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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.


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?

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