Off-Leash Dog Parks

Benefits and Concerns

 

BENEFITS 
dogs can exercise safely off leash owners are required to carry a leash at all times and dogs must be on leash to and from the parking lot
owners can meet other dog owners socializing humans is fun but make sure you are watching your dog at all times
dogs can learn to socialize and play with other dogs of various breeds some dogs do not learn this skill and may not fit into the off-leash setting as easily as others.  If your dog tends to become dominant, pester other dogs, show aggression towards other dogs, then you should either keep your dog on leash (which I do not advise) or remove your dog from the park and visit at a less busy time.
other parks will be free of dogs at large I wish this were so but owners still continue to let their dogs run off-leash in public parks.  With an option to go to an off-leash facility available, there is no excuse for any dog to be off-leash in public.  Animal Control enforces this by-law as much as possible.
dog owners can learn about other dogs and training Many dog owners have come to the park with untrained dogs, seen how their dogs react and have opted to take them for obedience training.  This is a benefit to all.
At Battleford, dogs can be trained to work on the agility obstacles in a  safe setting.  Some owners have been encouraged and have gone on to more serious professional training in agility.
Animal Control has issued more dog licenses to owners at the parks as people become more aware of the requirements.
Owners discuss health issues and much important information is shared.

 

CONCERNS

some dogs may be intimidated by large groups of dogs if your dog is small and/or shy, he may feel intimidated by large groups of larger dogs.  Dogs sometimes know that another dog is less confident and may chase or pester that dog.  It is up to the owners to manage their dogs.  The dominating dog should be controlled and corrected and the intimidated dog may feel more secure and happier in either the small dog areas or in another setting.  I also advise that you not bring dogs like this into the park at the busy times.

there is potential for dogs to fight 

when dogs play and are running and jumping in groups or packs, there is always potential for the activity to get out of hand and fighting may occur.  Dogs may also fight to establish dominance.
 That is why the owners MUST be watching over their dogs at all times. There have been relatively few incidents in the parks since they first opened but there have been fights between dogs with a few resulting in one or both dogs requiring medical attention.  In each case the dogs were kept away from the parks for some time and then brought back in on leash and kept under tight control by their owners.  All of the dogs have been able to return and no further occurrences have been reported.


In another situation, an owner was allowing his very large dog to dominate other dogs without exercising any control over the dog.  He was asked to leave the park unless he controlled his dog.  He refused and a fight occurred between the owner and a park user.  As the dog owner then removed his dog, his dog bit him in the hand, requiring him to have several stitches.  Interestingly, initial first aid was administered by the park user involved in the argument.  This dog and owner have been banned totally from the off-leash parks.

there is a potential for dogs to bite adults or children Anyone entering an off-leash park assumes some risk in doing so.  You will be with a large group of dogs, many of whom you do not know.  
Parents are asked to watch their children carefully and to ensure that your child knows how to approach unknown dogs.  It is not advisable to bring very young children when the park is very busy as they can be knocked over by running dogs.

Parents should know that there is potential for dogs to jump on adults and children.  There are children at many of the parks and from time to time the parents have had to be told to keep better control of their children as their behaviour has been unacceptable.


These are NOT children's playgrounds. they are DOG parks.  As the operators tell dog owners "Your children are always welcomes long as you keep them under your control at all times" 


There have been no incidents of a dog biting a human, with the exception of the dog that bit his owner as noted above.
there are piles of dog feces in busy parks If everyone picked up after their dogs, we wouldn't have this problem.  Most off-leash park owners are very responsible about cleanups.  Bags and waste bins are abundant in the parks and owners are notified if their dog is seen "pooping" in the park and the owner hasn't seen it.  
The reality is that not everyone does cleanup after their dog and regular park users can be seen doing daily rounds picking up after other dogs.  We appreciate this but would rather see everyone responsible for their own dog's messes.


My Parks staff report that the off-leash parks are considerably cleaner and freer from feces than the local parks in the community.
some owners don't control their dogs This is true.  Just as there are owners who do not control their dogs in local parks, so too there are some who behave this way in the off-leash parks.  The clubs do not tolerate this and have the authority to ask the owner to leave the park and may ban future use if the rules are not adhered to.
Owners who let their dogs chase, pester, dominate or annoy other dogs without taking any action to control their dog fall into this category.  We ask park users to report these owners to the operating committee to take action.
with so many dogs playing together, there is potential for my dog to pick up diseases Yes there is.  In any situation where there are a lot of dogs that you don't know, there is that potential.  It is up to the owners to make sure that their own dogs are healthy before taking them to an off-leash park (or any park).  
Some of the diseases that may be transmitted through feces or from other dogs include Parvo, Lepto, tapeworm, giarrdia.  I advise that you talk to your vet before bringing your dog to the park and take whatever precautions she advises to protect your own dog.  If your dog is sick, DO NOT take him to the off-leash at any time in case his illness can be transmitted to other dogs.


Fortunately there have been no reported cases of any of these diseases from dogs using the parks regularly.
these parks are adding to my tax costs all of the park costs are borne by the users through fundraising and membership fees.
The City has up-fronted costs and every penny has been paid back in record time.  This is the only group that pays totally for park services. 
the off-leash parks are reducing regular park space In the case of most of the off-leash areas, this isn't true. In the others, the park area was being used by dog owners before they were legalized.  The by-law made them safer for everyone.  Council recognized that dog owners have a right to useable park areas as does everyone else.  They are paying for the privilege of having a special place to exercise their dogs.