Not really, it makes a BIG assumption that all dog parks are small enclosed thunderdome style parks, and that’s just not true. We have many dog parks around my city that are huge wooded parks where dogs are not forced to interact against their will.
I agree with Kuma's Mom. I don't take Quill to our park in town because it is really small for the amount of use it gets and there are far better options for exercise.
Once, when we were visiting Salt Lake City, we needed a place to walk Quill. I found the most incredible "dog park", which was a HUGE off leash hiking area with a swimming pond, lots of trails, etc. The only time we interacted with other dogs was at the swimming spot and as we were getting in the park. Otherwise, we didn't run into any other dogs while hiking around.
There are two dog parks in my town - one is pretty small and not too great, and the other is split into small/large and then has a large park around it that generally seems pretty lax on the leash laws. I mainly frequent the second with my Poodle mix - my Cocker never goes to the dog park because it's just too much for him.
I really enjoy the experience, but then I am very vigilant and intervene if I see my dog is becoming uncomfortable or if other dogs are being rude to her. I'd intervene if she was being rude as well, but she's not very pushy when it comes to other dogs so she's never really the rude one.
The nice thing about the park is there is some agility equipment we mess around with in the large dog side, and the small dog side is almost always empty so it's a nice fenced in area where we can play fetch. There are also some hiking trails around that we like to go on.
I do think that there are a lot of owners who just let their dogs do whatever, and that's no good.
Dog parks can DEFINITELY be bad. They can also be good. It just depends on what they are and the people who go there. In my town we have a dog park (which is a big enclosed area with a large and small dog area, with some trees and not a lot to do. And an off leash area (which is not fenced in and is really large, with trails down to a creek and big fields to run in).
I've taken my younger dog to the former once. And he was fine. He's super social and very good with other dogs. We went on a super hot day and no one was very active, so the dogs sort of played for short bits and then relaxed in the shade.
We've been to the other one a lot. My older dog does not like to be overwhelmed my other dogs and she always felt the need to CONTROL ALL THE THINGS. So the dog park was not a good place for her. It was just too much. She was always happy at the off leash area though. Tons of room to run around and keep away from dogs she didn't like.
I have never taken my dogs into a dog park and never will. I just think they are generally recipes for disaster. I don't know the people there, their training methods (if any), the dogs, etc. Too many variables for me to be comfortable in an environment like that - plus the potential to pick things up from sick dogs or unvaccinated dogs or any other number of things. I did, while waiting for DH to finish a job once, go to a local park where there was a large dog park. We walked around outside of it just to observe and the few folks that were there were so oblivious to their dogs it was unreal. Some of the dogs charged the fence when we walked by. (Which my dog ignored admirably, by the way - proud mama moment there). Admittedly I live in a very rural area where acres of national forest and public lands abound, so there is little need for it personally. I think they are not totally bad places in the right situation with the right dogs but there just are no guarantees. I feel like it's more for city dwellers though, but maybe that's just me.
I do suspect they're probably more for city dwellers too. I mean, if you live in the middle of someplace like NYC where can you take your dog for some off leash freedom? The dog park. That's basically it.
The off leash area we go to is the one that's populated by people who get dogs, who train them, etc. Because there's no fence. So the dogs HAVE to be good off leash dogs and have to be responsive to recalls and the like. And the people are always paying attention to their dogs. That's been a great experience. The fenced in dog park has been hit or miss? Nothing AWFUL but some not so great experiences too (mostly with my older girl who didn't like dogs jumping on her or humping her and dogs who wouldn't listen to her warnings).
To add -- the best one I've seen around here is a large grassy fenced in area and only one person (or a couple people who have agreed to meet there and both belong to it) can be in there at a time. They have an application and you get a key to the place. It seems like a great place to go to let your dogs run around and play or let you and a friend to meet up there and let your dogs play or do training or play fetch or whatever. But it's not a "dog park" as in "a place where any random dog can come in and play."
(Edited to add -- around here as in about an hour away from my house. It was right next to the nursing home my grandmother used to stay at.)
I don't do 'public' off leash parks. Luckily my humane society has a fenced area where only one family is allowed at a time (more if dogs are all leashed, but then what really is the point haha). So my dogs get a nice off leash run without any worry of other dogs. Only downside is that you may have to wait if other people are using it, however it seems a pretty well kept secret cause I've only encountered other people using it a couple of times and only had to wait maybe 5 mins each time(I've probably gone 12+ times, used to have a huge empty field behind my house I could use for runs, but then I moved. Also used to use a utility corridor, but with my show dogs long hair the burrs and such there are a no go) We also have a couple of 'pay per use' parks where you book it ahead of time. That's great cause you know you won't be waiting, but the cost adds up if you want to go 4+ times a week. Depending on the park I've heard $10 per half hour, 12 per hour, or 15 per hour.