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Thread: Dog neglect?

  1. #1

    Dog neglect?

    I'd like to talk about two dogs that I know, whose owners aren't doing a good job of caring for them. In my eyes, these dogs are neglected and badly looked after, but sadly in the eyes of my country, as long as the animal is healthy, there's nothing wrong.

    The first dog is a female chocolate Labrador called Kalou, belonging to the family of one of my friend's neighbours. She's a year and a half old, full of energy and is one of the friendliest dogs I know, she's absolutely lovely. Her family adopted her when she was two months old, after their previous yellow Lab passed away. Their previous dog was apparently incredibly calm (well he would be, he was 15 years old), perfectly behaved around the house and in his last years, didn't need many walks.

    Unfortunately, they obviously didn't think about the fact that, unlike their previous dog, Kalou was a young bouncy puppy that needed lots of exercise and lots of training. They took her to 5 puppy classes, then gave up because she "wasn't making any progress". They also only walked her twice to three times a week. They then concluded that she was too energetic to live inside (they are an incredibly rich family with a huge house filled with expensive designer things), so they banished her to the garden when she was 6 months old. After she escaped the garden twice, they decided to tie her up. For the past year, she's now been spending all her days on a 6m rope tied to a tree, next to a small kennel. She's only let in the garage in the evenings to be fed, then she's put into an empty crate that's too small for her for the night.

    I was asked to dog-sit her once and when I suggested taking her for a walk, the owners laughed and said "Ooh she'll be happy about that, she doesn't get many of those!". They also told me how she couldn't possibly come inside as she's too "feisty" (meaning "she has too much pent-up energy because we've done hardly anything with her for the past year.")
    I spent almost the whole day outside with her, I bought some treats and we did some training, she learnt to sit, to lie down and she started getting the hang of loose-leash walking. She's a bright girl, she would be so easy and fun to train, if her owners were willing to put a bit of time and effort into it. She isn't scared of anything, she's so confident. Maybe I'm pushing it saying this, but I honestly believe that in the right hands, she could even have been a service dog or something like that, she truly has incredible potential that her owners are just throwing away. She's also so affectionate and it breaks my heart that she has to live outside the way she does, where she gets hardly any human contact.

    I've talked to my friend about it and she just got very defensive of them, saying that they really loved Kalou and that Kalou had everything she needed. She doesn't though, she hardly ever gets human contact (it's a miracle she's as social as she is), she has no training, she rarely gets exercise, she spends hours tied to a rope by her collar, the area where she's tied up stinks and is never cleaned, if it rains she's standing in mud,... These are the sort of people that really make me angry, they want a dog for "companionship" but they never mention what they'll provide for the dog in return.

    My heart is breaking for this dog and I don't know if I'm over reacting or not. Another of my friends, a fervent dog-lover like me, has suggested reporting them, but a case like this would go unnoticed, as the dog is healthy and is fed. Please tell me what you think.

    The second dog is a 5 month-old female Beagle called Clem and she lives a few streets away from me. Their family got a dog for their son who is depressed as they thought it might help. However, it doesn't seem as if anyone in the family has the slightest interest in the poor girl, and neither of them has done any research about how to look after or train a dog. The father of the family is a very stern, nasty guy. I met him and the dog for the first time when Clem was three months old. He had her off leash on the path where I was walking my Golden Retriever Inja so we stopped to say hello. When Inja and I walked off, the little Beagle started following us. The owner started yelling at her to "come here immediately!" so I stopped to let him catch up with us and collect his dog. When he reached us, his dog darted away again so he charged after her, explaining to me that "she knows she's about to be punished so she's running away." He then caught her and lifted her by the scruff of her neck and started spanking her shouting that "You're not allowed to do that!", "You know that!", "You have to obey me!". Before I could do anything, he shoved his puppy in my dog's face and told her "Look at him! He's obeying, take example from him!". I tried to tell the man as nicely as possible (after all, Positive reinforcement works on humans too) that what he was doing was unnecessary and tried to explain to him how I trained Inja and how dogs learn best, but he told me that I didn't know his dog, she has massive issues (she's a three month old puppy???) and I'm just an 18 year-old who knows nothing, before picking up his dog and walking home.

    Two months later, and he hasn't walked his dog since. Clem is now 5 months old, lives in the garden where no one pays attention to her. Once a day, she's let out the front door because "she has to learn to walk herself." I sometimes meet her whilst walking my dog and she follows us around. Again, she's such a sweet little dog and she deserves better. I get really scared for her, as she lives near a main road. I fear every day that she might go the wrong way and get hit by a car. I've talked to other dog-owners in my neighbourhood and they don't think it's a problem, "it's their dog, they can treat it the way they want".

    Sorry for this very long thread, I really needed to rant about this.

  2. #2
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    It is so upsetting to see a situation that you KNOW can be improved, and make EVERYONE much happier. The dog, and the family who will be able to enjoy the dog more. From what you describe, both dogs are being 'set up' for future behavior issues. And both dogs have the ability to 'grow' and become so much more than what they are now. Like a human child, they have potential, they just need someone to guide them as they develop their strengths, and improve on their weaknesses.

    For the first situation, I think you are friends with one family member. I wonder if you can ask her to bring her dog and join you in some training sessions. Maybe do the training sessions in HER yard, to make it easier. Even it is only 10 minutes the first few times, it builds a base to work on. Or can you suggest that you both take your dogs to classes? Sounds like your dog does not need more obedience, but what about nose work class, or flyball or Agility introduction? Or as you suggested, the pet therapy training?

    Can you ask her and her dog to join you on a walk, and you swap dogs? Since her dog needs some training with leash walking, and you know how to do that, you can work with the dog. And your dog is a polite walker, so she won't have to 'work' at it. You could say you want to talk about x (school, work, sports team, whatever!) and it would be nice to do while walking around. I'm thinking if you get her to spend some time with 'a' dog, hers or yours, she will learn a different way of interacting with 'her' dog. After a few times (not on the first walk!) maybe you can talk about what your goals are in future, parenting and having children, and how working with the dog is good training for that! You have to start with small steps and slowly build and develop what you are aiming toward, with her.

    The second one, wow! That man IS nasty and mean! Does he have small children? I worry about them too! Again, can you start with someone your age or younger.

    I'll be interested to see what other folks have for ideas for you!
    I've been BOO'd!!
    Thank you Karen, for fixing my siggy!

  3. #3
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    It is hard to watch, but do keep an eye on the situation. Especially if you see the beagle out and about on her own, attach a leash and teach her no going in the street, and what manners you can when the mean owner's not looking ...

    I do like the idea of asking if Kalou could go for walks with you and your dog, even if you use the "it will help with my dog's socialization" as an excuse ...
    I've Been Frosted

  4. #4
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    I saw this on FB this morning, and thought of this thread.

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    I've been BOO'd!!
    Thank you Karen, for fixing my siggy!

  5. #5
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    AND . . . I got it in there twice, again. I don't know HOW I do that! And I don't know how to remove one either.
    I've been BOO'd!!
    Thank you Karen, for fixing my siggy!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freedom View Post
    AND . . . I got it in there twice, again. I don't know HOW I do that! And I don't know how to remove one either.
    If you hit "edit post" you can see two blocks (at least you could before I fixed it) it had the [ATTACH} codes around them. I just deleted one of them for you!
    I've Been Frosted

  7. #7
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    Thank you, Karen.
    I've been BOO'd!!
    Thank you Karen, for fixing my siggy!

  8. #8
    Thank you Freedom and Karen for your answers!

    The problem is, Kalou doesn't belong to my friend, she belongs to my friend's neighbours. The only reason I went to dog-sit for them was that my friend's family was going to a wedding with them, so my friend suggested I take care of their house.

    Even then, in their eyes I was looking after their expensive house rather than the dog. The father even told me before he left "You don't have to do anything with the dog if you don't want to, she's fine outside. Just feed her and put her in her cage in the evening."

    I just really don't understand why they got a dog in the first place. My friend told me they got her to replace their old dog, but even their old dog spent most of his life in the house. The family have no interest in training her, because they don't want a dog they can take places, they don't care if their dog can't behave in public, they're not interested in dog sports or any dog related activities because in their mind, a dog's purpose is to keep you company at home. In their mind, if Kalou can't live in the house it's her own fault, "because she KNOWS she should be calm, she's just being difficult." They treat Kalou like a piece of furniture.

    I don't understand, they say that a dog is to "keep you company", but how is Kalou doing that when she's banished to the garden and given no human contact? In my opinion, it's a miracle she's as sociable as she is, I know a lot of dogs who would have developed so many behavioural if treated the same way...

    As for the Beagle, I don't even know the family, their younger daughter is a friend of my sister, and I tried talking to her about it but my sister just told me that it's none of my business and that "it's their dog, not yours, so they have every right to treat it however they want. Not everyone spoils their dog like you do."

    I don't see how giving daily walks, training sessions and doing agility is spoiling a dog. I see it as strengthening the bond between dog and handler.

    With the Beagle, I do make sure I take care of her when I meet her on my walks and I've been doing a bit of boundary training with her to teach her not to go near the main road. My neighbours all think I'm crazy

    Dogs are considered property by most of the people I know and so people think they are perfectly entitled no not bother with anything and it annoys me so much. I once tried to explain positive reinforcement and clicker training to another dog owner who lives near me and he just said "Look, you're making everything complicated. Dogs are pack animals, we are the alpha and so they must be made to submit. That's all there is to it. Anything else is being soft and spoiling the dog." This is a man who barks out commands at his dog like a drill sergeant.

    Am I over-reacting to all this? Is it over the top to simply want people to give their dogs the lives they deserve? :/

  9. #9
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    No you are not over reacting. Nor is it 'over the top.'

    The last man you described, the one you tried to explain clicker training, he is following outmoded ideas, from the 1950's. He also sounds like he is saying things from the old "Monks of New Skete" which is long outdated.

    We move in 'dog circles,' we are active and involved not only with our own dogs, but with others who think as we do. And we SEE the results, the changes as our own dogs develop and grow. We want that for all dogs; much as folks want all children to have the best opportunities. I guess you just have to keep on making inroads slowly, when and as you can.
    I've been BOO'd!!
    Thank you Karen, for fixing my siggy!

  10. #10
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    I don't have anything to add to what the others have said, except... it always amazes me when people get dogs and then forget that dogs don't know English (or whatever language you speak in) to obey them when all they're doing is shouting foreign words at the dog with no behavioral association for the words. Sad.

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  11. #11
    I find it especially sad that people are able to buy dogs as easily as you can buy furniture. It's sad that so many people get a dog with no goals (I want a dog to train/to do fun things with/to be my companion/to teach fun tricks to/...) and instead get a dog just "to have a dog", then don't even do anything with the dog. Both Kalou and Clem play no role in their owner's lives, it's like they barely exist for them.

    I've attached a picture I took last time I dog-sat her of Kalou tied to the tree near her kennel. You can't see that she's tied up, but she's tied to a thin blue plastic cord that's slung around the foot of the tree. I've been doing a lot of research regarding the laws of animal welfare here in Belgium and I found that these people aren't even respecting the law.

    These are the various rules they're not following.

    1. It is illegal to chain a dog that has not reached full adulthood: Kalou has been chained since she was six months-old

    2. The kennel must be properly insulated and must be provided with a warm bed during winter: This picture was taken during winter, no bed or insulation whatsoever. I suppose they always could justify this by saying she sleeps in the house, but even there it's not much better. She sleeps in an empty crate and the plastic at the bottom of the crate is broken, and she has no bedding, AND is locked away in the garage.

    3. In front of the kennel, there must be a concreted or tiled surface of at least 4 m squared to insure that when it rains, the animal is not standing in mud.: Umm no.

    4. This surface must be sufficiently sloped to allow the evacuation of urine and excrements. Kalou is actually in a dip, so no evacuation whatsoever. You can smell her kennel area from the other end of the garden and she's constantly walking around in her own dirt, it's even caked in her paws so when she jumps up at you she leaves smears on your clothes.

    I really shouldn't hate these people but I do hate the way they're treating their dog. And they still tell me that she's lovely, if "a little feisty" and they do love having her. -_-

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  12. #12
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    Maybe you can talk to animal welfare people so at least they can assure she has a proper kennel to stay warm when she is outside - this is Belgium, not Bermuda! And tell them the other things you have discovered, as well.
    I've Been Frosted

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