You guys, the good weather is coming.

Actually, here in SC, the good weather is here. I know that there are some of you out there that still have snow and so I totally get it if, right now, you want to throw rotten fruit at me. In my defense, the good weather isn’t like, every day, we’re still get more than our fair share of rain and mud, but the nice days in between are breath taking.

The best part of the good weather is being about to get out and really enjoy it with your dogs. In the summer we do a whole lot of walking in public parks and dog friendly spaces, and yet, many of the places I would love to go are off limits to dogs. As much as I hate that not all public parks are dog-friendly, I also understand.

Play parks and ball fields are meant for kids to hang out at and I can see why some parents are reluctant to see those spaces shared. After all, tiny humans are always putting their hands in their mouths and rubbing their faces and eating dirt. Who wants to wonder if someone’s dog pee’d in that dirt a few minutes ago? Plus, off leash dogs and free-roaming kids can be a recipe for disaster unless everyone is dog & kid savvy.

If we want to see more public spaces designated dog friendly, we have to be respectful in how we use those spaces and hey, in exchange for a little more prudence on the part of dog owners, I’m hoping parents can do us a few favors too. Let’s all work together to make public spaces safe, fun and functional for everyone, OK? ( And I think, to myself, what a wonderful woooooooorld)

Sharing Public Parks: Tips for Parents & Pet Owners

Dog Owners make sure your dogs are using designated potty spots. There is nothing worse than an owner that lets their dog pee all over everything. I’ve seen dogs lift their legs on benches, swing sets and randomly in the middle of ball fields. Not only is this unhygienic, it’s gross and rude. If you’re planning to hang out near an area where kids play (like the playground or the ball park), take your dog for a walk first and make sure they go elsewhere. (I hope that) it goes without saying that if your dog uses the bathroom somewhere they shouldn’t, you should make an effort to wipe it up. (I carry a small packet of disinfectant wipes for this purpose. <-affiliate link). No matter where your dogs goes, pick it up. No exceptions. Ever.

Earth Rated is looking for people who want to clean up their local parks – they’ll even supply the bags. Find out more here.

Parents teach your kids to be dog savvy. Sure, my dogs are very friendly, but any dog can get freaked out when a small person rushes them squealing and waving their hands. I can only control my dogs as well as you can control your kids. Let’s work together to make sure no one gets hurt.

Dog Owners Respect leash laws. Let me say this again, RESPECT THE LEASH LAWS. I don’t care how well behaved your dog is or how solid your voice control is, a law is a law and when you willfully break this one, it makes us all look bad. And while we’re on the subject of leashes, can we please toss the retractable ones. These leashes are dangerous at the best of times, let’s not risk using them in spaces where small children could get hurt.

Parents, I know that snacks are an important part of keeping kids happy and preventing melt downs, but for the love of woof, PLEASE, if your child spills, clean it up. Your “no big deal” handful of goldfish crackers will end up with my dog vomiting and then three weeks of itching, hot spots and my shouting “leave that alone” as he licks at his red, sore open welts. I am begging you here.

Dog Owners, if you have a ball obsessed dog, train a “play ball” command, so that they don’t go after every ball they see. Small children are a prime target for canine ball thieves. Train your dogs that running and flailing is not an invitation to chase, jump or maul people. Teaching your dog to play these games on command only makes the park safer for everyone.

Parents keep control of your kids in off-leash areas. Allowing them to snack and run around in these areas is asking for trouble and someone is going to get hurt. Make sure any behavior inside the off leash gates is first and foremost, dog safe.

Hopefully, if we all make a few small adjustments, we can share our public parks and green spaces in peace. After all, we’re all paying taxes and trying to do the best we can for our dogs and children. Let’s work together to make the whole experience easier for everyone.

What’s your biggest pet peeve about sharing public parks? What can be do to make sharing these spaces easier?

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