My Pet World: An alternative to talking to your neighbors about how they care for their dog
We have neighbors who got a puppy about a year ago. After realizing they were leaving her outside in the Vegas summer heat, I went to the door and, as kindly as possible, explained that it was too hot for her to be outside for extended periods. The resident stated that the puppy was getting into "trouble" inside.
What do they expect from a puppy? After my visit, I believe that they started keeping her in the garage, which is probably worse. Something at the house has now changed, and she is basically in the backyard 24/7. I did see a pet sitter feed her once. She generally only barks or howls when someone has come home, but there is rarely a response. Could you suggest something that I could share with the owner?
— Eileen, Las Vegas, Nevada
Even if you are good friends, a one-on-one conversation where you give advice might be a bit touchy at best because people can be defensive. The good news is your neighbor initially took your advice and moved the dog from the yard to the garage (yes, the garage needs to be air-conditioned). It signals her openness to learn about how to care for her dog.
One way to help this dog is to give advice in the form of a gift rather than person-to-person advice. Whenever a neighbor gets a pet, I give them a kit with toys, supplies, pet food, and treats appropriate for that pet. I like to include brochures and printouts on pet care and dog training. For dogs, I usually include the book Clicking with Your Dog: Step-by-Step in Pictures by Karen Pryor along with a training clicker.
When people are bonded with their pets, they often take better care of them – and training is good for that. I know it’s been a year, but I think you can leave the book on her doorstep with some pet care materials. Be sure to include information on kennel training as this will enable her to keep her dog inside. Just tell her it’s an old copy of yours that you wanted to pass on to her.
If you think the puppy is being seriously neglected, however, call animal control. They can educate the family on basic pet care. There is no law that says the dog can’t be outside. But if the dog doesn’t have proper shelter from the elements, water, and access to shade, then an animal control officer can address these issues with the family.
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