Ask Tom, the Dogcharmer: How do I approach a neighbor who’s neglecting her dog?


Dear Tom,

I have a neighbor who has a young dog — maybe a year old — that she has had for about eight months.

The woman works all the time, crating the dog for four hours in the morning, letting it out on a chain for half-an-hour quick lunch break, then four hours in the afternoon, and when she sleeps at night, she can’t trust the dog because it destroys everything. When home, she rarely walks the dog, but leaves it chained up outside. Also when crated, the dog has no access to water. I feel this is cruel; why have a dog, or such a young dog?

The dog is also poorly behaved, basically crazy. When she is gone for an occasional weekend, the dog is in the crate except for when someone comes over to feed it twice and let it out!

Also, it’s not a teacup poodle, but a medium-sized mutt that needs exercise.

The woman is a lovely lady and a professional. I feel too awkward saying anything and do not want to offend her. She occasionally asks me to help, but I don’t like to because I feel I am an enabler.

What’s a neighbor to do ?

Dear Neighbor,

I’d be happy to welcome you as a neighbor anytime. What you’re describing next door is what I refer to as inadvertent abuse, and you’re right about the possibility of offending your neighbor no matter how gently you try to tell her she needs help with her dog. Here’s a suggestion. To me, your letter showing your concern for the dog is worthy of a serious “thank you.” So, as a thank you I’d like to help your neighbor attain a symbiotic relationship with her dog, whereby she can enjoy the dog because it’s trained to be cooperative, and the dog will get a life.

Arrange a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with the dog owner, and tell her you sympathize with her hassles living with such a difficult dog. Then tell her about the gift that I owe you, and you’d be happy to let her have the free training since you don’t have a dog that needs training. If she agrees, then mail me her name and number at, and I’ll take it from there. If she asks why I owe you a gift, use your imagination for an answer.

Good luck!

The Dog Charmer