We advocate for responsible dog guardianship, and support strong environmental stewardship of the natural landscape and biodiversity that is part of our unique community. The purpose of Eco-Dog is to protect our natural resources and preserve multiple recreational uses, including off- and on-leash recreation, in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Who We Are
Eco-Dog is a coalition of San Francisco Bay Area based non-profit organizations who promote the co-existence of responsible off-leash dog recreation with other forms of outdoor recreation. We support the protection of natural resources. This growing coalition is currently comprised of, but not limited to, the San Francisco SPCA, Crissy Field Dog Group, Fort Funston Dog Walkers, Marin Humane Society, Marin Unleashed, Pacifica Dog, and SF PAWS. We are working on getting more partners.
Protecting Our Natural Areas and Ecology
Our local parks and open spaces, including the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), are a special and integral part of life in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to their natural beauty, these unique environments help to build and strengthen community, support a wealth of wildlife, and offer Bay Area residents a respite from city life.
Since these recreation areas are an amazing public resource, we all need to do our part to help protect them today and to ensure their preservation for the future.
Social and Health Benefits of Recreation Areas to People
The Bay Area is a high-density environment, and open spaces offer a refuge for people (and dogs) of all ages to gather, relax, exercise and play. They’re also the perfect place to enjoy time with your dog, which besides being enjoyable offers numerous health and social benefits as well.
In fact, simply walking your dog each day has documented health benefits including improved cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles and bones, and decreased stress. Research has also shown (and most dog owners already know) that dogs can improve a person’s health by reducing anxiety and depression, encouraging exercise and socializing, and providing a sense of purpose. The love of a companion animal is beneficial, especially for younger and older people. Dog companionship is critical for many seniors, whose dogs get them out of their house daily at a time in their lives when non-dog-owning seniors frequently become isolated in their homes.
In terms of social benefits, researchers at the University of Western Australia found that pets can benefit both individuals and the whole community. Findings demonstrated that pet owners, and particularly dog owners, were more likely to acknowledge and greet other people on the street, exchange favors with neighbors, and meet others in their neighborhood. Experience shows, and research confirms, that people find it easier to engage with each other when dogs act as the initial contact with another person.
"Dogs act as social 'ice breakers' and help people strike up friendly conversation with others," says Dr. June McNicholas, senior research fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. "We are probably much more sociable than society allows us. It is difficult for us to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger – all sorts of ulterior motives may be suspected. But being with a dog (or other pet) gives a safe, non-threatening, neutral topic to start a conversation." “Dogs as catalysts for social interactions: Robust Effect” British Journal of Psychology (2000), 91, 61-70.
Social and Health Benefits to Dogs
We aren’t the only ones benefiting from recreation. It’s well documented that highly socialized and active dogs are healthier, happier, and better behaved overall. When dogs expend energy during regular play or exercise, they are less likely to bark or to be destructive or aggressive. Off-leash experiences also allow for natural and beneficial interactions with other dogs and people.
Regular walking and activity is also important for your dog’s health. Obesity in pets is associated with a number of medical issues including osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and insulin resistance.
Dog Guardianship and Stewardship of Natural Resources
As anyone who has attended dog training or obedience classes knows, training is as much about the owner as it is about the dog. Responsible dog guardianship is both essential to the health and well being of your dog and at the heart of responsible stewardship of the environment. Well-trained dogs respond to both voice and visual commands, and under the supervision of a respectful guardian their behavior should have no impact on their surroundings. It’s important for dog guardians to be aware of the wildlife in the areas they visit and enjoy, and to take an active role in the conservation of these areas. Guardians should ensure that dogs not responsive to voice and visual commands are kept on leashes to protect sensitive natural habitats.