We all know that off leash dog parks can be a great way for your pooch to burn off some energy while enjoying the company of other dogs. I live in Colorado where there are hundreds of dog parks in and around the Denver area. On any given weekend, you will find these parks full of furry creatures chasing balls, diving into ponds and sniffing other canine behinds! However, there are some simple rules that owners must follow to ensure the safety of the pets. My story below will demonstrate what can happen if these rules are broken.
It’s nice to use these parks as a training ground while socializing your dog. And what’s the number one source we all use to train our dogs? Treats!
And what’s a high source for aggression in dogs? Protecting Treats!
Every pet owner should remember that a dog’s behavior is never 100% predictable especially when safe guarding their precious food. So here is what can happen if you bring treats to a dog park…
My wife and I are the owners of four wonderful dogs. Our brown Newfoundland, Shiloh, and three Shih Tzu’s, Kooba, Bookah, and Hoopa (I’ll leave the rhyming names for another blog). One beautiful Sunday afternoon, we decided to walk our four dogs down to the off leash park in our neighborhood. We enjoyed going to this park because it wasn’t an “established” dog park. Meaning there weren’t any closed off areas with fences. It was just a regular park that did not have any leash laws. We enjoyed going to this park because we felt the exclusion of a fenced area, kept the uncontrolled dogs away.
We got so comfortable going to this park that we would find ourselves chatting away with the other dog owners and sometimes allow ourselves to take our eye off of our dogs. Well, one day we did just that and unfortunately one of the little Shih Tzu’s paid the price.
Kooba, the most curious of the three Shih Tzu’s, wondered over to a group of dogs only a couple of feet from where I was standing. As it turns out, there was a dog in this group that had a bone that the owner had brought. Kooba inquisitively and unknowingly got too close to this dog. I remember hearing a loud shriek from Kooba and as I turned around I saw the other dog with Kooba’s head in his mouth. The whole thing last only a second or two but unfortunately for Kooba, the effects scared him for life. As my wife and I yelled for the other dog to let go, which she did immediately, we ran over to Kooba and were horrified of what we saw. Without going into too many gory details, I will just say that his eye had been pushed out of the socket. My wife ran to the car with Kooba while I gathered the other dogs. Luckily, there was a 24-hour emergency hospital only a few blocks away.
The doctor’s took him back to the emergency area and my wife and I were forced to wait for the diagnoses. While we were waiting, a lady came in to the waiting area and looked over at us. She approached us with tears in her eyes and said, “I think my dog just attacked your dog.” In all of the chaos surrounding the incident, we never even thought to stop and look for the owner. She explained to us that she was on the other side of the park and never saw what happened. She only learned about it from the other dog owners after we had left the park.
In the end, Kooba lost his eye. While we were grieving immensely for Kooba, the other dog owner felt absolutely awful. A lot of people would probably have left the park avoiding any responsibility but she took the time to search the closest animal hospital in the hopes that we were there so she could accept responsibility. She paid for the surgery, which was $1000, and continued to follow up with us during Kooba’s recovery.
It took about 6 weeks for Kooba’s injuries to heal but almost 6 months before his personality returned. Now he gets around just fine with his one eye.
My wife and I don’t go to dog parks any more. The owner of the other dog says she no longer goes either. She told us that her dog had never showed any signs of aggression before that horrible Sunday afternoon. So let this be an important example of why not to bring treats, snacks, bones, etc… to the dog park.