Nothing makes me angrier at the dog park than owners who bring an aggressive dog and don’t monitor it.
Not only because it’s scary and dangerous for both dogs and owners. But also because the dog park is the only place where many dogs can enjoy freedom from the leash or home confinement.
One minute the dogs are peacefully playing. The next, someone’s pup is attacked by another dog growling, biting and snapping.
Sometimes pups just don’t get along. They have chemistry just like people and occasionally it just doesn’t work out. Both you and other pup’s owner will work together to split up your pets, stopping the bad behavior. This is the best scenario and usually, results in happy endings.
Unfortunately, I’ve been a witness of two aggressive dog scenarios more often than I would like.
The first, the aggressive dog’s owner laughing and joking over their bullying pet’s behavior. Or the owner standing in the corner looking at a phone oblivious to what the pet is doing.
It sucks because you’re scared and worried about your pup getting hurt. And you still have to deal with the behavior of the other owner. It really is shocking and unfortunate how many dog owners don’t seem to care about their dog’s bad behavior.
No one likes seeing their pup attacked by another dog. It’s scary.
So how do you safely protect both you and your pet from an aggressive dog at the dog park?
1. Call Your Dog to You
Your instincts are to rush in.
Rushing in can create other issues, such as you getting hurt as well.
Instead, walk slowly towards your dog while calling your pup to you.
Quite often your pup will come to you for protection. Once you can get a hand on your pup’s collar and pull him out of the fray and walk away, clipping your leash on your pet.
2. Stay Calm
While often easier said than done, staying calm is the best approach when your dog is in an altercation with another dog.
Cesar Millan, dog and people trainer, says “Don’t give in to fear or anxiety, and don’t start yelling or kicking at the dog.”
Anything perceived as aggression such as loud voices, waving arms or running towards the dog or the owner can cause the aggressive dog to turn on you.
Instead stay calm and say “NO” in a firm voice.
Because most dogs respond to NO, so it is a possibility the dog will stop its attack.
Staying calm and saying no can also help your pup respond to you better as well.
3. Bring a Spray Bottle of Vinegar/Lemon Juice Water Mix
Some people recommend using mace or pepper spray, but we don’t.
When you use mace or pepper spray you run the risk of injuring your pet, yourself or others around you.
Instead, adding a mixture of two parts water to one part lemon juice or vinegar to a spray bottle works just as well as a distraction.
The mixture causes a temporary burning and stinging of the eyes, nose, mouth and skin.
The pain is often enough to cause the dog to slow or stop its attack, giving you time to remove your pup from harm.
4. Leave and Come at a Different Time
While leaving and coming at a different time doesn’t work if you’re already in the middle of an altercation, it will work for keeping your dog separate from an aggressive dog who visits regularly.
Instead of continuing to come at the same time, pick a new time. Not only does this keep you and your pet safe, but it creates a lot less stress for you both.
As a bonus, you both meet and make friends with new people and pups.
5. Call the Police or Animal Control
We consider calling the police or animal control a last resort safety method for when you’ve tried all other options and none have worked. Or you or your pet have been injured.
Sometimes people only respond to the seriousness of a situation when involving an authority figure.
Unless there is already an injury, we recommend first attempting to have a polite word about dog park etiquette with the aggressive dog’s owner. Ask the other pet parent to please keep their pet under control or to keep their pet leashed if the pup cannot play nicely with others.
Don’t get into a shouting match.
Because shouting matches don’t help and just create other issues.
Instead, call the police or animal control if the other pet owner is unwilling to take control and responsibility of his/her dog.
This removes you and your pet from further harm and allows the authorities to make things clear to the aggressive dog’s owner.
Protecting yourself and your pet is always number one anywhere including the dog park. It’s downright scary. While you can use any method necessary for protecting your pet, try using these five tips first. We bet you’ll have a much more positive outcome.