Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Walk At The Park

Our local sporting field are finally open to off leash dogs. In the summer, dogs are only allowed off leash on the trails, and must be on leash on the paved paths and in the sporting fields, since they are used for baseball, softball, soccer, and other organized sports. Every winter, the park opens up to allow off leash dogs.


This park shouldn't be mistaken for a "dog park" though. Instead, it is simply a park for people to go and enjoy themselves, which happens to allow you to have your dog off leash.


We do have a "dog park" in town. It is a tiny little fenced area with one big tree, a few benches, and lots of mud. I don't go there. My dogs have been attacked in that park multiple times. And, my dogs don't really want to go explore such a small place when I am standing around. If I wanted to stand outside with my dogs and play fetch, I'd do it in the back yard.


The great thing about the sporting fields allowing dogs off leash is the size of the park. Unlike in the small fenced park, the dogs love going off and exploring here. Since I am walking along a path or trail, the dogs get a chance to wander around, go sniff, play, and stay constantly engaged without me having to carry a ball or disc around to play with them (though of course many people do bring toys).


If any other off leash dogs are around (and we generally see at least a few, and sometimes a lot), my dogs get the chance to say hi. Since dogs are off leash at this park, few tend to be dog reactive. If we ever run into a dog who doesn't like my guys, or who my dogs don't care for, we can simply keep walking. It is amazing how easily deflated situations can be by simply speeding up a bit, continuing down the path, and calling the dogs.


Since the sporting fields aren't fenced, I think people who do bring their dogs off leash there have better control over their dogs than those going to the "dog park". Dogs who listen not at all to their owners generally don't get multiple trips to the unfenced expanses found at the sporting fields.


Plus, owners actually have to be there with their dogs- unlike at the "dog park" where, despite signs saying dogs must be accompanied, many people appear to drop their dog off in the fence, then return to their car where it is warm and dry. Or else they end up on their cell phone totally ignoring their dogs. That kind of thing doesn't seem to happen in an unfenced area, or at least, is much more rare.


When I ask my dogs if they want to go to the park, they know that this is where I mean. Pallo starts getting anxious and excited and emits a rather high pitched shrill noise from about 10 blocks away when he realizes where we are headed. Koira starts shaking, but in her excited way, rather than her scared way.


All of this, partly just to say a simple thing. Dog parks are not the solution to dog owners wanting to enjoy time spent outdoors in public with their dogs. Many people enjoy taking their dogs to dog parks. But keeping open off leash dog friendly areas like the sporting fields open to people to enjoy with their dogs is important. It helps create a much more relaxed environment for dogs to interact, while giving the humans something to enjoy and do as well (which is mostly completely lacking at the "dog park").



  1. I could watch dogs running, playing and having fun all day. I tell my furkids how lucky they are to live on a farm and get to run off leash often. I think they know they are lucky dogs.

  2. I totally agree about the whole dog park thing. Many of them are way too small with way too many dogs.

    We have checked out on a couple of dog parks in Portland with Athena, but we don't go that often. If we do take her to a dog park there is only one that we go to. We choose to go to this particular one because there are rarely any dogs there and it's huuuugggeee =)

    I wish we had a big sporting field to go to like you!

  3. Wow, I never had the same experiences at the dog parks in Chicago :( I have to admit that I haven't ever taken Rufus to one in Portland simply because he isn't a huge fan of them. However, we have gone to similar areas like the one you're describing below with great success. It makes me sad to think that so many abuse the privilege of having a place to take their dogs for socialization. Sorry for the crappy experiences you've had at the actual dog parks, but it's great you have other options!

  4. Looks fun! I love the gopro shots!

    I agree with every point you made about dog parks. There are a few smallish fenced in parks in my area that I never go to either. It so unnatural for dogs to be clumped together in a small space and not walk with their leader and explore. And it's very true that I think many dogs who go there are just not well enough to be trusted in a non-fenced area which is just a red flag!

  5. Looks like a great time out! We actually stopped going to our local dog park for many of these reasons, so we completely agree!

  6. Love the dog's view pics, especially the last one of Koira!
    We don't have a dog park nearby, but the dogs love to run at my parents' fenced farm & play with our friends' dogs in their fenced yards. (Of course we're out there running around with them, if I try to leave for a minute they're all pressed up against the fence whining. :)

  7. I was just recently told off by a Portland Parks off-duty ranger that I couldn't have Elli off-leash at the nearest park to me. I could've bit his head off.

    I wish Portland was more dog-friendly during off-sport-season. It just seems sorta silly for no one to use the park for upwards of six months (it is Portland, after all) when dogs will happily get muddy just for fun.

  8. Wish we had more off-leash places around here, we are insanely jealous of your park! Awesome pictures as well, what kind of camera do you use/

  9. I love all of those pictures!

    I dearly wish that any of the HUGE fenced areas in my town were available for dogs and not just kids. Sadly, 'tis not to be. There is a new "dog park" style area, next to the vet that isn't mine. We have to have our annual vaccine in order to qualify for attendance (well, and I don't want other dogs to be there, because I'm a hermit).

  10. That sounds like a great park! Very few places near me let dogs off leash and NEVER where there are sports fields. I never use official dog parks either. Too risky! Although there is a private one near me that is nice, but the membership fee is sky-high! Occasionally, they do drop-in visits to drum up business and that's when I go :-)

  11. I so agree with your take on dog parks...I have had so many unhappy experiences mostly due to negligent owners just not paying attention to their dogs....or bringing dogs to an off-leash park that are clearly not tempermentally suited or trained. And have you ever noticed thatdog parks typically have no shade? All of which is why Gizmo & I search out public lands with hiking trails where he can really be a dog...Happy for you and your pack that such a nice area is available for you at least part of the year. *snoogles* @GizmoGeodog

  12. I love your photos.

    I like fields and openness compared to dog parks too (: You're completely right on everything about them!

  13. Boy do they look happy! I love that first pic of Pallo!!

  14. I feel like GoPro's are the best thing to happen to animal photography... haha! We love ours so much. Do you hook yours up to a collar?