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Written by Kim Rain
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 04/14/2021, edited: 10/05/2022
Dogs love dog parks! And what’s not to love? With lots of new space to sniff and explore, off leash freedom, and plenty of other dogs to meet and play with, dog parks are a pupperdise for all kinds of pooches. But when a pleasant afternoon suddenly turns into a barking and biting frenzy, injuries can occur that can turn the day into an anxious and painful experience for your furbaby.
While each dog park has its own rules, they can’t always control what kinds of dogs enjoy the park. It’s always possible to encounter aggressive, territorial and possessive dogs, and even sweet, mild-mannered dogs can show aggressive behaviors for a variety of reasons. You may not be able to predict what will happen at the dog park, but if an injury occurs, here are some steps you'll need to take to safely handle this traumatic experience.
Once the fight or incident has ended, you need to stay clear-headed and calm to help your dog recover, both physically and mentally. Your dog can sense your emotions and will remain anxious and aggressive if you are, so help your dog relax by not yelling or acting aggressively to the other dogs involved, or their owners.
When a fight occurs, it raises the adrenaline level of the dogs involved, and all those nearby for several hours after the actual incident is over. It’s best to leash your dog and take them out of the dog park to lower everyone’s aggression levels and avoid another incident.
Once your dog is safely away from danger, assess your dog’s injuries to determine if they need emergency veterinary care, or if they have a minor cut or scrape that can wait a moment. If the injuries are serious, including excessive bleeding, trouble walking, difficulty breathing or deep bites that expose muscle or bone, do not wait and take your dog to your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately.
If your dog doesn’t need immediate care, politely talk to the owner of the other dog to exchange information. In most states, the owner of the dog who bites is at fault. In many cases, they will be apologetic and offer to cover your vet costs. If you need to seek immediate care for your dog, return to the dog park afterwards to seek out the owner, or look for witnesses that can help you to identify them.
If you haven’t already, promptly seek medical attention for your dog. While injuries may seem minor, it’s always a good idea to make sure there aren’t any serious complications such as internal bleeding or secondary bacterial infections. Be sure to keep detailed records of the injury and charges for any future reports.
Many dog parks ask owners to fill out an incident report when a fight or injury occurs. In some cases, the owner at fault may refuse to give you any information, or may flee the scene, in which case, you’ll need to call the police and report the fight. Witnesses to the incident may also be able to help.
We all want our canine companions to have fun at the dog park, but even if we practice basic park etiquette, a lot of things may be out of our control. While some dogs can be trained to not attack other dogs, any number of factors can cause them to lose focus and get carried away in the moment.
Here are some tips to help you prevent aggressive incidents from occurring between dogs.
With some common sense, and a lot of observation, your trip
to the dog park can be what your dog is hoping for- pawsitively furbulous and
fun! Play on!
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