A past client recently asked me how to protect your dog at the dog park, and in light of a pair of dog attacks that recently happened in one of Chicago’s dog parks, I thought it would be appropriate to address it in this week’s newsletter. The first thing I always say is, “Never take your eyes off your dog because you can only account for your dog, but not everyone else’s.” But, sometimes, watching your dog isn’t enough.
So, when faced with a situation where your dog could be in danger, what do you do?
Address Another Dog’s Behavior With Their Owner
Don’t be afraid to make another owner aware that their pet’s behavior isn’t acceptable. Or, maybe your dog and their dog were playing, but now your dog has had enough, and their dog is still engaged, so they need to call their dog back to ease up the pressure.
For the most misbehaved pooches or for more serious matters, you may even need to tell the owner that they need to leave the park entirely.
Directly Communicate With the Other Dog
Sometimes speaking to the owner doesn’t matter, and they will continue to ignore their dog’s behavior or not care enough to do anything. They may even excuse the behavior with, “Oh, they’re just a puppy” or “They’re only aggressive when they have a ball in their mouth.” Doesn’t matter to me – inappropriate behavior is inappropriate behavior. Correct it.
The safety of my dogs and my clients’ dogs always comes first, so I’m more than willing to oblige the offending animal with a correction before my dogs take things into their own paws and administer a correction of their own.
I like to go the Cesar Millan route and use my hand or foot to administer a firm touch to let the dog know that their behavior is unacceptable. Just be aware, some dogs may retaliate with a correction back, so be mindful when using this approach.
Leaving the Dog Park Will Ensure Your Dog’s Safety
This isn’t my go-to option, but there are some levels of behavior that are too intense or severe for the Cesar touch.
At that point, it’s really assessing the other dog’s behavior and deciding whether or not it’s worthwhile to worry about that dog just so you can have your pupper at the park longer. As much as I have no problem with correcting another person’s pet, I’m not about to let my ego get my dogs hurt just because I don’t want to leave the dog park. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
You Will Encounter People Who Think Their Dog’s Behavior is OK
Keep in mind there are some people you just won’t get to see that they’re wrong, and no amount of explanation will get through to them that their dog’s behavior warrants their attention or a correction. So be prepared to be confronted by someone who takes offense to you requesting that they control their dog or you deciding to take matters into your own hands and correct their dog.
At the end of the day, your dog’s safety and well-being are what matters and your dog looks to you to protect them.
All the best.