We have received from Simon Knight, our wildlife photographer, a very disturbing report of what we can only describe as an attack by an out of control dog.
On Sunday 1st of May, whilst I was photographing wildlife in Kestrel Field, I was charged at by a large dog whose owner was almost on the opposite side of the field. The dog ran around me barking, which was quite unnerving. It then ran off through the tunnel in the hedge into Corn Field, all the while its owner was calling it without it responding. A few moments later it ran back into Kestrel Field (owner still far away) and charged at me again, this time it seemed more aggressive and it jumped at me, still barking.
 This is where the attack took place.  The tunnel from Kestrel Field through the hedge into Cornfield.
Luckily I had my camera backpack on and I turned my back to the dog as it went for me and it got the bag instead of me. For a while I was quite scared and worried for my safety, I really did think that it could have bitten me.
On another occasion, whilst looking for wasp spiders in the Kestrel Field set-aside, another dog off the lead jumped at me. It scratched my back as I turned away from it when it jumped at me. Also, when I have been lying down, under cover, trying to photograph water voles between the pond and the decorated bridge, a dog has charged at me, barking in my face. That was pretty scary.
 Wasp spider  Water vole, both photographed by Simon in the reserve.
I have spoken to local photographers who won’t even come to the park because so many of the dogs are not on leads and not under control. These dangerous and potentially damaging incidents are the direct result of out of control dogs being off lead, in direct violation of the Countryside Code. This is not the sort of behaviour that should take place in a Nature Reserve.
This is very worrying. The park is supposed to be a safe haven for wildlife, where families can walk and play while the children learn about their environment. If you cannot recall your dog, please don’t let it run off lead in the reserve; if your dog is off lead, please keep it in sight at all times.
It is particularly worrying to hear that there are people who avoid visiting the reserve because of the behaviour of out-of-control dogs. If you have seen other incidents of such behaviour by off-lead dogs, please comment, message or email us.
Header: The Lone Oak by Simon Knight.
I don’t go there anymore though because of dogs off leads pestering my nervous Jack Russell. A lady even had the cheek to lecture me on how I should let him off the lead which would make him less nervous around dogs (including her large dog – off lead) 🤬
I am sorry to hear that, Cathy. I am beginning to think that there might be quite a number of people who avoid the reserve because of the behaviour of off-lead dogs.
I am surprised that you allow off-lead dogs. Every other nature reserve in the area asks visitors to keep their dogs on a lead.
Southwick Country Park It’s such a lovely park and somewhere everyone can go and meet up etc but so many people are allowing their dogs to run about unrestrained, upsetting other people and dogs 😕
Southwick Country Park – I live with the country park close behind me but I’ve been avoiding it as I don’t like the behaviour of some dogs, especially the professional dog walkers with large packs…
Professional dog walkers should need a licence from the county. If I wanted to set up a business on county council property selling some kind of service I would need a licence. I would have to sign some kind of agreement and probably pay out money for ground rent. If I set up a burger stall in the park without permission, I would get moved on by the police. How come dog walkers are allowed to run their business in the park for free.
Why is it always the people with the big badly behaved dogs who tell you how to manage your own dog?
Cathy Allgood: it amazes me how people who profess to “know all about dogs” have so little understanding of nervous dogs. 😎🍷
Susan Shepherdson: absolutely! Made my blood boil 😡
A horrible experience!!
I get annoyed at the “dog “walkers” who do it as a job and have four, five or six dogs and let them off the lead, they can’t control all of them at the same time and some are aggressive. I find early morning and evening quieter.
It comes down to good manners. Your dog should be close enough to put on lead. If I see a dog on a lead approaching me, then I put my WC on his lead, the other dog is on a lead for a reason, nervous dog, nervous owner, no recall which seems to be very common, or dog may be old, etc. We need to work together in the beautiful park, it’s not just an open space to ignore the dog while owner on mobile phone !!
According to the Dogs Trust there are 3.2 million pandemic pooches, bought during lockdown, neither socialised nor trained, now left in the house alone because everybody has gone back to work. It’s become a problem everywhere, not just in the reserve.
But because a problem is widespread, does not mean we shouldn’t be looking for ways to solve it.
Sorry but we avoid this place like the plague with our dog, because it’s a well know location for dog attacks that stems from poorly behaved owners who let their dogs do whatever they please, and have absolutely no control or recall for their dogs.
I’ve never seen so many selfish, ignorant dog owners all in one location, its awful
We don’t have dogs but two young children and sadly avoid Southwick Dog Park completely because of the behaviour of some/most dog owners. It’s a shame as we only live a 5 minute walk away. The final straw was when a dog off the lead urinated on one of my 4 yr old sons friends and the owner refused to apologise or put the dog on a lead. It then went on to attack another dog!!!
On behalf of the Friends of Southwick Country Park Local Nature Reserve, may I apologise for the anti social behaviour of some dog owners who TAKE THEIR DOGS INTO THE PARK completely unaware of their obligations to other users of the Country Park to train their dogs before releasing them from the control of a lead. I assure you that we are looking into this most urgently so that the Country Code, as shown on our notice boards, is adhered to.