Dogs on school grounds

August 30, 2019

If you walk children to school, it’s the perfect opportunity to give your dog some exercise too. Before you do, make sure you’ve swotted up on the do’s and don’ts of dogs at the school gate. A growing number of schools are introducing policies about dogs on school grounds. Here’s what you need to think about before taking your dog on the school run.

If you’re a new dog owner, you may find it helpful to have a practice go of the school morning. This can help your dog to get used to a change in routine. It can also help you prepare for the morning mayhem now that you have a dog in tow. 

You may find that toilet training goes back a step as you find your way back into the swing of the school morning. It’s easy to take your eye off the ball if you’re busy with other things, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you find there’s been an accident.

Walking dogs to school

If your dog is going to be joining you on the walk to school, be prepared for a slow walk rather than a mad dash. Dogs like to take their time to sniff every lamp post or park bench (anywhere that dogs pee basically). 

As frustrating as it can be when you’re in a hurry, sniffing and peeing is how dogs communicate with each other. In dog world it’s known as pee-mail. The scent that a dog picks up from sniffing a lampost tells him a lot about other local dogs. See it as your dog’s way of getting to know the neighbours. Vary the route you take to school so that your dog gets the chance to sniff out new smells.

Dogs on school grounds

Many schools have a ‘no dogs on school grounds’ policy meaning that dogs cannot go beyond the school gate and into the playground. Only assistance dogs and dogs being used for educational purposes are generally allowed onto school premises. 

‘No dogs on school grounds’ policies are designed for the safety of children and to protect children with allergies. Plus, there’s nothing worse than dog poo in the playground…other than dog poo on children’s shoes!

On days when you need to go into the school, for example, to speak to a teacher, it’s best to leave your dog at home. Alternatively ask another parent to watch your dog for you. Most schools request that parents don’t tie dogs to the school gate. As well as considering the safety of children, there is the issue of your dog’s safety. Leaving them tied to the school gate makes them an easy target for dog theft

Safety around children

Some children are instinctively drawn towards dogs and want to stroke and hug them. However, if a dog feels threatened by an over-affectionate and excited child it could easily result in a nasty nip. Teach children to approach your dog slowly, be gentle and to never pull on their ears or tail. Remind them to always ask you first if they can stroke your dog. This is so that you can make sure your dog isn’t chewing a treat or playing with a toy which could make them act possessively. 

As you get closer to school or in areas where there are lots of younger school children, put your dog on the lead. Some children are afraid of dogs and a loose dog could make them feel anxious. If a nervous child screams or runs, a dog may think it’s a game and get over-excited. This can add to a child’s anxiety. 

Puppy socialisation

Taking your dog along for the walk to school is a great way to introduce them to outdoor noises and experiences. This is an important part of their puppy socialisation plan. 

However, if you’re still puppy training and going for a walk is still a very new experience for your dog, it may be best to wait a while before they join you on the school run. That said, your puppy could equally feel anxious about being left alone at home. Perhaps you could ask a relative or neighbour to puppy-sit while you take the children to school. This is just until you feel your dog is ready to join you. 

School run essentials

Don’t forget to take treats for your dog and poo bags. Lots of poo bags!