Debate: Should Dogs Be Walked to School?

robby and kiki Ok, so as you know, we just got a dog. She’s awesome. She’s very well-behaved. And she’s particularly good with children.

When we thought about getting a dog I always envisioned walking her to school with us when we took Sam to kindergarten and picked him up. So by the second week that’s what we started doing. Kiki walks right next to me on leash and stays with me the whole time. Often kids come up and ask if they can pet her. I have her sit and then they do so.

To me, this all seemed like a win-win for everyone. Kiki got two extra walks a day. Kids that like dogs can visit with one before or after school if they want to. Sam gets to have her with him longer and he seems proud to have his dog there, particularly when it is clear other kids love her.

Several other walkers bring their dogs to drop-off and pick-up. None of them are ill-behaved and all us dog owners just kind of keep them away from each other so no one gets riled up. To me, everything’s been good.

Then today, after we dropped Sam off, Robby, Kiki, and I were waiting at the traffic light to cross and head home. Coming from the other direction a woman and her daughter came up onto the sidewalk. When this mom came to my other side and saw that I had a dog sitting there (and yes, Kiki was sitting right next to me waiting for the light along with everyone else), the woman made a horrible, angry face and proceeded to pick up her daughter by the arm and swing her past us. The as they were walking away I heard her daughter asking her mom why she picked her up that way. I was not privy to the response, unfortunately.

Ok, so I’m not worried in particular about this weird woman who is swinging her kid around by the wrist. She was clearly running late and was flustered. Whatever.

But it did make me wonder if there are other parents out there who are frustrated by those of us who are bringing our dogs to school. I only have interaction with the kids and parents who actively come up to us. What I am not having, is interaction with the non-dog people, so to me, things have seemed great.

Like I said, Kiki is well-behaved, even more so than at home. She sits and lets kids pet her. Other than trying to eat Sam’s backpack when he comes out she is calm and obedient (but seriously, what is it with the backpack? Shes crazy for it.) When at school I try to keep us off the path so as not to get in anyone’s way or freak out kids who might be afraid of dogs. When waiting at the light I usually keep us a bit back instead of moving into the crowd. But is that enough?

For people who don’t like dogs or have kids who are apprehensive, am I making it more difficult for them just by being there with one? Please tell me, especially non-dog people. Is it annoying to you when other families bring their dogs to drop-off and pick-up? Is it disrespectful? Does it make your day harder? Dog owners, do you bring yours with you to places where there are kids (assuming dogs are allowed)?

And I’m not even saying I’d change what I’m doing necessarily, at least not as long as Kiki is doing nothing wrong and seems to be making lots of kids pretty happy. But the way this woman looked at me, it made me wonder who else is scowling around, potentially complaining about “that dog woman.”

14 Responses

  1. I would not mind it if I saw people walking their dogs to school nowadays, but as a child, it might have terrified me out of my mind since my mom had been savagely bitten by the dog of our neighbor. I used to cry every time I’d walk by or near a dog. I didn’t understand the difference between well-behaved dogs and mean dogs back then and the neighbors eventually blamed the fact that their dog bit my mom on ME (because I cried and ran past their house when I walked home from my bus stop).

    Again, I’m not this way now, and this woman doesn’t sound like she had the same problem with her child, but perhaps one or two children at your child’s school are also giant scaredy-cats. Maybe this child had a dog allergy. It’s hard to say. I’d probably keep walking your dog to school if I were you.

  2. I’ll throw my two cents in. I’m fine with it. What you described in the post is an owner who is acting responsibly and is aware that some people may be uncomfortable around dogs. I think the woman that you mentioned has her own issues which have nothing to do with you. Maybe she was late and afraid that her daughter would stop to pet your dog. Maybe she’s just a mean mom. We have one of those on my middle son’s soccer team; I hate the way she talks to her child.

    My only concern is for the owners who let their dogs run loose without supervising them. Unfortunately, there’s an owner near my children’s school that does that every single morning. We never see the owner. I keep my children away because I have no way of knowing the dog’s temperament.

    We did own a dog, but he was too wild to take to school. I would have loved to talk him to school, but he wasn’t the right temperament. He was just too bouncy.

    If you keep up the habit with your dog, people will learn in time what a great dog owner you are and how well behaved your dog is. It’s also a great lesson for your kids about being mindful of other people and treating animals with respect.

  3. I think that if your dog is well behaved, there is no problem at all! That being said, not everyone is as considerate with their dogs.

    At our school, every dog I have seen there has been a good, well-behaved dog, and I don’t mind any of them. The only rule is that they aren’t allowed inside the actually gates, so they all wait in the pickup area. There is plenty of room, and it’s so dogs don’t poop in the areas that kids play in (which I agree with).

    That woman obviously has her own problems.

  4. Oops, the “actual” gates. Sorry, my son was talking to me while I was typing and I wasn’t paying attention.

  5. I agree, if your dog is well-behaved, should be no problem. We have dogs too and would probably bring them if we could walk to school. The ones who don’t really care if there dogs scare people make it bad for all us dog owners. My husband’s always had dogs, and can’t really grasp why a kid or adult would simply be scare of all dogs, even well-behaved big ones, but we try to steer clear of everyone unless they ask to pet them. There are lots of kids with and w/o dogs who love to pet them. And agree, that woman has her own problems, and there will always be people who get upset about some random thing. There are schools around here who don’t even want you to walk your kids to school, it creates issues for the hoardes of drivers who insist on dropping their kids off two feet from the classroom and don’t like to have to watch out for walking kids.

  6. When we walk to school with the boys, we bring Emma (our dog) with us. Emma is also well behaved around kids. We’ve never had an issues with it (although it’s only the second week). Some people just don’t like dogs.


  7. I agree – we love when people bring their dogs! My kdis love to see them and pet. As long as she is well behaved, I think its fine.

  8. Um, it’s public property, right? As long as the dog isn’t on school property, no one should have any right to be uppity.

    I have seen tons of dogs on the walk to school (even great danes!) and as long as they’re well behaved, no one has ever complained. Also, the only way for dogs to become tolerant of groups of people is to BE in groups of people.

  9. I totally get why people don’t like to have dogs around. A LOT of kids are terrified of dogs, no matter how well behaved and it just creates a lot of unnecessary anxiety for everyone. Our school has a strict no dogs on the school grounds rule, which means people don’t walk their dogs to drop off either (because they would be on school grounds). I have a sweet well-behaved dog, but I am super sensitive to little kids who are afraid of dogs. (This post was a long time ago, maybe you can update with what you decided).

  10. I totally would have stopped and tried to pet your dog! But, *sigh* I know some people are afraid of them (their problem) and might get bent out of shape. Maybe she’s a super freak about dogs and was afraid your sweetie would bite her daughter to pieces. Maybe the lady knows that not all people are as intelligent as you and might bring a crappy-bite-y dog on a walk with her? Or, she was a beotch. It’s not like you let the dog JUMP on her for craps sake. :)

    (btw sorry for coming out all random and commenting, I was googling “Mom hair cut” to see if I have one (lol) and you popped up! Good find! :) )

  11. I used to love dogs as a kid. My grandmother had 8 dogs and they were amazing playmates when we would go on holiday. Unfortunately my opinion of dogs have changed quite a bit. My brother was attacked by a dog when I was really young and this will always stay with me. It didnt change my opinion about my grans dogs, just other peoples. If I dont know the person, I try to stay clear of dogs and would even walk on the other side of the road if I see someone with a dog comming our way. Its really hard to explain. Its the stories of dogs who seem perfectly normal one day, completely losing it the next. Pictures of little children attacked. This is what makes me afraid for my child. If I was that woman, I propably would have picked my daughter up and told her not to pet the dog – out of fear. But had I been on the schoolrun with you, gotten accustomed to seeing you there everyday and children petting your dog, perhaps even said hi and started having mini-conversations, I would have encouraged my daughter to pet your dog. When my daughter was about 22 months old, we met a man on the road as we went out shopping. He was going our way and it was a pleasure to observe how obedient and behaved his dog was. Even more of a surprise when I – after making conversation on the way – found that his dog came from a shelter and was badly abused by previous owners. Every dog has a certain “look”. Your dog looks like an amazing companion and friend. If the owner is nervous or angry all the time, the dog will be too. I hope this helps you understand the moms who grab their kids and run for the hills so to speak. :)

  12. Have a great Thanksgiving.

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  13. Oh my goodness. I can’t believe she would be so unkind to her own child in order to ‘protect’ her from your dog! It sounds like your dog is well behaved. I can’t believe any would be mind if you were taking your dog for a walk. That just seems crazy to me.

    Hope you had a nice Christmas today : )

  14. [...] the subject of dogs being walked to school – I did continue to walk Kiki to Sam’s school, that is, until recently when it just got too [...]