Your local dog park is designed to accommodate your dogs’ needs while helping them learn to socialize with other dogs. You visit every few days—or even daily—to help your dogs stay fit and happy.
But while you’re confident in your ability to train, discipline, and socialize your dogs, you can’t be so sure about other pet owners. This means that you and your dog might encounter an aggressive dog at the park.
Read below to learn what to do when an aggressive dog threatens you, your family members, or your pet.
1. Know If You Can Bring Your Dog to the Park
•Some dogs do better on a walk around the neighborhood or with a game of fetch in the backyard. Your dog could invite aggressive behaviors if he or she:
• Isn’t fully trained. If your dog still has discipline issues, he or she can’t help but to interact poorly with other dogs at the park.
• Isn’t properly socialized. If your dog hasn’t yet been trained to interact with other dogs, the dog park is a recipe for disaster.
• Is pregnant or in heat. This can cause other dogs at the park to become aggressive.
If your dog is older, well-trained, well-socialized, and properly vaccinated, you can probably visit the park without inviting trouble.
2. Recognize Warning Signs
•These behaviors indicate that another dog feels aggressive or dominant towards you and your pet:
• A dog staring directly at your dog and refusing to look away
• Dog is standing at your dog’s shoulder, then placing its muzzle on top of your dog
• Stiffening its legs, tail, and neck
If other dogs look loose instead of stiff, play bow from a distance (stretch out their front legs and reach their hindquarters to the air), and keep their mouths open while playing, they are probably well-trained and not aggressive.
3. Know How to Act in an Attack
If an aggressive dog targets you, know how to act. And, if you notice the above warning signs, alert the pet’s owner while staying far away from the dog. If the dog continues to stare at you and/or isn’t properly leashed, you should stand rigid and avoid eye contact with the aggressive dog.
If the dog attacks regardless, don’t run away. This encourages the aggressive dog to see you as prey, chase you, and attack you. Instead, fight back. Target the dog’s nose and throat, and use your weight to pin the animal down and keep it away from your pet, if you can do so without getting bitten.
If the dog knocks you to the ground, protect your chest, throat, and face. Tuck your knees to your chest and cover your head with your arms. If the dog loses interest in you and your dog, leave the scene calmly and slowly—don’t run away.
4. Act Correctly After the Attack
After a dog attack, you need to seek immediate medical attention for any bites and bruises. Speak with the other dog’s owner! They should be held responsible for their pet’s lack of training.
With these four steps, you’ll be able to keep yourself, your family members, and your pet as safe as possible in the dog park. If an attack does occur, don’t keep it to yourself—contact the authorities to ensure you get the help you need.