More owners need to better train their dogs, such as using services provided by dog etiquette trainer Janine Soryal, pictured with her dog Gus. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT
More owners need to better train their dogs, such as using services provided by dog etiquette trainer Janine Soryal, pictured with her dog Gus. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

Vicious dog fights at parks caused by owners' bad manners

AN increasing number of vicious incidents at Queensland dog parks is boiled down to owners lacking manners and not understanding their dogs, experts say.

Local councils confirmed several dog-on-dog attacks occurred every week in southeast Queensland. On the Gold Coast, 51 complaints were made in the past 12 months. Another 12 occurred on the Sunshine Coast.

Brisbane council, which has dozens of dog parks spread across the city, would not supply data.

Dog etiquette trainer Janine Soryal says aggressive behaviour is often due to an owner not properly understanding their dog's mentality.

Ms Soryal has been in the industry for 25 years, and adopts a holistic approach to help owners understand their furry friends.

She believes forcing two dogs that don't get along in one area will likely cause a fight - like it could for humans - and the best solution is to simply leave.

"It's a lot like being trapped in a room with your worst enemy," she says.

"Often, the parks are busy when people go after 5pm, I don't recommend people to take them when it's busy.

"When there are lot of dogs and not a lot of space it causes stress and adrenaline.

"Mental and physical health and wellbeing is just as important for our pets as it is for us."

As for owners training their dogs to behave better in dog parks, Ms Soryal told The Courier-Mail that it takes time and patience, and depends on the owner's dedication.

"The is no quick and easy fix when there's a problem, which can lead to some owners resorting to harsh methods because they think it's working, but it is actually creating more stress for your dog."

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty says dog park fights can be decreased simply by people using manners and socialising their dogs from an early age.

"If you see that your dog is intimidating or overpowering a smaller dog, then it is your responsibility to go in and restrain your dog," he says.

"You can tell immediately if the dog is apprehensive or scared, or if your dog is being a bit boisterous."

Mr Beatty says there are steps owners can take to equip their dogs for the park.

"What you should be doing from an early age is socialising the dog, take them to puppy class to meet other dogs.

"Unfortunately, some people are just a disaster and think that owning a dog is a right when it's actually a privilege. With that privilege comes responsibility. You can't have a situation where you leave a dog in the backyard 24/7 and then expect it to be social with other dogs and even humans.

"The other thing people don't realise is that a dog's walk isn't just for exercise. It's their whole socialisation to the world. For them it's like reading the newspaper or watching television.

"Those different smells they are taking along the way give them a picture of what's going on in their area and that's really important, so, walking your dog and taking it out isn't just for exercise, it's for mental stimulation.

"And that's why you get so many problems with dogs [at parks] when they are just locked outside all day, worst still if they are tethered."

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