Switzerland scraps mandatory dog training

A woman walking her dog by a Swiss lake Image copyright EPA
Image caption Training courses have been mandatory even for breeds not considered "dangerous"

Switzerland's parliament has voted to do away with obligatory training courses for dog owners, after a government report suggested they had little effect.

The law requires anyone getting a new dog to attend four hours of obedience classes with their pooch, plus an additional theory course for first-time dog owners, Swissinfo.ch explains. But a report released in March found no drop in the number of incidents of dogs biting, and no marked change in the behaviour of dog owners who had taken the course, the site says. About one in five dog owners were found to be skipping the course entirely.

Members of the National Council - Switzerland's lower house of parliament - narrowly voted to scrap the law on Monday by 93 votes to 87, the 20 Minutes website reports. The upper house had already approved the move.

But there was strong opposition in some official quarters. Interior Minister Alain Berset insisted that there had been a fall in the number of "dramatic" dog-related tragedies since the training was introduced. "There are also people who drive cars and motorbikes without a licence. But that's no reason to remove the requirement to acquire a licence," he's quoted as saying by Le Temps.

The mandatory training was introduced in 2008, three years after a young boy was killed by a group of pitbull terriers near Zurich, leading to a nationwide debate over dangerous dogs. Swissinfo.ch notes that it's not clear how the change will affect people who own dog breeds classified as dangerous, and are currently required to undergo more intensive training.

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