Okay, before you are going to yell at me, I know I know, dog parks can be great in large cities where it takes you maybe a couple hours do drive to the next safe off leash place, or for people that are not as mobile and physically can’t take their dogs to other off leash places such as hiking a mountain etc. because of accessibility.
So I get it, dog parks have a place for some people but in reality, most people DO NOT need dog parks, so let’s talk about this.
I have a love hate relationship with dog parks. Personally, I don’t go there. I would never expect my dogs (who are both friendly with others) to interact with strangers they don’t know, that they might not even want to be friends with cause we know there are way too many rude dogs there and then also simply for safety purposes.
Many people use dog parks for socialization purpose when in reality it’s the EXACT WRONG place to socialize but that’s a different story for a different post so let’s talk about the real issues this post is about.
A lot of people complain that they can’t let their dogs off leash anywhere else because there’s leash laws everywhere within city limits. And you are right, there are leash laws everywhere and I am one of those owners that is pretty happy and pleased with that, because if there weren’t, I can tell you we would have even more issues with other strange dogs approaching dogs that are on leash and just a lot of even more irresponsible dog owners that now have the actual legal right to be irresponsible. Yeah go figure.
So, the reason why I don’t think you need dog parks is(unless you are one of the people mentioned at the very top!)… wait for it….
We Live In Canada! We live in British Columbia!
There are so many places you can go where leash laws don’t apply in that sense. You can go out in the bush or onto crown land or up on the mountain where there’s hundreds of miles of trails where you can let your dog off leash legally (you still have to be in control, but there are no more leash laws).
Are you now looking at me big eyed like “hell no, I can’t let my dog off leash there, what if he chases something or runs off or ignores me?” Yup, that IS indeed scary, and if that’s the case, don’t let your dog off leash but at the same time, if that’s the case, your dog shouldn’t be off leash at the dog park either, yeah?
So, the problem doesn’t lie in the fact that we don’t have enough safe areas where we can let dogs off leash….
Rather, the problem lies in the lack of listening skills and training of many dogs that would allow them to actually be dogs and run distances, explore new places and simply be dogs.
I find that dog parks are a part of the problem for the lack of training because, it’s an easy solution to think that you don’t have to train your dog because you have the dog park.
It’s an easy solution to not actually have to really fulfill your dog and get out with them in nature where they can be and explore as who they are.
It’s in easy solution to doing less.
It enables dog owners to ignore the real issue, which is also the issue that really prevents them enjoying their dog to the fullest and why they are and remain frustrated with their dog.
And hey, I’m not saying that occasionally after a long day at work, don’t take the easy route out… I do it sometimes too (in my case that could be playing Flirtpole or running the dog on a tread mill), but most of the time I’m out and about because not only the dogs love it, I love it too.
I think, if there were no dog parks, more people would feel the need for more advanced training because otherwise they would drown in so much guilt of not being able to provide for their dogs.
Dog parks just numb this guilt because there is “something” but I also know that deep down, most people want to actually do more with their dogs but again, the dog park enables laziness and procrastination and once the dog passes away all those amazing memories that could have been made are nowhere to be found because it was spent at the dog park.
Disconnected from the real dog.
See the things is, your dog doesn’t NEED to run off leash to get their energy out every single day if you know how to walk your dog in a way that is still fulfilling for them.
Your dog doesn’t NEED to meet strange dogs to be socialized if you know what proper socialization is…
What your dog does need is quality time with YOU, as their family being out together, doing things like dogs to. Exploring together, finding new places together, walking distances together, etc.
And I get that, if you have a dog that doesn’t listen, pulls you down the road, stresses you the fuck out etc. , hopping in a car for a ride to the dog park is great AND EASY. And it makes you feel good cause your dog gets excited that they get at least that 1 thing in their life.
But let’s be honest with yourself…
How much more excited would your dog get though, for a ride up the mountain?
How much more would you enjoy that outing than hanging out at the dog park pondering about your work day instead of actually relaxing?
How much more could you really do together if your training would go beyond minimal dog parks skills?
How much more life would there be for you? How many more memories? How much more quality and relieved daily stress?
In the end it’s your choice, spending the majority of your dogs off leash and quality time at the dog park OR making the memories that you imagined you would do when you first got him.
Which one do you want?
About the author:
Simone Krebser - CPDT: Owner and head dog trainer of K9 Possible Dog Training serving the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia from Osoyoos to Penticton and Kelowna. Certified dog trainer, certified pet first aid instructor, member of the IACP, dog crazy and chocolate/cheese addict. “My life revolves around dog’s day in and out and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is my goal to help enhance the lives of all the adventurous and outdoorsy dog owners that crave no limits”