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Are Dogs Allowed in Children's Playgrounds?

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Tue, 09/15/2020 - 2:33pm
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Are Dogs Allowed in Children’s Playgrounds?

If you are planning on taking your dog with you when you bring your family to the playground, take a look at this article before you pack everyone into the car. 

There is not an easy answer to the big question and the rules will vary based on your location, as leash laws typically exist municipally or locally, rather than at the state level.

This article will guide you through the in’s and out’s of bringing your dog to a playground and will help you determine how to have your dog accompany you safely. It is an essential read for parents of pets and humans alike! 

Generally:

Always look for signage around the playground that states the rules. Some playgrounds inside parks also have information available online. If you are planning an outing in advance, check to see if the playground rules are stated on the county, town, or park website. 

If there is nothing prohibiting dogs in the playground, it is still not safe to assume that you should bring your beloved four-legged friend.

Consider your dog’s temperament and how they act around children, loud noises, and new situations. If your dog tends to be timid or aggressive, it is likely that he will be uncomfortable in a playground environment and should stay home. If your dog has a loud bark, this is likely to be frightening to small children using the space.

Frequently asked questions: 

To leash or not to leash?

If the area is fenced in, you may be tempted to let your dog off-leash to run around. There are a few reasons why you should always keep your dog on a leash if you do bring them into a playground.

Playgrounds are public spaces, and not everyone who uses them is going to be comfortable around dogs. Kids might be scared of dogs, and parents wary of their children being bitten. Even if your dog is usually friendly and gentle, it is hard to guarantee how they will behave when surrounded by screaming and running kids. 

For the safety and respect of your fellow playground-goers, as well as your dog, it is best to save off-leash time for the backyard or dog park.

What about service/assistant dogs?

When there are rules against bringing dogs into playgrounds, there are almost always exceptions made for service and assistant dogs.

What if I forgot poop bags?

You should always pick up after your dog outside, out of consideration for others, and also for the safety and the general good of the ecosystem you are in. However, in a children’s playground, it becomes even more vital not to leave your dog’s droppings in the grass for someone else to come across.

Children not only fall, roll, and crawl on the ground outside, they also will sometimes put things in their mouths that they find on the ground.

It’s gross to think about a baby eating your dog’s leavings, but it’s also dangerous. Dogs may shed parasites including roundworms, E. coli, and hepatitis in their feces, which if consumed, may lead to an infection called toxocariasis.

If you are not able to immediately clean up after your dog while inside the playground, you should not bring them inside in the first place.

Can I leave my dog tied up outside?

If you’re planning on visiting a playground where you know your dog isn’t allowed, it is best to leave them at home. However, if you must leave your dog tied up outside the playground, use these tips to make sure they stay safe:

  1. Keep it quick—your dog won’t enjoy being left alone while the family plays away from them.
  2. Make sure you can always see your dog. Never let them out of your sight.
  3. Pick a shady spot if it’s a warm day, and give them access to water.
  4. Make sure your dog’s harness, collar, and leash are secure.

Summary

There is no hard and fast rule for bringing your dog into a playground. Your area may have banned dogs in playgrounds, or there may be a sign at the entrance that prohibits dogs, excluding service animals. In other areas, there may be no formal regulations. Be sure to adhere to local guidelines about domestic dogs in public. 

If it is allowed and you do choose to take your dog to the playground, always be courteous of others using the space. Keep your dog leashed, clean up after them, and pay attention to how they act. 

Not many dogs enjoy being pushed on a swing set, anyway, and would much prefer a trip to the dog park!

John Woods is a graduate in animal welfare and behavior, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and a recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.