All dogs love a gold old walk around the block, but they love a run in the dog park.
The region’s growing population has led to a surge in local pet ownership and new canine-friendly parks are popping up all the time.
So, where are the best places to take your fluffy friends?
In Camden there are four off-leash dog parks for people and their four-legged friends to enjoy at River Road Reserve in Elderslie, Rosevale Reserve in Narellan, Clifton Park in Cobbitty and Bicentennial Equestrian Park.
Council recently installed solar lights at the River Road Reserve so pet owners could use the facility in winter.
A council spokesman said the off-leash parks were popular with residents.
“Council is committed to promoting responsible pet ownership within the community including providing opportunities for dogs to exercise and socialise,” he said.
“Off-leash dog parks are used frequently with council also creating separate areas for small dogs to enable large dogs to run freely, where space permits.”
Camden Council is also working with developers to deliver three more off-leash dog parks at Burrell Road in Spring Farm, Silverton Street in Gregory Hills and Holden Drive in Oran Park, which is currently under construction.
Out in Wollondilly dog lovers can visit Appin Park, Bargo Sportsground, Picton Sportsground, Lin Gordon Reserve in Thirlmere, Tahmoor Sportsground and Warragamba Sportsground for some off-leash fun.
Wollondilly Council’s acting compliance and administration manager, Alex Stengl said dog parks provided a secure recreational space for people to spend more time with their animals and interact with other dogs and residents.
“The dog parks are very popular and are regularly used by local residents,” he said.
“There are no hard and fast rules but all droppings are to be collected and placed in available bins.
“Also be respectful to other animals and people using the facility.”
There are five dog-friendly areas in Campbelltown where dogs can be exercised off their leash.
They are 7-9 Eagleview Road, Minto, Hurricane Drive in Raby, the south-eastern corner of Mary Brookes Reserve in St Helen’s Park, Kennett Park in Glenfield and the new Milton Park dog park in Macquarie Fields
The Minto site has full perimeter fencing, seating and water services.
The Milton Park location has a separate enclosed area for smaller dogs while the Raby and St Helens Park sites have several pieces of dog agility equipment and shade structures.
There are also plenty of great locations to walk your dogs in parks, reserves and bushwalks across the region.
Did you know? It is illegal for dogs to be in national parks, nature reserves or state conservation areas. So to be clear, that is basically the entire escarpment around Wollongong. The fine for bringing your dog along is $300.
So what’s the big deal taking our dogs into the bush? By leaving their scents behind and being in the general vicinity of native animals and their habitats, dogs can cause significant stress to wildlife. In some cases, the scents can cause animal families to leave their homes. Worse, dogs can kill the wildlife (just think dog vs ground-dwelling birds and reptiles).
That means: no more photos of dogs in our national parks. Not cool at all. (Trained Assistance Dogs are the exception.)
So how do we do the right thing and still let Fido enjoy some bushwalking? Very simple. We are fortunate that in NSW, state forests and regional parks allow for dogs. These areas are generally are mix between plantation forests and natural bush, which keeps it interesting with plenty of trees to sniff.
Some include water elements such as ponds and creeks, while other areas are absolutely massive and allow for a good run around. Furthermore, a few of these places also have free camp grounds, so just think: an afternoon walk with the dog, collecting kindling and kicking back under the stars with a fire … sounds good, right?!
Tips to keep you and your dog safe:
Food and water: You always pack refreshments for yourself, so make sure you think about your dog too. Water is especially critical – all that running and sniffing will make them very thirsty.
First aid: if you are planning on entering some of the more remote areas, don’t forget a medical kit. Most items can also be used on your dog if they get a laceration, sprain etc.
Keep your dog under control: no one wants their dog lost in a massive forest. On that, ensure you pack maps and let people know where you’re going. State forests, in particular plantation forests, are very easy to get lost in. Think rows and rows of pine trees that all look the same, while dense forest makes it difficult to see the sun for direction.
The same general courtesy rules applies to dog-friendly bush as it does on dog beaches and parks. So have a think about others and remember these tips:
- Clean up after your dog. Be prepared by bringing your own poo-bags.
- Be in control of your dog, either by leash or command.
- Do not bring dogs with contagious disease, skin irritation or parasitic infection into public areas.
- Remember that the owner of the dog is legally responsible if their dog attacks another person or animal.