What Do I Need if I’m Having a Dog in Germany?
Dog licenses and certificate of competences; these are two different kind of documents you need to differient properly. If you're having a dog in Germany, you must know how to tell these certifications apart and why you should take them.
I’ll Be Having a Dog in Germany. Do I Need a License?
A dog license certifies you as a dog owner that can take good care of their pet and lead them safely. You need to have this license if you're having a dog in Germany. You get the license by doing several tests. First, you, the owner, must take a theoretical test. This test questions your knowledge about canines and evaluates your capabilities as an owner. The next test is a practical exam you take with your dog. Here, you'll have to show effective ways in which you handle your puppy in a number of situations.
And What About a Certificate of Competence?
Despite their similarities, dog licenses and certificates of competence are not the same. Never mistake one for another. The certificate of competence is a legal requirement for having a dog in Germany. In some states, it's a mandatory certificate for every dog owner.
However, what the test contains is universal for any of the tests in the country. Furthermore, this certificate is related only to the owner. You can ask for a certificate of competence without owning a dog, in fact. It has no restriction.
A dog license, on the other hand, is not a legal requirement. Therefore, there is no legally established rule against those who don't have one. What's more, you can only request a dog license if you live with your pet under the same roof.
Is the Dog License Compulsory if I’m Having a Dog in Germany?
The dog license is not mandatory for dog owners in Germany. However, the test may be necessary for so-called list dogs. For these dogs, some insurance companies require a dog license.
In NRW, dogs that are over 20 kilograms or 40 centimeters shoulder height need to undergo a test. Despite the fact this is a mandatory test, a dog license isn't in this state.
Due to this, in many federal states it's discussed whether the duties of dog owners should be more regulated.
There can always be changes. Exact information on the current status can be obtained from the veterinary of the state you're in. Furthermore, some insurance companies offer a reduced premium for dog license holders.
Why Is a Dog License Useful?
Even though the dog license is not mandatory in Germany, you should still consider taking it. The license can give you several advantages as a dog owner. For instance, you'll learn more about the right way to handle your pet. The practical test requires consistent practice.
You can have lots of fun with your pet training together. What's more, this is a great opportunity to understand each other better. Many owners become more confident with their dog through training.
In some federal states, there are further advantages for you. In cities with a general leash requirement, such as Hamburg and Berlin, you don't need to use a leash if you have a dog license. The state of Bavaria offers to reduce the dog tax, too.
What Are the Requirements for Getting a Dog License?
There are some requirements you need to meet first. In addition to the actual preparation in theory and practice, there is also exclusionary criteria you need to look out for:
- Your dog must be healthy.
- A clear proof of your dog's identity is required.
- Valid liability insurance is a must.
- An updated vaccination status of your dog.
- The owner needs to be at least 14 or 16 years old.
- Depending on the veterinarian center, the dog must be at least one year old.
How Do I Prepare for the Exam?
The theoretical exam includes a range of specialized literature. You'll have to read books on keeping and raising dogs. Additionally, there are online aids that offer a questionnaire for the theory exam. With these, you can check your knowledge of the subject yourself.
You should also think about visiting a dog school. There, you can practice with your dog under the guidance of experienced dog trainers.
Alternatively, there is also the possibility to attend a preparation course for the dog license. These are often offered by the same dog clubs that give out the test. Regardless, it's also advisable to train at home.
Where Can I Take the Dog License?
You can take the exam at many institutions. Besides dog schools and dog trainers, many veterinaries also offer this exam. You can contact the following entities:
- German Kennel Club (VDH)
- Professional Association of Dog Educators and Behavioral Trainers e.V. (BHV)
- Professional Association of Certified Dog Trainers e.V. (BVZ)
- Umbrella Organization for Pet Behavior Consulting in Europe e. V. (DHVE)
- International Professional Association of Dog Trainers & Dog Entrepreneurs e.V.. (IBH).
Also, the Veterinary Working Group on Dog Husbandry (Tierärztliche Arbeitsgemeinschaft Hundehaltung e.V.) offers the D.O.Q test, which is comparable to the dog license. In Bavaria, you can take your dog license at the Bavarian State Veterinary Chamber (BLTK), too.
How Much Does the Dog License Cost?
You usually have to pay separately for the theoretical and practical parts. If the theory test is taken online, the costs are very affordable: at a maximum, it costs €40.
The prices for the practical test usually vary depending on the testing center and examiner. Generally, they range between €60 and €85.
Don't hesitate to look for different pricing. Do note that you and your dog must feel comfortable with the examiner. The cheapest provider is not always the best for you.
What Do You Need to Know to Get a Dog License?
Since it's not a mandatory test, each club can set its own standards. Nevertheless, the situations in which your dog should obey are usually the same. Therefore, the contents of the exams differ only slightly.
In the theoretical part, you have to prove your expertise as a dog owner. This involves the following topics:
- Posture and care
- Social behavior
- Education and training
- Fear and aggression
- Dogs and law
- Dog health.
In the practical part, your dog's behavior in different environments will be tested. It's then your time to show that both you and your pet can deal with unexpected challenges together. You have to safely lead your puppy, and they will have to follow you with confidence. Basic obedience and social compatibility are essential factors in this test.
How Does the Theoretical Exam Work?
The theoretical exam is a multiple-choice test. You are presented some questions, usually with four possible answers. You have to tick the correct answer.
You should note that several answers can be correct. There are a total of 35 questions to answer. This test is usually conducted online under the supervision of an examiner. You must answer at least 80% of the questions correctly to pass the exam.
How Does the Practical Exam Work?
After a successful theoretical test, you will be admitted to the practical part. The interaction between you and your dog will be tested. You will be tested in three different environments:
- Low distraction area (1),
- Busy public environment (2)
- Inner-city areas (3).
Allowed tools are:
- Drag line and chest harness
- Muzzle and head collar
- Dog whistle or clicker
- Treats and toys, only as rewards.
You may praise or correct your dog. It is also important that your dog walks loosely on the leash. It must not be a nuisance or a danger to passersby or other pets. Many clubs also use the low distraction environment to test the dog in a free running environment.
The following requirements will be placed on you as a team by most examiners:
(1) Low Distraction Environment
- Standby: your dog stays relaxed on the spot while you are busy with something else.
- Call over: you successfully call your dog to come over from at least 10 meters away. A drag line, a clicker and a whistle are permitted here.
- Dog care: you can safely control your dog's paws, ears and teeth.
(2) Lively, Public Environment
- Leash walking: your dog should walk loosely on the leash next to you.
- Basic commands: your dog must follow the basic commands 'sit,' 'down' and 'stay.' It is not important which words or hand cues you use for this.
- Encounter tasks: during various encounters, your pet must remain relaxed while you walk them with the leash. The following situations are relevant:
- Fast moving objects, like cyclists, skaters, joggers or fast running children.
- Objects with unusual movement patterns, such as people using wheelchairs, walkers, or walkers.
- Encounters with other dogs on a leash.
(3) Inner-City Areas
- Leash walking: when crossing a busy street and marketplace, your dog should walk nonchalantly on the leash next to you.
- Basic commands: in a busy place, your dog must show they have mastered the commands 'sit,' 'down,' and 'stay.'
What if I’m Having a Dog in Germany but I Don’t the Exam?
Don't worry if you didn't pass the test at your first attempt: you can repeat both exams indefinitely. However, the examination fees will be charged in each case.
A dog license is not a legal requirement for those who are having a dog in Germany. Nonetheless, it has a lot of pros to it. The joint training is sure to strengthen the bond between you and your dog.
Depending on the region or insurance, you can also enjoy financial benefits or privileges for your pet by passing the exam. With the right preparation, you and your dog can easily pass the dog license's exam.