I do this with Thor when we walk in the park. There is a nice open field next to the dog park where I work obedience with him. He has to earn "play time" and often more than not he'd rather work with me than actually play with other dogs in the park. It's the same when we go to the woods he has to earn being off leash. Being off leash is like his ultimate gold reward.
I saw this article...I guess I am a 'mean' dog trainer. Although actually my dog can be very independent and his idea of 'playing' at the dog park includes sniffing around the entire perimeter of the dog part and then he is bored and ready to go home!
Fantastic article, I loved it and can totally relate!! We don't have dog parks where I live, but Kodi has to work and earn off leash playtime with my sister's dog or a swim in his pool. He's learned that dragging me into the backyard because he wants to play isn't allowed, but heeling, giving me eye contact and sitting or laying down when I ask will earn him off leash fun. And that just because we go in the fence doesn't always mean he's going to get to be loose either.
The funny part is that people sometimes look at me as if I'm being mean because I don't give in and let him do what he wants! But think that they're being wonderful doggy parents because they let their dogs do whatever they want, when they want including running the neighborhood! No wonder their dogs stare longinly at my sister and I when we walk and train our babies.