ALL ABOUT DOGS and CATS   Resource Center for Canine & Feline Lovers
puppy and kitten
A Dangerous Situation
I began to have excruciating headaches, and frighteningly, started to lose the use of my
right leg. I consulted my doctor, who ordered me to visit the emergency room of my local
hospital. A CT scan revealed that I had two subdural hematomas – masses of blood on the
surface of my brain that apparently had developed after my tumble in the park — and
required immediate surgery.

As my experience shows, romps in dog parks or other places where dogs congregate can
be great fun, but they may also spell danger to both dogs and their owners.

Preventing Disasters
In light of what happened to me, I asked dog trainer Robin Bennett, author of Off-Leash
Dog Play (Dreamdog Productions 2008) and a nationally known dog day care expert, how
people can keep themselves out of harm’s way in dog parks and other popular dog play
areas. Here’s what she suggested:

Stay Aware
“Owners should be aware of what’s going on when dogs are racing around,” says Bennett,
who works from Woodbridge, Va. Clearly, I messed up big-time here. My back was to the
dogs while they were playing, so I didn’t see them running toward me. I later realized that
I had inadvertently stepped out in front of Allie without giving her enough time to swerve
and avoid me as the other two dogs followed close behind. The results were my collision
with all three dogs, my backward swan dive to the ground and the events that followed.

Maintain Loose Knees
“When the dogs are running around, keep your knees loose,” says Bennett. Loose knees
lessen the likelihood that one or more dogs can knock you off your feet, whether from the
front or from behind. At the time, I was standing with knees locked.

Move From The Entrance
“Owners should not stand too close to the main gate of the dog park where all the action is
happening,” says Bennett. “I actually recommend that dogs have a good recall command
and that they be called to the owner when there is a lot going on at the gate.”

Head Toward The Perimeter
The middle of the park is also a popular place of activity, which is exactly where I was
standing. To avoid being knocked over, owners should stand near the perimeter. However,
they should not stand right against the fence enclosing the park. It’s important to give your
furry pal some space to come and lie down or sit behind you if it wants.

I unintentionally broke nearly all of Bennett’s rules the day I took my doggie-induced
tumble. But I was lucky: My surgery was successful and my recuperation was steady. I’ve
also started taking Allie back to the park, but I’m a lot more careful there than I used to be.

About the Author: Susan McCullough is an award-winning pet writer and author of
ousetraining for Dummies, Senior Dogs for Dummies and Beagles for Dummies. She was
also honored by The Cat Writers Association as a finalist for the Muse Medallion, which
recognizes excellence in writing about cats.
Responsible Ownership
Dog Park Safety

By Susan McCullough
I  never saw them coming. I was chatting in a park
with a friend while his two boxers played with my
golden retriever, Allie. The next minute, I felt myself
being hit from behind by all three dogs, catapulting
me backwards and causing me to hit my head on the
ground where I landed. Still, I felt alright. After a
minute or two of lying on the ground and checking to
make sure I hadn’t broken any bones, I stood up
without assistance and drove Allie and myself home.

But six weeks later, I no longer felt OK.
Books by
Susan McCulloch