Park Ettiquette-lesson number one

As a first time parent and someone who considers herself ‘aware’, I often have moral, ethical and parental debates after returning from a play group or interaction with other kids and their parents.  Today the incident was at the kids park in our ‘hood.  It is semi gated, and we left the stroller and the dog (we stopped by the dog park first) on the outside of the park.  There were a few other people at the park–2 Mom’s with their daughters on the swings and a Dad with his son and their unleashed dog in the sand area.  Can you see where this is going?  

Elliott loves animals–and hasn’t learned yet that some (most?) animals aren’t fond of small children.  Particularly the kind of kids (like Elliott) that pull their ears, tail and fur. Along with the ear piercing screeches of joy.  Luckily I intercepted him before he so lovingly attacked this dog.  I was verbally coaching him about how you have to ask the owner if the dog is friendly and if you can pet them first, all of the things you read about in the parenting books.  
The Dad and dog owner was intuitive and saw where I was headed and told me No, in fact the dog wasn’t friendly and was a bit temperamental.  He went on to say that the dog often growled at kids and was very protective over his son.  All the while the small dog was offering E a guttural growl and a nervous demeanor.  I carefully extracted my kid from the dogs periphery and said calmly to the owner–perhaps then, it would be a good idea to put your dog on a leash, particularly while you are in a kids park.  
I felt bad about it after I said it–typically I am not confrontational.  If you are a reader of this blog you will know I am opinionated.  But, usually I voice my thoughts and feelings here–and not to peoples faces.  The dog owner didn’t say anything to me in response.  We both just separated.  But, I noticed that he did in fact leash his dog shortly thereafter.  
What I wonder is why he felt it was ok to bring a temperamental dog to a kids park and allow it off leash?  Was I wrong to say something to him?  Did I over step my bounds?  Am I being to snooty?  Would I have said the same thing to another Mom?

3 thoughts on “Park Ettiquette-lesson number one

  1. Me, too – I think Dad leashing his dog proves you said the right thing, in the right tone of voice. He was probably not thinking at all about being in a kids’ park per se and, unless you said it in a pissy tone, was probably quite glad for the hint, preventing gosh-knows-what :-OThink of yourself less critically!! From what I can tell, you’re are a super-excellent mom – all should be more like you! Hugs and Happy New Year!

  2. I admire how you handled this. I’m guessing he just wasn’t thinking. He probably trusted his dog not to chase after a child, but maybe it didn’t occur to him that a child might (affectionately) approach his dog. If the dog isn’t on a lease, he can’t signal the dog to back down (gently tugging on the lease) or, in the worst case, physically pulling the dog away. I agree with anon – the fact that he leashed his dog shows that he realized he was in the wrong. You can also check if your community has a lease law.

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