Now I know why people get upset about dog parks, and some people are adamant about not going. I live in Ottawa, and fuzzybunny and I attend the same off leash park - it's huge! Lots of trails, trees, sand pits (yes, that means mud, dirt, mess!)
I can definitely say that if our dog parks were that small I would NEVER attend them either.
I brought Kyleigh to the park as a puppy and she got to play with all the other dogs. Yes, I watched her like a hawk, but I was also watching the people and their dogs. Once she got a bit older (4 months) we started walking around the park and exploring the whole environment. It was my going to the off leash park that Ky met four of her best friends.
Now when I go there, I always meet up with one of her friends and we walk the park together. It is so funny to watch her playing with her friend and then see another "friend" that she hasn't seen in a while and just bound over to say hello.
Ky's "friends" with all types of dogs - there's a fluffy little white dog that she lets walk all over her - he jumps at her face and barks and licks, and hangs from her jowls and she just LOVES it. They wrestle, and chase and have a blast.
I've seen some serious dog fights and loads of scraps, but never seen a dog get killed. I am SUPER vigilant when I am there. My eyes are constantly scanning the environment. There are some dogs and their owners that I know are idiots, so I avoid them. When there is a scrap / fight, I always call Kyleigh to me, and she comes instantly, and sits beside me. She has no desire to get in that melee!
Ky's never been "attacked" ... she was bit by a little dog (I posted about this in a different thread), but she didn't even react (I did LOL to the little dog owner!)
I have a number of pet peeves about the dog park:
1 - don't bring a freaking toy and wonder why you lost it
2 - don't bring a freaking toy and wonder why a fight broke out over it ... 1 toy, 30 dogs - you figure it out
3 - CLEAN UP after your dog - it's disgusting
4 - to the newbies - educate yourself ... hang around longer than 20 minutes ... walk with someone who has a well behaved dog and LEARN about your dog
5 - don't freak out b/c a dog tried to hump your dog ... I agree it's not always nice, but it is not a cause for world war 3 (I witnessed one woman punch another woman in the face b/c her dane got mounted by another dane! The police had to be called to split these women up ... it was quite the evening!)
6 - dogs can form a pack mentality if all you do is stand there ... and this is how other dogs get hurt
7 - learn the real definition of the word "attack" - I am sick to death of hearing about how some owners small dog got "attacked" by a GSD / Rottie, etc. whatever ... really? I'm pretty sure your 5-10 pound dog would be dead if it was really "attacked". Chased, pounced, jumped on / at, pinned, bit sure ... anything can happen to one dog by another dog, regardless of breed. I despise the word attack (unless it really is a true attack)