Sunday, July 19, 2009

HRMDogPac Group Formed Today in the HRM

Today a group of interested people met in person for the first time and created a committee that will hopefully create positive change for dog owners who are interested in exercising their dogs off leash in the HRM - and hopefully other dog owners who understand the importance of exercising their dogs off leash, and also realize that the bureaucrats at the HRM don't quite "get" the number of dog owners there are in the Halifax Regional Municipality who take their dogs' health seriously - will join up - and through the power of positive actions, we can create an off-leash lifestyle that we know our dogs deserve and need.

Today we were just a couple of people, but we know that there's a ton of people out there exactly like us who feel the same way we do, and are as frustrated as we are with what we currently have here in Halifax - we have a great city, great parks, a great lifestyle, Halifax really is very dog friendly - that's why so many of us have dogs - but to be able to take our dogs off leash legally anywhere is stressful, quite often - actually most times - illegal, and a lot of times, not very much fun. And that's not right.

Dogs need to run - and do you know what? Not every dog needs other dogs around them in order to have a fulfilled life, either - not every dog can handle other dogs - and I believe that legal off leash spaces can handle those dogs too - and that's something that should be talked about when you're talking about setting up dog parks. You should also talk about dogs that are not dog friendly - because they should come into the equation - because they need off leash exercise too - but that's another post...

But anyway - today we talked about things like working with the city to use tracts of city owned land that aren't being used - but that are already fenced in, having land donated to our group, and the group maintaining the land through fundraising - so we are serious about doing something about off leash spaces - we even have a name for the group - it's going to be called "HRMDogPac" - "HRM Dog Park Action Committee" - the Domain name will be - if you're coming to this blog post just after it's written, the link probably won't work because I've JUST bought the domain name, so it'll probably take a couple hours for the link to go live - but the link will go to our Facebook group at

If you are interested in off leash exercise for your dog and want to become involved, you should - because we want to approach this in ways that haven't been done before - through positive dog training ways - if it works for dogs - why wouldn't it work for humans? Instead of being punitive about people not picking up their poop - advertise that once a week a member of our group will be going to the park and giving dinner for 2 at a local restaurant when they see someone picking up their dog's poop - reward people for doing things right - don't let them have opportunities to mess up - give them all the tools to do things right the first time - things like that.

It's a bold new adventure, and it will be fun on many levels - so if you're a positive person, and you believe in the good effects of positive training and off leash exercise - this will definitely be a good thing for you to get in on!


  1. Great post... and I am glad you didn't post the pic of my Kramer hair.

    We accomplished a lot. Yay. And I agree about also incorporating the needs of non dog friendly dogs, (and dogs like Karma who are not unfriendly but don't enjoy big crazy crowds. )

  2. So sorry I missed the meeting. Sounds like you guys got a lot accomplished! Great job!

  3. PS i absolutely loved your idea about random rewards for owners who are being responsible and picking up their poop. positive reinforcement for humans =)

  4. I'm all for it. Keep me in the loop and let me know how I can help.

  5. Another thought for sometime later. Maybe there should be handouts available or free mini seminars what is normal dog behavior. Off leash reality is that some dogs shouldn't visit populated areas - you are correct Joan, while some other owners freak out over things that are socially normal dog behaviors.

    To exercise dogs that can't handle others off leash, in my opinion, only a fenced in area will do that can be booked/rented for 30-minute time periods. Those could be incorporated into larger, less populated off leash areas.

  6. I used to leave copies of a pamphlet that I made at Seaview park about what I believed was proper dog etiquette - the text of which is in a blog post at - it's based on articles from an old website that isn't really active anymore called "" - I did that because of my own frustration at the time from other dog owners coming to Seaview who just did not understand what a big open field classical dog style dog park was all about - and that was back around 2003.


  7. @ silvia

    we also discussed if we can get this to go forward we'd like to look at having fun 'seminars' at the park(s) where - for example- dog body language 'good and bad' could be demonstrated to owners. i don't know how many times i've seen a dog do a normal play bow with a bark and the owner freak out that their dog was aggressive or a dog who would go too far and the owner thought it was just play. Handouts and some demos i think would really add to a proactive park view. Also frisbee or agility demo, etc. things to keep dogs fit and mentally stimulated.....

    Also, having things like a 'fastest recall' contest; best sit stay contest and other basic obedience things to reward responsible owners for and demonstrate that off lead still means 'under control'.

  8. Absolutely, dogma. All of what you mentioned will benefit dogs and owners. To get a number of positive reinforcement trainers involved who offer one weekend day per month at a park to educate would be very progressive indeed. It could be tied into a donation, where owners give what they can, and that money could be used for upkeep and rewards for poop-scooping owners.

    Joan is correct also that off-leash shouldn't mean a free for all playtime with all dogs there, while owners disengage from their dogs and yak with people. I love the idea of Frisbee demos and such. Once owners learn about the many fun games they can play in a park, I believe they'd be interacting more with their dogs, and they, in turn, would be more attentive to their owners.
    Since there is a good canine citizen test, maybe there could be something similar for off-leash - okay, that might be way out there. But the reality is that, in an ideal world, if only responsible owners visit parks, there'd be less complaints and more cooperation to designate other areas as off leash.

  9. exactly - we figured that if we worked with trainers, sports 'specialists' etc to expose people to different positive and responsible things, then we are doing what we do with our dogs. Donations yes, to help with upkeep and so on, and more positive trainers could get exposure and hand out their business cards or something, so more dogs and owners might be aware of the various resources of humane and effective training, instead of what they see on TV.

    Hopefully developing a dog park model focused on rewarding good behavior rather than waiting for someone to do wrong and punishing them.

    And owners playing with their dogs etc. all very good points, hopefully things we can demonstrate to people as this gets going and maybe not a formal test but helping owners be more engaged and tuned into their dog and their dog's behavior.

    This is exciting!!!!

  10. Thanks all, I have linked this post on as well. Please fire off a tweet with any updates as to when the group is meeting etc. I have the facebook group added but my phone tracks tweets so always sure to get those :)

    One suggestion might also be people such as my wife, dog owner/runner who could go into running clubs and offer suggestions as to how runners can make their interactions with dogs more acceptable to them. The ol' running flailing arms and screaming then wondering why dog continues to chase. Explained to runner who I witnessed actually create a problem with an off leash Golden because of how she reacted and she was legitimately grateful for the advice.

  11. When I used to go to Point Pleasant on a daily basis - and that was a long time ago - that was like 6 or 7 years ago - back when I only had 2 dogs, and they were both perfect (ah, those were the days....) - I used to carry cards for people that I would encounter who were afraid of dogs for whatever reason - because after awhile you just get numb to the flailing arms and crazy antics of people who are afraid of dogs for no good reason - and it used to say things like - "if you're afraid of dogs - do NOT look them directly in the eyes and stare at them intensely and not expect them to run up to you and bark or expect to be petted!" - and I also had a line on the card about the fact that the Shore Road was a "No dogs allowed at all are" after 10am - so if they really did NOT want to be walking with any dogs around them at all - to head down to that section of the park - and leave all the dog owners and their dogs to enjoy THEIR section of the park - because that area of the park actually is MUCH nicer than any other area anyway - and this is how you get there!

    For some reason my inner secretary has always been channeled through my dog activism!