Did you know that most Canberra neighbourhood ovals 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.
Some of our very favourite Canberra off leash dog meeting places are described below. Each provides extensive off leash walking. Most have natural borders, such as banks, creeks or thickets, 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.
General info and rules
Cook Neighbourhood Oval, Cook
Giralang Ovals, Giralang
Gordon Neighbourhood Oval, Gordon
Mawson Neighbourhood Oval, Mawson
Errol Kavanagh Memorial Oval, Narrabundah
O'Connor Oval, O'Connor
Forestry Oval, Yarralumla
Off leash meeting places map
First, here's a little info about some off leash area do's and don'ts.
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 in these shared pubic spaces, 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.
You can learn more about socialising your dog with hands on help by joining one of Canberra's not-for-profit dog training clubs.
Cook Neighbourhood Oval - parking off Rowan or Biffin Streets
Inviting and accessible Cook Neighbourhood Oval is a popular destination for dog-loving locals to meet up after work with their furry best friends. There's a regular contingent of friendly dogs to socialise with as well as their welcoming humans. There are generous green buffers on all sides of the oval, which are planted with mature trees providng important shade in summer. There's plenty of free parking available behind the Cook shops off Rowan Street, or on an access road off Biffin Street. The adjacent Cook shops also boasts a great dog friendly cafe and pizza, beer and wine bar.
Giralang Ovals - parking on Gari Place or Tucana Street
The enormous verdant Giralang Ovals are made up of the Giralang Soccer Grounds, the Giralang AFL Grounds and a whole lot of extra off leash space in between and all around. If you head to the middle area in between the two main 'grounds', you'll be surrounded by huge green space on two sides, a large storm water drain on another side, and the fenced Giralang Primary School on the fourth side. Parking is available on Gari Place or Tuca Street with bins next to Gari Place.
Gordon Neighbourhood Oval - parking via Midge Street
A generous lush open space with beautiful mountain views all around, the oval is bordered by large banks on two sides, a deep creek channel on another, and a second large oval on the fourth side. A small access road from Midge Street provides free parking and bisects the two ovals. Choose the oval on your left, as you drive in. There are bins by the amenities block.
Mawson Neighbourhood Oval - parking 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.
Errol Kavanagh Memorial Oval - park on Kyeema Street, Narrabundah
This glorious hidden green space is bordered on three sides by poplar-lined creeks and on the fourth side by high fencing. Dogs love the open space and investigating special smells along the creek banks. There are several bins along Kyeema Street, which is just the oval access road and car park.
O’Connor Oval - parking 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.
Forestry Oval - parking off Wilf Crane Crescent, Yarralumla
Totally hidden from casual sight, this sublime green space is bordered by beautiful mature deciduous trees and is usually - and amazingly - deserted (except when our dog walking group visits). The oval is surrounded on three sides by steep banks rising to Will Crane Crescent (which is only an access road for CSIRO staff) and on the fourth side by an impenetrable thicket of spiky bushes and trees. There's a bin by the amenities block.
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.
For more information on regulations and off leash areas see the ACT Government dog regulations page.