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Morning Poll: Banning Kids from Dog Parks

by ARLnow.com May 24, 2011 at 9:19 am 13,182 1,007 Comments

Arlington officials have been quietly listening to public feedback generated by a proposal to ban children under the age of 8 from the county’s dog parks.

At first, officials say, most people who contacted them were against banning kids. Now, with every major media outlet in town running their own version of the story, opinions are about 50/50.

Officials say the ban is far from a done deal. First, it must be cleared by county attorneys — although that seems likely, given that other Virginia localities, like Fairfax County, already ban young children. After it gets the legal go-ahead, Arlington Parks Department spokeswoman Susan Kalish says the matter will only be decided after some sort of community input process.

Kalish says that as of right now, there have been no reported incidents of kids getting hurt in dog parks. Should that change, however, the county is ready to act.

“The key is safety,” she said. “If it becomes an issue we will act immediately.”

The idea of banning young kids — and requiring parental supervision for children between the ages of 8 and 14 — was first suggested in February by the citizen groups that run the Shirlington and Ft. Barnard dog parks, though any action by the county would likely apply to all Arlington dog parks.

What do you think?

  • Heather

    While there may not be “reports” of children getting injured, I have seen this happen a lot & most parents just brush it off. Face it, lots of us have BIG dogs & take them to the park to run. Big dogs running & little children do not mix. BTW, I have a child & would not take him to a dog park until he was big enough to tackle a dog.

    • ArlRat

      I have an issue with this in the fact that I have seen several women with large dogs who allow their dogs to be bullies to anything smaller than they are. Ex: I took my dog-a Glen of Imaal terrier, which is small. And a woman with a German Sheppard mutt just sits and watches as her dog is attacking mine. My dog defends and the woman says to me “oh, it’s ok if your dog bites mine, I won’t mind”

      1. That’s irresponsible for you to say
      2. Your dog will kill mine

      She then comments on how she and the other dogs stopped going to the park on Walter Reed b/c people complained their dogs were “aggressive”.

      Bad owners are everywhere kids or no kids allowed, and unless there’s a cop as Lee states it’s up to people’s judgment.

      • John Fontain

        You are exactly right. To the extent there are issues, the problem is the aggressive dog or its non-caring owner. The innocent parties shouldn’t be punished in these situations.

        • ArlRat

          There are issues but these women just don’t get it. And when I see them there we usually leave.

    • YTK

      Tackle a dog??? — as in a flying football tackle??LOL

  • Lee

    It should be common sense to keep your dogs and your kids under control. However, for those without that common sense, they will take banned kids and/or dogs wherever they please, so how is penalizing the rest of the community serving the greater good? And I assume we will be the ones paying for this via tax dollars. Who is going to be the watchdog (no pun intended) on the dog parks? Will we assign an officer at the gate to allow dogs but not kids?

    Let’s not over-regulate this one. Let’s go on the premise that the majority of people with children and dogs know the dangers of both, and those who don’t will be a problem no matter how many signs you put up.

    • Kevin

      Well said

    • ArlForester

      This rule protects dog owners from stupid parents. This way, if mommy lets her little angel do whatever the heck he wants, to include pulling ears and tails, when the dog responds as a dog will, they can’t sue the dog owner.

      • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer

        Or possibly protect children from stupid dog owners.

        • ArlRat

          Good parents/owners will watch their kids/dogs.

          • Plantlife

            How can you possibly keep an eye on your small children and dog at the same time? Talk about multitasking!

      • Clarendude

        It’s true that not allowing mixing protects people. Just like the idea of taking pedestrians off the street and putting them in gerbil-tube sky-walks protected them from cars. It all makes for a lesser community, IMO.

        I think the leash laws were a big improvement for society but this seems to be going too far. Unattended children should be restricted, but if they are with their parents? When I was a kid, hardly anyone even fenced their dog in and kids from 5 on up were roaming around. Children were taught about avoiding dogs you didn’t know, and every dog book had a chapter on teaching your dog not to chase cars. I’m not at all saying we could or should go back to that, but I just find that it must have some impact on society going forward that people continue to have independence and responsibility “on-the-job” training opportunities taken away.

        • Eponymous Coward

          Gerbil tube skywalks sound pretty cool. Like Popular Science cover art from the 1950s.

          • Sandman

            Lots of Scifi ideas sound cool. Like sending every one over 30 to Carousel to be renewed so nobody ever has to be old !

          • Dog and Kid mom

            Soilent green….it’s people!!

        • Josh S

          Just in nit picking mode –

          the sky walks are generally intended to protect pedestrians from the elements, I believe. And/or provide convenient access from where you are to where you are going.

          • charlie

            skywalks were also intended to keep pedestrians off the streets and allow for fast efficient transport my motor vehicle unencumbered by the nuisances of the world….

          • Clarendude

            Free-flowing traffic and “protection” of people from the elements were, of course all reasons to justify the grade- seperation. However, if you look at the history of the introduction of the automobile into the city in large numbers, you will find that the alarming carnage that ensued caused planners to seek ways to make the system “safe”. Initially, part of the response was speed limits. Limits of 5 MPH were not uncommon in the city. Of course, going 5 MPH in a car is not very satisfying so that didn’t last long and other methods were explored.

            Anyway, I didn’t mean to derail or be off topic so the main point I was trying to make is that seperating the elements of a community is not generally good (again in my opinion), and therefore should be done sparingly, if at all. Also, it seems to me that actions often done in the name of safety can be detrimental in some ways.

        • YTK

          “I’m not at all saying we could or should go back to that”
          Why not??? Nothing wrong with doing that–

      • NauckNeighbor

        I agree with ArlForester. It is not that I mind small children in the dog park, it’s just that it is a fast paced environment and people do get knocked down. (What’s the point of reporting it?) I just want to make sure that the few “bad” parents that attend the park don’t have the option to sue if their child is injured because of their neglect.

    • J

      I agree with Lee, if there haven’t been any reported problems, why over-regulate? Just have a sign at the entrance warning parents about the “rough environment” inside the dog park and recommend that small children not enter. Banning them is overkill.

      What happens when a mom brings a baby inside in a sling/bjorn/whatever? Is she going to be asked to leave?

      • John Fontain

        I agree with you J. It appears we have a situation in which we are about to regulate a problem that doesn’t exist. The County board and staff should be allowed to spend their time on real, substantial issues, rather theoretical issues like this one.

        • LT

          John, this was proposed by the folks who sponsor and maintain the park in a good faith attempt to keep the park viable. They’d rather not wait until a child is really hurt AND the county sued for a million dollars (tax dollars). Prevention is a good use of time.

          • John Fontain

            What would be the legal basis for liability and why would that basis not extend to non-children persons who would continue to enter the park after the proposed ban?

          • LT

            They seek to minimize risk, not eliminate (That’s impossible!). And in today’s litigious society, who needs an actual legal basis to waste our taxpayer money in the courts. Look at what is going on over the doggydaycare sign painted on the wall in the park.

          • John Fontain

            You didn’t answer either part of my question.

          • Thes

            @ JFontain LT did answer your second question: the same legal basis might apply (Arlington park stewards know dogs can bite people but keep the parks open anyway — that’s the answer to your first question) but adults are at lower risk than children. Less likely to be injured, and the injuries are likely to be less serious.

          • John Fontain

            Sorry Thes, but neither you nor LT has answered either question. The liability issue is obviously related to the County’s liability. I still haven’t heard the legal basis for a liability nor why that same theory of liability would not apply to persons over a certain age.

      • Burger

        That is the sign at Banneker Dog park. It says this is a dog park and not a kids park and parents should watch their kids.

    • YoBimbo

      You don’t need a watchdog. The bottom line is that if a child gets mauled by a dog in a dog park, the PARENTS would be held accountable for endangering their child, as they should be.

      • Adam

        Actually the bottom line is that if a dog mauls a child anywhere it is the dog’s fault. A dog mauling a child or adult is a vicious act regardless of whether it takes place inside or outside a dog park. If you think its ok for a dog to maul someone inside a dog park I hope to be there when you get mauled. I’ll be the first to speak on behalf of the dog and dog’s owner.

        Maybe they should just post a big sign by all the dog parks:
        Beware of Dogs….Enter at Your Own Risk!!!!

        • YoBimbo

          You hope to be there if I get mauled? You’re a gem.

        • YoBimbo

          Oh, and? I never said I thought it was okay for a dog to maul a child. I’m saying it’s an environment where dogs run free and are hyperactive, and a parent who places a child in that environment is endangering that child. Work on your reading comprehension.

      • ArlForester

        A mauling would result in a dog destroyed. We are talking about bites, not attacks. If a dog fully attacks, it shouldn’t be in public.

      • suzanne Bolton

        Unfortunately that is not the case. What has not been discussed in this forum is the Dangerous Dog Law that was passed by the state legislature as knee jerk response to a dog and woman being killed in Stafford County despite repeated calls to the county over a period of months about the pack.

        Under that law, a dog that bites a person can be labeled a dangerous dog. There are provisions in the law that should protect the dog and owner if the bite was provoked or in the course of rough play, but to date those provisions have been ignored and interpreted by a judge as “dog bites a person, it is a dangerous dog.”

        Along with that title comes restrictions on the dog if the owner chooses to keep it. The dog must be muzzled when off the owner’s property, must be allowed out only in a fenced yard with a separate pen inaccessible from outside the yard. The owner must post his property with dangerous dogs signs and obtain $100K in personal liability insurance. The dog cannot be removed from VA and if you do not choose to keep the dog, it is put down.

        For that reason, dog companions have every reason to be concerned about children in the dog parks. Too often parents get distracted and do not watch their children. Many of our dogs do not mean to hurt anyone,
        But their play s often rough. Children running or yelling evokes the wrong response from many dogs and many dogs can be child averse when approached by a child who wants to pet, ride, hug, or pull on it.

    • I totally agree with Lee. I have two large dogs and we are at the dog park every day. I’ve seen the good/bad parents and the good/bad dog owners. I’m fortunate in that the park we attend has owners that are very attentive regarding their dogs and their behavior. If they misbehave or get too excited it is an automatic ‘time out’ and if that doesn’t work then the owner leaves with the dog(s). We also have several children (responsible, dog savvy kids) who bring their dogs to the park daily and they are a joy. I would hate to lose them because of this proposal. I think it would make more sense to put a sign up stating that you are entering at your own risk.

      I would like to see Arlington step up to the plate on another matter. The rules clearly state that dog’s in heat are not allowed. Why don’t we take this a step further and state that unaltered males over 6 mos are not allowed. There will always be squabbles at the dog parks but some of the most vicious fights have been with dogs that have not been neutered. Not only would this help with keeping the dog parks safer for all but it would also back up the shelter and rescues and their rules for not adopting out an animal unless this procedure is done. We euthanize over 6 million unwanted animals a year merely because people don’t do this for whatever their reasons are. I would love to see Arlington County be the first again in doing something constructive instead of wasting time/energy/resources on an issue that really has no merit.

  • LyonSteve

    Is this even a legal proposal?

    • SD

      Yes, and Fairfax already does this. Kids under 12 are not allowed in off leash dog parks. Alexandria requires kids under 16 to be supervised.

      • MRaddison

        incorrect – Fairfax County dog park rules are that no children under the age of 8 are allowed in the park, and kids under 16 must be with a parent. Dog handlers must be at least 16 years old to use a Fairfax off-leash dog park

  • ArlForester

    This goes hand in hand with the dog ban at children’s parks and sports fields. It is a good idea.

    • ArlRat

      Dogs are banned from children’s parks b/c bad owners don’t pick up after them.

    • John Fontain

      Dogs are not banned from other parks. They are simply required to be on leash and under control at all times.

      • ArlRat

        Yes they are, if the parks are on school grounds there are signs which say “NO DOGS ALLOWED”.

        Parks which are for multi-use, hence not just for children, ie TJ, allows them on a leash.

        • John Fontain

          Thanks for correcting yourself and acknowledging that dogs are only restricted from school grounds, not all childrens’ parks in the county.

          • ArlForester

            “Please note that pets are not allowed on designated athletic fields at any time”


          • Joe

            None of this is true. You can run your dog off-leash in any Arlington County park or athletic field. Just as nature intended, and as it should be. Animal welfare officers have real animal situations to deal with; they don’t have time to fuss with people who are likely to be already supporting AWLA financially.

          • Dog and Kid mom

            You would be surprised – we used to run the dog in Bluemont Park on an unused soccer field (I think this was in ancient times – before dog parks – or before we knew there were dog parks), adn Animal Welfare was on patrol We got a few warnings and decided it wasn’t worth it to rish a substantial ticket.

          • Joe

            “We got a few warnings and decided it wasn’t worth it to risk a substantial ticket”.

            Exactly. You got 3 or more warnings without a ticket. That’s because the AWLA officers couldn’t risk giving a ticket–for fear of ticketing a heavy donor. That’s why it’s really good that the Animal Welfare function is contracted out from the County to AWLA. That way, we dog-lovers are able to emasculate the leash law through the threat of withholding our donations to AWLA.

          • Dog and Kid mom

            LOL – heavy donor – to AWLA? The dog —– that interrogated me and left me in tears in a corner just because I wanted to bring a puppy, horror of horrors, into a home with three dog-loving kids and an older dog? I will NEVER give money to the AWLA.

          • dynaroo

            Seriously, Joe, the conspiracy theories are getting old.

          • suzanne Bolton

            It is illegal to allow a dog off-leash in any park except Community Canine Areas (CCAs). Tot parks and playing fields have signage restricting dogs.
            The only place a dog may play off lead in Arlington is in one of our eight CCAs. Animal control will warn you, then ticket you, and on a third event
            bar you from all Arlington Parks if you are caught with a dog off lead on public property anywhere in Arlington except the CCAs.

          • Thomas


            Then someone needs to keep a closer eye on Fields park. People let dogs off leashes all the time there.

          • Dog and Kid mom

            Ha Ha ARL Now. You edited my comment because of word I used and now it looks like a dog interrogated me. Let me re-phrase in a politically correct way:

            “The over enthusiastic (and militant) dog-loving volunteer interrogating me……”

          • Sam

            Yes, the horrific militant volunteer looking out for the best interests of the puppy. What an awful, awful person and organization.

            Too bad you don’t realize that many families like yours return puppies or dump them off to other families because it’s “too much work” having a puppy and multiple children.

            Your family may be different, but history and facts support the need for diligent placement screening before placing dogs/puppies in certain households. There is a reason that many 7mo – 18mo old dogs end up in shelters or rescue groups.

  • PhilL

    It’s sad that if a family wants to take their dog to the dog park to play they will have to leave their children in the car.

    • ArlForester

      As long as they crack the window……

      • YoBimbo


        • Burger


  • SD

    Nice photo!

  • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer

    The yuppies with their spoiled dogs are taking over our land. first they poop and pee in my yard, your yard and everyone else’s yard. Now they are also going after the County parks.
    I hope that they will also ban dogs from public parks and banish the dogs to the dog-only parks. i’m tired of walking the bike trails and having to give dogs extra room.

    • Clarifier

      I think you are confused. Your last sentence of your first paragraph is mistaken.
      And I think regular people own dogs too. Yuppies usually do not.
      And what part of “Our Land” are the dogs taking over? The redwood forest or the gulf stream waters?

      • dynaroo

        Yuppies own dogs from breeds you’ve never heard of, and hire someone to walk them.

    • Cas

      Define “yuppie?” And what’s wrong with being one if you are? Are you saying Arlington is only for Palin’s “real” America?

      You’re comment shows your ignorance.

      • Cas


    • dynaroo

      I’m tired of riding my bike on the bike trails and having to give walkers extra room, ACT. I think we should ban you.

  • YoBimbo

    Nice framing of the choices, btw. It reminds me of the polls on onenewsnow.com. Tossing in the “taxpayer” issue on the “No” answer shows your bias. We all pay taxes for myriad public goods, some of which we don’t have full access to. That’s just a fact of life that comes with living in a democracy.

    The issue isn’t about whether or not we pay taxes. The issue is about safety for the children and for the dogs. I can’t understand why on Earth any responsible parent would want to place their child in the midst of a bunch of strange dogs that are hyped up and running loose.

    There are parks for children, and there are parks for dogs. Take each to the appropriate place.

    • PhilL

      Why would any responsible dog owner want to let their dog loose in the midst of a bunch of strange dogs that are hyped up and running loose?

    • J

      The difference is that children are human beings, while dogs are animals. They do not have the same rights.

      Why couldn’t we ban people in wheelchairs? Or little people? Or require everyone who wants to bring a dog to the park pass a IQ test – I know 8 year olds with more common sense than some adults.

      • YoBimbo

        We’re talking about children, not informed adults who are aware of the risks and are more likely to have learned how to behave around loose dogs. There’s really no need to go off the deep end in this discussion.

        • TooEasy

          A kid under 8 can own a dog but not take it to a dog park, How about everyone keeping your dog under control.

          • LT

            Everyone keeping their dog under control is ideal world

            And dogs at a full run in a canine exercise area are not ‘out of control’, but they are still a risk to small children running around.

            There are certainly as many “bad dog owners” as “bad parents”. The difference is bad parents put children at risk by taking them into dog parks.

      • amber

        i completely agree. we might as well not allow old people to go into the dog parks. they can just as easily be run into by dogs. hell, ive been run into and fallen over from it..maybe we should just let the dogs go in there by themselves and we can stand outside the fence and watch.

  • Andy

    When Arlington has wolverine parks, then I think we should ban children from them, but not dog parks. Dogs are a part of the everyday environment.

    • Lacey Forest

      Ooo, a wolverine park. Now there’s an idea….

      • FrenchyB

        Or a Honey Badger park…

        • Tre

          Or a large feline park…. Simba is getting restless in my basement and the last time someone went down there they didn’t come back…

          • Notyou

            … can I have a gerbil park? I’d like to let the little guys out once in a while…

  • Jerome Smiff

    I would love to see dog parks banned!

  • Lacey Forest

    I really think this falls under the heading “Just because it’s a good idea, it doesn’t have to be a law.”

    • Lee

      an excellent summation! Love it!

  • John Fontain

    Here are the existing rules and regulations of Arlington’s Community Canine Areas. It seems like the existing rules already spell out conditions which should protect innocent people and dogs from aggressive dogs:

    “Rules & Regulations
    Arlington County loves its dogs! Community Canine Areas (CCA), which are specific posted areas within a few County parks, are great places for humans and dogs to meet, greet and have fun. Please be sure to abide by these rules and regulations to have a safe and rewarding experience in Community Canine Areas. Please note that pets are not allowed on designated athletic fields at any time.

    •All dogs must be licensed and vaccinated before entering the CCA.
    •No dogs less than four months old are permitted in a CCA.
    •Female dogs in heat are not allowed in a CCA at any time.
    •No food is allowed within the boundaries of a CCA.
    •A handler/guardian may bring in no more than three dogs at a time.
    •Professional dog trainers may not use any CCA to conduct business, unless sponsored by Arlington County.
    •Dogs must be leashed when entering and exiting the CCA.
    •Handlers/guardians must be in possession of their dog’s leash at all times.
    •Handlers/guardians must remain with their dog and be in view of their dog at all times.
    •Handlers/guardians are responsible for the removing dog waste from the CCA and disposing of it in a proper receptacle.
    •Dogs must be removed at the first sign of aggression. Aggressive dogs shall not be permitted within any designated off-leash CCA. An “aggressive dog” is defined as a dog that poses a threat to humans or other animals. Handlers/guardians are legally responsible for their dog and any injury caused by them.
    •Handlers/guardians must not allow their dogs to bark on a continuous or frequent basis. It is unlawful for any person who owns, possesses or harbors a dog to permit that dog to create a frequent or continued noise disturbance across a real property boundary or within a nearby dwelling unit. (County Code)
    •Handlers/guardians, prior to leaving the CCA, must fill holes dug by their dog.
    •Dog grooming is not allowed in any CCA, unless it is part of an Arlington County sponsored program.
    •Parents must be in control of their children at all times in a CCA.


    • John Fontain

      As you can see from the current rules and regs, any dog that “poses a threat to humans or other animals” is already restricted from the dog parks. So it appears that the issue (if there is one) is owners of aggressive dogs failing to follow the current rules.

      This makes me question the motives of the small minority of people who now want to change the rule to allow dangerous dogs and restrict humans from the parks.

      • Burger

        And aggressive dogs and their owners are generally policed by people already in the park.

      • A dog can be aggressive toward other dogs, but be perfectly kind to children. Any aggression should not be tolerated regardless of whether children are present/allowed. Too much chaos in one of these parks.

      • Dog Professional

        John, the CDC clearly spells out the issue with chilling statistics and it has to do with people misinterpreting canine body language.


        Who is most at risk?

        Children: Among children, the rate of dog bite–related injuries is highest for those ages 5 to 9 years, and children are more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites than adults. Recent research shows that the rate of dog–bite related injuries

      • LT

        No, the only risk is not from aggressive dogs. Running dogs can knock down people of any size. I may get bruised and scraped. Kids may get broken bones…

        Also, a small child running looks like prey to many dogs who would only chase out of a sense of play, but who may knock down a small child. This isn’t aggression, it’s the nature of dogs.

        • John Fontain

          No, that’s the nature of aggressive dogs. My dog doesn’t chase or knock down anyone. Why? Because she isn’t an aggressive dog.

        • amber

          why would a child be running in the dog park? dogs arent allowed to run at childrens parks? PARENTS need to keep their children in line. we need to stop avoiding the real issue that parents today are lazy. if parents were better able to manage and guide their children, we wouldnt have issues like this.

  • soarlslacker

    I’d prefer that young children not be allowed in Arl Cty dog parks. I have 2 small dogs. If either should become upset or aggressive I can pick them up and carry them away. I can’t control the behavior of stray children. Dogs react to people and noises around them. Screaming children can upset dogs. I go to the dog park to have a good time with my dogs,not too lookout for wayward children. I don’t take my dogs in the tots play area. I would prefer that tots not be allowed in the dog play area.

    • John Fontain

      If current rules and regs were followed, parents would have “wayward children” under control. But again, the issue of restricting kids is being raised not because of wayward children but because of the fear that aggressive dogs will hurt innocent kids. Correcting the problem means controlling or removing the aggressive animals, not the innocent kids.

      • Dog Professional

        And when CCA sponsors and volunteers and users attempt to police human parents (or anyone for that fact) nine times out of ten it becomes a “so you think I’m a bad parent” downward spiraling, beligerant discussion – it never goes well. Unfortunately it is for this reason that I believe the volunteer community decided to convene and move towards bringing Arlington County into line with every other area municipality who also operates dog parks.

    • R0bespierre

      I go to the *.* to have a good time with *.*,not too lookout for wayward children.

    • Flying Spaghetti Monster

      Does Arl Cty maintain a shelter for all these stray children? Or do they just roam free?

      • MayorOfWestover

        Haha. Yeah, I had no idea we had such a stray child problem around here, with them running around in dog parks trying to take over the place and harass the poor doggies.

  • John Fontain

    Oh no, I’m about to become one of those “your poll isn’t fair” people…

    Your poll offers three choices: ban kids, don’t ban kids, or add further rules and regs on supervision of kids.

    If the problem is aggressive or potentially aggressive dogs, then shouldn’t one of the choices have been further rules and regs (or enforcement thereof) on the supervision of aggressive animals.

    • ArlRat

      But as I’ve experienced before you can’t remove aggressive dogs without getting into a verbal confrontation with the owner. Therefore, you leave.

      • John Fontain

        I’m right there with you. I’ve told off my share of irresponsible owners. It seems the only way to get them to act is to very loudly and publicly berate them for being irresponsible. I’ve found that polite and discreet requests for action on their part go ignored.

        • ArlRat


        • VM

          ‘Loudly berate’? Wow, are you the guy who YELLED profanity at me for having my (neutered, non-reactive, under control) dog on a leash at the dog park while your (intact male, ill-behaved) Jack Russell ran around humping everything in sight?

          It is NOT okay to force your ideas about dog raising on other people at the dog park unless you see an emergency about to happen. If you don’t like what’s happening, it is your perogative to leave. Should all dog owners (and their parents) be rational and use common sense? Of course. But this is reality, and the only thing you can control are your actions, and those of your dog.

          This is why my Arlington dog very rarely goes to Arlington dog parks. Stupid people abound.

          • John Fontain

            No, not me. Why jump to such a conclusion? The only folks I’ve yelled at (and it has happened only on rare occasion) are those whose aggressive dogs have taken “play” too far and begun to hurt other dogs (easy to visibly and audibly tell when this happens).

            Are you saying someone yelled profanities at you just because you kept your dog on a leash?

          • Dogs should never enter a park on a leash and the reason is simple. Dogs always come up to the ‘newbie’ coming into the park and if a dog is kept on a leash it doesn’t feel it can ‘get away’ and therefore can become aggressive. These are indeed simple rules based on common sense regarding dogs and their behaviour and that is all.

          • PhilL

            Those are the county rules. Leash on when entering and exiting the dog park.

          • Let me clarify Phil. Most dog parks have the main gate and the secondary gate. The dogs should enter the first gate on leash but should have their leash taken off in the secondary area. The should never enter the actual park on leash.

        • I suspect if some dog owner loudly berated you on how you are handling your child or dog you’d not respond well either. In fact, nobody likes being told how to raise their child or handle their dog. There are ways to approach someone diplomatically, and you likely are not skilled in approaching a difficult person. Most people are not (including myself).

  • Emily Kinney

    If this change in rules goes into effect, my family will no longer be able to use the dog parks. I have an 8-month-old who I have to take with me if my dogs are going to have any off leash time.

    Why are we talking about banning kids from a family activity?? I own two dogs, and I am well aware that if they do something aggressive, it is MY fault, and I am to be held responsible. That is part of being a dog owner! Making kids and families pay for the idiocy of a few irresponsible owners is horrible policy. Make the responsible parties take responsibility – owners of aggressive dogs!

    • John Fontain

      Call this number at Arlington County and voice your opinion: 703-228-6523.


      They are looking for public feedback.

    • This is Ridiculous

      I completely agree. I don’t have kids, but going to dog park (Shirlington expecially) is a family activity for a lot of people, and without allowing children we will be preventing a lot of parents from coming to the dog park. Dog owners (myself included) should make sure their dogs are well-trained and socialized before bringing them to a dog park, and should keep watch over them while there. We can all co-exist!

    • Dog Professional

      Emily, if something should happen while you, your dog and your 8-month old were at the CCA, lets say, its just you and one other dog owner and you luck runs out and that owner is irresponsible and the dog happens to be aggressive towards your dog – how are you going to handle both your dog and your 8-month old? Clearly your child out-ranks your dog. No, this has not happened to you yet, but it doesn’t mean it can’t occur. Dog parks are wonderful resources, but they can not be viewed as a place to multitask. When our users come to the CCA they must be in complete control of their dog at all times to me that means that no, you can’t bring 8-month old baby it is too dangerous for everyone involved.

    • LMMas

      Emily, maybe the dog is aggressive, maybe the child is acting inappropriately. Then the responsibility is on the parent, but we don’t license parents…

      Dog parks aren’t intended as a family activity. As many as 40% of households are pet owners (majority dog), not all of them are also parents. A good bet though is that they are all taxpayers. I don’t use skate parks, but do use dog parks. Why should all activities be child-oriented or even child-friendly?

    • amber


    • amber

      i love this response 🙂 🙂

      not the one below…oops!!

  • Pam Zieler

    I have 3 dogs of varying sizes and I don’t have any children, so my dogs are not used to them. I now leave the dog park as soon as I see people show up with young children, because they don’t supervise them closely enough. Little kids think every dog is like their family dog and will like them and put up with anything from them. They run up to strange dogs, waving their arm and yelling and run right into the dogs or run up and put their arms around the dogs neck to give them a big hug. I have seen them startle my dogs and other dogs and I cannot be 100% positive that my dog isn’t going to snap or bite. I couldn’t live with myself if one of my dogs hurt a child, not to mention I would probably be sued. It’s a dog park, not a childrens park. The point is that the dogs are supposed to be free to run around and be dogs and I shouldn’t be worried that someones child is going to get hurt. So, me and the dogs have to leave and that’s not right because it’s a DOG park.

    • John Fontain

      Two of your assertions – that parents don’t supervise their children closely enough and that kids run up and startle dogs (by waving their arms and yelling at them) – appear to be over-generalizations at best. In my experience, parents supervise their children adequately and young kids play with their own dogs, stick by their parents sides, or otherwise mind their own business. If you leave the dog park whenever people should up with young children, how is it that you are still there to observe all the “terrible behavior” on the part of parents and kids?

      • ArlRat

        I agree, I take my 8 year old to dog parks and she is never too far from my side.

        I’ve never seen kids waving their arms and yelling at any dog.

        • Clarendude

          I’ve rarely seen very bad kid behavior inside the dog park. Outside (far removed from the dog park), on the regular sidewalk though…. It’s suprising how many kids bark at my dog !

      • Sam

        It happens that young kids do wave their arms and screech and the poster is wise to remove her dogs from the park.

        I’ve been in the Glen Carlyn off-leash area and had to run to get my dog to make sure she didn’t “herd” the little girl with the mom who just sat and watched her chase everyone’s dog – they weren’t there with a dog, they just thought it would be fun I guess.

        So, as surprising as this is, one of the dogs charged the child, because how would they know she wasn’t as quick as another dog? Child falls and starts screaming and crying and mom starts screaming at the dog and the owners who were around about controlling their dogs. Dog never came within 3 feet of the child.

        So, not an aggressive dog, and a stupid parent who thinks it’s ok to come into an area of the park where off-leash play is permitted and wasn’t anywhere close enough to the child to be able to do anything, include help the child when she fell.

        Maybe the rule is being considered for just this kind of parent.

      • LT

        John, you’re not being fair at all here. I would guess that most responsible dog owners have been put in the position of needing to leave a park because of a child that is yelling/barking at/running at other people’s dogs. it doesn’t happen often, but it’s not right when it does. Do you really think that a parent who lets their child do this is going to be responsive (constructively) to instruction about appropriate behavior in a dog park?

        I’m glad you’ve not had the experience, but I can tell you, the dog owner is SOL when a parent lets their child behave in a way that asks for trouble.

        • John Fontain

          “I would guess that most responsible dog owners have been put in the position of needing to leave a park because of a child that is yelling/barking at/running at other people’s dogs.’

          I hope the county relies on things other than peoples’ “guesses” about what happens at the dog park. In my experience as a frequent visitor, I have rarely, if ever, seen this happen. And there have been no instances reported to the county of children being hurt. Therefore, I don’t think severe restrictions on all families should be put in place for something that isn’t a real problem.

          • Sam

            Then by following your reasoning I guess we don’t need rabies shots anymore do we? There hasn’t been a reported case of canine rabies in many, many years – in fact, most experts seem to think it has all but been eradicated. Yet, we have a law that requires rabies shots for dogs.

            For safety reasons – anticipating what might happen.

          • John Fontain

            Your analogy fails to consider that one law was put in place because of a real, existing problem, while this ban may be put in place because of a problem that doesn’t exist.

            And if we really want to use logic here, I’ll ask you the same quesiton I’ve asked “LT”. If the ban is to prevent any possible dangerous accident from occuring, why not extend to the ban to all people, regardless of age?

          • Sam

            Because I, as an informed adult, understand the risks and can make my own decision and most likely won’t get trampled by a pack of dogs running around and having fun.

            A small child can’t make that decision for themselves.

            And, no, my analogy didn’t fail to consider the law was put in place because of a past problem.

            We haven’t had rabies in Arlington in many, many years – I believe in my lifetime. Yet, we have the law in the Commonwealth…because it happened SOMEWHERE. So, just because a child hasn’t been hurt here doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened somewhere and the county is considering a proactive move to reduce the chances of it happening here.

            If only the real issue would be addressed – if you put a sign that says “By entering these gates, you agree that you enter at your own risk and forgo your right to sue any individual or entity for any harm that might come to you or any individual or animal accompanying you’.

            It’s all about making sure the County doesn’t get sued; and I’m sure the dog owners would like to have that safety net as well.

            And, as a person without a dog, and for those who think it’s always a dog’s fault when they bite; you are oh, so wrong. If it’s ok for a person to defend themselves when hit or kicked, then it’s ok for a dog to do so as well.

    • TooEasy

      Unpredictable dogs are socialized.

    • Emily Kinney

      Your dogs and their training is your responsibility. If your dog bites another kid, you sure do deserve to get sued. If a parent isn’t supervising their child appropriately, you can say something, but it is your job to train your dogs to not respond to kids’ provocations by biting. And it’s a PARK, for families with dogs. If you can’t be 100% positive that your dog won’t bite, your dog shouldn’t be at the dog park.

      • Dog Professional

        It is simply not possible to expect that a dog will never bite anyone or anything in their lifetime. It is, however, all dog owners’ responsibilities to understand their own dog’s bite threshold and for parent’s responsibility to teach their children how to properly approach a dog and ask to pet it. Dogs and children in many ways behave in similar ways, but that behavior tends to mean exactly the opposite to each. For example – when a dog runs and makes high pitched noises it is playing. When a toddler to 9 year old does it, the dog interprets it as playing but more often than not the child is running away from the dogs in fear- next up, the child is knocked over. This issue requires everyone on both sides to take a step back from what they perceive to be their personal right and entitlement and choose the option that best fits the purpose of the space in the larger community infrastructure.

      • dogvkid

        No, it is a dog park – a park for dogs to run and play with other dogs. It is not a requirement that dogs have to like kids or have to tolerate their behavior. There are many dogs who interact fine with other dogs and adults, but not children. And, this is why they are with people who do not have children. The dogs need a place to run and play without kids. This is one of the reasons no kids at the dog park is a good rule and why many localities like Fairfax have rules such as this in place.

    • YTK

      I’ve seen that too — I’m sick of having to tell kids (with their parents standing around dumbly) — “DON’T run up to my pet!!!”

      My dad taught me at the age of 4 – you DON’T run up to a strange dog!

      • amber

        exactly! parents are not being parents, simple as that. its an easy fix. keep your children next to you.

  • CW

    1) How about, instead of going after kids in dog parks with new rules, the county starts ENFORCING existing rules? If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a big dog off leash or with too long of a leash I’d be a wealthy man (well, ok, maybe not by Arlington standards).

    2) With respect to comment #2 by ArlRat, while it’s just an incendiary wedge to say “women”, as it’s needlessly offensive and not needed to prove the point, I agree 100% that owners who are not physically able to control their dogs should not be allowed to have them.

    3) I like how the mere existence of this discussion and potential rule implicitly confirms the fact that there are lots of big, nasty dogs around here that will hurt people. In response to this, people will make the “well, the kids are doing something to upset the dogs, so the dogs will just react the way they will” argument. Ok, so let’s extend this to something similar (go ahead, accuse me now of throwing up a straw man, please). If you filled the space in front of your driveway (on county property) with broken glass, and a kid ran through it, would it be the dumb kid’s fault, because the broken glass was just doing what broken glass does? That is, to put it another way, is it ok to introduce liabilities and potential dangers into the public space just because it requires an action of initiation by the victim in order for them to sustain injury?

    • ArlRat

      I too am a woman. And the individual and her friend who happen to own the dogs which were first run out of Walter Reed and frequent Scott St are women. I am stating facts not being offensive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • CW

        Ok, sorry, I wasn’t saying you were being explicitly offensive, I was just concerned that your mention of this aspect would distract attention away from the actual (very valid) point you make!

        • ArlRat

          Accepted 🙂

      • I believe I know who you are speaking about and yes they do come to Scott Street now. Initially several of us had our reservations but we befriended them and have been working with both owner and dog. It’s amazing how a nice, honest conversation can turn a situation like this around. The bottom line is, these parks are for our dogs and all dogs need the socialization. Instead of being nasty maybe it would prove to be more beneficial to reach out your hand and offer to help.

    • John Fontain

      CW, great points. The broken glass analogy is a good one.

    • Joe

      This is really a silly comment. The fact is, animal welfare would LOSE money if you enforced the leash law. The people running their dogs off leash are the ones who are already giving to AWLA. County funding exists so that there is a steady stream of money allowing AWLA-trained personnel to pick up rabid foxes, deal with deer running about, etc. That helps AWLA concentrate their own donations on outreach, group promotion, etc. AWLA can then collect donations to house stray pets and find them good homes.

      If you make the County-funded Animal Welfare officers enforce the leash law, then they just might wind up writing up people who already DONATE to AWLA. Now the officer can certainly rip up the citation, but by then the deed is done. You’ve had an awkward interaction, and you just might have someone witness the writing-up and then tearing-up of the citation.

      Better to keep the law on the books, for PR reasons and to justify the stream of funding to AWLA. But don’t actually ENFORCE the law. That way you get maximum County funding AND maximum donations. That’s the most benefit to those who actually CARE about the canine population in Arlington County.

      • PhilL

        Thank you for prefacing your comment with that accurate disclaimer.

      • Sam

        Your comments are foolish and completely without merit.

        It has been pointed out on this board, on more than one occasion that the AWLA is not the only enforcement arm of the County’s leash laws. They are but one enforcement arm. The law in place doesn’t have anything to do with AWLA; just as the requirement to license your dogs and have veterinarians provide reports to the Treasurer’s office that your dog got a rabies shot doesn’t have anything to do with the AWLA.

        Get your facts straight before you post such ridiculous comments.

        • Joe

          If you call ACPD Non-emergency, the response you’ll get is “Have you called the AWLA? They are the ones who handle leash law violations”.

          The ninny will get flustered, and dial up AWLA. I even give them the number to call, just for the entertainment factor. AWLA will tell them they only have one or two on patrol, and they’re dealing with another situation, and it’s going to take a long time, and by then the dog will probably be gone anyway.

          Good times!!!

          • Sam

            Well, then, you can remind the ACPD of the law on the books that states AWLA is only one enforcement arm of the law. Ask the “ninny”; if AWLA is only one enforcement arm, who the others are…

            And, since AWLA frequently only has one or two on patrol because there are only about 5 or 6 total animal control officers, then it would seem highly unlikely they would be able to handle these cases.

            So, check the law and if it bothers you so much and you see dogs off leash so frequently, keep calling the police and go up the chain until you get someone who will listen to you.

            Stop criticizing the AWLA for not running to your aid when you see a dog off-leash – my gosh you must live in the most unruly area ever to see so many off-leash dogs…

      • CW

        What in the world are you talking about? Are you serious, or is this the most indiscernable sarcasm I’ve ever seen?

        If your comment is actually said in seriousness, then you’ve made some big assumptions. Such as, for example, your presumption that people care more about hurting dog owners’ feelings than not getting, you know, bitten by a dog.

  • CW

    Site comment: why do a lot of the comment postings seem to hang and/or get lost? Sometimes they take a really, really long time to come through.

  • Anonymous

    the CHILDREN should be on the LEASHES, while the dogs can run around free. Just my 2 cents.

  • Anonymous

    It should be the CHILDREN on the LEASHES. Let the dogs run free. Just my 2 cents

    • Tre

      Since when did dogs learn how to use the internet? Damn iPads

  • Dog Owner

    I have a fairly large dog. I don’t see why we need dog parks. Take your dog ON A LEASH to a county park or around the block for exercise. That’s what I do. The dog does not have some innate need to run unleashed in order to be happy or healthy. (You can run with your dog on a leash.)

    I think dog parks are for lazy dog owners who think dogs are children–people who want to sit there and watch and not have to do anything, like actually walk. Or discipline their dog. They’re probably the same lazy people who won’t discipline their kids when they’re running around screaming in public.

    But until dog parks are gotten rid of, it makes sense to keep kids out of them. It’s a huge liability issue. And it’s common sense. What kind of parent are you to risk your child’s life on the gamble that all the dogs at the dog park will be kid-tolerant?

    I love dogs–my own especially–but parks are mainly for people. The dog park is a dirty, dangerous free-for-all. Leash your dog and walk him or her like a civilized person.

    • Strange. I have a large dog as well. I’m pretty tuned in to his likes, dislikes, and needs. I try to keep him out of trouble by not putting him in positions to act inappropriately. One of those circumstances MAY be a dog park. That said, walking a dog on a leash may give the dog some exercise. They also allow prisoners to take a walk in the yard. Think about it. Would you like walk as your only form of exercise and fun? How about playing some basketball with your friends? How about just hanging out with your friends for an hour once or twice a week? Or are you content with getting up, walking to work, then walking back home again? I don’t know your dog, so I can’t say if you are tuned in to him/her. I do know mine and you would DEFINATELY NOT be tuned into the needs of mine.

      • ReverendAlSharpton

        why does your reference to prison have to suggest basketball? Why can’t prisoners be playing baseball or badminton? I don’t particularly like your stereotyping of prisoners and said extracirricular activities.

      • ReverendAlSharpton

        what does your relationship between prison and basketball supposed to imply? I don’t particularly appreciate that apparent stereotype. What’s wrong with baseball?

        • ok…prison and ice hockey. Feel better?

          • Comment edited. Please refrain from personal attacks.

    • Maria

      Dog parks aren’t (or shouldn’t be) just about exercise. Dogs are pack animals, so being by themselves all the time could be depressing. Dog parks are for social interaction. I’m with Overgrown Bush on this one, and I think I kind of feel bad for your dog.

  • DD

    It seems to me that many concerns could be addresses with some judicious signage noting that parents must be in control of their children and be aware that it is an off-leash dog park. The signs could outline basic dog safety – don’t lunge at or chase a dog, let them come to you, etc.

    Banning children outright seems unfair to parents with dogs, not a small demographic in Arlington. Why shouldn’t someone be able to take their kid to the park to play with the dog? If we agree that most people are trying to be responsible parents and dog owners, surely we can all coexist.

    • Dog Owner

      How is it unfair to parents with dogs? The kid can still play with the dog at home. The kid can still walk the dog on a leash. Is it unfair that the dog can’t go into the elementary school? They don’t need to do *everything* together.

      OverBush: I don’t think you can compare dogs to people–incarcerated or otherwise.

      • Lee

        I don’t think it’s about the dog doing *everything* with the family. It’s about the parents having to arrange for childcare to take the dog to the park. I’m not happy about being put in a position where I have to do that in order to take the family dog out for a run.

      • Emily Kinney

        It’s not about doing “everything” together. It’s the fact that I can’t afford to pay a babysitter to come take care of my kid while I take the dog to the dog park, so this rule would effectively mean my family would not be able to use the park at all. And just because someone has kids does NOT mean that they shouldn’t be allowed to use the Arlington dog parks!

  • Skip Jackson

    Why not have kennels at the park for caging children?

  • Me

    Enough with dogs, so annoying that my tax dollars are supporting dog parks at all, let alone banning actual people from them.

    • Yes, so annoying. So few people who pay taxes in Arlington actually have dogs. Sheesh! You have it right about banning people though. Ban dogs, kids, and people who are not following the rules. Otherwise, come play in the park.

  • Joe

    I take issue with the comment that you should walk your dog, as “Dog Owner” said, “ON A LEASH”.

    Fact is, kids get freaked out about dogs because they don’t encounter enough dogs running freely. Kids never get a chance to learn how to work with dogs, to make the dogs feel comfortable and safe.

    In my neighborhood, by Ohio and Washington Blvd, we routinely see owners walking their dogs off-leash on the trail and throughout the neighborhood. Along 18th Street, on Ohio, on Potomac, Powhatan, and Pocomoke, and over to Madison Manor Park. The dogs do great, roaming as nature intended. And the owners love it, both the joy of a free-ranging walk as well as laughing at the ninnies who whine about the “LEEESH law in AR-LING-TON!!!”.

    And let me tell you, the kids in this neighborhood GET IT in a way so many others don’t. They learn to be cautious around a dog, or they get a pretty good nip on their little fingers. They learn to make way when a dog comes down the street, and (for once) maybe get into the car without making their parents wait. And they learn that, you know, people don’t just come and rescue you. You’re not getting an Animal Welfare officer or a police officer for “saving” you for dogs doing what they will do. You need to take care of yourself. People in other Arlington neighborhoods could stand to learn a lesson like the ones in HP-OK and Madison Manor have.

    • PhilL

      I’ll give you 4 out of 5 stars for this, just because you did the geography research to get the neighborhood streets right, and it’s fairly long.

      Almost believable, too!

    • Dog and Kid mom

      What???? “A little nip??” Are you kidding me? You would be sued so fast your head would spin. I had to make an insurance claim because my dog gave a little nip (and a bloody scratch), and an almost heart attack to my….wait for it…..mailman. After that little incident my policy was ammended to include any accident EXCEPT one casue by X (name witheld to protect the guilty). It was horrible and embarassing and totally my fault (left X in the car while I ran in “for just a second” to get something out of the house – idiot).

      That little admission aside, I used to be a big fan of dog parks, until X proved a bit too agressive and I got tired of chasing him, stopping him from humping and making sure none of the dogs he didn’t like came in (it was unpredictable – he could be having the time of his life with other dogs, behaving great, and then someone irresistable would come in and he’d decide to hump). My current dogs are simply too chicken to have a good time – my little one kept jumping in people’s laps the only time I brought her.

      My own dogs’ behavior aside, I encountered many dogs and people and kids who were appropriate for the situation and many who were not. Can we also ban people who yack on their cell phones while their big dogs are eating small dogs? What about people whose idea of play is to throw the ball and then get pissed off when dogs not their own chase it?

      Or unsupervised kids who don’t understand how to behave? Some (of course my own 🙂 ) kids are fine and better than some adults – you just can’t generalize – kids younger than 8 should be supervised anyway, shouldn’t they? Are their parents just dropping them off and leaving? That’s another issue.

      Or people who are annoying and yack their life story to you while you’re just trying to watch your dog? Do we have to legislate every darned thing? No wonder nobody has any common sense left!

      In the end, while I enjoyed it at the time, I look back on my dog park time with a bad taste in my mouth. Every park was “run” at various hours by the dog mafia – people who thought they owned their timeslot and looked at you as an interloper on their space if you brought your dog at their time. Often the parks were a muddy mess, and gradually I realized that big groups of dogs, running in a pack, would eventually try to establish an order – alpha dogs would fight to dominate and every one would pick on the puppies and small dogs.

      But to each his own. I remember the dog park at Madison Manor (?? Can’t remember – the controversial one off Old Glebe) had a huge sign with about 4,000 rules. Probably the first 2,000 contradicted the second 2,000. How about two rules: Enter at your own risk and control your dog ??

      • Dan

        “In the end, while I enjoyed it at the time, I look back on my dog park time with a bad taste in my mouth. Every park was “run” at various hours by the dog mafia ”

        That conjures up all sorts of images…but what breed would play Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) ??

        They would probably trade in Dogma biscuits ……..

    • Dog Owner

      So you’ve taken it upon yourself to decide which laws you think are worth obeying and which are not? That’s real responsible.

      Let me tell you this: If your unleashed dog comes running up to my (leashed) dog, out comes the pepper spray. I shouldn’t have to worry what your dog’s intentions are.

      You want your dog unleashed? It’s called a backyard. Or use the dog park. I’m not a big fan of the latter, but they exist–and at least using them is not breaking any laws.

      And even if you don’t care about other people’s dogs or kids, aren’t you at least worried your dog might get hit by a car?

    • dynaroo

      If your unleashed dog nips my kid, you’re going to wish I were on a leash.

      • Ha ha! If I have to wish you were on a leash you are going to be sorry that I let my dog’s leash fall out of my hand! He’ll let any kid play with him and give him kisses, but he’ll defend me to the death!

    • Take the right breed (such as a hound) or an untrained dog off of a leash in Arlington and you are BEGGING for it to be hit by a car regardless of you being on a trail. I don’t disagree necessarily with your point about kids, but please protect your pet from harm. This is what a dog park is for, a safe location outside of your yard where your dog can get some exercise. Sigh…..

  • Roquer

    Kids can be banned only if dogs are banned from kid parks. No reason for children to have to play in dog poo, or accidentally step in it when they’re playing in their own little parks. Children should have far more rights of freedom than dogs.

    • Maria

      Dogs are not allowed in playground areas. That’s been well-established.

  • WaveLength

    I don’t take my dog to the children’s park, and I don’t take my child to the dog park.

  • DennisW

    I haven’t seen any kid threatened by a dog at a dog park but have witnessed several instances where dogs were running at top speed chasing one another and kids getting knocked over or airborne. Why anyone would bring a small child into a dog park is beyond me. That said, no more laws but some kind of liability protection against the nitwits who brings their kids to the dog park and then sue when Junior gets run over.

  • DennisW

    Re: on-leash versus off-leash, as the owner of two dogs who walks them frequently,it drives me nutz when I see self-righteous “dog people” who think it’s cute to let Fido run free-range in a kids’ park. Not all kids like dogs. In fact, there are a lot of kids who are scared to death of dogs. I don’t care if your big, friendly golden retriever is the nicest dog on Earth, some kids are simply scared and it’s their turf. I love having the opportunity to try to teach kids not to be afraid of dogs by keeping them (dogs, not kids) under control on leashes, having them sit and then be petted, but it doesn’t do anybody any good when a child is terrorized by a dog running loose in a park.

  • Dan

    A good caption for the photo would be, “I am sure glad that they repealed “‘Don’t ask don’t smell'” …..

  • MC

    Wow, what a lot of comments! Passionate issue.

    Many people love dogs, even more people love kids, and a good many love both. But some kids don’t love dogs and some dogs don’t love kids. Why this is is complicated, but let’s not blame owner/parents, it’s probably temperament. Best to keep these populations separate and happy.

  • Getagrip

    Dog parks are for dogs…duh! Leave the kids at home if you’re worried about them getting hurt or acting inappropriately. Better yet, take your dog and kids on a nice long walk around the neighborhood…you’ll all feel better for it.

  • Homey D. Clown

    Both dogs and children are overrated. Keep them inside until they are 18!!!

  • Jenn from Arlington

    People keep making this about aggressive dogs, but it’s really not. I go to the dog park all the and I’ve never seen kid growled at/threatened/bitten by a dog.

    What I HAVE seen – last time I was at the dog park, there was a mom with two young kids there. When my dog came in, the older girl (maybe 5-6 years old) was so excited that she ran over, screaming, threw her arms around my dog’s neck, and squeezed. Mom was right behind, telling her “you know better! you always introduce yourself to new dogs!” She was super apologetic and I know the kid had good intentions and all. But still.

    Luckily my dog’s very tolerant and just sat there for it, but animals are animals and having a strange person run up and grab on can be terrifying for a dog, especially one who isn’t used to kids. And even a kid whose parents are watching and who’s been taught manners can still act out. Some kids get real excited around dogs and forget their manners.

    It’s safer for everyone to keep kids out of dog parks. There are plenty of areas in the park that are kid-friendly.

    • John Fontain

      Let me get this straight. Your belief that kids should be banned is based in part on a non-incident involving a kid hugging your dog and your dog not minding it?

      • ….and never seeing an incident involving an aggressive dog. I just think she was giving her experiences. Personally, I think kids and dogs are a great mix. The poor part of the mix is stupid parents and stupd dog owners. Not the kids and dogs.

      • Jenn from Arlington

        My dog didn’t mind it, but a lot of dogs would’ve. Even a really tolerant, well-trained dog isn’t always going to be ok with a stranger screaming at it and squeezing it. Kids don’t know enough to contain their enthusiasm and show good “dog manners”, and all it takes is a second for something awful to happen.

        It’s safer for everyone to just kids have the playground and dogs have the dog park.

        • John Fontain

          The scenario you describe, in which an eager kid screams at or squeezes an unfamiliar dog, could happen inside or outside of a dog park. So what is the logic in concluding that interactions inside the fence must therefore be eliminated?

          • Jenn from Arlington

            Because dogs are off-leash at the dog park, running and playing, and not always standing right next to their owner. That’s whole point of a dog park.

            Dogs should be on-leash everywhere else not the owner’s property, so the owner’s going to be right there holding the other end of the leash, able to prevent any unwanted kiddie attention. If a dog is is off-leash somewhere not the owner’s property or a dog park, a kid does something like that, and something happens – it is absolutely the owner’s fault.

            But a dog park’s different – the entire purpose of its existence is for dogs to run and play freely. Moms can’t have their eye on their dogs AND their children every second, and dog owners aren’t always standing right next to their pet to keep a child away. It’s just not really a good place for little kids.

          • Dog Professional

            I agree with you Jenn. Dog parks are inappropriate places for multitasking, particularly when the multitude of tasks involve controlling not only a dog, but also a child. Its not fair to the child, its not fair to the dog, its only satisfying the entitlement of the parent.

          • Josh S

            Dog Pro –

            Don’t you know? It’s not really part of our thing here at ARLnow to agree with previous posters. Just FYI.

          • Jenn from Arlington

            Basically what I’m saying is that I think interactions between children and strange dogs are best kept to controlled situations.

    • amber

      parents need to be parents. freaking watch your children. explain to them that they are not allowed to leave your side or go up to any other dogs without permission. simple. when did the parents loose the balls to discipline their children. jesus!

  • Set the Controls

    I imagine the motivation for other jurisdictions, and Arlington, to ban children is to avoid lawsuits if children get mauled.

    Can you name one other public facility or property where a member of the public is denied access?

    I don’t sympathize with dog owners at all. Let them run around your yard.

    • Jenn from Arlington

      495’s public, but that doesn’t mean I can lace up my jogging shoes and go dance around in traffic!

      It’s not just mauling. Dog parks are made for dogs to run around, kids don’t always know when to get out of the way and are easy to knock over. It’s for their own safety that Fairfax and some other counties don’t let em in the dog parks.

      There are plenty of playgrounds that are just for kids. Dog owners pay taxes too and its okay to have some places for us, not everything needs to be for kids.

      • Set the Controls

        I didn’t say it was for kids, but for the public in general, every one of us. I wouldn’t encourage someone to take toddlers into a frantic, muddy, poop-filled, high-speed maelstrom, like a dog park at peak time, but as soon as you officially ban part of the public from a dog park, sooner or later someone “completely within their rights” is going to bring an off-leash dog where it isn’t supposed to be off-leash, and its owner, to heel. One nannyism begets another, and then you have a fragmented public-use environment.

        There is an astonishing culture of entitlement among dog owners. There are no cat parks, parakeet parks, snake parks, so why dog parks? And why on the public dime? Arlington, among others, should privatize the dog parks.

        • Jenn from Arlington

          Be real now – playgrounds aren’t for “every one of us”, they’re for children. Adults have no interest in them, and way more money is spent on them then a dog park that’s basically just some fenced-in grass. And that’s fine. It’s fine for the parks department to spend money on something that only benefits a certain portion of the population, like children or dog owners. Would you say parents have a sense of entitlement if they wanted a playground built somewhere? Why’s it burn you for parks money to buy a dog park that non-dog-owners don’t benefit from, but not a playground that childless people don’t benefit from? Dog owners pay taxes, too.

          Probably because cats, snakes, etc aren’t social animals and wouldn’t enjoy a park? I don’t see the connection between dog parks and off-leash dogs – leash laws are still enforced.

          • Set the Controls

            It is shocking how much money is spent on playgrounds, but I resist the temptation to say “versus” the money spent on dog parks. Illiterates are perfectly welcome at the libraries, leashed dogs are excluded from sandboxes and the core play areas at some playgrounds, but are welcome to the rest of playgrounds, you and I are welcome to throw the frisbee at the W-L playing field even though we are not students there, someone from Fairfax County is welcome to come in and enjoy the A/C at the courthouse, even though they don’t pay taxes here, and the French can enjoy the National Gallery gratis, even though we must pay to see the Louvre. Everyone benefits from public expenditure and once you start restricting access you fragment the public realm, and then everyone has their own little playpen in which outsiders are not welcome. Privatizing the dog parks is much less damaging to the public sphere.

          • Westover

            Kids are humans, dogs are not, it is not that hard of a concept to grasp. Humans>Dogs , not to take away from the old saying, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog”.

          • I would generally agree. However, I’d gladly take some dogs over some humans.

    • Tom J

      The parks around here are full of multiple playgrounds, sports fields, and rec centers for the enjoyment of children. My boys never lack for something to do there. We can’t let dog owners have this one little fenced-off patch of grass?

      I don’t even like pets and I think my fellow parents need to get over themselves on this one.

    • They don’t call it a “dog park” for nothing. There will be dogs there. Would you allow your child to walk up to a strange dog and grab it’s tail or nose? If your answer is yes, you need a lesson in dog safety or parenting. If it is no, then why would you allow your child to do the same in a “dog park”? The problem here is two fold: Stupid parents. Stupid dog owners. If both would become a little more educated the problem would be minimized.

      • Set the Controls

        If dog owners bought into a private dog park, like a pool, they could make their own rules. Universal access to public property means just that.

        • Public property titled as a “dog park” and not a “playground”.

          • Set the Controls

            I don’t understand.

          • Indeed.

          • Set the Controls

            I didn’t understand what you were saying.

  • Peter

    I understand the concern of some dog owners. Children sometimes don’t understand what they think is play may scare a dog causing them to bite. But here is where responsbile parenting comes into play. My wife and I have two young children and two dogs. We enjoy our time at the dog parks but we also instruct our children about being careful around unfamilar dogs. We’ve never encountered any issues with our children. What I have encountered is negligent “big dog owners” allowing their agressive dogs to attack smaller defenseless dogs.

    I do not like the idea of excluding children from public parks. To do so Arlington will be going down a slippy slope. What is next excluding babies from little league games because of the possibility of being hit by a baseball? Every park or recreational center brings an inherit risk. Put up the signs at the dog parks that their is a danger to getting bitten by a dog so you enter at your own risk.

    I can live with “children must be supervised” at a dog park but I can’t tolerate an exclusion of children. As a society it also sends our children the wrong message that it is “ok” to discriminate under the guise of safety.

  • Ben Coates

    I’m not separating my kid from my dog. If my kid doesn’t go to the dog park, then my dog is no longer going to enjoy the park either. There are other ways to address this issue other than sending our children the message that they are not as important as our dogs. Virginians can be a perverted people.

    • It seems other counties have restrictions in place on supervision that should address the issue. Kids and dogs are a great mix. Dogs teach children so much and in most instances are very positive in molding them.

      • Set the Controls

        No doubt at all-my kids have learned a lot about spatial awareness, group psychology, and body language from other peoples’ dogs. The county lawyers hammering out this possible restriction are talking less about the legality of excluding members of the public from public space than about how much it will cost the county if a child is mauled at a dog park. If the threshold is met, the restriction will be implemented. They don’t care about the core issue.

    • Sam

      That’s just dumb – no one is saying they aren’t as important.

      And too bad for your dog that if don’t get your way, then he/she suffers because of your inflexibility.

      I’d say that your “I’m taking my ball and going home” attitude isn’t an especially good message for your child.

  • YTK

    Simple solution – keep the kids on a leash.

  • Carrie

    I’m a mom of a toddler, and I support the ban of kids. There is no way that I bring my kid and my dog to the park, that I can give 100% attention to both. My dog is friendly and loves kids, but she also has a TON of ENERGY. She has knocked myself AND other adults to the ground, just from playing chase with other dogs. Playing. Not aggressive. She’s 75lbs and could do some serious damage to a little person, totally on accident. I’m sorry, but kids don’t belong in the dog park. They can stand outside, and stay with the other parent (because again, if it’s just one person, I don’t believe you can honestly watch both fully). I’ve seen the parents let their 18 month old run around (while other dogs ran around crazily), I’ve seen kids get on all fours and bark at dogs. Thankfully in those cases the kids weren’t injured, but I believe they were lucky, not because it would never happen. It happens. I don’t believe that no incidents reported means that there are not incidents.

  • Becca

    Just thinking about the number of times running dogs have slammed into my knees and almost wiped me out makes me want to leave my little ones at home.

    I don’t know that I’m all for banning children up to the age of 8, I think some kids may be mature enough (physically and mentally) to handle a dog park. But, I certainly think it’s no place for infants or toddlers.

  • Newtdog

    My dog hates little kids so beware.

  • Wow

    Seems like a lot of dog owners need to get a grip. I’m sure your Fluffy/ Rufus is incredibly well-behaved, charming, and all-around pleasure to be near. Children are people. People come first. Fluffy/Rufus may be la member of your family but s/he isn’t a person. Sorry.

    Society expects parents to teach kids how to behave in a dog park. Society expects dog owners to teach their dogs how to behave in a dog park. Neither get to incite the other and, if they do, parents/owners ought to own the consequences and address the behavior without delay.

    No doubt, some owners/parents get feisty when behavior issues are raised. Maybe its time for others in the park to support the appropriate behavior, rather than let an innocent party be bullied out by a louder/ more belligerent party. We don’t let people take over planes so easily anymore, perhaps its time to start sticking up for appropriate dog park behavior too.

    • Maria

      I really have no side on this issue. I have no dogs and no kids, so I don’t particularly care. I understand what each group is saying, though generally speaking, I don’t love this type of regulation. I totally agree with your second and third paragraphs. This probably should not be a regulation but more a self-“policing” atmosphere where there is etiquette people need to follow, like at a library. It’s not against the law or any ordinances to speak loudly there, but if you do, you will likely be asked to leave (or at least hopefully get the hint from the nasty looks you’re sure to get).

      That said, I have an issue with your first paragraph. I mean, we’re talking “dog” parks here. Why do people come first in a “dog” park? It’s designed specifically for dogs. It’s right there in the name. This almost sounds like I’m being sarcastic (I’m not), but shouldn’t the needs of the dogs come first?

      Going back to my library example… most people are in a library because they need or want a quiet space to work/read/etc. Shouldn’t their needs come before someone who wants to “bully” library patrons into accepting, for example, loud music or conversations?

      • Maria

        And to clarify, YES I understand that most kids are lovely and sweet with dogs. That’s not the point I’m trying to make.

  • MRaddison

    Please note that this isn’t banning children altogether, it is putting an age limit on children that are in the dog park..

    the DOG park.

    I don’t understand the dog owners that are crying about “oh, now I’ll have to pay for childcare when I take my dog to the park”….

    You can still take lovely walks all around Arlington with your kids and your dogs – just have the dogs on leash. Why is this such a big deal? I don’t understand. It isn’t BANNING dogs, and it isn’t BANNING kids, it is saying that little kids don’t belong in an off-leash dog park.

    Seems pretty simple to me, it is a safety issue. It isn’t a playground, it is a dog park.

  • John Fontain

    Arlingtonians have spoken. After almost 900 votes, an overwhelming percent of voters (approximately 66 percent) do not support the proposed ban on children in community canine areas. I hope county officials will heavily weigh the will of the citizens on this matter.

    • madisonmanor

      Sorry, John – to me it is far from conclusive – I could just as easily say that 72% of the people feel that some form of restriction is warranted, whether it’s the proposed ban or restrictions on parental supervision. Common sense should dictate that everyone who enters a dog park does so at their own risk, but it’s not that simple – as evidenced by the range of comments on this blog. I stopped going to the Sycamore dog park years ago because of both inconsiderate owners and inattentive parents. If most of the people in Arlington would actually learn to do the right thing, none of this would be an issue.
      No child under 14 should be unattended/unsupervised ANYWHERE in the county – dog park, public park or playground – even at home.

      • Josh S


  • amber

    if people are comfortable bringing their children to the dog park, then they should be allowed to, no matter what. no one has any right to say no children in the dog park. it is the parents choice. if i were a single parent and had a dog, no way in hell would i pay a sitter to watch my children while i take my dog to the dog park. that is completely ridiculous. if you dont feel comfortable bringing your children to the dog park, dont bring them, but dont ruin it for the rest of the families that enjoy visiting with all of the dogs. you people who are in favor of this ban are simply selfish and are clearly ‘pro-life’ people who have no respect for a persons choice.

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  • I am a parent of 2 young children and an 8 year old golden retriever. It is very sad to me as a parent and dog owner to see all these rules/laws created. When our youngest was born we would take him in a baby Bjorne to the dog park on occasion to exercise the dog. We had the good sense not to go at the busiest times and avoided a closer (but rougher) dog park. We never had an issue. Once our child got older we simply made the decision that a toddler and a dog park full of dogs did not mix. We did still take him at more off hours so he could throw the ball for the dog since we did boy have a yard. Common sense should rule, not legislation. As now a parent of am upcoming kindergarten student it really saddens me that I can not take along my dog when I walk my son 2 blocks to school. I think the rule is ridiculous , the people who let their dogs poop and don’t pick it up are no doubt not bothering to follow the rule anyway.

    • Dan

      “it really saddens me that I can not take along my dog when I walk my son 2 blocks to school”

      Maybe I am missing something here, but I don’t think that there is anything preventing you from taking your dog with you when you walk your son to his school ???

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