New lead rules for dogs in Canton Zurich: What you need to know

New lead rules for dogs in Canton Zurich: What you need to know

From April 2023, dog owners in Canton Zurich must keep their pets on a lead when walking in forested areas in the spring and early summer, a new hunting law has confirmed. Those who do not comply with the new rule face a fine of 60 Swiss francs from the police.

Dogs in Zurich must be kept on a lead in the forests during springtime

The new law states that between April 1 and July 31 every year, dogs in Zurich must be kept on a lead at all times when walking in forests or walking within 50 metres of a forest. Anyone who does not comply with the law faces a fine of 60 Swiss francs.

In a statement, the governing council of Canton Zurich said the new laws will be enforced from 2023. They explained that the old rules date from 1929 and needed to be updated, along with the so-called “dog law” which controls the laws regarding our four-legged friends.

New rules for dogs designed to protect wild animals

The council said that the amended rules are designed to protect wild habitats and animals in the canton. They argued that many dogs “evade the control” of their owners when off the lead and follow their instincts to hunt wild animals when in the forest. In December 2020, for example, 20 minuten reported that a wild deer in St. Gallen had to be put down after it was mauled by a dog off the lead.

Even if the dog does not catch the animal, authorities explained that fleeing wild animals lose vital energy in the chase, reducing their chances of survival. This is especially true during the breeding and planting seasons between April and August, when the animals are particularly vulnerable to disturbances and dangers.

Feeding some wild animals also banned in Zurich

To stop the spread of diseases, the new law also bans feeding some wild animals and birds. Anyone caught feeding birds of prey, foxes or feral pigeons risks a fine of 200 francs. However, bird feeders and feeding small amounts to squirrels and waterfowl will still be allowed. Finally, the use of barbed wire in forests and open fields will be phased out over the next three years, as wild animals keep getting caught and seriously injured by the fences.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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