The Scoop On The Poop! – Do you think dogs should be allowed in recreational areas?

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dogs in parks - dog on a lead sitting in the park

It’s safe to say that the question, whether or not we should allow dogs in parks, brings a lot of discussion. In recent years, local councils have created Dog Control Orders (DCOs) stating that dogs must either be kept on a lead or are no longer allowed on that particular site.

The question is whether it is fair to exclude certain sections of the community from accessing these public spaces?

For example, in my home town we have a popular recreational field which is used throughout the year for sporting activities, fairs and open air concerts. There are limitations on dogs – they aren’t allowed off lead.  However next to the main area there is a large fenced off section where dogs can run free. Personally I think that this is a common sense approach and caters to as many different groups in society.

In other areas there are restrictions that should be followed. For example when on common land or open access land there are restrictions:

  • between 1 March and 31 July – to protect ground-nesting birds dogs must remain on a lead no more than 2 metres long
  • and should always be on a lead when around livestock
  • On certain beaches dogs are excluded for part or all of the year.

There is however the problem of excluding dogs in parks and from other public spaces without providing facilities where they can get adequate exercise and mental stimulation.

dogs in parks - dog sitting in open land

Benefits of walking dogs in parks 

*Dog walking isn’t just beneficial for the dog but also for the owner. Not only does the routine of walking a dog provide regular exercise for the dog but also the owner. For me, it also provides quality time with my children. Each morning we spend 40 minutes walking, talking and often laughing; it has become an important part of the day. We also meet other dog owners, so it’s great for getting people to be more social.

*We all know the benefits of having a dog can offer you physically, but we must stress the benefits mentally as well.

*Some people may not have adequate space at home to properly exercise their pet.

*There is an obesity epidemic in both humans as well as pets, so why should we discourage people from being active with their pets.

* Pet owners also pay council tax so why aren’t they entitled to the same privileges as other park users.

Disadvantages of dogs in parks

*Of course there is the obvious. Dog mess, it is unsightly, unpleasant, smelly and anti-social; there is a health risk associated with dog mess:

*Toxoplasmosis – an infection most commonly found in cats’ faeces but is also found in dogs’ and some other animal faeces.

  • Children and young adults are usually affected due to contact with contaminated soil and or sand within play areas.

*There is evidence that dogs can also carry E.coli and hepatitis in their faeces.

*Dangerous Dogs – Some people consider the risk of dog bites and dog attacks is too great to allow dogs to be off lead around other park users.  It is difficult to argue with such an emotive issue. But most bites don’t happen in public spaces and are far more likely within the home.

dogs in parks - dog lying on grass

Responsible Dog Ownership

Dog owners that control their dogs and clear up after them avoid the disadvantages associated with allowing dogs in parks or access to public spaces. It is the minority that are irresponsible that are causing negative attitudes and increased restrictions. So please don’t forget to scoop the poop. For any more information on access to public spaces, click here.


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