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.

Effective control

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. Effective control of a dog means a person can prevent the dog from approaching other animals or people by either restraining the dog (i.e. using a leash) or using commands. If you do not have effective control of your dog, you could receive a $250 fine.

On-leash, off-leash and dog prohibited areas

On-leash, off-leash, conditional off-leash and dog prohibited areas are mapped out on ACTmapi’s dog exercise area map and are also outlined below.

Dog a lead

On-leash areas

In an on-leash area dogs must be on-leash and the person holding the leash must be able to prevent the dog from approaching other animals and people.

On-leash areas include all streets, verges, footpaths and cycle paths, including within 10 metres either side of the path. Lakes are dog on-leash areas unless otherwise signposted.

See ACTmapi for more information.

Off-leash areas

Dogs in off-leash areas must be under effective control at all times. They should only be off-leash if they remain in sight and can respond to and follow your commands. You must be able to prevent the dog from approaching other animals or people.

Off-leash areas include dog parks, sportsgrounds (except during formal sporting events) and designated dog swimming beaches.  Please note that dogs must be kept on-leash on all footpaths, regardless of whether they are in an off-leash area or not.

Dog at dog park

Dog parks

Fenced dog parks are available at the following locations:

Dogs in a dog park must behave safely and appropriately, and follow commands. 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.

See ACTmapi for more information.

Person holding dog

Dog swimming areas

All lakes are dog on-leash unless otherwise signposted. Public swimming beaches are strictly dog prohibited.

Designated dog swimming beaches are available at the following locations:

See ACTmapi for more information.

Dog prohibited areas

Dogs are not allowed in the following areas, unless they are an assistance animal with a permit:

See ACTmapi for more information.

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. You can receive a $150 fine for not picking up your dog’s droppings, and a $75 fine for not carrying appropriate equipment to collect your dog’s droppings.

For more information refer to Domestic Animal Services.

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 exercise area map

The dog exercise area map is provided by 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.

Alternatively you can view the whole-of-ACT map (PDF 2.4MB) and the ACT’s urban areas map (PDF 4.8MB). These maps were updated in 2019 to reflect changes to off-leash areas as outlined under the Canberra Dog Model. For more information see the frequently asked questions about the changes to off-leash areas.

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