At the beginning of this pandemic, with most activities curtailed and people spending much more time at home, we have seen somewhat of an “iso-puppy” boom. Parks and neighbourhood streets are swarming with pint-sized canines of every description with Daschunds, French Bulldogs and Cavoodles leading the pack. Working from home means new dog “parents” don’t have to leave their puppies home alone for long stretches of the day. They now have plenty of time to spend with their pooches, training, bonding and walking. Although recent times may have proved stressful for humans, lockdown has been heaven for dogs. Many parks around Melbourne have dog friendly areas where canines can frolic off the lead, playing and socialising with other dogs. These are some of our favourite parks for walking the dog.
Extending from Commercial Road to Toorak Road in South Yarra, this expansive park criss-crossed with paths lined with Moretan Bay Fig, Elm and Oak trees, features a substantial off leash area along the western and southern edges. The area is large enough for an effective exercise session as well as dog walking. A large grassy area in the middle of the western flank is a favourite spot for dogs and their owners to congregate in the morning and again in the late afternoon.
A huge expanse of parkland alongside the Eastern Freeway, the Koonung Creek Reserve is a dog paradise. Large open sections of the park are off leash areas at all times so there is plenty of space for dogs to chase balls, play with other dogs and even wade through a billabong. It’s a pleasant walk for the owners as well with lots of native bird life to spot along the way.
In a beautiful leafy setting with a billabong, creeks and lengthy walking tracks, Hays Paddock is a wonderful place for both owners and dogs. There is a circuit walk that takes around 20 mins as well as plenty of off leash areas for mixing with other dogs. Safely positioned well away from road, it is a popular location for dog walkers. The park also offers plenty of opportunity for dogs to cool off in the many waterways.
The one kilometre stretch of beach north of New St in Brighton offers a unique chance for urban dogs to frolic on the sand and in the bay. For long periods of the year (April to the end of October) that section of the beach is open for dogs off leash at any time while from the 1st November until the end of March, the off leash permit is from 7.30 pm to 10am. To those in the know, it is a very popular spot for cooling off dogs on a summer’s evening.
Albert Park Lake
A huge open space of more than 226 hectares, the surrounds of Albert Park Lake include a number of off lead areas for dogs. The vast spaces and tracks also make it an ideal spot for the dual purpose of exercising and dog walking. While there are a number of restricted areas for dogs to protect the wildlife, many of the sporting fields are available for dogs off leash when not being used for sporting activities. The prime dog friendly areas are towards the northern end of the park and to the west of Aughtie Drive.