Dear Critter Chat,

My neighbor has three dogs and never – I mean never – walks them or takes them to a dog park. The dogs are stuck in the house or in the yard all day every day and never get out except to go to the groomer once in a while. In the meantime my neighbor plays tennis a couple times a week and goes on long runs with another neighbor, so his exercise needs are taken care of just fine. I watch the dogs pacing around the yard day in and day out and I’m so disgusted I can barely look at my neighbor. Is it a crime to never walk your dog?

–J., Calabasas

Dear J.,

It’s not a crime not to walk your dogs. In my opinion, though, it should be. People who don’t walk their dogs always use the excuse that they have a “big yard” for the dogs to play in. Well, I don’t care how big your house is, or how big your yard is; how would you like to see the same house and yard 24 hours a day, day after day? I’m betting you wouldn’t. Another excuse the non-walkers always trot out is that they “don’t have time.” More like don’t make time. Dogs (all animals, actually) need exercise and stimulation, not just for their physical health, but for their mental health, as well. Not to mention the fact that when a dog is bored it will entertain itself by doing things its owner might not find especially endearing, such as digging up plants or flowers, chewing on things, or shredding up bedding (or anything else the dog can get its little paws on).  If you really love your dog, WALK IT!!!

So what can you do? If you’re so inclined you might tell your neighbor that you really need exercise and are going to start walking a few times a week. You’d love to take his dogs with you on your walks (for safety, because you can’t have dogs of your own) (or if you do have dogs, because your own dogs need socialization), (because you just love his dogs, whatever!).  An offer of a free dog walker might do the trick.

Or get them a gift that says it all, and says it with humor. Visit www.susiespectorfoundation.org/shop and check out the “They Don’t Walk Themselves” items for sale. Hopefully, the gift will serve as the nudge they need to get out there for some good daily exercise with their pooch.

Critter Chat is a weekly column from attorney Deborah Knaan, who seeks to answer your animal-related questions. Email questions to [email protected] with subject line CRITTER CHAT.