An email from a user of Grant Bark Park brought to our attention the need to talk about park safety! We all want our local dog parks to be a safe, fun space for our dogs and ourselves, but what do you do when the worst happens and another dog attacks you or your dog?
The Short Answer: Call the police.
According to the Chicago Park District website, all owners are legally responsible for their dogs and any injuries caused by their dogs. If your dog is bitten or attacked, exchange information with the owner of the other dog.
Most owners in good faith will offer to pay for your vet bills. If the other owner is unwilling to speak with you, call the police and report the incident.
This comes up more frequently than we would like in Chicago dog parks – we hear it from our colleagues across the city – and we’re still trying to come up with a way to improve the information provided to dog park users and to clueless owners. This is a long term project we’ve been trying to get off the ground; we will update you later in the summer as we make progress.
Things to Look For – From PetBehaviorHelp.com
- Sudden, quick disagreements with lots of noise that end in a matter of seconds are normal and it is probably safe to allow the dogs to remain in the park if neither shows any inclination to continue the argument.
- Interrupt any situation that seems to be escalating.
- Use your voice in a calm, commanding way to stop the fight. Screaming simply increases the arousal of the dogs involved.
- Do NOT stick your hands into the middle of a dog fight to separate dogs. If physical intervention is needed, try to grab the back legs of your dog and “wheel-barrow” it until it calms down. Fighting dogs will often strike at anything that moves near their face and human hands are far more delicate than most areas where one dog will bite another.
- Do not allow additional dogs to jump into the fight. If you see or hear a squabble between other dogs, get your dog immediately and take it away from the area.
- Do not panic. It will not help the dogs. Remember that as a general rule, the louder the fight, the more bluff and bluster is involved and the less damage. Most dog fights between similar size dogs do not result in serious injury.
- Once a fight occurs, the adrenaline levels of the dogs involved, and many of those who witnessed the fight, will be raised for several hours. It is wise to take these dogs out of the park and exercise them elsewhere to avoid the potential of another fight.
If you have any advice or opinions, please feel free to leave a comment for discussion.
This is an update of Dog Park Safety: What to do when your dog is attacked posted 8.13.12 on the 16thWabashDogPark blog.