Child Safety: On Dogs, Dog Parks and Small Children

by May 13, 2009 at 9:08 pm 3,746 4 Comments

This is already part of my posting about the Shaw Dog Park celebration on Saturday, but I feel so strongly about it that I am posting it separately.

Here is my plea to parents of small children who bring them to a dog park. I beg you: PLEASE do not allow your small child to be on the ground inside the dog park. I was at the Shaw Dog Park tonight and a small girl (perhaps a year old) was sometimes allowed to stand on the ground while about 15 dogs ran around. At one point, her parents took her out into the middle of the dog park–dogs were running around in all directions. I have to assume that parents who allow their extemely small children to mix with unknown dogs simply don’t know any better.

I am not a dog expert, but I grew up with dogs and many members of my family have had or currently have dogs. Moreover, I own a dog. She is a sweet dog and very playful. Lately, however, some small children in the neighborhood have been teasing her and it has made her suspicious of kids in the 4- to 6-year-old range.  So, here is what I know about dogs and small children from years of experience:

  1. Dogs can be spooked by extremely small children. Little kids make funny noises and they move in a jerky, uncertain manner. Sometimes this frightens dogs. Herding dogs, in particular, often have a desire to herd small children, to make them behave and be quiet.
  2. When you are at the dog park, you have NO IDEA about the behavioral patterns of the other dogs there. Furthermore, the other dogs are not used to your small child. Just because your small child gets along well with your dog, you should NEVER assume that other dogs will.
  3. Your small child could be hurt simply by being knocked to the ground by a friendly dog.
  4. Even a small dog can hurt your child.
  5. Yes, yes, I know. You stand by your small child in the dog park. Well, have you noticed how fast some of the dogs are? Do you really think you could grab your child before one of the [larger] dog lunges at him or her?
  6. Yes, it is very important to socialize your dog and child together. As I said, I grew up with dogs. I love them. But YOUR dog is not the same as 15 strange dogs at the dog park.
  7. Dogs are animals. Period. They also have strong jaws and teeth that are designed to rip apart flesh. Get it?
  8. These rules also apply on the street or in public when you and your child see a dog. NEVER assume that it is okay for your child to “pet the pretty doggy.”


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