Dog parks shouldn't be your pooch's 1st social experience, says behaviourist

Dog behaviourist Barbara Lloyd says pet owners need to be more careful when taking their pooches to the park after a puppy was violently attacked in North Battleford earlier this week.

Lyle Kennedy said he decided to euthanize his puppy, Finn, after injuries sustained at dog park

Dog behaviourist Barbara Lloyd said the dog park is not a place for your pet to learn socialization. (CBC News)

Dog behaviourist Barbara Lloyd says the dog park is not a place to take your canine companion for its first taste of social interaction. 

"The dog park is not a place for socialization," Lloyd said. 

Instead, she said dogs should socialize when they're still puppies and recommends putting your pup through training, which allows a dog to become more familiar with other dogs.

She spoke with CBC Saskatchewan after an incident at a North Battleford off-leash dog park, in which one man's puppy was violently attacked.

Lyle Kennedy later told CBC through a Facebook message that his pup, Finn, had to be euthanized. 

"The damages to him were beyond repair and he would only continue to suffer," Kennedy wrote. "We didn't want him to suffer so we made the hardest decision to have him put to sleep."
Lyle Kennedy and his puppy Finn. (Lyle Kennedy/Facebook)

In a video which was posted to Facebook and later removed, Kennedy's dog is grabbed and shaken violently. The situation escalates instantly and is over in mere seconds. 

  • WARNING: Video contains content some viewers may find disturbing.
Lyle Kennedy said his puppy, Finn, later had to be put down due to the severity of its injuries sustained during the attack. 0:11

When Lloyd saw the video, she described the the situation as one dog preying on another. 

"Once an incident like this occurs, basically, in the bigger dog's case — that dog has had success," Lloyd said. "That's a very hard thing to correct, behaviour wise."

She said owners need to be aware of their dog and its interaction with others. If it's being too aggressive, or another dog is being aggressive with your dog, the owner should take action. 

Things to watch out for in dogs include "flagging," where a dog's tail is straight up in the air or wagging quickly and erratically, which she says indicates heightened agitation.

She also warns owners to look out for stalking behaviour, such as a dog keeping low to the ground and moving slowly. 

Lloyd said she would like to see dog parks in Regina sectioned off, giving smaller dogs and puppies their own, safer space to roam.

With files from Jill Morgan and Kendall Latimer