One in four Missourians think that walking your dog every day should be the law. And 43% of the poll's respondents say that dog owners who don't walk their dog should be banned from ever owning another pet.

Those are the results of a survey that a pet products review site conducted after learning about a proposed German law that would require dog owners to walk their pets twice a day for an hour total. The German law gained support after it was found many of Germany's 9.4 dogs aren't getting enough exercise.

I certainly get the sentiment that making sure your dog gets enough exercise is important, yet I'm not sure making dog walking compulsory is the way to do this. I'm not a fan of blanket laws and rules. For example, many greyhound rescue groups won't adopt their dogs into homes without fenced in backyards or to people who live in apartments.

The idea is that greyhounds need to room to run. And you better have a six foot fenced in yard so your hound doesn't escape the back yard. Yet, some greyhounds are great at scaling a tall fence. The greyhound group I worked with spent a month searching for a hound that got out of a foster's yard with the six foot fence. The group I worked with also wasn't opposed to giving a hound to families who lived in apartments, provided the dog was a smaller greyhound and one who might be a little less active or was older.

In other words, you don't place an energetic greyhound who wants to chase and run in an apartment setting. Yet, you might place a hound that's a little older, or known as a less energetic dog in an apartment setting like Kathy and I live in.

And it's the same thing with making sure your dog's healthy. Two 30 minute walks a day isn't going to keep your dog healthy if you're feeding him or her table scraps every day. Two 30 minute walks a day won't keep your dog from getting heartworm if you don't give him or her a preventative. And for most of us with dogs who listen to our commands less than 100% of the time, letting them off leash can cause a whole host of problems.

Keeping your pet healthy requires a little bit of work, of which regular walks are only part of the deal. It also includes regular visits to the vet. Immunizations. Socialization. Making sure your pet generally eats heathy. And that you do your best to keep their mind healthy as well.

None of this is easily policeable. It's easy to pass a law because it makes us feel good. It's a lot harder to enforce. That said, if a compulsory dog walking law could be used by animal control officers, the courts, or police departments as another way to get animals out of the homes of abusers then maybe it's not a bad thing.

The bottom line, you can't force people to be good pet owners. And unfortunately, a law won't help. My advice, think before you adopt. Learn about what pet ownership really involves. And learn about what the breed of dog you want is like. That will go along way to making sure you have a healthy and happy pet.

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