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As a parent and a dog owner, I often take my kids and dogs out for walks together. Along the way whenever my kids see a playground, they inevitably want to go and play. It seems a shame for them to miss out on an opportunity for some fun and physical exercise. Sometimes there is no signage denying access to dogs, so particularly when there is no one else around, it’s tempting to bring the dogs inside. I decided to do a little research on the topic and here’s what I found.
Are dogs allowed in children’s playgrounds? Unless otherwise stated, generally speaking, dogs should not go inside children’s play areas. However, enforcement varies from one playground to another and an exception is usually made for service/assistance dogs.
Some dog owners may overlook or ignore the rules, thinking that their dog is perfectly friendly and would never harm a child. While in some cases this may be true, these rules are not only in place to prevent children from being directly injured by dogs…
Reasons Dogs Should Be Kept Out Of Children’s Playgrounds.
- Risk of Toxocariasis– Quite often, animals that carry this parasite may show no signs of infection. However, infected animals can shed eggs of Toxocara in their feces. Even if you pick up your dog waste, the ground can be left contaminated. Some children have a tendency to eat soil and sand or they may just put their fingers in their mouths after putting their hands on the ground, enabling them to contract the parasite. Toxocara larvae can in some cases migrate to other body organs and even the eyes. This can lead to a variety of more serious symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain or even permanent vision loss. Dogs may also carry E. coli or hepatitis in their feces.
- Biting -As children are most at risk from dog bites, a lot of parents will have great reservations if they see a dog in the playground, even if it’s on a leash. Kids who do not have a dog at home will not always know how to behave around dogs. While your dog may be perfectly friendly under usual circumstances, they may feel threatened when surrounded by screaming children or if they’re approached by a curious and overzealous child. When looking after your kids at the park, there will be moments where your full attention is not on the dog and it can only take a moment for your dog to get spooked or react badly to a child pulling at its hair or fur. No matter how friendly or well trained your dog may be, it’s difficult to guaranty normal behavior under stressful circumstances.
- Allergies, Fears, and Phobias – There are a number of reasons why some kids and adults may not feel comfortable around dogs. Some people may have severe pet allergies. Others may have fears or phobias of dogs. It’s important that kids have a place where they can feel safe to play, without being cautious of an unknown animal. Most of the time people will not feel comfortable asking a stranger to remove their dogs from the area and may just move on without saying anything. In some cases, they may even go straight to the local authorities.
Can I Leave My Dog Tied Up Outside A Children’s Playground?
So if it’s not ok to bring your dog into the children’s play area, is it ok to leave them tied up outside? While not ideal, it is an option. So long as they’re kept a reasonable distance away from the entrance, to allow children to comfortably enter and exit the playground. There are a few other considerations you should take into account.
- Can you still see your dog? According to the American Kennel Club, dognapping is on the rise! Leaving your dog unattended and out of sight could be asking for trouble. You need to be able to check on your dog easily, without detriment to your children’s safety.
- Is your dog microchipped? All dogs should be microchipped and this is particularly poignant for dogs who may be left tethered to a fence. On top of the risk of your dog being stolen, there is always a chance that the dog could escape and run away. Microchipping is the best way of identifying your dog should it escape its collar. This brings us to the next point…
- Are your dog’s collar and leash secure? To reduce the risk of your dog escaping, always ensure that the leash is properly secured and check that your dog’s collar is fitted properly. A good rule of thumb is the two-finger check. With the collar fastened around your dog’s neck, you should easily be able to slide two fingers between your dog’s neck and the collar. If you turn your fingers sideways so that the greatest width is between your dog’s neck and the collar, it should feel snug but not so tight that it’s cutting off your circulation!
- Is it hot outside? Needless to say, if it’s a hot day, ensure that the dog is not left in direct sunlight and that they have access to water.
- Make it quick. Every minute your dog is left alone is another minute something bad could happen. Minimize risk by returning to your pet as soon as possible. Better still, avoid the situation entirely where possible.
There are plenty of parks that do allow dogs and kids. All be it without climbing frames and swings. So while the temptation is high, I do my best to keep my dogs out of children’s playgrounds for the sake of other kids and playground users.
At the end of the day, parents should be able to bring their children to a kids playground, where the only risk to their children’s safety is falling off the climbing frame. Parents should not have to worry about allergies, infections, biting and even a risk of permanent loss of vision.
Are dogs allowed on the beach? In coastal cities and metropolitan areas, few beaches will allow dogs, although some may at off-peak times or along certain stretches. You’re more likely to find dog-friendly beaches in rural settings or at lakes. Always check with the local authority, especially before making a long journey.
Are dogs allowed at national parks and forests? Generally, pets kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet are permitted in campgrounds, picnic areas, parking lots, roadsides, and woodland trails. Pets are not permitted on Rocky Mountain trails, tundra, meadows or designated swimming beaches. Always check the specific park regulations before visiting.