I think it’s great when a whole family piles out of the car with their dog (or, even better, walks the three blocks to the park), ready for a few hours of fun in the great outdoors. The amount of time children spend not-playing-and-running-around is something I find disturbing. Any family time spent in the great outdoors is a huge plus in my opinion.
However – the dog park is for dogs. On a gorgeous sunny spring day, it might just have 20+ medium-to-large sized dogs running around and wrestling and chasing a ball and sniffing things. They are excited. Super excited.
You then put a kid (short, high-pitched, very energetic person) into the equation. Given the choice, I would require people to be over the age of 10 if they’re going to be inside the fence. The ones who are well behaved and pleasant are far outnumbered by the ones causing a ruckus.
We’ve had some great weather, so everyone’s emerging from winter hibernation. Forgive the rant, but I’m about ready to explode, and I need to vent. Blame it on having been stuck without my dog-walking time for the past week, due to a nasty ankle-roll that still has me hobbling. We’re back to making trips, but my ankle still hurts too much for me to do much more than walk to the dog park and back. If I could go somewhere else, I would.
In the name of not making me angry, some rules – for parents, for people under the age of 15, for whoever finds themselves at a dog park:
ONE: Don’t run. Don’t run screaming, giggling in your high pitched voice, waving a toy (or something that could be seen as a toy) over your head, don’t run at all. Go outside the fence if you need to run so badly. Do you know what an excited dog does when they see running? They RUN. A dog running after a child could easily catch that child if they wanted to. They probably don’t… it’s just a game to them. Having a dog chase them at high speed makes kids yell in their high pitched voices, and run more, making all the dogs in the area worked up. So, when I yell across the dog park at your screaming kid to “STOP RUNNING”, don’t give me a dirty look. Watch, as your child obeys the order, and the three or four dogs that were chasing him (leaving a good 10 ft space) stop running, and wander off. Yes, I should have been able to grab Gwynn and make him stop following that kid (and yes, the other dog owners too), but I’m still lurching slowly around like Igor from a badly rolled ankle, so anything I do, I do slowly.
TWO: If you wave something excitedly over your head, dogs will try to get it. Especially if you’re squeaking it while trying to get your own dog’s attention.
THREE: Kids like sand. But this is sand in a dog park. It has only been open for about 6 months, but it is still Dog Park Sand. Please stop your kid from rolling in it. Please? Not only is it unhygienic, but a kid lying (or sitting) on the ground is in a position to get hurt if a pack of dogs come running through.
FOUR: If your child is scared of dogs, DO NOT bring them into a dog park to cure that fear. It won’t cure it.
FIVE: Don’t give your child the leash, don’t let your child leave the dog on leash in the park, and don’t let the child pick up the dog. If a small dog is a bit anxious of bigger dogs, you can bet he’ll be more anxious when the other end of the leash is held by a very excited little girl. If that little girl then picks up her fuzzy bundle (holding the anxious, squirming dog at large-dog-face-height), those dogs will think that dog is super neat. When you see your child hysterically screaming for help while holding Fluffy up and being surrounded by young large dogs trying to jump up to meet Fluffy, DON’T just stand 20 ft away, laughing. There are so many issues with this situation. Where are the big dog owners? Why aren’t you helping your child? Yes, your kid shouldn’t have picked up the dog, he was fine on the ground until she shortened his leash so he couldn’t go anywhere, but now it is your problem. Why did I end up holding your dog so that the little girl could escape the four dogs (thankfully NOT Gwynn) trying to investigate her small dog? EDUCATE your CHILD in dog safety.
SIX: Not just for children, and I actually think the worst offenders are the adults. Don’t give my dog a treat without my permission. I don’t understand why you think this is a reasonable thing. It IS NOT. What if that strange dog has allergies? Not to mention that you just rewarded him for shoving his nose in your pocket, jumping up and barking. And, lady who gave Gwynn two whole chicken-jerky-strips (probably the same brand as got him terribly sick in the fall) – seriously, I will BREAK YOU. You have no idea the wrath that is currently hobbling double-time towards you, and no, you don’t get to act all ‘wounded innocent’ because you ‘didn’t know’. Of course you didn’t know, you didn’t ask. Of course he likes it, he’s a dog, and it’s food.
All I ask is that people teach their children how to behave around dogs that are not their own. Do you have any rules you think should be initiated for people in general who are at the dog park?