Should Children Be Allowed in Dog Parks?

You’ve probably seen it.

A parent pushes a stroller ahead of her through the gate of the dog park as several big dogs charge the newcomer face to face.

Yikes.

Or an adult carries a toddler through the gate, sets her down and lets her run, wobbly and squealing, falling over.

It’s horrifying to me, and I don’t have kids.

While my own dog is great with them, many dog are not OK with kids.

Why would a parent put that much trust in a bunch of strangers’ dogs?

It’s not fair to the child, the dog or the dog owners.

Most dogs are friendly and will not intentionally harm a child, but dogs are dogs.

What concerns me about kids in dog parks

Should kids be allowed in dog parks

1. Dog parks and dog beaches are places where dogs are “amped up” and excited. Dog parks are places where dogs naturally nip at each other, crash into one another, play fight and get into actual fights.

2. Dogs chase things that move! Especially small things that squeal and run!

3. When one dog “acts up” others join in! When other dogs are barking, chasing, wrestling or humping, others investigate and join.

4. Some dogs are scared of kids because they haven’t been around them and could respond with aggression. See Keep the Tail Wagging’s post on this here.

5. Dogs crash into people, practically knocking over grown adults. Has this happened to you? I’m scared I’ll get my knee thrown out.

6. I don’t want kids to get hurt and I don’t want good dogs punished for being dogs.

Why do people bring children to dog parks?

Would you bring a child to a dog park
These are questions I’m wondering:

Do people think they can supervise well enough to intervene? Do they think they’re socializing their kid or the dogs?

Do they believe their dogs have to go to the dog park, even though there’s no one to watch the kid?

Do they truly just not realize the danger?

Or maybe I am overly concerned?

‘But my daughter is used to dogs!’

Sure, you have to use your own judgment.

Maybe the dog park you visit is low key and truly safe for your dog-savvy 5-year-old. You know your kid best.

But is that fair to the dog who is scared of kids?

I’m not sure.

You could also argue that dog parks should only be for rock-solid, extremely well socialized and trustworthy dogs. Like my dog Ace!

Nothing fazes my dog. I actually take him to dog parks so he can maintain his skill of not reacting to overly excited dogs or dogs with poor social skills. He’s one of those “bomb proof” dogs, perfect for just about any family.

I do believe visiting a dog park is a privilege. A dog park is definitely not for all dogs.

I will rarely bring a foster dog or a dog walking client to a dog park because I don’t want to put the dog in a bad position.

While some dog owners believe their dogs have the “right” to be at the dog park, I disagree. If any dog in my care acts up, we leave the park immediately.

Some dog parks don’t allow children

Some dog parks do have signs posted right on the front gate that no children under 12 are allowed or children must be accompanied by an adult.

I’m sure this is for liability reasons, and mostly goes unenforced. But maybe not such a bad rule?

What do you think?

Do you care if people bring toddlers or children to the dog park?

Related posts:

Are dog parks good or bad? (from Chasing Dog Tales)
People acting like dogs at a dog park (funny video!)
Dog possessive of toys at the dog park
10 things to consider at the dog park

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60 thoughts on “Should Children Be Allowed in Dog Parks?”

  1. I feel extremely strongly that young children do not belong at dog parks, that dog parks are not safe for them (even if the child is dog savvy), and it is grossly unfair to dogs and dog owners to bring young children to the dog park.

    In most cities and areas within the United States, there are literally HUNDREDS of parks and playgrounds that ban dogs entirely. Most others permit dogs on leash in park areas (though not playgrounds, fields, beaches, or most area that children would play).

    The number of public places that allow off-leash dogs? In many areas, at handful at MOST. Some areas are lucky to have even one or two within a hour’s drive. One reason that dog parks are such a disaster with fights, over-amped up dogs, people feeling “entitled” to bring a dog that really should not be there, is that there are so few public places you can even bring dogs to play and socialize with other dogs.

    The purpose of a dog park is facilitate a safe off-leash space for dogs to interact with other dogs. Period. People who bring children to the dog park – whether clueless or not about the hazards – are simply being selfish.

      1. Never. Most people do not correct their children. A dog park would be risky not only for the child but the dogs as well. There are no-kid restaurants. Lets have no-kid dog parks.

        1. My concern with bringing small children to a dog park is that they don’t understand not all dogs are used to small children and even other adults It really saddens my heart when I hear of a child who got to close to a dog and the dog snaps or bites the child Then what happens…the dog is usually put down ☹️ There are reasons why people bring their dogs to the dog park and yes I agree not all dogs should go to the dog park I too have three children and I do not take them I’m there to socialize my dogs My children and I have individual outings but I want safety for my children that is why I do not take them to the dog park My children know not to go up to dogs but when they’re excited for the dogs are excited you don’t know what’s gonna happen .

    1. These are some good points. I just don’t think that people who bring children to the park are selfish – and I’m not just saying that because I have a kid who has been to the dog park. I have seen people bring their young children to the park and selfish is not how I would describe them. Ignorant, yes. I really think it is a case of not being knowledgeable about dogs and/or basing all dogs on their dog. What I have seen is that they have a very friendly dog and think other dogs are the same. Usually, we judge by our own experiences. For example, not until we started fostering a leash-reactive dog was I aware that not all dogs are okay meeting other dogs on leash. Our adopted dog is great with other dogs whether it’s on leash or off leash. Now, with all that being said, if there is an age limit posted in the rules it should be followed.

    2. I have just returned from what has been my final visit to my favourite dog park. Moses chased a smallish 5-year old boy and tore his t-shirt. This particular park is located adjacent to a huge no-dogs playground but some parents still let their children walk, run, cycle, and so on in the park.

      In my view such parents are criminally irresponsible but our spineless politicians appear unwilling to ban children from the park – dog owners are considered legally responsible for all mishaps in the park.

      Yesterday, I overheard a young mother telling her husband that they should not take their very young two boys to the neighboring play-ground because they needed to show dog-owners that the dog-park (which is only open for dogs for 4 or 5 hours a day) is not for dogs only. I just could not believe what I heard!

      This mother did not seem concerned about the fact that a parent was teaching his son to fly a model airplane in the dog-park and two other guys were flying drones.

      I support the view that dog-parks should be dog and dog-owners only areas especially in locations were facilities of different types are available.

      Paul

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Oh gosh that sounds so frustrating. I’m glad the dog parks in my area are not quite that bad.

      2. Unbelievable. I have seen children at the dog park and agree they should only be allowed, if at all, under constant supervision and 10 or older. I’ve seen a grown man knocked down by running dogs, so think what would happen to a child.

    3. I strongly agree children DO NOT BELONG IN DOG PARKS. Dog Parks are the ONE place we can take our dogs, let them off the leash to run & play with other dogs. Our dogs ARE NOT ALLOWED in the children’s play area. It’s unfair to us. I raised four children. I like children. Were my children still young, they would not be allowed into the dog park.

  2. I don’t really care one way or the other. The issue I have is if some kid pesters my dog and my dog bites we are in trouble which is totally wrong at a dog park. If parents do bring kids, the kids should be leashed as they are usually the kids who do whatever they want including tormenting dogs and the parents don’t care. We don’t go often and when we do, we go weekdays at off times during the day as I’m not a fan of a huge crowd of dogs. I’ve rarely seen kids at any dog park we go to.

  3. Dogs need that off-leash area to expend energy. That said, even normally well-mannered animals join in that pack mentality when over-stimulated by a encountering many strange dogs all at once. Dog parks conspicuously lack playground equipment. Playgrounds conspicuously lack doggy bag dispensers. Just sayin’.

  4. The last time I was at dog park I had to stop a very young child (maybe 3? I’m bad at guessing kid’s ages) from hurting a little terrier. Her mom was BS-ing with the victim dog’s owner and neither noticed the girl trying to hold and (I think?!) carry the dog by his tail. I’ve seen a lot of people bring their kids to the dog park and this is the only time in my memory that I thought a kid was out of line. I’ve always thought it was odd to see people with toddlers in dog park. That really seems like a huge risk to me, but then again it’s usually small dog park where I see very young kids. I have no problem with older kids (probably over 5) at the dog park, as long as the parents are supervising. I wouldn’t want a blanket rule of no kids (especially if the line is drawn as old as 12) at dog park, because it’s not fair to punish the many good parents because of the few bad ones. I do sometimes wish people would just band together and confront a parent putting their child in danger or allowing their child to harass the dogs. If their was a social consequence people might behave, the way no one cuts in line at Starbucks because they would practically be lynched.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I haven’t seen anything like that, thankfully! I would be concerned the child might get bitten in that case. Yikes. I think you’re right that older kids aren’t a big deal as long as they are behaving appropriately around dogs. I would’ve loved to visit a dog park as a kid, like as a 7 or 8 year old. I don’t think they had dog parks then, at least not in Minnesota where I lived.

  5. I’ve stopped going to the dog park (couldn’t get my dog out) but when I did I’ve see small children maybe 4-6 playing. I thought the children were too small. Adults have gotten seriously hurt in the park I was going to. Dogs running in a pack have knocked over adults who were not watching out. I don’t believe young children should be there. It’s just too easy to get injured. I also was not comfortable seeing unsupervised children playing on the ground, benches, etc. Just too unsanitary. Never saw a child hurt a dog which would be another reason not to let children in.

  6. I also don’t feel comfortable with children being at the dog park. When I used to take my Shih Tzu to a very popular dog park, people would sometimes bring their children. Some of the children were well-behaved, but others ran around like it was a regular park: climbing the trees, throwing rocks/sticks, chasing the dogs, etc. It wasn’t uncommon for one of the dog owners to get onto the kids, or to send the kids back to their parents. After watching kids running in and out of the dog runs almost letting out other people’s dogs, I thought a mean thought. If dogs have to stay leashed at children’s playgrounds, why can’t children be leashed at dog playgrounds? Some people will probably get mad at that, but it was a thought I had.

    1. How about kids do not come at all. They have their own parks. Back in the day parents corrected their children and responsible adults were formed. It is a different time.

  7. Kids can be appropriate at a dog park if they are properly managed. I do not like seeing toddlers there, especially when the parent allows them to toddle around. That’s insane. I also feel uncomfortable when I’ve seen a parent arrive with a newborn baby strapped to their chest. They are just so fragile and a curious dog could easily jump up to investigate. I think once kids are old enough to listen to their parents, are comfortable with dogs and know the ins and outs of how to behave around strange dogs (ie do not approach without the express go ahead from that dog’s owner), and have a parent actively supervising them, it can be appropriate. Also, the parents need to consider how many dogs/children they are responsible for and whether they are manageable (don’t bring more than you can realistically watch). The dog park we used to go to is large, and on the occasion that I did bring a kid or two along, I was very aware of the milieu, and as a regular visitor familiar with many of the dogs. If the crowd was rowdy, up onto the picnic table went the kids. They were not allowed to walk freely anywhere without me. Also because it was a large park we could easily hang out in a quieter area. We were considerate and certainly weren’t going to get upset if a bouncy adolescent dog jumped up to say hello. There was only twice where we ran across a dog who barked at the sight of kids and we just got out of dodge. One thing I saw at the dog park on occasion that I didn’t like – sledding. Once in awhile a parent would let the kids sled in the winter and I always felt that was a poor choice, seemed like asking too much of dogs who might have a strong drive to chase. That’s my two cents.

  8. I don’t think toddlers should be at a dog park. I also am not sure what the cut off age should be. My daughter was nine years old when we started going to the dog park, and she loved it. She met knew people and learned a lot about dogs. Of course, I told her the proper behavior at a dog park. I did not let her run around or harass any of the dogs there. Not all parents instruct their kids on the proper behavior at a dog park.

  9. When Haley was younger, she wasn’t used to small children and was a little nervous around them. On several visits to dog parks, people would bring young children into the park and let them wander among the dogs. The most frustrating thing is trying to manage an inappropriate interaction between someone’s child and your dog while the parents are twenty feet away and just watching you struggle with the situation without offering any assistance. Great article that I’ll be sharing with some parents and thanks so much for including the link to my post on dog parks! 🙂

  10. This is a very important topic and frankly not one I had thought about before. Parents should be exercising common sense when bringing children into such an environment, but of course, this doesn’t always happen. And the comment above about a toddler actually hurting a dog while at a dog park – that’s another thing I didn’t think about. I was only thinking about it the other way around. I don’t think children should be banned from dog parks, but I think perhaps posting a sign of some sort suggesting supervision is required for both kids and dogs might be a good idea. Great post. Thank you.

  11. Belle actually knocked a mother over who was pushing a stroller in one of our dog parks. I asked if she was ok and she yelled at me for not watching my dog! She was so busy talking and pushing her stroller that she didn’t hear or realize there were dogs playing behind her. This incident, plus another one at -1 have really turned me off to dog parks. I do use our newer fenced in dog park for firework anxiety prevention, but people do not like to clean up after themselves there. And D.O.G. gets a little amped up and humps. So yeah, we normally avoid our local dog parks.

  12. I don’t even think most dogs should be allowed at dog parks! When looking back on Kaya’s puppy days, I always joke that she made a kid cry every day for 3 months straight. I’m exaggerating but there were at least a dozen. She found kids very exciting & made a beeline for them, jump on them, sometimes knock them over & lick their face relentlessly. I know I made a million mistakes as a dog owner back then but I also think those kids should not have been at the dog park. Especially the very young or sensitive ones. I’ve seen so many toddlers running & squealing with a stick in their hand at the dog park, while a dog grabs their stick 7 knocks them into the pee soaked dirt.. 1 of a million reasons I don’t go to dog parks anymore.
    Because there is no way for a parent to watch their dog & their kid at the same time. I don’t think it would be a much better experience for kids & dogs if their mother would take them on a walk together or find a private place to play fetch if need be.
    But you’ve given me a great idea. Daycare centers next to dog parks!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh gosh, a toddler running with a stick in his hand. Now that sounds like trouble! You’ve listed so many great points.

    2. You are most gracious. I think small ones would enjoy a day care more. The ideal scenario would be that parents would support their children by teaching them do’ and dont’s and enforcing rules.

  13. Generally speaking, no, they dont belong there. Kids running triggers prey drive in many dogs who are child friendly. never mind those who are not. And having a small child at eye level with a strange dog is Never a good idea. With SO many people watching neither their kids or dogs it is an accident waiting to happen.

    Having said that, I Have taken my kids to the unofficial dog park occasionally . babies to age 4ish I had them in a carrier of some sort unable to interact w/other dogs. Around 4 I started letting her walk but the rule was she could walk/stand right next to me and thats it. I made it clear that it was the dog’s time not her playtime and if I had to take kids, I made sure to go during non peak hours and find an out of the way corner. Sometimes you have a high drive dog who NEEDS to run and no childcare option.

  14. Children do not belong in dog parks for the same reason dogs do not belong in children’s parks.
    Personally, I find big, quiet spaces for my dogs to run safely. Dog parks are generally pee and poop soaked (pick it up FFS!), flea and kennel cough infested places. Add to that the influx of “rescue ” pit bulls attacking and killing other dogs which I’ve witnessed too many times.

  15. When people bring children into our dog park (which is clearly posted “no children under 12), I take my dogs and leave. My dogs are fine, but you never know what a kids will do – especially kids with parents who are already demonstrating that it’s fine to ignore posted rules in public places. I don’t want my dogs hurt.

    One day a young woman brought a tiny new baby in a backpack, and insisted the baby was perfectly safe. (1) Dogs jump up to get a better look (or taste) of anything that interests them – some dogs will even snap playfully at the semi-hidden “toy”. (2) I have twice seen people struck from behind by playing dogs fly up into the air and land with their full weight on their backs – right where she was carrying that baby. She said she had read the rules and she was sure that what she was doing was perfectly fine. We left, of course.

    It’s unfair when dogs are driven out of the parks made specifically for them because humans are being irresponsible, but it’s better than being there when things go bad.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      How frustrating. I would never bring a baby in a backpack! Or push a stroller in a dog park. I’ve seen babies pushed in strollers as groups of big dogs come up head on to the baby. Nothing bad happened other than a few licks and sniffs but freaked me out big time! Horrible. Unfair to the dogs. Dangerous for the baby.

  16. My dog is very friendly and LOVES kids. He loves kids so much that when he is off leash he has to run up and kiss each one. He’s great on leash and the dog park is the only opportunity he has to be off leash. I know it can be terrifying for a little kid to have my large dog run up and lick him/her in the face. I usally leave the park if a kid comes in. I do wish parents would reconsider the idea of bringing their kid to the dog park.

    1. You are most gracious. I think small ones would enjoy a day care more. The ideal scenario would be that parents would support their children by teaching them do’ and dont’s and enforcing rules.

  17. In my city, our dog park seems lately to have small children even toddlers. Yesterday there was a man with a infant in a chest pack, a toddler and a child about 5. Now how could this man be able to maintain or be efficient at protecting his children if a dog or dogs go to chase his kids? My dog is one who will chase and nip at any small kids that scream and run. He is great with all the other dogs and loves to run and play. But when kids are present, I have to take my dog out of the park.
    I thought about what if this was to happen to the toddler yesterday. As the dogs are running they are not paying attention to anyone else other than the one dog they are chasing, this makes for a disaster scenario for the child who is also not paying attention or if they can not get out of the way as a pack of dogs running towards them. Scary!!!!
    Again the dogs are in a “DOG PARK” designed for them to play. I believe a minimum age limit should be on every park.

  18. I agree that the dog park is a place for dogs to socialize, and not really an appropriate venue for young children or those who don’t know how to behave around dogs. I also agree that dogs deserve/need their place to get out and run around and be dogs. That being said….I am a single parent with one son and two dogs. I love my dogs and take good care of them. I remember when my son was small feeling very bad that I was not able to take my dog to the park as I used to. On one occasion, I drove to the dog park, and soon realized before walking in that even the “small passive dog” area where I was planning to go was not a stellar idea for safety for my young child, so we went for a walk instead. As dog lovers, most people who frequent the dog park are rightfully appalled when dogs end up “rehomed” or at the pound because the family “had kids and didn’t have time for them”. Think of the motives behind those who take their children to the dog park. They probably care for their dogs and are unlikely to be the people dumping them off at the pound or neglecting them in a backyard just because they have human children now. They probably want to continue to give them some social outlets and may not have any physical way to do this without taking their kids. I am not saying it’s a good or safe idea, but no need to come at people with venom, and perhaps a little kindness and encouragement for someone who obviously loves their dog enough to pay attention would be nice. Btw, I am very proud of my son’s gentle and appropriate behavior with animals and it’s always been my hill to die on in terms of necessary behavior. Not all kids are screaming at dogs, pulling their tails, and trying to ride on them. When he gets just a touch older I would consider taking him to the dog park.

  19. It seems like I may be the minority here, but I take my 2-year old to the dog park. I didn’t plan on doing it, there is just a kid park right next to the dog park, and one day both my dog and my kid were interested. I feel self conscious, but I keep my daughter right by my side, and I tell the other dog owners that I know it is a dog park, not a kid park, and that if their dogs are not comfortable around dogs we will leave. And we do leave, if someone tells me there dog is uncomfortable around kids. I also don’t care if my toddler gets knocked over, and she doesn’t care either. If she gets knocked over and she cries, I pick her up and tell the other dog owners not to scold their dogs–it is a dog park, not a kid park, and I’m not upset. I want my toddler to learn how to be around dogs–we talk about how to approach strange dogs, how to ask the owner if it is okay for her to pet the dogs. And I’ve had dog owners thank me for bringing her because they want their dog to be used to small children, but don’t have small children around, or don’t know adults who are comfortable with small children being around their dog. I’m more than willing to listen to other dog owners about how their dog behaves. I make sure I’m attentive to both my child and other dogs. I’m not saying that the dog park is for everyone–but I do think that it can be done responsibly, and it can be good for both the kids and the dogs.

  20. I agree with you 100%. Children under a certain aaage should not be allowed to enter a dog park or beach. We have several dog parks and beaches were we live and there are signs that clearly state that NO children under the age of 16 are allowed in the dog park, BUT the parents bring them anyway. I have seen children under 5 YO running loose among the dogs – some big dogs like great danes. What are these parents thinking about. Do they think their child is amune to be run over or biten by over excited dogs. I have children of my own and would never let them roam around a dog park. Parents – wake up!!

    1. Question: If a child entering a dog park in defiance of rules is hurt by a dog, what would happen to the dog and the dog’s owner? Is it always the dog who pays the price for the parents’ irresponsibility?

      I posted an entry on July 10, 2015

  21. Also, I feel bad as I read through the comments and see that some dog owners just leave if a child enters a park. But if you would just talk to me (as the parent) and say “Hey, just wanted to let you know my dog isn’t comfortable around kids and may snap” then I would leave, rather than you needing to. I guess I don’t really understand why there can’t be dialogue instead of anger or judgment. Sure, not all parents would leave, and some may get offended. But not everyone is like that, and I personally would rather you tell me your dog isn’t comfortable around kids so we can talk about it instead of just angrily leaving. For example, last week I had a dog owner tell me her dog wasn’t comfortable around kids and would bark, but not bite, if he came close to my child. I asked her if she wanted us to leave–she said no, but that I should just be aware. The dog barked at my toddler a couple of times, I stood nearby, my toddler let the dog approach and we pet the dog together and everything was fine. Ignorance and selfishness are not the only reasons parents take kids into the park–instead of getting angry, why can’t we just talk about it?

    1. Some owners may not be aware of their dogs’ potential discomfort with children. Dogs can be, and indeed are unpredictable at times, especially when they find themselves in the company of other dogs.

      1. I get that, and I don’t get upset if dogs being dogs accidentally knock over my kid (she loves it anyway). I guess my point is that it seems like there is a lot of animosity on here about kids at dog parks, and I’m just wondering how many people who are upset or angry have talked to the parents of the kids instead of being upset or venting in a comments section. I get that it really sucks to have kids running around unsupervised at dog parks, especially if the parents aren’t paying attention. I’m always shocked at how many people aren’t paying attention to anything but their phones at dog parks–kids or no kids.

        1. There is a TON of animosity about dogs going anywhere near children in their parks. My dog has been on leash in parks she’s allowed in on leash and I’ve still been shouted at by parents and told to keep my dog far away. So…turn about is fair play I guess. I prefer to have NO kids in the dog park. Too much liability and it makes my dog uncomfortable.

          As for why I don’t ask them to leave? I hate confrontation. And 99% of the time you’re likely to run into someone who refuses to leave and will get angry. I’d rather just walk away than deal with some angry entitled parent telling me why little Joey can hang out in the dog park and scare my dog.

        2. The animosity is because – even if posted rules ban kids – if an excited dog hurts your kid, the dog might have to be put down. Bringing kids to a dog park is selfish.

  22. Okami Loves the dog park.
    I will say She is definitely different than a lot of the other dogs I see at the park, because ~95+% of the time she pays enough attention (situational awareness) to avoid running into anything she doesn’t intend to run into.
    she has run into people 1x in all the times I took her to the park and I think it was actually me. With that said I do notice a LOT of dogs seriously loose their situational awareness when they get excited. additionally I know Okami has the big issue that often she doesn’t know/understand “enough” and back off. I may give her too much credit/leeway because she does play rough, sometimes too rough with the other dogs. The good part is she has really strong protective tendencies.
    when playing with other dogs as they are wrestling (she likes to body check/slam other dogs with her hind end) she pauses every minute or 2 almost like she is asking “am I being too rough?” before resuming wrestling.
    She really likes “puppies” which is pretty much every dog smaller than her (60lb husky, or husky malamute mix) including “people puppies” and has only knocked over 1 kid and that was more of a “hi” face/face greeting where she bumped them with her nose and they stumbled and fell/sat down abruptly. at which point she immediately backed off to let them get back up, and was more careful in the future.

    with all that said… as a general rule I don’t think small kids should really be in the dog parks, because My understanding is that if anything happens the dog and owner are considered at fault, even though that’s not exactly how the rules read.
    local general park rules http://clarkdogpaw.org/dog-parks/dog-park-rules/

    now I don’t say that kids should “never” be in the dog park, but under the local rules, the dogs are supposed to be given the benefit of the doubt, because it is “their” park.

    I will say that well supervised children, especially older children can be given “good training” as to the proper etiquette around dogs, but I tend to agree that a lot of parents don’t seem to really think things through.

  23. What a terrific thought provoking post! I wish I had known to be a more observant Dog Mom earlier in life. Harley was hit in the head with a stick by a toddler in an off leash park. I felt obligated to worry about the child before Harley and then proceeded to spend the rest of Harley’s life being very vigilant every time kids around him were running around being kids because he would get tense. I was always able to be observant enough to ward off any further situations but ALWAYS wished I had prevented the initial incident.

  24. Tish Rickards

    This post surprised me. I respect all points of view, but I sort of think kids and dogs go together beautifully…usually. My daughter always took her kids to the dog park, with her dog. Of course they knew how to act around dogs…they grew up with dogs, as did my daughter. They know dog language and respect it. Could something happen? Sure. Just like playing in a regular playground has risks. You teach them and you watch them. If a dog shows anxiety or aggression, you become hyper aware. Maybe leave. Just as if there is an aggressive child in the park. We have often left because a new dog changed the tone of the park. We would have left regardless of kids or no kids. And, of course, toddlers cannot run free, or touch unknown dogs. Ever. We have had accidents happen between our kids and strange dogs (never at a dog park), but they have been stung by wasps, too, and we still love the outdoors. Just another pov.

  25. Children don’t belong in dog parks. You never know what a dog will do no matter how sweet they seem to be. Why people bring in babies and toddlers is beyond me! They would be the first ones to scream if the dogs acted like dogs and were running and knocked down their kids and they got hurt or were in the middle of a fight and got bit! Please think before you do something dumb like that!

  26. I don’t have access to a dog park in our town; I wish I did! But I can tell you that if and when I have the opportunity to take my senior dog to the park, I won’t be bringing my grandchildren along. With so many unknowns and multiple, off-leash dogs in the park, I don’t feel comfortable dividing my attention between a child and my dog. It takes just a second for one to get hurt. If I have to focus my attention on one, the other is left potentially unprotected from danger.

  27. I absolutely do not want children in the dog park. They have about 8 million parks where dogs are either banned or have to stay on short leashes 100% of the time. So why should THEY get to come to OUR park? I don’t take my dog to their playground and let him run around there. Personally, I think kids below a certain age 100% should be banned from dog parks.

    And I have a dog who is a PERFECT dog park dog. He is social with other dogs, loves to play, is able to adjust his play to other dogs, backs off if another one gives him a warning, has no resource guarding issues.

    But he’s terrified of children. He’s not aggressive with them but he wants to stay FAR away from them. Why shouldn’t he have that safe place to play? I wouldn’t take my dog to a children’s park where some kids might be terrified of him. So why should my dog have to put up with children in a dog park? Sorry…kids stay AWAY!

  28. Mary "Shewolf" Wolf

    I don’t believe in kids at the dog park until they are old enough, maybe 12-14 is okay. I have had younger children chase, hold and try to ride my greyhounds. The older ones, however, were very responsible, picked up after their own dogs, did not run or shout, and were very interested in the different breeds they met. I believe that at any age up to 18 they should be accompanied by a responsible adult.

  29. I guess it depends on the kids and the dogs. I don’t believe either should be allowed anywhere if they haven’t learned how to maintain appropriate behavior.

    1. Yes, that’s how I feel too. Some people think their dogs have the “right” to visit the dog park but it’s not for all dogs.

  30. My concern with bringing small children to a dog park is that they don’t understand not all dogs are used to small children and even other adults It really saddens my heart when I hear of a child who got to close to a dog and the dog snaps or bites the child Then what happens…the dog is usually put down. Let dogs have a place to be dogs.

  31. I stopped taking my dogs to the dog park because of the small children AND their parents. What parent in their right mind would sit on the ground WITH their children in a dog park as if they are having a picnic? I’m sorry, but I find this disgusting! There is probably very little if any area in a dog park that has not been peed or pooped on. And yes this was an actual observation. At our dog park the majority of people are too busy talking to each other to even watch what their dogs are doing. I have also watched parents drop off their “older children” – younger than teens with the dogs and then leave the children to watch the dogs.

  32. I don’t go to dog parks. I did once and did not like it. I don’t care if kids are in the park, as long as the parents supervise them, which most do not, just like other places you may go. parents do not supervise their kids today. they run around the stores, yell, etc. and cause a big problem. so if the kids are not being supervised then they should not be allowed. no way should anyone allow their kids in the dog parks without supervision. I think most dog parks have some ruling on age limits for humans anyway. not sure since i don’t go. I don’t trust other people to have their dogs properly vaccinated, and some may carry a disease, and some people do not pick up their dog’s poop.

  33. I think you’re absolutely right. My little man Archer is the friendliest, kindest, most loving dog I have ever had the privilege of raising…yet after years of training I know his limitations and one of those happens to be his exciteability. Archer is part cattle dog/pitbull (dad) and a min pin mix was his mom, needless to say he’s got energy for days and possibly a little natural anxiety from moms breed.

    Archer has never nipped or been aggressive towards other dogs – but has had them nip at him for being too excited. He often comes at them, people, or little kids in a way that can be a bit startling at first even if I know he means well. I think it’s because he’s so overwhelmed with excitement his barking, natural speed and build can come off as aggression – even if all he does is roll over once he gets near anyone/thing. He’s a big baby who just like to play a lot! Haha

    That said, I can’t tell you how many times archer has made a beeline for another pup – seeing the dog making split decisions Friend/foe? Honestly I trust a dogs response/decision making more than a 3-11 year old child. Other than a little bark or personal space check that’s the worst of it. A kid maybe holding a stick he was playing with? At no ones fault I could see it going differently. Or worse a dog with actual aggression approaching that kid.

    All hypothetical I know. Just saying!

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