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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Dogs and cats have been among man’s close companions for quite some time. Is it even possible to keep dogs or cats in a species-appropriate way? What does species-appropriate mean? How can you make your pet’s life in your care as comfortable as possible?

From freedom to life with humans

Basically, all animals are, or were, once free and independent of humans. Over the centuries, humans have domesticated some wild animals, which now live closely with them as so-called pets. Breeding has been taken to extremes in some breeds, resulting in, among other things, torturous breeds that would no longer be viable without us humans.

In the course of evolution, most animals have adapted more and more to the human habitat. There is more wild animal in some, less in others.

What is the definition of species-appropriate?

Species-appropriate husbandry is about creating a habitat that is as natural and pristine as possible, where the animals can exercise their behaviours and their needs are taken into account.

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Are there laws on keeping animals in a species-appropriate manner?

In some countries there is an animal welfare law. It states that pets must be cared for, fed and looked after. Likewise, you must not cause them pain, harm or fear without good reason. The Animal Husbandry Act also contains some obligations regarding the keeping of the respective animal species.

The problem is that one or the other improvement would be necessary in these legal texts in order to protect animals more and to better define species-appropriate husbandry. It is also often difficult to carry out controls on the keeping of animals. In the case of violations of the Animal Welfare Act, it usually takes some time before the case is punished and the animal is helped.

An unwritten “law” appeals to morals. Common sense and a heart for animals are called for here. Of course, this also requires a certain amount of knowledge to be able to judge what is right and what is wrong. The best way to do this is to find out more about the living creature that lives with you.

Is keeping pets species-appropriate?

In principle, only freedom is truly species-appropriate. However, as already mentioned, most pets today are dependent on us and are used to adapting to us to a certain extent. There are also some advantages to living in the care of humans. For example (if kept well) enough food and fresh water, a roof over their heads and no danger from e.g. predators. That is why we have a great responsibility to offer these creatures a life that is as species-appropriate as possible. What TOBALIE understands by species-appropriate is the following:

  • Inform yourself before you buy. An animal is not a toy or a pastime, but a living creature that needs to be looked after all year round. And not just with the minimum, but wholeheartedly and as species-appropriate as possible.
  • The animal must not suffer from breeding.
  • Pay attention to the social behaviour. Does the animal need a group? How much social interaction is necessary?
  • Acquire knowledge.
  • Be aware of the animal’s lifelong responsibility.
  • Satisfy the needs.
  • Make sure your pet can live without pain and get medical care in case of illness.
  • Always act fairly and without violence.
  • Provide as natural a living space as possible. Tips on furnishing a home for dogs and cats.
  • Make sure that the temperature, retreats, food, water, fresh air, etc. are suitable.
  • Make sure your pet has enough to do and has enough space to move around.
  • Give your pet enough space. Caging or tethering is not only prohibited in many places, it is also not appropriate for the species.
  • Be there for your animal and offer it security and protection at all times.
  • Provide suitable and healthy equipment.
  • See your animal as an independent personality and accept it as it is. Do not force it to do things it does not want to do. Of course, a certain amount of education is necessary in order to be able to live together harmoniously and as safely as possible. However, respect your pet’s idiosyncrasies.
  • An animal is and remains an animal. Do not try to humanise it and pay attention to its natural behaviour. 
  • Be prepared in case something comes up and you cannot be there for your pet as usual. Both financially and physically, for example through pet sitters.

What should you pay attention to when keeping pets in a species-appropriate manner?

  1. Think about it before you buy a pet. Which animal suits you? Is it compatible with your job, your living situation, your living space and climate, your time, your space and your budget? Where do I get an animal from?
  2. Also say no sometimes. Often you want to save an animal or would just love to have an animal roommate. But if there are too many arguments against it, it is better to decide against it. It may be possible to think about it again after some time. For the sake of the animal, a firm “no” is usually the better and fairer decision.
  3. Acquire knowledge. Find out about the natural habitat of the animal, its behaviour, its natural diet and what it needs to live. Do not blindly trust texts on the internet, in books or the opinion of acquaintances. Look for reputable sources and compare some information. In the TOBALIE magazine you will find many articles written by experts.
  4. Satisfy the needs of your pet. Make sure that your pet’s lifestyle is as species-appropriate as possible. Your pet must be able to live out its natural behaviour.
  5. Always be there for your dog or cat until it dies and care for your animals to the best of your knowledge and conscience.
Katze und Hund liegen am Boden


The word “species-appropriate” is not exactly defined and is therefore interpreted differently by everyone. There are a few things you can consider in order to give your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible.