Danish transport ministry gives green light to dog sleds

Carriages pulled by dogs are set to be made a legal form of transport on Danish roads.

Danish transport ministry gives green light to dog sleds
Sled dogs at work in Greenland. File photo:Lea Meilandt Mathiesen/Ritzau Scanpix

Minister for Transport Ole Birk Olesen confirmed on Wednesday that Denmark will allow carriages pulled by dogs to travel on roads regulated according to the country’s traffic laws.

The legality of dog-drawn transport had previous been in doubt, resulting in the issue being addressed by Olesen’s ministry.

Traditionally associated with pulling sleds over ice in sub-zero conditions, sled dogs can also pull light carriages on wheels.

“Driving carriages with dogs is a healthy and rewarding recreation and sport that should be allowed in Denmark. And now that I have looked into the issue, I can confirm that it is, in fact, legal on areas covered by the traffic laws,” the minister said in a written statement.

“I have also noted that the industry wishes to be regulated in order to remove doubt about the rules,” he added.

The ministry announcement was welcomed by Dansk Polarhunde Klub (The Danish Sled Dog Club), an association with around 80-100 members who drive dog sleds in forests and other areas in Denmark.

The group said it had seen permits withdrawn by the Ministry of Environment and Food’s Nature Agency on a number of occasions last year. The ministry announcement now provides clearer guidelines on the issue.

“We are extremely positive over being given this approval to continue practicing our recreational interest,” the association’s chairperson Marianne Schlüter said.

“It would be a full-time job to, for example, train the dogs individually while cycling (instead of using a sled),” Schlüter added.

Olesen said that the Nature Agency would still have the ability to regulate use of dog sleds in its role as land administrator. As such, the sled dog club will be required to contact the agency regarding future conditions.

The Nature Agency also reacted positively to the ministry’s statement.

“The Nature Agency is very pleased that the transport ministry has made it completely clear that dog sleds can travel on roads where traffic laws apply,” director Peter Ilsøe said on a statement.

“That means we can once again permit dog sled drivers to, for example, drive along roads in state-owned forests that are suitable for this,” Ilsøe said.

Certain circumstances will continue to preclude the use of dog sleds.

“The national forests have many users, so it’s important that the Nature Agency is able to define conditions in specific places as the landowner,” Ilsøe said.

Olesen said he expected a provision outlining the rules on dog sled use to come into effect on January 1st.

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Overweight people more likely to have overweight dogs, Danish study finds

Overweight people are more likely to have overweight dogs, partly because they are more likely to feed them treats, Danish researchers said on Wednesday.

Overweight people more likely to have overweight dogs, Danish study finds
Stock image: bandd/Depositphotos

The study by the University of Copenhagen lends credence to the saying “like owner, like dog”, the scientists wrote in the journal Preventive Veterinary Medicine.

“The prevalence of heavy or obese dogs is more than twice as large among overweight or obese owners (35 percent) than among owners who are slim or of a normal weight (14 percent),” the researchers said.

Of the 268 dogs studied, 20 percent were overweight.

Average-weight owners tend to use treats for training purposes while overweight owners prefer to provide treats in convivial situations, “for example, when a person is relaxing on the couch and shares the last bites of a sandwich or a cookie with their dog,” the study's main author, Charlotte Bjørnvad, said.

In developed countries, 34 to 59 percent of dogs are overweight or obese, which can reduce their life expectancy and mobility or cause diabetes and cardiac disease just like in humans, another international team of researchers found in 2016.

On average, overweight dogs live 1.3 years less than dogs on restrictive diets.

The University of Copenhagen study also showed that castration tripled the risk of being heavy or obese.

“Castration seems to decrease the ability to regulate the appetite in male dogs and at the same time, it might also decrease the incentive to exercise which results in an increased risk of becoming overweight,” Bjørnvad said.

READ ALSO: Denmark to get 'dog-owner-only' apartments