In April I started reviewing local off-leash dog parks. While reviewing Magnusun Park the issue of dog fights came up because there were incidences at this park in the past that involved varying degrees of dog aggression.
The reader’s discussion of this post made me realize how many people are concerned about dog fights or attacks when it comes to visiting dog parks. Right or wrong, I tend to err on the side of “it won’t happen to me” if I am alert to what is going on around me. However, I have heard several people say they won’t take their dog’s to the dog park because of this concern.
Yesterday I was surprised to read an article about a recent, local dog attack case where the owner of the dog being attacked actually shot one of the dogs – and this wasn’t even at an off-leash dog park. This brings up several issues around the interpretation of dog behavior and aggression, owner responsibility and ability to keep their dog s under control and the victim’s response and right to defense.
There is no doubt in this article that the owner of the attacking dogs could not get them under control. The article stated that at one point the victim owner thought he had successfully fought off the three attacking dogs but then they came back. I am wondering where the owner of these dogs was and what he was doing that the dogs were allowed to go back for a second round?
The victim owner felt the life of his dog, and his own life, was in jeopardy so he pulled out a gun and shot one of the dogs (he had a concealed weapons permit). Was that force excessive? On one hand I think he had the right to defend himself but the owner of the attacking dogs stated that, in his opinion, “at no time was the man and dog’s life in jeopardy”. Clearly, there were two interpretations of what was going on there.
Did the victim owner overreact because the attaching dogs were Pit Bulls? Was the attacking dog’s owner oblivious and clearly defending the actions of his dogs by making that statement? Did the attacking dog’s owner not step in because he actually didn’t perceive a threat? Could this situation have been handles properly without resorting to such extreme violence? Was the victim dog’s owner totally in the right?
We will just have to wait and see how this story unfolds as the days go on. To me, couple of things are clear. Dog attacks can happen anywhere. As a dog owner, you have a responsibility to control your dogs at all times. If you have dogs capable of killing or maiming someone, you need to be extra cautious – possibly to the point of keeping them on-leash around other dogs if you don’t have a 100% reliable recall. Dog owners should also be alert to their surroundings – watching other dogs around them and anticipating any possible issues and acting accordingly.
Sometimes things just happen though. Perhaps the dogs came out of nowhere to attack your dog. Perhaps your dog has never shown any type of aggression in the past and it was kind a fluke occurrence you couldn’t anticipate. The key in these situations is to know how to properly handle dog fights or attacks when, and if, they do come up.
Great timing then that I ran across this article today called How to Behave if Caught in a Dog Fight.
Points made include properly training your dog to have a reliable recall, keeping a vigilant eye on your surroundings at all times, staying calm if a fight does occur so you don’t escalate the situation and if there is a need to separate the dogs, possibly using an object to physically separate the dogs safely or at least temporarily break visual contact, which will help the dogs to break apart.
Another good point was made about small dogs. They are small enough that our first tendency is likely to scoop up our pooch and protect them in our arms. This article reminds us that lifting up your little dog to protect him from an aggressive, bigger dog is like dangling a carrot on a stick. You put your own safety in jeopardy and risk injury to your face, either by the larger dog snapping up at your dog or your own dog lashing out because he feels trapped and afraid.
With dog ownership increasing our dogs are at greater and greater risk of getting into a skirmish with a dog and potentially getting attacked…or being the attacker. We all have a responsibility both to protect our dog and make sure that our dog does not harm other dogs or people.
What is your take on all of this?