These standard poodles are playing at a dog park. Note the watering hydrant.
dog park is a facility set aside for
dogs and their owners
to exercise and play off-leash in a controlled environment. Parks vary in
accoutrements, but a typical dog park is fenced; has separate, double-gated
entry and exit points; a pond for swimming; hydrants for watering dogs; and
tools to pick up and dispose of animal waste.
Problems with off-leash dog parks
Like all recreation activities, certain safeguards need to be put in place
before an off-leash dog park should be established. The first objective is to
ensure that the location of the off-leash park is appropriate. The park should
not be placed in environmentally sensitive areas, and it must be free of
poisonous plants and dangerous topography such as steep cliffs. The second
objective is to ensure that the park itself is safe for dogs, people, and
wildlife. This generally will require the park to be a safe distance away from
traffic, and always requires the park to have some sort of fence or barrier to
ensure that dogs do not end up in precarious situations. A third objective is to
make sure the size of the dog park is appropriate. Generally dog parks that are
too big result in opportunities for dogs to learn and demonstrate anti-social,
dominant behavior without swift intervention by their guardians.
Allowing dogs off-leash can be harmful to a dog’s socialization process. Many
dogs are too shy, bold, or aggressive to roam off-leash, and many more dogs
learn to react aggressively on-leash after roaming off-leash. Too few dog owners
understand what good dog interactions look like, and even fewer feel empowered
to intervene when poor interactions occur, leading to anti-social dog behavior
outside of off-leash areas but caused by roaming off-leash. A particularly
disconcerting problem is known as "predatory drift." Even highly socialized dogs
can "drift" into a predatory attack mode, particularly when smaller dogs appear
injured or yelp during off-leash exercises. When a dog enters a "predatory
drift" episode, it attempts to kill the smaller dog that triggers the event. The
problem is so severe that many adoption agencies such as the San Francisco SPCA
refuse to place dogs into homes with existing dogs if the dogs differ
substantially in size.
Dog owners must watch their dogs carefully and stay within a reasonable
distance of their dogs so that they can intervene if the dog acts violently or
anti-socially. Generally a smaller dog park makes it easier for dog owners to
protect their dogs.
Benefits of off-leash dog parks
Pet ownership in the United States increased by over 1 million households
between 1990 and 1992, up to 54 million, or 58% of all U.S. households. Of the
pet-owning households, 38% included dogs. The number of dogs per dog-household
was 1.5, totally 53.3 million dogs. (1) This trend is expected to
continue into the new millennium.
While suburban and rural zones have traditionally been areas containing most
of the pet-owning population, the urban environment has been undergoing an
increase in pet population since the 1970s. This, combined with the fact that
over the past 15 years urbanization has been taking over what was formerly
considered to be suburban and rural areas, has resulted in a phenomenon called
"urbananimalization." This, first of all, encompasses the recognition that
animals are and will continue to be a "quality
of life" aspect of urban society. Secondly, it recognizes that development
must specifically provide for the inclusion of domestic animals in its growth
As the dog companion population increases along with development, regulations
need to be in place to promote responsible pet ownership, and facilities need to
be provided to allow pet owners and their canine companions to exercise and play
together. The provision of ample quality space for the human/dog companion
recreation promotes the physical and mental well being of both dog and human.
Off-leash dog areas provide a social setting in which people can gather and
interact in friendship. Off-leash dog areas are places where dog owners and
nondog owners can delight in the entertaining and interesting interaction of
dogs at play. Scientific studies have shown that people somehow find it easier
to talk to each other with dogs as the initial focus, breaking down the usual
social barriers that make people in our society perceive others as "strangers."
Research has also shown that companion dogs improve people's health and increase
resistance to disease by providing companionship, by giving people something to
care for, by providing pleasurable activity, by providing a source of constancy
in our changing lives, by stimulating people to exercise, by providing comfort
with touch, and being a pleasure to watch. (2) The unconditional love of
a companion animal is very beneficial.
The benefits to dogs is also well documented. Dogs that are highly socialized
and exercised are healthier and happier. They make better neighbors because they
bark and dig out of their enclosure less often. If they do escape, they are far
less likely to be aggressive.
(1) "1992 National Pet Owners Study", Pet Business, August 1992
(2) "Pets and People: The Bonds Grow Stronger", Pet Business,
| Breed True
| Canid Hybrid
| Canine Influenza
| Dog Park
Dogs, made by MultiMedia | Free content and software
This guide is licensed under the GNU
Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.
Recommend This Page To A Friend!