Is it time to ban dogs from our parks?

Today we start a debate about dogs in our parks.

Are they out of control? Have you been attacked? Where else are dog owners to exercise their pets? We want to hear your views.

Alfie's injuries last Easter
Alfie’s injuries last Easter

Over this week we will hear from a responsible dog owner, from the Police and community groups Friends of Cross Flatts Park and Friends of Middleton Park. Today we hear from a family in Beeston whose children are too scared to play in their local park.

Young Alfie was attacked by a dog in Cross Flatts Park in April 2014 on Good Friday.  After more confrontations with dogs, he and his brother are now too scared to visit his local park.

Alfie’s father John has now raised the question – should dogs be banned from the park?

“Since Easter both of my boys have experienced out of control dogs running at them just about every time we visit and on two occasions I had to physically intervene to stop them being injured.

“Recently we’ve had a similar occurrence and then found the same dog being allowed to run loose inside the children’s play area. When I challenged the owner I was subjected to a torrent of abuse.

“Frankly I think its time all dogs were banned from Cross Flats Park because its impossible to tell who the responsible owners are with well behaved dogs and those who aren’t as they’re running towards you and then it’s too late for our children.”

John, with Charlie & Alfie
John, with Charlie & Alfie

John is a dog owner himself so hasn’t raised this subject lightly, but he feels his children aren’t protected. The dog who attacked Alfie on Good Friday was on a lead, but still inflicted facial injuries. The owner came forward after the event and voluntarily had the dog put down.

The problem doesn’t just affect Cross Flatts Park. Friends of Middleton Park have been moved to offer dog training classes to help owners control their dogs and Muhammad Khizer Mahmood was recently attacked by a dog in Brickfield Park, Beeston.

We would like to hear your views. Please add your comment below.

18 Replies to “Is it time to ban dogs from our parks?”

  1. How about mandating that all dogs should be kept on the lead in public parks, and then actually enforcing the rule with real consequences for those who choose to ignore it!
    Responsible dog owners also get fed up with the ignorant and selfish people who think its ok for their dogs to run wild, harass kids, harass other dogs and not clean up the filth their dogs leave behind.
    This is anti-social behaviour and penalising the responsible majority is no way to address it.

    1. Couldn’t have said it better. As someone who enjoys frequent walks in our local park, I completely agree with this comment.

    2. Rich, I agree absolutely. But who enforces the rules? The police are too busy and don’t have the bodies to patrol the park intensively. The same goes for the Dog Wardens. So it’s down to the responsible park users. How comfortable do you feel challenging someone about their dog being a nuisance or not picking up its poo?
      Should we consider marking parks as single use so Cross Flatt’s for people only and Middleton for dog owners for example.
      How would you feel about a £50 to £75 yearly dog license to pay for enforcement staff?

      There are loads of options but leaving it alone is not one of them

      1. Hi John.
        Personally, I feel totally comfortable challenging people about bad behaviour whatever it may be. However, I do appreciate that others may not have the necessary confidence and can feel frightened and intimidated in potentially confrontational situations.
        The dog license is an interesting proposal, but again smacks of penalising the law abiding and conscientious majority for the sake of the sociopathic minority. Besides the problems of enforcement, should there really be a tax on owning a pet and companion? I don’t think so.
        Your idea of zoning is something that I think could be looked at, maybe a compromise limiting dog walkers to a particular area of the parks, but not any form of total ban. Seaside towns have similar arrangements with the beaches dogs are excluded from certain areas, sometimes only at busy times of year.
        The problem with this is then back to enforcement, the article above describes someone allowing their dog into the children’s play area. Sadly, I don’t think the person who allowed this is going to take any notice of any rules….

  2. I’m a dog owner who owns a border collie who can get giddy. She is very gentle and would never hurt anyone, however, that said, I am also very aware of others whilst out walking and generally put her on the lead when I feel it necessary. It’s a basic need that dogs (her breed especially) have some off lead time or that giddiness would only intensify so what then? Where do the dogs go if banned from parks. I also find that because she is a cutie that a lot of children run right up to her to stroke her. A lot ask ‘does it bite’ (my response is always, she hasn’t yet, because quite frankly to say no would be a lie, she’s a dog, dog’s bite. Just because she never has doesn’t mean she never will) but a lot don’t. This could happen anywhere, in the park, in the street, in my own garden perhaps…maybe it’s the children who should be on leads? Joking aside, there are owners out there who aren’t responsible, but does anybody honestly believe these owners would adhere to a ban? Maybe if the actual dog laws that are in place now were enforced and strictly enforced then maybe that would go a little way to helping the problem.

  3. I have a dog, he runs loose on playing fields but, he is not the type to bother anyone else. If I think he’s going too far a quick blast on his whistle and he comes straight back.
    Why should he be penalised because of a few idiots?
    All dogs are supposed to wear a collar with Id. How about passing a law where they are all chipped and neutered (unless registered breeder) too? Make the owners responsible. Issue police with scanners. Impose heavy fines and enforce payment. None of this I’ll pay a pound a week rubbish.
    If you ban dogs from parks the only ones who will take any notice are the responsible owners. The idiots don’t care because they know all they will get is a slap on the wrist!

  4. I have a dog who is nervous aggressive, however with our family she is brilliant. For three years I have put in 110% to help better her behaviour and improve my dog’s life.
    The biggest problem I see is that people don’t put any effort into dog ownership, if the dog isn’t instantly obedient it’s cast aside and people acquire another one.
    I think a form of ownership license should be in place and potential dog owners should have a written exam to demonstrate a good level of basic knowledge, including knowledge of dog body language.
    I wouldn’t be against having my dog on a lead in a park because this is usually the best way for my own dog, However I use yellow dog products to indicate my dog needs space and I still get parents who allow their children to charge at my dog scaring her. I’ve also had adults who think it’s OK to stop and take pictures of themselves next to my dog even after I warn them not too.
    There are problems on both sides, parents to be visually aware when their children play in parks and dog owners need to be realistic when it comes to their dogs sociability.
    Since owning my current dog I have taken numerous courses to understand my dog better and I now teach puppy classes, I admit I would not trust my dog in the hands of anyone else but that’s for my dogs safety.
    There are laws in place about dogs having to be on leads in public places and it astonishes me how many people still walk there dogs without a leash through town centres and local police don’t even have a word, so if they can’t uphold current laws I’m not convinced new rules would do much good.

  5. I must say I have to agree with Rich, to penalise the responsible majority due to the behavior of the few is not the way to address this issue.

    It is like banning driving or drinking for everyone due to a small number of people who drive while under the influence of drink.

    My labrador is a member of my family and everyone who knows her love her dearly. She knows her place and is nothing but loving to both children and adults. It all comes down to how she has been brought up and trained.

    What should be done is to identify the irresponsible dog owners and throw the book at them. Make an example of people who own dogs for status rather than as a member of their family.

    We no longer go to Cross Flatts Park as over recent years there has been an increase in these “status” dogs. It is not the dog’s fault but the irresponsible idiots who think it is clever to bring up a dog up to be uncontrollable and aggressive. Dealing with these PEOPLE should be the approach taken.

    1. Totally agree with this Adam. Everbody says its the minority who are irresponsible. How do we define what is responsible? Is just keeping them on a lead responsible? Do you have to pick up poo? Do you have to be able to recall the dog when it’s off the lead? If so is recall every time required or do we accept there are times you won’t be able to?

      Or do we say responsible is recognising these are living creatures with their own mind. That recall cannot be guaranteed every time. That there are times we can’t pick up all the poo. That they can sometimes slip the lead. That all dogs can bite. Is responsible then saying I will only exercise my dog in a park where dogs are not going to cause a nuisance or danger to anyone else in any circumstance

  6. I agree with many of the comments made, irresponsible or ignorant owners, people owning dogs for imagined status, people accquiring dogs without due thought, people advertising dogs for free, dogs being neglected or actively taught to be aggressive, all add to the problems we see and read about. But when a ‘bad’ owner is taken to court little is done to prevent another dog getting into the offenders hands. Link:
    The Judges closing remark was that the man was not capable of looking after a dog. Yet he went on to only ban the man from keeping a dog for 3 years. Surely a lifetime ban should follow such a statement?

  7. I do not think it would be fair to ban dogs from parks but as a dog owner I would prefer rules saying the dog had to be on a lead. To be honest I would prefer this anyway as my dog is usually on a lead unless there is no one around – he’s harmless but doesn’t come back to order very well and often other dogs come running up to us. When they are loose and I don’t know them I’m always a bit wary as to how they will be with my dog especially when the owner is a fair distance away and he’s far too big for me to pick up should anything happen

  8. Lots of comment on our Facebook page where I shared this earlier (Friends of Middleton Park), mostly against the need to ban dogs from Parks but for the need for owners to be in control of their dogs.

  9. Whilst it should be compulsory for all new dog owners to attend a training class with their dog for socialisation and recall training etc it should also be compulsory for all primary school children to receive responsible pet ownership/dog awareness education.

  10. When I first moved to Beeston a few years ago I thought I’d go running, I was amazed at how beautiful Cross Flatts Park was and decided I was going to do a few laps. After a mere 5 minutes in the park I soon had another runner running with me, however it was not a fellow runner who was trying to lose a few extra pounds it was an out of control dog. Fortunately the dog did not attack me, however it did give me a bit of a fright. I could not see an owner anywhere and decided to get out of there. I have not been back to Cross Flatts Park since.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I love dogs, I used to have 4 sausage dogs, but when the safety of the children innocently playing in the park is concerned, I think something needs to be done before a child gets killed.

    Although I think the safest option would be to ban all dogs from the park, I don’t think this option would be enforced.

    I think the most feasible options would be one of the following:

    1) Have a dog zone within the park, the park is more than large enough to have a reasonably sized fenced area with possibly it’s own designated gate. This way dogs would be able to run free and children are kept safe. It would also solve the issues with dog poop.

    2) Have a designated time in the morning and afternoon where dogs are allowed to be in the park, however I think again there would be issues enforcing this.

    Would be interesting to see what other people think and also what the friends of the park think.


  11. I am also a owner of a dog who is friendly with adults and children. I don’t walk her in any park areas where children are playing however I do tend to avoid walking in busier places as she gets very protective around other dogs. My ‘pet’ hate is in busier areas dogs not being on the lead and approaching my dog who is always on her lead and I’m frowned upon constantly when she gets aggressive with other dogs running up to her, as all she is doing is being protective and standing her own ground. Any suggestions on how I can highlight to other owners not to allow their dogs to charge towards her or even to approach with caution would be appreciated.
    I do honestly think all dog owners need to be aware whether it is in training or before buying a dog, not all dogs are the same in your basic every day routine things.

  12. How do we define what is responsible? Is just keeping them on a lead responsible? Do you have to pick up poo? Do you have to be able to recall the dog when it’s off the lead? If so is recall every time required or do we accept there are times you won’t be able to?

    Or do we say responsible is recognising these are living creatures with their own mind. That recall cannot be guaranteed every time. That there are times we can’t pick up all the poo. That they can sometimes slip the lead. That all dogs can bite. Is responsible then saying I will only exercise my dog in a park where dogs are not going to cause a nuisance or danger to anyone else in any reasonably forseable circumstance.

    Or is the richness of having dogs in our lives something we are prepared to risk injury to the most vulnerable in our society. Do we then mitigate that risk. Accept all dogs may bite so limit ownership to those breeds we know mix well with people and cannot cause severe injuries by perhaps saying anything with a stronger bite than a Labrador or Springer is completely outlawed from Britain.
    Somewhere amongst all this is an answer.

  13. I have 2 dogs, one is a very friendly small lahapso x and another which is a chinese crested powder puff. The latter having a big dog in a little cute body syndrome, he barks at any dog he meets and growls, so I only allow him off the lead if it’s clear there isn’t any other dogs anywhere, otherwise he is on the lead. Also I am meticulous at picking up their waste, my 2 are small dogs sometimes it can take me 5 mins to find it it if they “go” in the leaves. What I do find if there’s any poo left it’s a big dogs poo. I have challenged some people about picking up but all I get is a “feel free to pick it up if you want, I can’t be bothered, why should I?” How about taking mobile photos of people and their dogs who leave their poop and maybe shaming them? Putting them on this website or pinning up on the building in the park. I have even seen a young lady with a pram and her staffie dog having a poop while mum stood waiting all the time looking round to see if she could get away without picking up , I stood and waited for her to pick it up, which she reluctantly did, then just tossed it into the grass, SHE HAD TO WALK PAST A BIN ! WHY !!!!! Maybe if wardens cant do owt, maybe we should before we get told to stop walking our dogs in the park, its our park too.

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