Expat confusion over Swiss dog laws
Keeping a dog is becoming a difficult affair in Switzerland.
First time dog owners are in a precarious position and there is big confusion about the legislation on dogs. As per the law dog owners who have never had one before will need to have compulsory training.
Glen Patterson is an American expat who has lived nearly five years in Switzerland and works out of Geneva as a dog trainer in English for foreigners wanting to teach their pets new tricks. He visits people’s homes to provide one-on-one behaviour training - clients include pet-owners from the UK and US but also Russians and Turks who prefer to deal in English.
He told Swisster that in Geneva many people don’t know about the law that requires first-time dog-owners to go on training courses with their pets, to help them understand Swiss legislation for man’s best friend as well as some practical tips on training.
“Advertisements about the government course should be shown in English,” he said. “I wonder how many people [expats] will even take the course”.
The federal law was introduced last September and stipulates that anyone who acquires a dog and has never owned one before must take the course, which involves a theoretical class and a practical hands-on module (to be phased in by 2010).
Theory lasts about two hours and covers topics such as vaccinations, worming, rabies and other legal requirements in Switzerland.
It is only once the owner has attended this ‘sensitization course’ that he or she can obtain the “medallion”, a dog certification awarded once the animal has received necessary vaccinations (such as rabies), an identification microchip implant and has been registered on the national database.