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.
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.
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 and 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.
Here are some of favourite Canberra off leash dog meeting places to get you started. Each provides extensive off leash walking, most have natural borders or low fencing on two or more sides, 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!
Reid Oval (parking off Elimatta Street)
There’s great off leash dog walking at Reid Oval with views of Mt Ainslie and the War Memorial nearby. Each evening between 5pm and 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 (parking off Kootara Crescent near Nimbin Street)
More great off-leash dog walking is to be had at Narrabundah’s neighbourhood oval, which is 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 5.30pm and 6.30pm. This ‘group’ particularly suits smaller dogs – our whippets are giants here!
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.
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.
Free information on Canberra dog off leash areas as well as great dog walking routes is available here. To find out more about regulations and off leash areas, visit the ACT Government dog regulations page.