Taking my dog somewhere to run around and enjoy the outside is a favorite way for us to spend time together. Having an off-leash reliable dog gives me the freedom to do this. When I’m in Staunton, Virginia I love to take the dogs to visit Gypsy Hill Park. Recently I visited there with a friend to take our dogs to Gypsy Hill’s dog park to let the dogs run and play on the fun agility equipment. But when we arrived and found the dog park packed with lots of other dogs, my friend didn’t understand why I opted to not bring my dog inside. (My friend and I had previously visited the park on a weekday later in the evening when the dog park was empty and we’d had a great time watching our dogs play and we’d used the agility equipment for some fun training practice). In fact, most of the dog owning population and many of my dog training clients are of the opinion that dog parks are the best thing since sliced bread. In recent years, dog parks have started popping up in more and more communities and while most dog owners welcome the addition, personally, I do not like them. In theory, a dog park a.k.a. a safe, fenced in area to let your friendly dog run off-leash and play with other friendly dogs sounds like a fantastic idea. The problem is that in reality, dog parks end up being very dangerous places for our dogs.  Let me explain why I, and many other smart dog people, feel so strongly against using dog parks. (more…)