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Recreation with my dog


Wondering where in the ACT to take your furry best friend? There are lots of places to take your dog on-leash and off-leash to ensure they get regular exercise and socialisation.

Remember, when in a public place with your dog, you must have effective control of the dog at all times, whether it is on or off-leash.

The video transcript
  • Canberra is renowned for being a dog friendly city
  • In public spaces, there are a few simple rules to remember when exercising your dog
  • Keep your dog on-leash when walking on a path or cycleway
  • Cyclists and walkers remember to keep left
  • All major parks are dog on-leash areas
  • Dogs must stay 10 metres away from playgrounds and barbecues
  • Sports grounds are a great place to exercise your dog off-leash when they’re not being used for formal sport.
  • Dogs can also be off-leash at man-made wetland areas
  • Just make sure they don’t harass others, including the wildlife. It’s just good petiquette
  • And of course, clean up after your dog
  • Always abide by signage, and if in doubt, keep your dog on-leash
  • Dog exercise area maps are available online
  • And remember, you can also let your pooch frolic at one of the six fenced dog parks in Canberra

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Off-leash areas

Fenced dog parks are available at the following locations:

  • Belconnen, Lake Ginninderra, Diddams Close
  • Greenway, Lake Tuggeranong, Mortimer Lewis Drive
  • Yarralumla, Park land, Weston Park
  • Forde, Park land, Amy Ackman Drive
  • Casey, Park land, Springbank Rise
  • O'Connor, Park land, Fairfax Street
  • Duffy, Park land, Warragamba Avenue.

Dogs playing at Belconnen Dog Park

For more information including dog park etiquette please visit Fenced Dog Parks Rules and Responsibilities.

Gibraltar Forest Regeneration Area formerly known as Gibraltar Pines east of Corin Road, is now closed as a dog off-leash exercise area and dogs are now prohibited. This change is to safeguard domestic dogs from 1080 poison baits for wild dogs and foxes laid in this area. Dogs are permitted on-leash at Woods Reserve.

Off-leash area map

The off-leash dog exercise area map can be viewed live online through ACTmapi. Alternatively, the whole-of-ACT map (PDF 2.35MB) and the ACT’s urban areas map (PDF 4.75MB) are also available.

These maps are detailed and delivered through ACTmapi, the ACT Government's interactive mapping service. Coloured shading is used to indicate the off-leash, on-leash and dog prohibited status of an area, with no shading indicating the area is either on-leash or private land. When using the online map, remember to select the ‘Dog Management Zoning’ layer on the map to view these areas.

These maps have recently been updated to reflect changes to off-leash areas as outlined under the Canberra Dog Model.

Why are you changing dog off-leash areas?

Areas where you can exercise your dog off-leash have been changed under the recently released Canberra Dog Model, which puts forward a range of actions to help the ACT achieve best-practice and world-leading dog management and welfare. The Canberra Dog Model sets forward a strategy for achieving this through a combination of education and awareness of responsible dog ownership and increased compliance and enforcement.

As part of this approach, the changes to Canberra’s dog exercise areas are designed to claritfy the rules and ensure the community is clear on where dogs can and can’t be off-leash.

For example, although community paths were already strictly dog on-leash, 10 metre buffer zones on either side of all paths have been added to ensure pedestrians and cyclists can feel safe using our extensive network of path.

Similarly, all lakes are now dog on-leash unless otherwise specified on ACTMapi or by signage. Some additional dog swimming areas around lakes have been added to make sure we have enough spots for dogs to safely swim off-leash. Feedback from the community helped in identifying these areas.

What are the main changes?

The new rules around dog exercise areas are:

  • All community paths, including 10 metres either side, are dog on-leash
  • All lakes and beaches are dog on-leash unless otherwise specified.

Existing rules, that remain unchanged, around dog exercise areas are:

  • All streets, including footpaths, are dog on-leash
  • Public playgrounds and BBQs are dog prohibited within 10 metres when in use
  • Dogs are prohibited on sportsgrounds during formal sporting events and are allowed off-leash at all other times (provided they are under effective control).

Why place a 10-metre buffer zone around footpaths and cyclepaths?

All community paths have been dog on-leash for years. The 10 metre buffer zone adds clarity to this rule. Previously, dog owners would walk on a path with their dog walking a metre or two beside them off-leash, which defeated the purpose of paths being dog on-leash.

Adding a buffer zone either side of community paths makes it clear that dogs are to be on-leash along our pathways so that all pedestrians and cyclists can feel safe moving about our city.

Why restrict off-leash areas around lakes?

All Canberrans should have the right to use our lakes in whatever way suits them most. Some people do not feel comfortable around off-leash dogs and we have recently heard from the community that dogs are swimming off-leash in areas that are not designated off-leash areas. To clarify this and ensure there is no confusion, the Canberra Dog Model committed to all lakes being on-leash unless otherwise signposted (signage will be installed at these locations in the coming weeks).

This ensures that dog owners can clearly see where they can and can’t let their dogs off-leash by our lakes. Swimmers and pedestrians will have the confidence to enjoy these spaces without being made to feel uncomfortable by off-leash dogs in most areas around our lakes.

The number of dog swimming areas was recently reviewed to ensure we have enough places for dogs to safely swim off-leash in time for summer.

How will I know if an area is off-leash?

ACTmapi, available at www.actmapi.act.gov.au, is anonline mapping system available to the community showing all zoning, including for dog on and off-leash areas.

Increased signage is also being rolled out across the city to mark locations such as dog prohibited areas, dog off-leash areas and dog swimming areas at lakes.

A mobile app for ACTmapi dog exercise areas is currently being explored. In addition to this, pdf-format maps will be made available on the TCCS website for people who prefer a downloadable image rather than the live ACTmapi mapping. The pdf copies reflect the refinements made to the mapping following community feedback.

If in doubt, keep your dog on a leash.

What is ‘effective control’?

When in the public realm all dogs must be under effective control at all times, regardless of whether the dog is in an off-leash area (such as a dog park).

Having effective control of a dog is defined in the Domestic Animals Act 2000 (the Act) as meaning a person can prevent the dog from approaching other animals or people by either:

  • restraining the dog using a leash or by holding or confining the dog; or
  • having the dog in sight, with the dog responding to the person’s commands.

Not having effective control of your dog in a public place could leave you with a $250 fine. When in doubt, put your dog on a leash.

What if I notice an area that should be off-leash based on the new requirements?

If you would like to provide feedback on Canberra’s dog exercise areas, such as an area that should be made off-leash, please email communityengagement@act.gov.au or call Access Canberra on 13 22 81.

On-leash areas

You can take your dog to all major parks as long as it is on a leash. Dogs must also be kept on-leash on all paths and cycle-ways for the safety of walkers and cyclists, including within 10 metres either side of the path. If you are ever in doubt you should keep your dog on a leash.

Girl walking a dog on leash on a footpath

Shared paths

Dogs must be on-leash on shared pathways, including within 10 metres either side of a path. Please be mindful of passing pedestrians and cyclists and keep to the left.

Dog swimming areas

Lakes - All lakes are dog on-leash unless otherwise signposted. Public swimming beaches are strictly dog prohibited. There are designated dog swimming beaches available in the ACT, which include:

  • Point Hut Pond, Gordon
  • Lake Tuggeranong, Greenway
  • Orana Bay, Yarralumla
  • Kurrajong Point Beach, Weston Park, Yarralumla
  • Yerrabi Pond, Gungahlin
  • Lake Ginninderra, Belconnen
  • Diddams Close, Belconnen.

Rivers - On the Murrumbidgee River dogs are allowed to swim at Uriarra Crossing East, Uriarra Crossing West, Swamp Creek and the western riverbank of Point Hut Crossing recreational area. Please note that on the eastern riverbank of Point Hut Crossing dogs must remain on-leash.

For more information on which areas are dog swimming areas please check the Dog Management Zoning layer on ACTmapi.

Young boy and dog wading through water

Dogs and Horses

There are a large number of horses in the ACT which use Canberra's equestrian connections through public open spaces, some shared paths and underpasses. Horses can be startled by unrestrained or aggressive dogs, especially in confined spaces. They have a significant reach with their hind legs when they feel threatened. For the safety of all it is recommended that you keep your dog on a leash around horses even in off-leash areas.

Dog prohibited areas

Dogs, except for assistance dogs with permits, are not to be taken:

  • onto the grounds of a child-care centre, preschool or primary school
  • onto the grounds of a high school or secondary college during school hours or when school sports or training is being conducted, including after hours training
  • onto a field or playing area where formal sport is being played
  • within 10 metres of a designated play space (if children are playing on it) or a fireplace (or heating appliance) designated for cooking
  • to the Gibraltar Forest Regeneration Area formerly known as Gibraltar Pines, Black Mountain Nature Reserve, Mulligans Flat sanctuary, Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve, Jerrabomberra Wetlands, Callum Brae Nature Reserve, Gungahlin Hill Nature Reserve, Rob Roy Nature Reserve and Dunlop, Gungaderra, Mullanggari, Jerrabomberra and Crace grasslands.

The fine for taking dogs into prohibited areas is $150, or $350 for taking them onto the grounds of a child-care centre, preschool or primary school.

Dog droppings

All dog droppings in public places must be removed by the dog owner. It is an offence not to remove your dog's droppings in a public place and not to carry appropriate equipment to pick up your dog's droppings. An on-the-spot fine of $150.00 can be issued by authorising officers if you do not pick up and dispose of your dog's droppings. An on-the-spot fine of $75.00 can also be issued if you are not carrying appropriate equipment to collect your dog's droppings.

For more information on dog laws and pet ownership in the ACT, please refer to Domestic Animal Services.

Two dogs playing on grass