Kona's best friend Cody got into a bit of a scuffle in the dogpark the other day. Cody is very jealous where Kona is concerned, particularly when he first arrives and has to separate her from the crowd. This was the case here and Cody mixed it up with an unfamiliar dog. The overreaction of the inexperienced owner of the other dog, highlighted a number of conflict resolution concepts that experienced dog owners seem to have evolved.
- Let the participants settle it themselves. Like mothers with crying babies, a good dog owner can usually tell whether the fight has the potential to escalate or is merely one dog giving another a strong warning. In the latter case, once the warning is acknowledged the conflict is over. Sometimes the conflict is over before you have time to consider whether to intervene.
- Intervene only if its serious. Getting between two scuffling dogs can be risky, particularly if they weigh in excess of 70 lbs like Cody does. It's not something you want to do if you can avoid it. This is why letting the participants resolve the conflict themselves can be a good option.
- Be careful not to make things worse. If you become upset, you can communicate these feelings to the participants and increase their emotional investment in the conflict. Losing your objectivity and becoming emotionally involved can make the conflict worse.
- Intervention need not be drastic. Separate two dogs for a few minutes and suddenly they're pals again. Sometimes just getting participants calmed down allows for swift resolution of the conflict.
- Sometimes you just have to walk away. In this case, the owner was more of a problem than his dog, so Cody had to go home. There are occasionally conflicts that can't be resolved and you just have to move on.