient rest periods. Therefore, dogs are quickly overwhelmed and overstimulated. It is essential to find the right balance between activity and rest.
In our affluent society, modern dogs often suffer from obesity. That puts a strain on the joints and increases the risk of other diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Weigh your dog regularly and adjust the amount of food accordingly if necessary.
Although most owners look after their pets with love and with a lot of knowledge, the provision for emergencies often remains unregulated. It is essential to think about the following questions:
- Who can take care of the dog in case of an accident?
- Who can step in if you are (temporarily) no longer able to walk long distances?
Be prepared for an emergency and save your dog from unnecessary suffering.