Local authorities are introducing an increasing amount of Public Space Protection Orders in parks and green spaces limiting dogs.
On the surface, it is legislating for what should be reasonable etiquette, but it is also making those spaces seem very hostile for dog owners. I was shocked when visiting a local park that I hadn’t used for a while (I am blessed with a myriad of choices) to encounter sign after sign prohibiting dogs and dog owners from using a space or threatening fines for not picking up or having dog muzzled or on a lead. I felt unwanted as soon as I walked in. I might add that a couple with two out of control children were outside of the area set aside for their offspring and allowed one of them to slam right into my puppy who was quietly walking past on a lead. Not a hint of an apology for their lack or control or the potential to frighten my dog, needless to say. If my dog had reacted, I can soon see who would have been blamed.
Whilst I support the aim to create responsible dog ownership, this is not backed up with education or support for training. That same park would charge me a hefty annual fee for the privilege of walking in the restricted spaces if I were to use it to train clients and their dogs. It is easy to see that it could be perceived as easy money and a grabbing of low hanging fruit should a dog owner miss faeces (who hasn’t lost it at one time or another?) or have not noticed that their poo bags had fallen out of a pocket.
Although there is no agreement between surveys as to whether dog ownership has increased substantially over the last three years, the perception in many areas is that it has, and the PDSA PAW Report 2022 found that a large percentage of new owners were young. It would be interesting to know also how many were first time owners. Again, anecdotally, that seems to have increased. Alongside inexperience, there are little or no resources enabling local authorities to educate dog owners as to their responsibilities and no support for the qualified professionals who do.
Playing with sticks is dangerous for dogs and unwise for local authorities. Carrots on the other hand are good for both.