Friday, March 27, 2009

Child Safety at the Dog Park

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko
Tanner and Toni
Demonstrate Small Child Safety
for Dog Park Visits
It may seem common sense to some, but apparently not to all. Small children can be at risk in off-leash dog parks. This is not necessarily because of aggressive dogs; however, it could be.

Dogs are much like children when they play at the park. They often run, while looking behind to see who is about to catch up to them. Bam! They run into someone. That someone could be a small child, and this accident could be devastating.

So what is my point? While I believe that dog parks are not really good places for small children--particularly the large dog areas--I see it often. Despite the posted rules of the park including "No small children" and "No strollers or wheelchairs", many families bring in their babies, toddlers and young children.

When I see them enter, I occasionally approach the parents and warn them of my gregarious Golden Retriever, Tanner, who loves nothing more than to give everyone a welcoming kiss as they arrive at the park. I know his hellos are not exactly proper etiquette, but he is the quintessential Golden Retriever; that is to say he loves people and is very demonstrative in this love. So far Tanner has not knocked any children over, but my friend, Michele, was run into by Tanner and a group of energetic dogs who were playing tag. She hit the ground hard, so imagine what would have happened if it she were a 40 pound youngster. Ouch!

So, what can you do to protect your little one, if you do choose to take him to the park? Two things come to mind for starters:

  • Go with another adult, so there is someone to handle the dog, and someone to handle the child. In case of a problem, you cannot handle both safely.
  • For her safety, hold your youngster in your arms and instruct her to remain quiet and calm while inside the park. This is her time to watch and learn.
Tanner and Toni are demonstrating this in the photo above. Kind of silly, I know, but Tanner loves to be held like this. Sixty pounds of Golden Retriever is not an easy load, but Toni is strong and she loves to spoil him.

Children can be trusting too. Dog parks are simply not safe places for small children. If you have a choice, leave children at home or take a neighborhood walk instead; their safety should be paramount.

Want to learn more? I'll have a few more dog park topics coming along soon. Meanwhile, check out a book at the library, or perhaps one like this at Amazon:


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