It would be an interesting piece of social history to trace how people living in densely populated urban areas came to believe that it was appropriate to keep dogs in their homes as pets and to "take them for a walk" each day - a euphemism for taking them out to shit on pavements, promenades and playgrounds.
So many people are addicted to the dog habit that here in Brighton a walk along the promenade is a dance around both dogs being walked and the shit they have left behind.
In London the other day, working just off elegant Vincent Square, I discovered that the pavement perimeter of the square appears to have no other function than to allow Domestic Servants to walk their employers' dogs, morning and evening.
As for going for a walk in the country, it seems many people are unable to take a walk unless attached to a dog. It's a bit like being uneasy in social situations unless attached to a cigarette.
The ruthless ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces has produced an enormous improvement in the quality of everyday life - buses, trains, cinemas, restaurants, pubs are now so much more pleasant.
A similar result could be achieved by taking a much tougher line on dogs in urban areas. They should not be allowed into any public open spaces. Keeping them out of children's playgrounds is not enough. For similar reasons, they should be kept off all seafront promenades and beaches (Here in Brighton we have "Dog Friendly Beaches". You wonder what our councillors are on).
Dogs should be banned from high streets, bus stations and railway stations. These are places which should be people -friendly, not piss-and-shit friendly.
And dogs in urban areas should be taxed. The squeezed middle should be squeezed on this one.
Meanwhile, those with dogs and small children might like to reflect on the fact that dogs do maul children to death and that it is not a nice way to die.