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Paws for thought . . . Dog trainers Kathy Booth and Alan Booth are concerned dog behaviour is a growing problem in Oamaru. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

North Otago dog trainers Kathy and Alan Booth believe changes need to be made at the Fenwick dog park in Oamaru.

The couple also say they have noticed an increase in dog behaviour problems throughout the Waitaki district.

They do not take their own dogs to the Fenwick park but they claim to have heard of several recent incidents at the recreational spot.

Mr Booth said he spoke to a woman who saw a dog at the park that was out of control and caused damage to property in the surrounding area.

“She was horrified – she won’t go back to the dog park again,” Mr Booth said.

The Booths have suggested big dogs could be segregated from small dogs at the Fenwick park.

They had no problem with dogs roaming around the park without a lead – provided the dogs had been trained.

“If people can’t let their dog off and have it come back to them, there’s no way they should be letting them run free in the dog park,” Mr Booth said.

Mr Booth wanted the Waitaki District Council to crack down on irresponsible dog owners.

“They need to get tougher, if they’re not tougher now,” he said.

Waitaki District Council environmental services manager Jason Evered said the number of reported attacks dogs around the district was low.

Mr Evered also said there was little evidence to suggest there was an issue with dog fighting in public.

Overall, the number of complaints about dogs in the district dropped from 1362 in 2014-15 to 608 in 2017-18.

The Booths have had their fair share of nasty encounters with dogs over the years.

One bad experience was when an aggressive dog attacked a dog of their own while the couple were at the North Otago Pony Club.

Mrs Booth believed there were more dogs with behavioural issues because some owners were not putting in enough time training their dogs.

“I think the same people probably make the same mistakes,” she said.

“If they’re not prepared to vaccinate it, and not prepared to train it, then why have a dog?

“People need to learn that if their dog comes to them at home, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to come to them at every other place.”

The Booths have been training dogs for about 20 years.

Dogs needed to be trained as puppies to avoid bad behaviour, Mr Booth said.

“The best thing a puppy can do is be taught on a lead and taught to come.”