12/06/2014 11:46 BST | Updated 11/08/2014 06:59 BST

Parks and Green Spaces Belong to Everyone

If you've ever stepped in dog poo - which I'm almost certain you have - you'll know just how foul it is.

Owners failing to pick up after their pets is one of the top reasons why local authorities put restrictions on dogs in parks and open spaces - and poo, along with unruly dogs, is one of the commonest reasons why people are avoiding their local recreation grounds.

Blue Cross research has revealed nearly half of dog owners are worried about unruly and out-of-control dogs when in their local park.

Access denied

Councils sometimes ban dogs as a last resort after complaints about these problems tot up, and others introduce less draconian controls measures like limiting the numbers of dogs walked at a time or forcing owners to keep their dogs on lead.

Banning dogs from parks isn't just bad news for dogs and their owners. It's bad news for the local community too because unpopulated places may become no-go areas where unsociable activities, such as drug and alcohol abuse, take place.

But it doesn't have to be this way.

Puppy love

Walking the dog is a sociable activity. Two thirds of dog owners questioned by Blue Cross said they had made new friends and even found love while walking their pooch. Adventurer and TV presenter Ben Fogle met his wife while walking his Labrador, Inca.

Our survey found dog ownership benefits young people too. Those aged 16-24 said walking the dog gave them a chance to escape family life for a bit, and owners aged between 25 to 34 years said they were most likely to use the dog as an excuse to pop into their local for a cheeky pint.

Blue Cross is encouraging dog owners to be good ambassadors for their local park or green space and make sure their pet is always a joy and never a nuisance.

Make the pledge

We're asking dog owners to pledge to make sure their dog is safe around others, to always know where their dog is when not on lead, to teach their dog to come back when called, and to always bag and bin their dog's poo.

As dog owners, we need to show that having dogs in parks is a benefit to all who use them - and prove it, before the number of places to enjoy the outdoors with our dogs shrinks even more.

Make your pledge now on the Blue Cross website, Facebook page, or tweet us a photo of your dog enjoying your local park responsibly using #parksforpets.