18 tips to avoid bullies when walking your dog

Finally, you can take your dog for a walk again. But, do be aware of the bullies – they come in all shapes and sizes to antagonise others, and you’ll even find them in the park where you planned a peaceful walk with your dog. Whether it is other people or their dogs, don’t be intimidated by these bullies. Here are a few tips on how to avoid tiffs.

  1. Before taking your dog to the park, first go and sit on a fence line where you plan to go and watch the activities in the dog park during peak hour walking. There is bound to be at least one emotional flare-up, but it will give you an idea of what to expect before you take your dog with you. Will you be able to handle the situation?
  2. Most of the time squabbles occur due to a lack of knowledge of what is and isn’t appropriate in a dog park. We also need to bear in mind that an event which two people witness may be seen from completely different perspectives.
  3. Conflict between people is due to a difference of opinion in how to respond to some dog behaviours. Know when a behaviour is appropriate and when it isn’t.
  4. Take responsibility for your dog’s behaviours. Act and apologise when necessary.
  5. Dog parks are a relatively new phenomenon from over the past 15 years. Rules are lacking and in many cases basic dog knowledge is outdated and incorrect.
  6. It is unlikely you will win an argument in a dog park! Even if you are right, unsolicited advice is often not taken well.
  7. Your priority is to be your dog’s hero, so avoid any possible confrontation.
  8. Be an ambassador for the dog-walking fraternity.
  9. Be polite and create space for other dog walkers, cyclists, joggers, picnickers and the children’s playground.
  10. Contrary to popular belief not all dogs want to say “Hi”. Just like people, dogs have a personal space bubble, some much larger than others.
  11. If your dog is a party animal, hook up with other like-minded personality types and walk together. Don’t allow your social butterfly to become a bully and demand a wild play game from a shy or nervous dog who really just wants to be left alone and enjoy a walk with his owner.
  12. Watch out for the dog who has little skill in ‘speaking dog’ – the poor miss-fit who is unsocialised and is expected to converse fluently. You can often spot social skills from a distance when dogs meet dogs. Take another path if need be.
  13. The onus is on you. Take the time to learn a little basic dog language so you know what to look out for and create space for other dogs and people if needed.
  14. The dog whose hormones are raging and is obsessing over your dog may require to be put on lead for a while.
  15. Some dogs have great space respect and will avoid bumping into people and other dogs with great skill – others are bulldozers and flatten everything in their path. Avoid the groups that have wild games in the park.
  16. Don’t put yourself or your dog in a position whereby something may go wrong, inciting a confrontation – be it dog- or people-related.
  17. Watch out for mobbing bullies – those groups of dogs who pack up on other dogs.
  18. Stay clear of the Wild West arrivals at entrances – the car that arrives and has crazy excited hysterical dogs leaping out and running helter-skelter. These dogs have no manners.

Observe and avoid

The bottom line is to observe the area, people and other dogs, and to avoid potential dangerous situations. Also, know what the park’s rules are and stick to it as much as possible. Don’t be the park bully either.

You can create enjoyable memories with your dog, safe from park bullies – don’t let them ruin the special time with your dog.


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