Why ALL parks should be off lead dog parks!
This might seem like an outlandish wish, however I think you will find by the end of this story that there are very good reasons for converting MOST parks to off lead parks. But first a little history of how I got to such a claim.
While this assertion is based mostly on my location and present council rulings, I am pretty sure that many people will be able to identify with the issues. You see once upon a time the state Government believed that green areas were very important for people. They realized that developers are profit driven and are not swayed by such ideologies, so the Government created rules for large swathes of land called ‘green wedges’. These wedges would be exclusion zones for any form of dwelling creation and would create a buffer for both residential areas as well as acting as pollution filters and wildlife habitats. These safe green areas are now being lost to developers.
Once upon a time you also used to be able to allow your dog off lead in a ‘safe’ park or quiet suburb locations. But then safety concerns and councils got together and banned all dogs from being off lead except for a tiny fraction of specifically designated ‘off lead’ areas.
For people with fearful dogs, angry dogs, small children or a phobia about dogs, this may seem like a great and logical solution. However as many dog owners and neighbours of barking dogs will attest, drastically restricting locations that dogs can socialise and learn how to be normal and play well cause many more issues than they solve.
With around one third of households having a dog, there are an awful lot of dogs out there in need of exercise. With time pressures and often both parents working and children escaping dog walking duties, having very few off lead parks means that there is a big disincentive for people to travel long distances to properly socialise their dogs. With the world being full of more and more un-socialized dogs, when these dogs do get out of the yard, either by escaping or by being taken for a seldom walk to these parks, they will be much less social than they otherwise would be. That is, if off lead parks where within close proximity to them.
So in desperation some people will be tempted to take their dog for a short walk (not much value to the dog’s development) or to have them off lead in a park that is not officially off lead. This situation then has non-dog people campaign to councils to restrict dog off lead areas further and police these areas more, so that people end up walking their dogs even less.
The amazing thing that I have found with this scenario is that with around one third of all households having dogs, that dog people are seen as such second class citizens. Their dogs given even more remote and restricted places to let their dogs learn how to be dogs, in off lead parks.
Once a park is made on-lead, or a park is turned into housing, it is lost forever. Much of the issues that people experience with dogs can be relieved by a daily off lead dog walk. With some dogs being seen as becoming a major issue confronting the suburbs, wouldn’t it make sense to provide many quality places where these dogs can run free and resolve many of the issues associated with not being allowed to run free and socialise?
If a dog is anti-social and acts overly aggressive to either a human or other dogs, most owners are sensible enough to realise this and restrict their dog’s freedom until they can train them otherwise. They do this whether the park is on lead or off lead. If they don’t, they can still be fined in an off lead area, or worse (lose the dog) under existing laws. In off lead parks, it does not mean a concession to lawlessness, just a higher chance that many dogs that will develop problems are saved before these can happen. WHICH BENEFITS THE WHOLE COMMUNITY.
In conclusion, anyone who knows anything about dog psychology and dog behaviour understands the vital part that off lead dog parks play in the socialisation of dogs and the benefit for the whole community. It is a shame that many council members are not good dog owners who realise the off lead parks value.
Bruce, the author of this article is a dog walker. Besides walks, I ensure that the dog treats that my dogs eat are real meat and are healthy for them. Hence why I am the purveyor of the
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