New dog off leash areas – have your say

Update - Canberra Dog Walks has successfully lobbied to have many of the dog off-leash areas reinstated, which were taken away earlier in 2019. But there are still some areas which remain on-leash which were previously off-leash. This means some of our self-guided walk directions no longer accurately indicate on and off-leash areas. While we work to update these details, please make sure you check the ACT Government map below.

Have you seen the new map* published by the ACT Government showing the new 'off leash', 'on leash' and 'dogs prohibited' areas?

Although there are some welcome new off leash areas, such as Yarramundi Reach on Lake Burley Griffin and the park adjacent to the old Griffith Primary School, overall dog off leash areas have been substantially reduced.

Most of the changes are driven by the new regulation that dogs must not be off leash within 10 metres of a paved path. This means many small or narrow parks previously off leash are now on leash only, irrespective of whether it is a high or low use area.

If you're not happy about the changes, you have a small window of opportunity to provide your feedback by emailing communityengagement@act.gov.au. The Government is keen to receive feedback but plans to finalise the off leash map by September 2019.

Canberra Dog Walks has met with ACT Government staff to raise issues about many of the changes and provided feedback on areas in over 21 suburbs.

In some cases it appears there has been a misapplication of mapping data leading to an omission, or a dirt track on a satellite map being misidentified as a paved path.

In other cases the changes have not taken into account the actual terrain and condition of the ground which makes an off leash area essentially ‘unwalkable’ for most people.

There are also some areas which have very low traffic in terms of general pedestrians or cyclists but which provide an important facility for dog walkers who are safer walking on paved paths, e.g. the elderly, parents with prams and people with mobility issues.

The vast majority of Canberra is ‘dog on leash’ or ‘dog prohibited’. There is a vast network of footpaths available for people who do not want to encounter dogs off leash. Maintaining some defined areas where dog walkers may still use paved paths would allow a wider range of dog owners to continue to actually walk with their dog off leash.

Canberra Dog Walks was advised that the current shading of ‘conditional off leash’ playing fields does not extend to the full borders of these open areas because of the limitations of mapping software which only allows the actual playing field/oval to be shaded.

We pointed out that it would be extremely helpful to the public to clarify that the borders of most playing fields are also ‘conditional off leash’ or ‘off leash’ rather than ‘on leash’ as currently indicated on the new map, even if it means these spaces must be manually amended to extend the shaded area.

You can see the Canberra Dog Walks written feedback and full list of identified areas for change here: CDW-feedbackoffleashdogmap2019

*The ACT 'dog exercise areas' map is slow and clunky to use. If using the link above, it may take a little time to load. Then make sure you click on the orange box at the top of the left side column titled 'dog exercise areas'. This will load the dog-related detail onto the map. Then you will need to click the '+' symbol on the map itself several times to zoom in to see any detail. Each zoom will take several seconds to load. You can move to different areas of the map by just clicking and dragging. Again, each 'drag' to a new location on the map will take time to load.

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