"There was a playground movement 100 years ago," says Peter Harnik, director of the Center for City Park Excellence at The Trust for Public Land. "In the last 15 to 20 years, it's these off-leash dog areas. There's a tremendous upsurge in demand and love for them."
There were 569 off-leash dog parks in the 100 largest cities in 2010, a 34% jump in five years. Parks overall increased only 3% in that time.
Harnick says that these are playgrounds for people without kids. Maria Goodavage, San Francisco writer and mom (of a kid and dog) who met her husband at a dog park says that "It's socializing for both, the dogs and the owners."