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Bunnings shoppers, how about leaving your dogs at home once in a while?

It's time we set boundaries for pets and their owners.

OPINION

The entitlement of Aussie dog owners has been thrown in the spotlight after a rattled dad said a large breed lunged and snapped at his young son inside a Bunnings store last week. While the retailer was unable to verify the man's anonymous claim, it has reignited the debate about allowing dogs — assistance animals excluded — into retail stores and other public spaces.

It's fair to say we're a nation of dog lovers but since the pandemic, which drove pet ownership up by 10 per cent, it seems accommodating the needs of pups has become an unnecessarily high priority; from dog friendly cafes, beaches, bars, pubs and shops, to calls for pet dogs to be allowed on public transport and even planes. Bunnings has welcomed dogs into stores for years on the condition they're contained to a trolley, carried or restrained by a leash (a requirement for dogs on leads to be muzzled was dropped this year), but that's of little comfort to a scared child.

Dogs in Bunnings stores
Bunnings says the vast majority of dogs are well behaved in its stores. Source: Facebook

"My son has a phobia of dogs after several terrible incidents where he has been knocked over, hurt, chased and almost bitten by out-of-control dogs. I mostly avoid Bunnings on the weekend and beaches too," one fed-up customer shared on Reddit, while another suggested the retailer introduce "dog-free" time slots.

For the most part, canines in public pose no issue if they're well trained and properly restrained. However, I do feel for the Bunnings dad or any parent whose child has been approached by a large dog while out and about. Confrontations between dogs and children happen every day in suburbs, towns and cities across Australia, so it's no surprise some kids are terrified of dogs, no matter how "gentle" they may be. Imagine an animal that's larger than you — with teeth and claws that could potentially rip your face off in an instant — walking near you, let alone sniffing you, barking or lunging towards you.

The trauma some kids experience from a scary or confronting encounter with a dog can even be carried into adulthood, so I don't think the call for dog-free time slots at Bunnings is unreasonable. And while Bunnings does sell a range of pet products, it's still essentially a hardware and DIY store, so it's a sad day when families feel unable to take their kids to pick out pot plants for their garden or a new paint colour for their bedroom wall on the off-chance there's a dog-shaped trauma waiting to happen.

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