Unleashed dog in Wandsworth Park (near the playground) charged at our young children & 5-year old now terrified

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alenaraphaella
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Unleashed dog in Wandsworth Park (near the playground) charged at our young children & 5-year old now terrified

Postby alenaraphaella » Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:45 am

Yesterday around 10am we were walking in Wandsworth Park when an unleashed dog ran right up to our young children at pelting speed and utterly terrified our 5-tear old boy, who dropped his water bottle in fear which the dog then played with. My son dashed between my legs wrapping his arms around them sobbing; I couldn't move away as I was also holding the buggy which luckily our other two children (1 and 2) were safe in.

The owner didn't seem fazed at all, not running over - just casually waved from a distance and yelling 'don't worry the dog is fine, he's super friendly'. He had absolutely no awareness that his dog had really frightened our son and it was obvious he was bemused that somehow a child would be so uncomfortable, as if everyone should be happy to have dogs running up to them.  We've actually had other incidences where dogs were running around unleashed and I've had to pick up my children when they were afraid. 

This morning at the first mention of going out again to the park our son welled up, sobbing that he didn't want to go out to the as he is now scared that there will be any dogs around. Nothing I could say would reassure him that he would be safe, and honestly, I don't blame him. So he has stayed back home with  my mum who (luckily) is visiting for half-term, which means I'm able to take the other two out. 

Everyday we have seen many dog owners not putting their dogs on a leash and letting them run loose in public parks, etc without any care or concern about the welfare of other people. Not everyone likes dogs, and to simply let them run loose feels very wrong. It feels deeply unfair that this keeps happening and it is really upsetting that this incident has affected our son (and possible other children) in this way.

It's worth mentioning that our children haven't been restricted in spending time with or around dogs. My father in law has a dog, and my husband who grew up with dogs - and aware that our son is a bit nervous around them - goes out of his way to teach him gently how to make eye contact, and take deep breaths, and has actually managed to get him reasonable comfortable to pet dogs when they are out walking near them. Also, our local primary school is aware that some of their pupils have a fear of dogs and so run a program to help any such pupils become more familiar and calm with them - and our son participates in this. So we absolutely aren't trying to instil fear of dogs in our children, quite the opposite.

Our issue is the situation whereby a large dog was charging towards our buggy without a lead, and the owner could've called the dog when it was quite clear this was distressing our son - but chose not to. That's the issue; just as we do genuinely try and teach our children to be relaxed and calm., and to be even social around dogs - dog owners should be able to recognise if there are certain times when their dogs are actually being too fast, or too loud, etc - and in those instances, beckon them back. It can't be fair that it;'s entirely down to non-dog owners to always be prepared to accept any dog behavior towards them, no matter if it is frightening, and for dog owners to bear no responsibility towards their pets.

Is this even legal? We understand that dogs needs to run around, and in places like the big Commons (Wimbledon, Wandsworth) that seems like it could be more appropriate - although we've seen dogs running up to & disturbing people having a picnic, or doing exercises, many times and it just seems so many of the owners are completely indifferent about their dogs.
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HR2611
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Re: Unleashed dog in Wandsworth Park (near the playground) charged at our young children & 5-year old now terrified

Postby HR2611 » Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:08 pm

I am so sorry that you and your son had such a horrible experience.

I had something similar on Wandsworth Common a few weeks ago with my 3 year old. A man was out running with his fairly large dog off the lead and the dog was running around near the Skylark playground seemingly having a lovely time. The dog then actually ran at full speed and jumped the fence into the busy playground at the end for smaller kids (he didn’t seem spooked and presumably if he was he wouldn’t run towards people?), circled around and jumped back over the fence just as me and my son were approaching the middle gate, and the dog jumped between me and my son on his scooter (he was no more than 2-3 feet behind me) and just missed his head! The owner ran off shouting after his dog, and whilst I understand he may have been trying to catch it, he didn’t even shout sorry over his shoulder or come back later to check all was ok (we stayed in the playground for a while).

My son was terrified and now hides behind me when he sees a dog-even the lovely guide dog we saw with a lady raising money at the station yesterday was too scary for him to go near!
I do hope your son recovers from the experience soon.

In terms of your question, my understanding is that it’s illegal to have an out of control dog off the lead. I’m not though sure what would constitute ‘out of control’ but presumably the dog should come back if called. With my encounter, the dog certainly did not seem to have any recall, but in your case the owner appears not to have even tried, which as you say is the real issue!!

I did post on a local Facebook post about my experience (primarily to try to thank the ladies that came to our aid and to remind dog owners and parents to both be more aware), but it led to some very heated opinions which discussions on dogs and kids do seem to provoke!
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catboo1
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Re: Unleashed dog in Wandsworth Park (near the playground) charged at our young children & 5-year old now terrified

Postby catboo1 » Mon Feb 24, 2020 6:28 am

I’m so sorry to read about your experience.
I had a similar experience with my then 6 year old daughter who was walking with me on the Common and a dog ran over and jumped up on her. It kept jumping while the owner just waved over and said it was fine. But then the dog accidentally pushed her to the ground and she fell onto the concrete edge next to the grass, face down and smashed her adult front tooth out. The endless trips to the dentist have cost us thousands and ultimately she will have to have an implant when she’s 18. The whole thing has been traumatic to say the least and looking back I should have asked them if they would pay on their insurance. But I was so frightened and upset at the time. Shaking and seeing blood everywhere and trying to calm both her and my toddler down, I just wanted to get home.
So yes, these dog owners who walk in parks where there are so many young families, have no idea how scary their big dogs are to smal children and we are reminded of the experience on a daily basis looking at her resin tooth, which is black as it can’t be whitened until she’s older
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dudette
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Re: Unleashed dog in Wandsworth Park (near the playground) charged at our young children & 5-year old now terrified

Postby dudette » Mon Feb 24, 2020 7:25 am

When my son was little he was also very scared of dogs owing to three large Irish setters that used to be regularly on Wandsworth Common. The dogs used to go running up to my son when he was in a pushchair - again with the owner just saying something along the lines of “he’s just being friendly - he thinks your my grandson.” He was terrified of dogs for years afterwards. Dog owners need to imagine how they’d feel if an animal the size of them with large teeth came bounding up to them. Of course it’s terrifying for a small child. I love (most) dogs and wouldn’t want them to be kept on a lead all the time but owners need to take more responsibility for them and make sure they are well trained.
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Kits
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Re: Unleashed dog in Wandsworth Park (near the playground) charged at our young children & 5-year old now terrified

Postby Kits » Mon Feb 24, 2020 7:40 am

I am so sorry to hear that your 5 year old child got so scared but it is perfectly legal for dogs to run around without leashes in parks. I would suggest to you that the next time a dog runs up to your small child( as it has happened to me when my children were little) that you pacify the situation by talking to your child how lovely the dog is and by bending down and stroking the dog and by showing your child that there is nothing to be scared of.
I think sometimes parents can make the situation worse.
We all live in a children and animal friendly area and unfortunately we all need to learn to live together.
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Laura_nanny_sw
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Re: Unleashed dog in Wandsworth Park (near the playground) charged at our young children & 5-year old now terrified

Postby Laura_nanny_sw » Mon Feb 24, 2020 8:59 am

Hi,

Speaking as a dog owner, but also a nanny who has had to deal with children who are scared of dogs I see both sides to a degree!
I at no point condone a dog being allowed to bound over and knock children over or terrify them, but i also believe children need to be taught the correct way to behave around dogs and if this was taught from a young age then we'd all exist a lot better together!
I had a horrible experience with my own dog and a child of around 6/7 when my dog was only young.
I was playing ball with him in a park away from anyone else when this little girl walked away from her family and came over to watch the dogs play (I was with another dog walker).
I used to take my dog to work with me, so therefore he was used to children and walked over to say hello (not bounding, just walked over and sniffed her) she screamed her head off and he started barking round her in circles as he was clearly distressed by her screaming! Of course I ran over to try and catch him, a member of the public started berating me and abusing me in the park so my dog barked at him instead! Long and short of it I do now avoid children with my dog (he's 10 now) as I'm not worried about his behaviour with children more so the fact that I'm worried if something like that could happen again!

The child I care for currently is 7 and had a bad experience with dogs when he was a toddler, being knocked over etc!
I'm really encouraging him to lose his fear as it can be so difficult in the long run!
The school he goes to, there are a lot of dogs outside, and gradually I've been getting him to stroke them and the janitor who is on the gate in the morning brings dog treats so he let's him feed them too.
He's coming on great! I've also been teaching him about when we are in the park/common what to do if a dog approaches.
I've said if hes near me to just stand still and call my name. If hes slightly further away to walk slowly towards me and call for me, or if the owner is near by to shout I dont like dogs, but to never scream or run! Screaming sends dogs into a frenzy and running is just a game to them!
I do think dog owners should be more aware of their animals and respectful that not everyone loves them like they do. Also to make sure they are adhering to rules of the park/place they are in and keep their dogs under control! If you're dog doesn't respect you then they wont respect anyone else's space!
It's so frustrating to read posts like this as there are many of us who have dogs who do consider other people and would never let a situation arise like that, and the few who dont care let us all down!
On another note of children and dogs, whilst its great for children to be comfortable with dogs, they also need to learn to ask to stroke a dog and not just do it! Unless they know the dog they should NEVER just go in for a stroke before asking! My jack Russell looks cute but hes very nervous and has nipped in stressful situations!
Not everything is how it looks!! I've know the meanest dachshund and chihuahuas!!
I hope your children wont be permanently scared!
But please please dont tar every dog and owner with the same brush!
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Kirstie’s Mom
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Re: Unleashed dog in Wandsworth Park (near the playground) charged at our young children & 5-year old now terrified

Postby Kirstie’s Mom » Mon Feb 24, 2020 7:18 pm

I have 2 rather large dogs and try my best to keep them under control. But I agree sometimes dog owners don’t control their dogs because they are on the phone or chatting to mates . My dogs on the whole are trained to stay away but from time to time this isn’t possible and when that happens I run over and get them . It’s easy when I encounter a relaxed parent not so easy when I come across a screaming child egged on by a frightened parent.
But it can run both ways, The other day a mother was walking very far behind her children who were on scooters who when they turned the corner ran almost smack into me and my dogs on leads . Upon seeing the dogs, They threw the scooters at my dogs and started crying - their mother still had not turned the corner so I tried to calm them whilst trying to keep my dogs under control. Not easy . The icing on the cake was when the mother finally turned the corner
, she had the nerve to tell me to control my dogs who by the way were behaving. I told her To control her children . But as you can see it runs both ways .
I do think that a child who is frightened of dogs is a bit sad so I would try my best to introduce him to a friendly dog or even buy a puppy . You mentioned your husband had a dog but do you like dogs because he may be picking up your fears . And if he and you are both frightened it makes an awkward situation difficult. Today ,while on leads on the Common, a woman was walking a small child. As we approached I could see by the child’s body language that she was afraid so we walked a ways around them . Having said that , as we walked by I mentioned my fluffy collie loved children and encouraged her to pet my dog . It took a bit of doing and encouraging from the Mother but the child did and was really happy afterwards and gave her Mom a big smile . It was nice to see her gaining confidence.






I was bitten by a neighbours dog when I was young . Luckily my parents helped me over this fear by buying a dog and frankly I’ve never been without one since.
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Lilybarsid
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Re: Unleashed dog in Wandsworth Park (near the playground) charged at our young children & 5-year old now terrified

Postby Lilybarsid » Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:37 pm

As a dog owner, I would love an enclosed area where dogs could run around on the common. It would make life much less stressful for everyone.
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