Advice Blog

Wilful Neglect

Posted on June 1, 2015 at 11:25 AM

Most people are horrified with abuse stories and pictures of dogs on social media, rightly gathering mass disgust and contempt. These are often emaciated dogs or shocking terms of abuse. Some dogs have endured extreme ordeals and it highlights the remarkable ability that dogs have to adapt and survive even in adversity. What I want to discuss is the more common distress that is overlooked wilful neglect. To clear the terminology up one short definition would be for someone to intentionally fail to care properly. If you look into child care neglect can be defined as the on-going failure to meet a child's basic needs. When we take ownership of a dog we become the guardian who is responsible for their care and basic needs. Everyone would likely have different definition of basic needs but one definite essential I want to discuss is health.


Most owners love their dog but strangely that does not always translate to their care for the dog. I have heard a few dog trainers describe this before as loving a dog to death, it may be dramatic to catch the eye but it does have some merit. I would however argue against the use of the word loving as to jeopardise your dog’s life span or health it is not love.


In 2014 the PDSA issued and carried out the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW)Report. There are some incredible statics in the study.

  • 1/3 of dogs in UK are overweight or obese
  • 89% of pet owners are aware of obesity related health issues like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis
  • 88% acknowledge overweight pets will have a shortened life span.


Why are there so many obese dogs when the majority of owners are conscious it is detrimental to the dog’s health, life quality and longevity?


I can advise more on how dogs get obese, though I am sure you may already know some answers.

(In very rare cases dogs may have a contributing illness which you would need to speak to a vet)


Poor Diet – Ensure you feed a good quality and nutritious food. Talk to professionals with experience or knowledge in nutrition.


Treats - Your dog does not need a daily dose of treats especially if you are feeding a complete and balanced dog food. If you are training your dog use his kibble or a healthy alternative.

Overfeeding – Ensure your dog only intakes the correct portion size of their food. On days when you do give treats, reduce the amount of food given in your dog’s main meal.

Lack of Exercise – All dogs need physical and mental exercise daily but a sad reality is some dogs do not even see outside of a house or garden. Working dogs have been breed to perform tasks and seek a job to do. This energy and drive in the dog needs a healthy outlet or will also likely manifest in problem behaviours.

Dogs will ultimately adapt and survive to their life and surroundings. So yes a dog can stay in a house the majority of its life and only visit the garden for toileting but what quality of life and the fulfilment does the dog have? We take on a greater obligation in caring for a dog than just giving them a home. Our love and responsibility should be to honour, care and respect them as an animal and pet, ensuring we do not wilfully neglect any aspect of their life.

Derek Bryson

Paws for Walkies


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