Source: News.com (Extract)
Posted: August 1, 2021

After the possibility of pets being allowed in economy or business class on Australian planes was raised in June, there’s now a push for our four-legged friends to be permitted entry to shops, restaurants and hotels.

Like many things, the Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly shifted people’s relationships with their dogs, veteran dog trainer Heather Northover told the ABC, with prolonged working from home conditions marking a turning point in “responsible dog ownership”.

“It’s helped people bond with their dogs,” Ms Northover, who has spent more than 40 years in the industry, said.

“I hope that it’s a beginning for Australians to adopt more responsible dog ownership and start to enjoy their dogs more and look after them a bit better.

“Ultimately, what I’d like to see is Australia start to move down the same pathways that we see in Europe and America where dogs are really considered part of the family.”

While dogs are Australia’s most popular pet – with more than five million of them across the country – in places like Europe, the UK and the US, “people tend to live with their dogs inside, they go down the street with them, they go to cafes, they stay in hotels with their dogs”, Ms Northover added.

“Here in Australia, that doesn’t happen very much because people tend to get a puppy and then when it’s not cute anymore, it goes outside and it learns to just look after itself,” she said.

Under current laws in Australia, owners face many restrictions over where they can take their pooch, with local councils enforcing no-go zones at parks and beaches, with noncompliance often carrying a hefty penalty.

There are also leash laws that require all dogs to be on a lead in public places unless in a designated off-leash area.

At food venues, according to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, “pet dogs may be permitted, but only in outdoor dining areas that are not enclosed”.

It’s at the discretion of the business owner to “decide whether or not you let customers have their dogs in outdoor dining areas” and “you can also say under what circumstances the dogs are allowed” (for example, customers being told their dog must be on a lead) – though different rules apply for service animals.

But “a silver lining” to the pandemic could be a change in this attitude nationwide.

“We have seen this year questions about dogs being allowed on public transport and in motels and in cafes,” Ms Northover said.

“It’s actually a good side effect of [Covid-19] that people are paying more attention to their dogs and becoming more interested in these little animals they’re sharing their lives with.

“They can have someone to talk to and someone to go for walks with and someone to spend their day with.”

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