Why should I not bring my baby or toddler to the dog park?

There’s a lot of debate as to whether or not toddlers should be allowed in dog parks. While some say the dog park is a place for socialization so it’s only natural to bring them. Others insist it’s not fair to either the child or the dogs.

One thing is absolutely certain: Always remember that this is a dog park and not a community park. It’s a place where the dogs can run off-leash and socialize. Dog parks are places where the dogs unwind, not the kids.

Bringing toddlers to the dog park can pose dangers for both child AND pet:

• A dog with a high prey drive can see running toddlers as something to catch.
• Running kids make dogs nervous—and a lot of nervous energy can be a recipe for disaster.
• Kids don’t know the proper “dog etiquette.” True, your family dog may love the child and tolerate tail and ear pulling and jumping—but other dogs won’t. The dogs can even be frightened by kids’ staring or approaching them too quickly.
• Kids often have candy and ice creams cones. Of course the dogs will swarm around the kid to get a bite or a lick! That makes parent nervous. On the other hand, the dog may eat something harmful or even toxic—and that makes the dog owner nervous.
• Even the calmest dogs can get into a skirmish. Your child can get caught up in a group of running and playing dogs.
• There are health issues for both dogs and kids. A puppy may not be fully vaccinated yet and, hence, be vulnerable to illnesses carried by kids. On the other hand, not every owner picks up after the dog, so that poses a health issue for your child.
• Dogs fight. Do you really want your toddler next to two or three dogs who are going at each other?

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