As I like to walk around the neighborhood, I have seen many responsible dog owners take their dogs off-leash in our parks at such times that there is no one else around to be bothered. The dogs are playing with balls, obedient, cleaned up after, and generally happy, healthy and well cared for due to this exercise. I have also seen irresponsible dog owners do the same, let their dogs pee in the play area, bother other park users, etc. etc. and seen the poop around as a result.
Isn't it time to help our responsible dog owners take their dogs out for exercise and teach the others how to do the same. I recently visited my sister in Ireland and she has a very lively, happy dog. She lives near a park which continues onto the beach. The law there states that dogs can be taken onto the beach and into the parks only before 10.00 a.m. and one hour before sunset, regardless whether they are on leash or not provided no organised sports are taking place. This seems to make a lot of sense to me. On her morning daily walk she meets up with other dog owners and together they can exercise their dogs at times when the parks or beaches are not used by other people. Families rarely use the parks before 10.00 or at dusk, and any times the park is being used for sport that early or late in the day, the dogs are able to go elsewhere.
This seems to be a very sensible idea and works well. The responsible dog owners are teaching the others how to look after their dogs by example and anecdotally. The parks are kept as clean as required and the dogs themselves are much healthier as a result of the kind of exercise that they get by being allowed to run at their own pace, rather than walked at the pace of their owners.
I am not a dog owner, but have lived with dogs and do occasionally look after dogs for others. It seems to me that a lot of the problems we have around here with dogs could be solved by similar rules, so I put the idea out to see what others think.