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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Please help me figure out how to broach a delicate subject with my roommate.

In November, my roommate adopted a labrador mix from a shelter in Manhattan. He is a beautiful, friendly dog with lots of energy. I moved into the apartment in April and after just a few months it became apparent that she has no business being a dog owner. She is young, a full-time student, and works part-time at a restaurant.

I'm a journalist and some days I work from home. Recently, I have been keeping track of the number of hours the dog spends in his crate each day. Last night, my roommate went into her room and crated the dog at 11pm, she woke up at noon, took him out for 15 minutes at 1pm, put him back in the crate and left shortly thereafter. She got back to the apartment at 10pm, took him out for 2 hours before she put him back in his crate again until 11am the next morning. That may sound confusing, but that's roughly 22 hours in a crate within a 24 hour period. This happens frequently. Even on the best day he still spends a minimum of 12 straight hours in that crate.

Perhaps one or two days per week she takes him to the dog park near our apartment for an hour or so, but beyond that he gets very little exercise. I take him out to the park and the farmers' market each weekend which almost makes me cry because you can see how excited he is to get out of the house.

She acts lovingly towards the dog, but she is never around. This also contributes to his poor behavior. He frequently barks for no reason (boredom?) at 2:00 or 3:00am. He whines every morning until she wakes up. When he barks instead of telling him "no" she quietly shushes him and when that doesn't stop the barking she lets him into her room, reinforcing bad behavior.

On days that I work from home, I try to let him out of the crate as long as possible. However, because he is so poorly trained, I can't take my eyes off of him for a minute before he is toppling the garbage can or chewing on the furniture.

I find the whole situation distressing and infuriating. Am I crazy or is this abuse? How long should a dog be crated each day?

What can I do? Please help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Also, I have considered suggesting that she let the dog live with her parents (who have two dogs of their own) until she is ready to be more responsible. Thoughts?
 

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This just breaks my heart. :( You are right to be concerned - that much time in a crate is not at all healthy for the poor guy. You are such a kind-hearted person to be concerned for his well-being which unfortunately puts you in a tough situation. I want to thank you for taking him out and making his quality of life better - I am sure he loves you for it!

I don't have any expert advice but clearly this is a situation that bothers you, interferes with your working, and is terribly unfair to the dog.. I would definitely talk to her and voice your concerns. Does she act frustrated or overwhelmed with the dog? If so it might make it easier to suggest that the dog would be happier elsewhere.

You are doing the right thing - her heart may be in the right place but she's clearly not mature enough or able to devote herself to the dog and adapt her life to include considering the dog's needs.

Best of luck with the roommate - you will be in my thoughts! Please keep us updated!
 

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it's not abuse in any legal sense but it is cruel in my opinion. iwould be careful of sounding accusatory or confrontational. stick to how the dog's schedule and behavior affects you as opposed to how she is doing it wrong. i obviously don't know either of you and cannot say how she would react to even the slightest criticism but the bottom line is that it is a delicate situation and unless you have abackup apartment or roommate, you may find yourself living with an enemy.

good luck. i hope wahtever you do works for the dog's sake.
 

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I wanted to add that if you do decide to talk to her - just a reminder about sounding accusatory. It works better if you approach it from the angle of "I feel the dog would bark less if maybe he got out more" versus "You are leaving the dog in the crate too long" if you come across as accusing then it'll put her on the defensive. Especially because (and I don't know how old she is) she may, quite possibly, not think that she's doing anything wrong and is just that immature/oblivious to the dog's needs.
 

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I am a fan of crate training but that is too long...12 hours would be stretching it IMO. My dog sleeps in his crate (about 8 hours) and I crate him when I run errands...and 4 hours would be my max (generally more like an hour or two if I leave the house at all). Throw on top of that he's walking a couple of miles in the morning and gets lots of puzzle toys and random training through the day. Even prison inmates get 5 hrs in the yard every day.

Unfortunately I can't help you with tact! :) I am not the most diplomatic and I have to have my husband tell me how to handle people since he is very diplomatic.
 

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In having a conversation with your roommate I would definitely stay away from any type of "accusing" tone/attitude. I like the example another poster used about approaching the situation.

Some suggestions you can try are also the puzzle toys which he can be let out but instead of using the furniture as his play toy (or garbage can) he has a puzzle to figure out for food. If you feel comfortable I liked to leash my dog in the house when I first got him and couldn't trust him. You basically attach the leash to your belt loop and the dog is hooked to you while you make dinner, etc. Obviously this isn't usable for bigger dogs or dogs that pull but it is a suggestion.

Best of luck and let us know how it goes!

~Emily
 

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I can't help with being tactful, I tell it how it is, which is not the best way! Please do try to talk her into a solution for the dogs sake. Good luck.
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