Kids On Leashes: Final Hypotheticals

kids on leashes2

Not to beat a dead dog, but while conversing about this surprisingly contentious issue (here, and here) on Facebook with the ever-thoughtful and provocative Lianne Best (Ethics Alarms congratulations go to Lianne for being honored by NARAL as an Outstanding Advocate For Choice), I realized that I should have posed one more hypothetical for the enthusiastic child-leashers to chew on, to wit:

“Have you ever seen anyone in public with both a kid and a dog on leashes simultaneously?”

Would you do that? And if you wouldn’t, why would having a child on a leash without the dog be any better?

To which Lianne countered with an even better hypothetical:

“How about a parent walking in public with the child on a leash but the dog walking along without one?”


Spark: Lianne Best

Graphic: Baby Cottage Gifts


20 thoughts on “Kids On Leashes: Final Hypotheticals

    • Or a child leased to an unleashed dog.
      The first thing I thought of was an actual professional child walker, walking multiple toddlers on leashes, in an urban setting, so the parent doesn’t have to worry about the child getting fresh air and exercise.

  1. Leaving aside the issue of whether one might bite the other if thrown into close contact like that, this scenario is definitely worse for the same reason I look askance at someone attempting to walk two (or more!) dogs on leashes at the same time: the risk of tangling and the division of the handler’s attention makes it far worse than attempting to walk a single dog (or child) on a leash.

    Aside: many years ago I visited my brother when my nephew was only a few months old. Per the scenario offered as a hypothetical in an earlier thread on this topic, my brother had indeed fastened my nephew into a sort of indoor leashing restraint contraption; he was attached to the top of a door frame with a harness and an arrangement of chains and springs that allowed him to jump up and down far more readily than he could unassisted, without allowing him much lateral leeway – and he was doing precisely that, with a big grin on his face. However, he looked a little too small for the harness, so I asked my brother if it wasn’t too tight under my nephew’s arms. “Oh, we let him out whenever his arms turn blue”, my brother replied.

  2. You keep looking at this through the wrong lens. It is doubtful that this would happen because a parent usually leashes: 1) an unruly child; or 2) a young child if the mother is taking care of more than one young child. It would be rare for a parent to add a dog to that mix because it would add to the already chaotic situation necessitating the leash in the first place.

      • The leash is to allow children the freedom to walk a little independently, to explore if something catches their eye, to prevent them from dashing into traffic or just plain away, such as in a mall setting (ever try to run after a toddler? The are surprisingly fast. A leashed child cannot be easily separated from mom or dad. (Have you seen the video of a mom in a mall whose small child was walking behind her as she was about to walk through a narrow opening between barrier ropes? A man took the toddler by the hand and started to walk off with him. Very brazen!) I wish I’d had the option of a leash when my children were small.

  3. I can’t say with certainty that I have seen it before, but it wouldn’t surprise me. We have some dumb, lazy parents in these parts, and the things I see and hear on a daily basis would drive Jack to alcoholism.

  4. I’ve been reading these leash threads and my question is this: whatever happened to “you hold my hand or it’s back in the stroller you go?” I have three children and like most people I only have two hands. I’ve been to Disney with them. I’ve been through airports with them. I’ve been in very, very crowded places with them. I get it. I do.

    It strikes me as if the leash is a way for parents to be able to go where they want to go, do what they want to do without having to be encumbered by a child who is not yet ready or capable of walking while hand holding, who don’t want to have to tell their child “no”, and and don’t want to dampen their child’s wanderlust or put up with the conniption fit that might ensue while trying to strap said child back into a stroller. If a situation is so precarious that an ambulatory child needs to be leashed for his or her own safety, then maybe the child shouldn’t be set down in the first place.

    • You’re 95% of the way there (intellectually) to where I would try to move you with my comments, if it’s possible. Your comment was fine for me up until you started to assume the motivations of the parent and what alternatives they were facing. Yes, under those motivations and kid reactions, you’re right. My only point of reference was when my daughter was just around 2 years (maybe a few months younger) and she was walking and running everywhere. She’d decided that the stroller wasn’t for her at all and that holding her wasn’t acceptable. (My wife got the black eye to prove the point on trying to hold her while physically restraining her against her will and my daughter nearly mutilated her foot and ankle while struggling against her stroller.)

      Now, in a normal situation like a mall, walmart, Disney park where we have time to devote to reasoning with a (almost) 2 year old and teaching and educating – I would never consider the idea of using a leash, but waiting in an Airport check-in line where you can’t leave your place, the building is chaotically packed, you’re on a time schedule, and people are asking you questions and distracting you from your role as a parent so that they’ll let you board their plane that you’ve put down a load of money…I make the exception.

      I think that there’s also a misconception about the leash and its proper use in this context – it’s not about control as with a dog. A dog’s leash is around the neck and gets jerked on to correct behavior. There’s a bit of pain involved and definitely physical control. A kid’s leash is a harness and despite the appearance of physical control, it actually lacks control. While you imagine seeing a parent tug on the leash to bring the kid back into the ‘bubble’, the truth is that a tug can bring a kid down on their head and cause serious injury. The purpose of such a device is rather, primarily, an alert – that your child would like to be much further away than you realized, and secondarily, a tether so that when you are most distracted, they can’t get too far.

      With all that said, the role of a kid leash is entirely temporary for the instances where the necessary airport trip coincides with the 2-3 months your kid has learned to walk, hates being held or strolled, and is too oblivious to realize they’ve wandered off/can’t understand directions.

      For some or most parents, it would never be necessary because their kids latch onto them and never let go. For everyone, it’s never necessary beyond when the kid can understand direction or before they can walk.

      Some people would have you believe that you can smack a toddler and they’ll learn. Others would tell you to let your toddler endanger injury in a stroller, or to weather the storm of fists and headbutts. I disagree with all of those ideas.

      So, for the parents with the confluence of events, age, development, etc where it makes sense, it’s not a problem in my opinion.

      • I understand what you’re saying Tim, I do. Our middle child was a wanderer who often disappeared right under our noses. But if a child is “mutilating” their foot on a stroller, I would suggest that the stroller is the safety problem not the wandering. And if a child cannot be controlled while waiting in an airport check-in line, what on earth do you do once you’re on the plane? Let them run up and down the aisle? At some point the child must be contained. Weathering the storm of fists and headbutts is a parent’s job. Putting the child on a leash simply puts the child within proximity of everyone else waiting in line.

        • You misunderstand my point about the airport check-in line. The leash was less for the waiting in the line, more for that 20 second burst where you are expected to go from the head of the line, to an open station 35 feet away as quickly as possible, dragging 4 checked bags, 3 carryons, a child, a car seat and a stroller they refuse to sit in because the mood struck them. All while fishing out identifications, entering reservation information, carrying on a conversation with the agent who will check your id’s and ensure that you packed your own bags.

          Or maybe you didn’t misunderstand and you just wanted to reduce my hypothetical down to bare minimum simplicity to try and claim some sort of advantage?

          All that to say that once you go through that one process, you are vastly alleviated of other obligations that you can attend to the child without necessity of the leash, especially once you board the plane and stow your belongings. If a tool makes your job not only easier, but “possible”, you use the tool, and if you judge me enough to make a comment to me while I’m in that situation to my face, I’ll be sure to judge you then and there and respond appropriately. My plane might not be that important after all and I might volunteer for a trip down to the local precinct if it means I can show my toddler how to deal with bullies.

  5. All I know, is when we take our 3 toddlers out to potty them, they get so tangled up on the leashes it is frustrating. At least at the toddler park we can let them run free.

  6. That’s easy! You just make the babysitter walk the dogs and the dogsitter look after the kids. Now, where are the hard questions?

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