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Advice needed - Friend is neglecting their dog


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Close friends of mine adopted a Border Collie puppy a few years ago and implemented a little training for a while but did not keep it up. As such he does misbehave, does not walk well on a lead and can be destructive. They did not used to walk the dog every day but did walk him most days.
Ever since their son was born a few years ago, they rarely take the Border Collie out for walks and often leave him shut in one part of the house all day. They often leave him home alone. Whenever I've been at their house, the dog whines and barks constantly until his voice is raw. He scratches at the door and walls and destroys anything he can find. He's over-weight (although friends do not agree) and is hyper and manic whenever he's allowed out of his part of the house. I know Border Collies are among the smartest and most energetic of breeds and it breaks my heart to see him so stressed and unstimulated all the time and my friends just don't see how his behaviour is that of an anxious dog. At what point is it my responsibility to do something? Am I over-reacting? What can I do, if anything? I have tried speaking to them directly and calmly, tried not to be accusatory. But they just don't understand what the problem is or they just don't have enough empathy to see the suffering. How can I let them know their dog is suffering?
Difficult, just very difficult:oops:
We have had a couple of the working type border collies. The first was my husbands full time companion while working as a gardener /handyman, and also stock person for a small beef herd of 40 cows. She worked with the cattle and did everything required of her. She was a perfectly settled and contented girl. At some stage we had a litter of puppies from her and kept one of the puppies, we also moved house and both of our work commitments changed. We could not leave the 2 collies alone in the house as the puppy needed more attention. We had a large kennel in the garden with a good sized run, and the two of them (mother and daughter) had to spend their days living here, and then socialised as normal with us as soon as we were home.
The youngster never settled to this lifestyle she needed so much more, she started chewing and causing a lot of damage to their kennel,
We decided that our new lifestyle did not suit her and she was not mentally fulfilled as her mother had been. We decided to find her a new home (for her benefit). We were lucky to find her a country family with some land and a small flock of sheep. Happy doggie:rolleyes:

It doesn't sound to me as if you're overreacting at all, but it's difficult to know what you could do. In your place I might be quite rude to them - but if you do that you might lose your friends and not benefit the dog. Or they could simply become more defensive. You are the best judge of just how forthright you can be with them.

You might be able to report them to the RSPCA or local dog warden, particularly if his barking could count as being a nuisance, but even if the RSPCA/dog warden do have a word with them, they may suspect that it was you who reported them, and again that's unlikely to help.

If you were prepared for a big commitment, you could offer to walk him (maybe say they'd be doing you a favour as you want to get more exercise), and you could take it from there, but this would only benefit the dog if you really were in it for the long term. I'm really just throwing it in on the very small chance that you think this would work for you.

Hopefully someone else will have some ideas, because it really is a sad situation.
My first suggestion would have been an anonymous call to the RSPCA, but as you say @JudyN, that's not without risks. I like the idea of offering to walk the dog - or finding someone who can walk him cheaply or for free - Is that an option @LucyGoosey?
I agree this is a difficult and sensitive problem - but we have only heard your interpretation of it.

First, I would say that the myths around Border Collies are not always helpful. Collies don't necessarily need more stimulation or exercise than, say, a Poodle or one of the many terrier breeds. Indeed, many working collies spend a lot of their lives in a yard or in the back of a land rover, between bouts of moving livestock around. So that's one thing to consider, that collies are no worse adapted to a rather boring domestic life than other breeds. And I say that as someone who has lived and worked with many border collies and working sheepdogs.

You say he is manic and exciteable when you are at the house, but that doesn't mean he is like that all the time. Similarly, he is left alone - not ideal, of course, but we don't know how he takes to being alone or indeed how often that happens, or for how long. I'm just putting these ideas out there because it's easy sometimes to make assumptions based on (completely understandable) concern for the animal.

Many companion animals live lives that are, in my view, suboptimal. I see this particularly where two or more dogs live together and there are tensions and a constant need for the dogs to negotiate harmony, which must be stressful and exhausting for them. This is rarely seen by their human companions, who invariably believe their dogs are good friends and get on well. I also meet dogs who are overtrained, overstimulated and just not getting enough rest, so it goes both ways.

You say you are a close friend, so maybe you could speak to the person who is likely to be more sympathetic to your concerns. I would do this outside the house and not while the dog is present. The RSPCA will not be interested as no offence is being committed. If the barking is persistent, environmental health may take an intetest, but that is related to noise, not the dog's quality of life.

I do understand, and commend, your concern, but that said, I would advise caution in making assumptions about the quality of the dog's life. It doesn't sound ideal, I agree, but there again, you are not seeing the whole picture, and this may be why your friends don't respond in the way you want them to.
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oh poor dog . A very difficult situation. Would they consider rehoming their dog.
Perhaps as suggested , you could offer to walk him. The RSPCA can't help but complaints to the Council re noise might make them take notice.
Thanks for your replies. Its certainly nice to feel validated. @JudyN and @arealhuman I have considered offering. I have a dog who gets walked multiple times daily and so I've thought about offering to walk their border collie at the same time however they don't live close and it would not be viable to drive to their house every day. But possibly on weekends, it would be nice to see the border collie get some real exercise.

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