The fortunate thing about most dog parks is that mostly people who regularly take their dogs out tend to go to them. They tend to care much more about their dogs well being than the average owner and that extends to everything including diet and safety at home and when out.
Some narrow minded ‘dog trainers’ think that dog parks are only for ‘ playing until they come home exhausted”. Sure that is a great benefit of them, but the reality is its the closest thing to a natural environment that a dog is likely to encounter until the owners go on holiday to a country area where the dogs are allowed off lead in a more natural environment.
New York dog owners may not have a big park right next to them, but you can easily find a website that does list the off lead areas near you. The main requirements are “With proof of current dog license and rabies vaccination, owners can allow dogs to run off-leash in certain designated areas from the time the park opens until 9 a.m. AND from 9 p.m. until the park closes … within the 29,000 acres of parkland.”
Off lead area benefits are more than just exhausting a dog.
They are about giving the dog muscle tone so that it can function normally
Increasing blood flow and circulation will help remove toxins from the dogs body
Smelling the mass of smells in the dog park will mentally stimulate the dog and help exhaust its brain helping give a proper deep sleep.
Parks usually expose dogs to a wide variety of breeds and so increase dog social knowledge of how to approach many different dogs and read the body language of happy and more aggressive dogs, thus keeping them safe in the future.
Concerns over other dogs health status
Locking your dog up in your yard for fear of disease on other dogs is fine as long as you are willing to not commute to work or leave your home for any reason either. As you can see NY requires vaccination certificates, and if boroughs and vets do a proper job, all dogs that are registered should have a basic level of health. If they don’t and your dog is properly vaccinated, wormed and flea treated then it should be able to resist infestations on other dogs (assuming that other dogs are infected).
If your concern is about the friendliness level of the other dogs, then find another park. Choose different hours, commute or do whatever it takes to get your dog off lead and a taste of freedom with its own kind.
Most owners realise that they should de-sex their dogs to reduce potential aggression issues, and to reduce the risk of cancer in both male and female dogs. It is easy to see intact males and their potential level of aggression is usually obvious (if it exists) and they should be no less social than any other dog in the park if the other owners are responsible. Usually a park with social owners and social dogs will help police bad dog behaviour or bad practices such as taking intact dogs or dogs in heat into off lead parks.
Are the dog parks large enough?
If not then go to one that is. Ironically some trainers suggest that ‘doggy day-care’ places might be a viable alternative to off lead parks. These places often have many more dogs in a MUCH SMALLER Space for a much longer time.