Amy Jamieson
August 11, 2009 06:40 PM

You and your dog have found a little slice of heaven at the local park. You’re just about to cop a squat on the perfect patch of grass when you see them: your friend’s bratty kids running your way. They’re notorious for going crazy on your dog, pulling his tail, offering him chocolate (a big no-no!) and the parents never even bat an eye.

So, how to handle your pals letting their kids run wild at your pet’s expense? Etiquette expert Charles Purdy, the author of Urban Etiquette: Marvelous Manners for the Modern Metropolis, suggests treading lightly when it comes to disciplining others’ children.

He suggests encouraging the parents to intercede by saying, ” ‘I’m worried that little Madison might get hurt if she thinks that it’s okay to pull a dog’s tail. Of course, Rex is very gentle, but not every dog is – and even Rex has limits.’ ”

Purdy says that when your pet’s safety is being jeopardized, you have every right to be more straightforward. “There’s nothing rude about saying something like, ‘Chocolate is poisonous for dogs; please make sure that Madison doesn’t feed them’ – or, if there’s no time for that, interceding more directly, as gently as possible.”

If the parent can’t or won’t take care of his or her kids, then Purdy suggests separating the child and the animal. And, he says, it may be time to reevaluate the friendship. “Ask yourself whether you want to continue a friendship with someone who can’t control his or her kids,” he says. “Or who cares so little for your pets’ safety.”

How would you deal with this situation? Leave your suggestion in the comments below!

Do you have a Petiquette dilemma you’d like to share? Email us at!

More ‘Petiquette’ on PEOPLE Pets:
Petiquette: How to Handle an Uninvited Pooch at Your Dinner Party?
Petiquette: How to Handle a Yappy Pup in the Friendly Skies?

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