There are certain individuals who should not have pets because they treat their animals poorly, and in turn, ruin pet ownership for everyone else. Below is a list of things that irresponsible and cruel pet owners who were not prepared to own a pet, or who own a pet for all of the wrong reasons, have been known to do. The list including in this article ranges from illegal and horribly cruel treatment of pets, to annoying and irresponsible pet owner behaviors.

If you know a pet owner who does any one of these things, please talk to them about a correct behavior, and/or report the person who is mistreating a pet to local animal cruelty authorities, in order to have the pet removed from the unsafe home. Animals don’t have a voice to stand up for themselves, they rely on humans to care enough to report cases of abuse.

1. Making Dogs Fight Each Other

Venturing into the blood sport of dog fighting is among the worst crimes an animal owner can commit. Accordingly, it's illegal in every state in the U.S. and many cities and states have already passed, or are in the process of passing laws that would require known animal abusers and dog fighters to register themselves on a public list (much like sex offenders have to).

Pet stores, animal shelters, and anyone who would like to know if a person is an animal abuser, has access to this public-record, in order to prevent animal abusers from obtaining, and harming more animals. You can read about this on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website, in the following article.

2. Beating and Shocking Dogs

Beating a dog is indefensible, even if the animal does something that their owner doesn’t like. Negative punishment as a method of dog training never works, often backfires, and is even illegal in many states. Similarly, shock collars are being banned in many states, and discontinued for sale by retailers across America for similar reasons.

Scientific research has proved that physically hurtful training methods do not effectively train animals, and cause more harm than good. Positive reinforcement, which is rewarding your pet for positive behaviors, is a proven effective training method, according to the following peer-reviewed research article.

3. Killing Pets for Entertainment

Murdering a dog, a cat or any animal is just as bad as murdering a human, and as such, is a punishable crime. People who purposely hurt and kill pets have been shown to be psychologically disturbed. Animal harming behaviors are one of the top predictors of future serial killers.

If you hear of, or see this kind of behavior, report it immediately. Animals cannot protect themselves from mentally ill individuals, they need others to take a stand for them. For more information about animal cruelty laws in each state and links for further information, see the following document published by

4. Neglecting a Dog's Water Bowl

All animals must have access to clean, fresh water all day, every day, without exception. An animal’s mouth is full of bacteria that gets transferred to their water bowl every time they drink, thus it’s imperative that owners replenish water bowls with fresh water throughout the day, and thoroughly clean bowls, daily. 

5. Forgetting to Feed Pets

Being hungry or starved for prolonged periods of time are both feelings that no pet should ever be subjected to. If an individual is unable to adopt a strict feeding schedule for their dog, and/or does not have the money to feed their pooch as much high-quality food as is needed, he or she should not adopt a pet. On average, it costs $225 per month or $2,700 per year to feed one dog a high-quality diet.

6. Feeding Dogs Toxic or Poisonous Foods

There are many, highly accessible websites that provide lists of foods that are poisonous to pets. For example, the following article provides science-based information about this topic. On the other hand, there are many human foods that dogs can eat safely when in moderation. Not knowing the difference between these things could cause a dog to develop illnesses or even die due to an allergic reaction. It is important that pet owners to take the time to research these things. 

7. Overfeeding Pets

Up to 58% of pets in the U.S. are overweight. Not only does this cause the overweight pet to be uncomfortable, it can lead to serious and costly health problems, and even death. Pet owners must monitor their pet’s food intake, exercise, and weight in order to keep pets healthy. Read more about this in the following AAHA article.

8. Not Providing Dogs with Enough Exercise

All canines require both physical and mental stimulation for their overall health and well-being. Dogs need both indoor and outdoor playtime with their owners, more than once a day, every day. If a person cannot motivate themselves to do this, or does not have enough free time to dedicate to a pet, he or she should not adopt a dog. 

9. Adopting a Dog When They're Not Ready

Responsible pet owners know that there is a lot of research and planning that must be done before adopting a pet. It is a huge commitment that should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, there are people who do not see pet ownership this way, and believe pets are easy to discard, should they not work out.

10. Not Having a Routine

Much like humans, dogs thrive when they are provided with routines and a set schedule. If a human cannot adopt a routine for themselves, it is likely they will not adopt one for their pet. Consequently, the pet will become stressed out, anxious, and even destructive, due to the lack of routine.

11. Abandoning Pets

Abandoning a pet is most often avoidable, and only reasonable in the rare case that a pet has become randomly and violently aggressive, when unprovoked. For any other reason, the responsibility to figure out how to address the issue that is causing an owner to want to abandon their pet falls onto the pet’s owner. Most of the time these issues are fixable and preventable, with a bit of training and effort.

The tragically high number of pets that are abandoned each year, and that ultimately end up living out their days caged in shelters or being euthanized, is why people who want to adopt dogs need to think critically about their decision before getting one. It is extremely traumatic for a pet to be abandoned, and should be a last resort, in only the most severe cases. 

12. Hoarding Animals

There are only so many pets that on person can responsibly take care of, at one time, as proper dog care requires a lot of time and money. If people begin to “collect” pets, the situation can quickly become unmanageable, resulting in none of the pets receiving the care that they need.

Most towns and cities have laws limiting the number of pets that can live in one household for this very reason. Read more about laws regulating how many animals can reside in one home, at one time, in the following article published by the Animal Legal and Historical Center.

13. Keeping Dogs Inside All of the Time

Just like humans, dogs need fresh air and time outside to run, play and simply connect with the nature. It is cruel to keep your pooch inside 24/7, even if you've adjusted them to go to bathroom and do all their business indoors. Pets should be allowed to be outside as often as possible, given that the weather and other conditions are safe for the pet.

14. Leaving Pets Outside in Extreme Temperatures

As mentioned above, dogs need to have plenty of time outside, but it is never okay to leave pets outside in extremely hot or cold temperatures. Every breed of dog varies in terms of the temperature extremes that they can withstand, but a general guideline is to leave a pet inside if it is below 32 degrees or above 85 degrees outside.

15. Leaving Dogs in Vehicles

It is never okay to leave your dog in a car on a hot or cold day. Even when it is a safe and comfortable temperature outside, it might not be okay for a pet to be left in a vehicle. Your pooch should only be left in a car for a maximum of 15 minutes, and only in a vehicle that is a safe temperature and has the windows cracked, in order for the animal to get fresh air.

16. Ignoring Health Concerns of Pets

All pet owners must be able to afford to take their pet(s) to a licensed veterinarian for any standard preventative purposes, or potential health concerns the pet might have. Animals rely on their owners to take care of them, and ignoring a pet’s health problems is animal abuse. 

17. Not Cleaning Living Areas

Like humans, pets do not want to live in filth, or worse, their own waste. It is a dog owner’s responsibility to clean up after their pets, both inside and outside of their home. Neglecting to do so is animal abuse and can lead to very serious health problems, not only for the innocent pet but also the humans who live with the pet.

18. Letting Dogs Off Leash (When Inappropriate)

This can sometimes be very dangerous. Even if you believe a dog to be so well-behaved that they would never do anything wrong while off leash, there are many unpredictable things that can happen. It is never worth the risk.

Responsible pet owners understand that their dogs must be kept on a leash most times while they are in public (unless it's a dog park or other areas where this is fine). There are friendly reminders placed in many areas that dogs are commonly taken, to remind irresponsible pet owners that their pets must be kept on a leash.

19. Not Properly Containing Pets

Whether you live in the city, in the suburbs or a rural area, it is never okay to let your dogs roam freely outside of a set parameter. Proper fencing must always be in place, even if you think a dog will stay in the yard. All it takes is one time of the pet getting excited enough to leave their yard, for the pet to be killed by a car or disappear forever. 

20. Breeding Pets

There are approximately 6.5 million pets surrendered to shelters every year, and each year at least 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized, largely due to overcrowding in shelters. For this, and many more reasons, there is never a situation in which it is okay to breed dogs, or to support illegal breeders by purchasing pets from them. There's only a small number of reputable breeders that do things according to law, and there are ways to identify them.

21. Not Spaying/Neutering Dogs (When Necessary)

This one goes along with the irresponsible behavior of breeding pets. With so many pets being relinquished to shelters and euthanized each year, there is rarely any excuse for not spaying or neutering a pet at the age.

Most shelters require spaying or neutering be done before a dog is allowed to be adopted. If an owner does not have the money to pay for a spay or neuter surgery, there are many places that offer this service for free or at a greatly reduced cost. Use the following site, provided by the ASPCA, in order to find free or reduced cost spay and neuter locations.

22. Placing Dogs in Shelters Because They're Old

This is indefensible behavior. To give up a pet at a time in which they need their owners the most is heartless and cruel, not to mention extremely traumatic for the animal. If a person cannot afford the cost of caring for an aging dog, or does not have the time or desire to do so, he or she should not adopt a pet because they will all grow old one day, and all dogs deserve a loving home in which to live out their final days.

23. Not Picking Up Pet’s Poop

All pet owners must pick up their pet’s poop, both at their home and wherever the owner may take their pet, outside of the home. People who do not pick up their dog's poop are a main reason why so many places now ban pets altogether. If picking up poop is too gross or dirty for a person to do, or is simply something that he or she is not willing to do daily, that person should not get a dog.

24. Letting Dogs Bark Excessively

It is normal for dogs to bark at strangers and new things for a short period of time. But a prolonged period of excessive barking, howling, or whining is not only stressful, upsetting, and annoying to neighbors, it is stressful and upsetting to the dog that is barking. No pet owner should let their dog bark excessively.

When a dog is barking for any extended period of time, the dog’s owner must address and remedy the situation by calming their pooch down, distracting and redirecting them, and/or bringing them inside. 

25. Too Lazy to Train Dogs

Some people believe that training a dog will be easy, when it's not always so. Training a dog can sometimes become a difficult and time-consuming process, yet all pet owners have the responsibility of properly training their pets, even stubborn and difficult pets, regardless of how much time it may takes to train the pet. Untrained canines can become destructive and/or aggressive, and end up hurting another animal or person, and consequently be placed in a shelter and euthanized.

26. Not Having Control of Their DogThe 26 Ways Bad Dog Owners Ruin Pet Ownership for Everyone Else

This goes along with owners who do not have the time or patience to properly train their pups. If an owner does not have control of their pet, the pet should not be taken anywhere in public.

Not having full control of a pet in public places is a danger to the general public as well as to the pet and their owner, because pets can be taken to shelters by Animal Control personnel, and euthanized if they hurt another animal or person. Their owners will also get into trouble, including hefty fines and even criminal charges, should the unruly pet bring harm to anyone’s body or personal property.

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Diana currently lives and works in London, UK and she's been an animal lover and dog owner since she was a child. After graduating high school, she focused on getting her degree in English to become a writer with a focus on animals, pets and dogs.