HOHENFELS, Germany — Adding a dog to your family is a big responsibility. My dog, for example, is part of the family and not just a “toy” or convenient. We have to get up in the middle of the night when he has to go outside, feed him twice a day (not forgetting the treats!), and make sure he is groomed and cared for.
Yes, picking a puppy can be overwhelming, especially while having your children with you. Seeing little dogs makes your heart melt and you would like to take everybody home. But before you do adopt that puppy, you should ask yourself a few questions. The biggest one is, what breed would fit in my family? Should it be a big dog or small, perhaps even two at once?
In the States, we had a big yard with a private fence. I worked from home and could adjust my schedule to my needs. So we decided we would get a dog so my daughter would have a playmate and a protector. Now we had to decide on the breed. All my life we had German shepherds as pets. Great dogs and protective. Yes, of course I was ready to get one. My husband never had a dog, so his first choice was a Rottweiler. Then we met a couple who had English mastiffs. After reading up on the breed and getting involved with the dogs from our friends, we decided to get one. Jake, our adorable and clumsy mastiff, fit right in to the family.
Shortly after, we received orders for Germany. Our first thought was “Oh my gosh. How are we going to get him over there and how will he adjust to the smaller yards?” After settling into the new house and preparing to get Jake to Hohenfels, he passed away two days before the arrival in Germany.
After a couple of years in Germany without a dog, we decided that it was time to add a new member to the family. Using our own spreadsheet, we asked ourselves a few significant questions: “How time consuming and what are the expenses of owning a dog? Which breed would fit into your family and lifestyle? Researching/choosing a Health Insurance for pets? What are the rules and regulations in your County?” Our answers to the questions clearly indicated that we should get a smaller breed.
We started our journey with a Tierheime (animal shelter), breeders and different animal organizations and, surprisingly, Ballou, a Yorkshire terrier, became a member of the family.
Germans take animal welfare very seriously, so anyone adopting a new pet should expect hundreds of questions from the shelter about everything from your house and garden size to your working hours and family to whether you promise not to abandon your pet when you do move.
Having a dog in Germany comes with rules and regulations. Every state, or even the counties, has different rules or regulations.
In Bavaria, for example, some breeds are forbidden or need to wear a muzzle at all times while being outside. If you are not sure if your dog falls under this rule, you can get a list of these breeds at your local Veterinary Treatment Facility.
And did you know that every dog taller than 50 cm at the shoulder needs to be on the leash at all times? How about that you cannot take your dogs into a grocery store or to a swimming pool? On the other hand, you can take your dog almost anywhere in Germany, in restaurants, shopping malls, hotels, and parks. When dogs aren’t allowed you’ll see this sign.
It’s also important to clean up after your pet. There is an up to 70 Euro fine if you do not pick up the poop of your dog in common areas.
If you PCS with your pets to Germany, remember it is important to contact your local veterinarian and transportation office for assistance in assembling all the appropriate paperwork. The USAG Bavaria Vet Clinic compiled a starter list to make the transition for you and your pets less stressful.