Here's what I think: kids don't belong in the dog park. Just like dogs don't belong in the playground.
There are two off-leash parks I tend to visit in Vancouver. One is Coopers Park near Yaletown and the other is Charleston Park near Granville Island. Both parks are very near playgrounds and grassy knolls where dogs are not allowed off leash. Heck, dogs aren't allowed in the playgrounds full stop.
I respect that. Kids running around free should not have to worry about being afraid of dogs chasing them or nipping them. Parents can sit happily watching their kids knowing there is nothing to hurt their child. Except for the asshole kid who throws rocks.
Same goes for my dog park.
Albeit, I am very sensitive about kids and Mr. Mop. Mop is highly unpredictable around children. Mostly he ignores kids. But if a kid comes chasing after him, squealing, he gets upset and will nip/snap at them. Therefore, I make sure he is kept away from children. When we go to the dog park, I love watching him race around with Brookie and feel happy not having to worry about him.
I shouldn't say kids are never allowed in the dog park. Sure, they can come with the dogs they bring. And you know what? The kids of the dog-owning parents either stay in the stroller or are told strictly not to chase or bother any of the dogs and if they want to pet a dog they must ask permission. These types of parents are dog owners and thus respect dog behaviour.
Now here is were I get pissed off. On several occasions, I have been at my dog park, around 4/5pm when it's nice outside therefore there are tons of dogs running around like mad, and seen parents, without dogs, allowing their very small child (around 2 years old) to toddle among the dogs.
They think it's cute to see their child chase the doggies. Did they notice about 5 dogs left the park? Or that other dog owners are shooting them dirty looks? Why would it be okay when I am picking up Brooklyn's poop and not looking, bring their toddler over to Mr. Mop without consulting me to let him 'pat' him?
No No No No!
Just like the playground without dogs, I don't want to be worried about my dogs, or their actions, when it comes to kids.
Here are more scenarios to ponder: what if a child gets in the middle of three dogs wrestling? Or worse, fighting? They get bitten and suddenly all dogs are put to sleep? Or what if a toddler gets run over by the hyper-lab puppy and begins to cry? Not only will he now be afraid of dogs, but it hurts to get trampled. What if the paw cut up his face by accident? What if a child reaches for a dog's toy, with the intention to throw it, but the dog doesn't know and snaps at the child because it seems to have stolen the toy?
These are all innocent things that not only can hurt child, but affect dogs and their owners. I would feel awful if Mop ran a kid over. And Mop has been that dog with the toy. Luckily that parent was understanding.
All I am saying is that kids have their own parks. In a city where playgrounds/green space outnumbers the dog parks, I don't know why we can't just be happily separate. You don't see parents with kids and dogs letting their dogs run around the playground when their kid is playing, so why should we see dog parks with kids running all over them?
And you know what? Not everyone thinks a kid with a dog is as adorable as the parents might think. I don't expect everyone to love my dogs. I think they are super cute, but not everyone agrees with me. When I have kids, I know I will think they are awesome and say adorable things. But I don't expect the general public to feel the same way. So your toddler petting my dog is not as cute to me as it is to you.
On a similar note: toys should also be examined at dog parks. My dogs don't really care about balls or toys at the park. But I have a friend who has a dog that LOVES chasing and getting the ball. Does he know that the ball belongs to the standard poodle? Nope. Dogs don't understand ownership and sharing.
Most owners could care less if another dog takes their dog's toy. But there are that odd few that take great offence when Mercury or any other ball-loving dog gets the ball. Ummmm? They don't know. If you bring a ball to the park it's fair game. You'll get your ball back. If the ball is that precious to you, maybe you shouldn't throw it at the dog park. Also, some dogs are very possessive over their toys. If you know this is the case, then when the dog park is busy perhaps let your dog play without their toy. He'll play nicely and not start any fighting over the ball that another dog will want to play with as well.
God, I think only in Vancouver does the simplicity of a dog park get political. And yet I can't get people to email the Mayor to get him to build a new art gallery.
Woof woof - let's all exist in our own places and no one gets hurt!