family & Pets

Courtney Allan

What you should do when your dog gets into a fight at the dog park

What you should do when your dog gets into a fight at the dog park

Taking your dog to the dog park can be a fun venture, but it’s important to know what to do when something goes wrong.

Mitch Watson, AKA the Paw Professor, spoke to the ABC about what you can do if things turn ugly.

Watson is a former police dog handler with more than 10 years of experience and has worked with dogs of all ages and breeds.

"Exercise your dog a little before taking them to the park, as it takes a little energy out them," he said.

"This really helps high-energy dogs."

"If you're worried because your dog has already had a few fights, use a muzzle on the dog while in the park," he told ABC Radio Brisbane's Rebecca Levingston.

"Many people don't like seeing their dog in a park with a muzzle on, but it protects the owners and other dogs."

An interesting point of note is that most of the fights that happen at dog parks is over balls.

"A big reason fights happen, though, is over balls," Mr Watson said.

"Many people take their dogs to the park to exercise in a legal way without them running off.

"When you're throwing the ball in the park, other dogs can fight over them, creating a barney in the park.”

RSPCA Queensland spokeswoman Alex Hyndman Hill has said that if your dog gets into a fight, you need to take care when separating the dogs.

"Breaking up a dog fight is always risky, but obviously your instinct will be to protect your dog," she said.

"The best way to break up a fight is to grab the back legs of each dog and raise them off the ground — like you would do a wheelbarrow — and walk backwards.

"If you're the only one present, do this to the dog leading the attack — eventually the other dog will try and get away.

"Also, carrying an extra lead can also help if you need to clip a dog and pull it away."

Dog park etiquette

As many different breeds and ages of dogs head to the dog park, it’s important to know the basic etiquette at the dog park.

"Always bring a leash and monitor your dog constantly for signs of aggression or stress during interactions with other dogs," she said.

"Be ready to end the outing if your dog isn't enjoying it or is making it a stressful experience for another dog.

"Think about whether it's appropriate for your children to be with you and always supervise them if they are."

Mr Watson said another option could be to change the hours you visited the park.

"Go to the parks out of peak hours if possible," he said.

"There are a lot of rescue dogs out there now and high-energy and crowded parks can cause these fights."