Kids at the dog park: Dear Labby weighs in

Dear Labby,

I read last week’s column on dog park etiquette and felt compelled to speak for those on the other side of the issue. Why do people bring toddlers, who aren’t exactly stable on their feet, to the dog park? I know they want their children to get used to dogs, but as a dog owner, it makes me nervous.

What happens if my St. Bernard playfully and inadvertently knocks down their kid? I don’t see it as my fault, but of course I’d feel bad. And kids go pet the dogs because they’re fuzzy and cute, but there are risks there too. I want to say to parents, “Hello! The sign says dog park, not playground for kids!”


Please Act Responsibly by Keeping Children Out of Park

Dear Please Act Responsibly by Keeping Children Out of Park:

You raise an excellent point. While, there’s no law against setting your tots loose at the local dog run, it’s just not that smart. (You could also leave a diamond ring on the dashboard of your unlocked BMW, but you’re no fool, right?) It’s less a matter of etiquette than it is common sense.

Want your kids to grow up to be comfortable around animals? I love it. Foster or adopt a senior dog who moves a little slower and has a history of getting along well with children. There are plenty of other ways to cultivate your child’s penchant for pups, too.

In the meantime, P.A.R.K.C.O.P., since neither the law nor etiquette allows you to personally eject anyone from the dog run, your best bet is to warn parents: “Just to let you know, Bruiser is a big sweetie, but he’ll steamroll an oak tree to get to a tennis ball. You may want to keep an eye on your little one.”