Did you know that most Canberra neighbourhood ovals and sports fields (areas that are irrigated), and lots of parks around our suburbs are designated dog off leash areas? Dog walkers in the know meet up in these areas, usually late afternoon, to chat while their dogs play together, chase balls, socialise and sniff. It’s a great way to meet other dog owners informally while your dogs have fun. We’ve shared our top dog friendly meeting places to get you started!
Here’s a little info about some off leash area do’s and don’ts first.
These areas generally ‘self-select’ for experienced, friendly owners and well-socialised, well trained dogs. It’s a great opportunity to introduce a young dog to off leash situations in a safe and supportive environment. If you or your dog find dog parks a bit too intense, we can highly recommend visiting these instead.
But there are some rules of course. ACT regulations allow dogs off leash on ovals only when sports aren’t in progress. Some parks are ‘nature parks’ where dogs must be on leash.
It’s also important to be respectful of other users and follow some basic etiquette, e.g. don’t let your dog chase children, steal soccer balls, or otherwise interfere with other people’s enjoyment!
You’ll be most welcome if you monitor your dog’s interactions with other dogs, e.g. don’t let them ‘play’ with another dog to the point of harassment. Be cautious with dogs on leash who might not appreciate a strange, loose dog rushing up. You might need to begin with your dog on leash until he/she is a bit more settled and/or reliably comes when called.
Some of our very favourite Canberra off leash dog meeting places are described below. Each provides extensive off leash walking. Most have natural borders or low fencing on two or more sides (although bear in mind that, unlike fenced dog parks, a determined dog can still run onto a road). And there’s off street parking for those who don’t live within walking distance. Most importantly, the regulars are really lovely people with very friendly dogs!
There’s a google map at the bottom of this post showing locations – just expand it to view in detail.
Reid Oval – park off Elimatta Street
There’s great off leash dog walking at the sublimely green and huge Reid Oval with views of Mt Ainslie and the War Memorial nearby. Each evening between 5.00-6.30pm, you’ll find a regular group of locals with well-socialised dogs meeting informally to chat and let their dogs run and play off-leash. It’s fenced on one side, with lots of shady trees too and handy bins for poo bags.
Narrabundah Neighbourhood Oval – park off Kootara Crescent near Nimbin Street
More great off-leash dog walking is to be had at Narrabundah’s neighbourhood oval fenced on three sides. The locals are super friendly: we are regular Wednesday evening visitors and are warmly welcomed by humans and dogs alike. There’s plenty of socialising (and some dog zoomies) while we keep fit walking around the oval perimeter – generally between 5.30-6.30 pm. This ‘group’ particularly suits smaller dogs – our whippets are giants here!
Mawson Neighbourhood Oval – park off Ainsworth Street
A popular hang-out for locals and their well socialised dogs, Mawson’s neighbourhood oval is fenced on three sides and offers an irrigated oval plus a scrubbier grassy border with shady trees. Locals wander down from around 4.30 pm (a few retirees here!) to let their dogs play, throw balls and generally socialise. There’s a bin near the amenities block by the car park.
O’Connor Oval – park off Pedder Street
Another huge and green open space, O’Connor Oval offers super variety for active dogs – an irrigated oval, a scrubby grass border, and a little creek perfect for summer cooling off. Dogs of all ages and sizes make an appearance throughout the late afternoon and evening. There’s fencing on three sides and bins next to the gravel car park.
For more information on regulations and off leash areas see the ACT Government dog regulations page.
Off leash meeting places map
Click on the ‘view larger map’ icon at the top right hand corner of the map banner to see all locations in detail.