Melbourne has recently taken out the title of most pet-friendly city in Australia according to the national Pet Positives Score.
In Melbourne, 46 per cent of dog owners said friendly outdoor public areas were the most important factor and Melbourne councils have listened, providing access to many off leash areas and parks where your pooches will be welcome and there’s usually a great cafe nearby!
So it’s time to dust off these walking shoe dog lovers!
Edinburgh Gardens, North Fitzroy
Edinburgh Gardens was created from a grant of land in March 1862 by Queen Victoria and laid out by Clement Hodgkinson, who designed many of Melbourne’s parks and gardens. At approximately 24 hectares, the park is large by inner-urban standards.
Not only is it located in a great part of Melbourne town and hosts an off-leash dog park but many eateries, cafes and bars nearby will welcome your four-legged friend!
Clayton Reserve, North Melbourne
For those living in the North-West pocket of Melbourne, Clayton Reserve is a no-brainer as it is securely fenced off so you can relax as your pooch enjoys the wind through his or her ears. Most times of the day, you’ll find other friendly dogs and dog owners there for both human and dog socialization.
Entrance: Macaulay Road, North Melbourne
There are many places in Albert Park where you can walk your dog. Dogs are permitted in most of the park, but must be kept on a leash in certain areas, and kept out of dog exclusion areas (including the lake and playgrounds).
It recently hosted the annual RSPCA Million Paws Walk attracting thousands of Melbourne dog lovers.
Princes Park, Caufield South
Not only are dogs allowed, but they are also the feature. It’s a great off-leash dog park. As one local put it “This park is amazing for dogs of all sizes. There is a footy ground that is fenced off so dogs stay in there or you can use the two scorer grounds that have no fences.”
Entrance: 277 Bambra Rd, Caulfield South
Yarra Bend Park
Yarra Bend is a 260-hectare picturesque park in the Melbourne suburb of Kew and only a 10-15 mins drive away from Melbourne city centre.
The Yarra River meanders through so there are opportunities for your dogs to go for a swim on a hot day. There are open grass areas in the off-leash zones big enough for games so don’t forget your ball thrower and picnic rug and make a day out of it!
Yarra Bend Park also provides walking trails of easy (Bushland Circuit Trail) to moderate difficulty levels (Andrews Reserve and Dight Falls Loop Trail). Sights such as Galatea Point, river views and abundant birdlife are some of the highlights to be discovered along Yarra Bend trails. These walking tracks are shared with bikes so be careful if your dog is off-leash on a shared path as cyclists often move too fast to stop in some areas.
Entrance: Studley Park Rd and Yarra Boulevard, Kew, or Yarra Bend Rd, Fairfield for vehicles
Fawkner Park, South Yarra
This dog-friendly place is a beautiful large city park that is bordered by St Kilda Rd, Commercial Rd, Punt Rd and Toorak Rd West. Enter via Slater St (off St Kilda Rd) and turn right, and there in between the soccer goal posts (and beyond) is where your four-legged pal can run free and meet other dogs.
Entrance: via Slater St, Melbourne (off St Kilda Road)
You may wish to explore this great resource provided by the Yarra Ranges Council, listing all off-leash parks in the area.
Warrandyte River Reserve
The 8.9 hectare Warrandyte River Reserve extends 2.2 km along the southern bank of the Yarra River from Andersons Creek to the Stonehouse and offers a terrific walk through the scenic Warrandyte bushland, right next to the Yarra River.
Families flock to the river on warm days to let their children and dogs swim, or relax with on a raft or kayak. You can park at Stiggant’s Reserve and follow the trail, learning about native bush inhabitants and iconic Warrandyte-based artists.
Best of all, virtually all of this walk is an off-leash zone so your dog can delight in running into the river and bounding back to the trail as he wishes. After you walk under the bridge and come to the timber staircase, you will need to leash your dog again before walking up the stairs and then past the car park, you can continue your walk through the bush.
Entrance: Stiggants Reserve, Stiggant Street, Warrandyte, VIC 3113
Elsternwick Park, Brighton
For any inner-city Melbournian with a dog, Elsternwick Park is a must. It has a beautiful lake (with turtles) and a large space for doggies to run around. Visitors are generally very friendly, with plenty of parking and Ormond Village cafes and shops are only 5 minutes away.
It’s a great morning or afternoon getaway!
Entrance: St. Kilda Street, Brighton
The Melbourne Bay Trail
The Bay Trail is a shared path for cyclists and pedestrians which follows the coastline of Port Phillip Bay through the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The longest route starts/ends at Seaford and ends/starts at Port Melbourne.
Along the way, you can detour at cafes and restaurants in Port Melbourne, St Kilda, Elwood, Brighton and more. It is a relatively easy walk with minor hills in Mentone and St Kilda and all up it is ~50km. Dogs are allowed on lead on the footpath and off lead at particular spots (Brighton Dog Beach, St Kilda Dog Beach, Port Melbourne Dog Beach).
Ruffey Lake Park, Doncaster
The park is named after Ruffey Creek – a watercourse that runs through the park, which was dammed to irrigate the surrounding orchards, forming Ruffey Lake.
Ruffey Lake is arguably the best park for dogs in the leafy Eastern suburbs of Victoria. A good two-thirds of the park is off-leash and with lush green hills and several decent walking tracks, your pooch will happily play frisbee or run alongside the kids on their bicycles.
Ruffey offers several BBQ areas and the best playground and toilet facilities are on the Victoria St side. There is a large lake in the middle of the park – complete with wetland wildlife – but dogs are not encouraged to swim there!
Entrances: the park has three main entrances, Victoria St, The Boulevard and King St.
Lillydale Lake, Lilydale
Lillydale Lake is a beautiful dog-friendly area where you can enjoy a picnic or barbecue on-site or take a stroll around the magnificent lake.
There are 10 kilometers of shared trails within the park, perfect for walking or bike riding. Dogs are welcome at the park with two designated dog off-lead areas. Off lead areas are highlighted on the park map
Entrance: 435 Swansea Road, Lilydale, VIC 3140
Hobsons Bay, Coastal Trail
Walking this trail along the western side of the bay offers some of the best views of the Melbourne CBD.
The 23km Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail starts in the shadows of the West Gate Bridge in Spotswood and continues along the historic Williamstown waterfront, through the Altona wetlands and past the fir trees that line Altona Beach before coming to an end at Skeleton Creek in Sanctuary Lakes. Markers and artworks along the trail tell of the cultural and historical significance of the coast.
Merri Creek Walking Trail
The Merri Creek Trail is a 21km stretch that is relatively easy to walk.
The trail starts at Dights Falls near the Merri Creek and Yarra River meeting point. The trail follows the creek and along the way it passes by CERES, the Brunswick velodrome and the Coburg Lake park.
Bring your dog along to make it even better, but keep him or her on a leash whilst using the path.
The Dandenong Ranges
A short 45 mins drive, South-East from Melbourne CBD, you will find the scenic Dandenong ranges with a great choice of walking tracks, varying in length and degree of difficulty.
The Mathias Track is possibly the best-known walking trail that allows dogs, horses and mountain bike riders. It is an 8km return walk from one end to the other and can be accessed from Falls Road, Silvan Road (where you can park) or the Hamer Arboretum. It runs below the National Rhododendron Gardens and the old Olinda Golf course, now used by many locals to walk their dogs off lead.
The Rock Track Circuit Walk also referred to as Golf course Track, passes between the Old Olinda Golf Course and the Hamer Arboretum. This circuit does involve about 1.5 km of walking on the Falls and Olinda-Monbulk roads.
- Total Distance: just under 6 km (1hr to 1.5hr walking time)
- Grade: Medium (reasonable fitness level required)
Numerous other trails run off this walk and an entire day might easily be spent gadding about in the forest. Dogs are allowed on most of the trails in the area.
Read more about this topic at https://www.australiandoglover.com/
Good To Know About Other Areas Around Melbourne
Dogs must only be off-leash in designated areas.
Conditions for being off-leash are:
- Dogs must be no more than 50 metres from the person walking them and under effective control by voice command or hand signal at all times.
- Dogs must remain on leash in all areas if any club or school sport is being played in the park or reserve
- Dogs off-leash must not be within 20 metres of a playground at any time
- Dogs must not be allowed within 20 metres of a designated cycling path or track, unless they are separated from the track by a fence at least 1.2 metres in height.
These parks have fully fenced off-lead exercise areas:
- Tirhatuan Park, Dandenong North
- Tatterson Park, Keysborough
- Springvale Reserve, Springvale
There are 14 locations where dogs are allowed off-leash including one fenced dog park.
Park with fully fenced off-lead exercise areas is:
- Brooklyn Reserve, Brooklyn
There are two-time-restricted areas:
- Donald McClean Reserve, Spotswood (Dogs permitted off-leash before 8 am and after 9 pm every day)
- Edwards Reserve, Spotswood (Dogs permitted off-leash before 9 am and after 9 pm)
Dogs are restricted from these beaches from 10 am to 9.30 pm from 1 November to 30 April
- Every year, seven days a week. At all other times, dogs must be on a leash.
- Williamstown Beach – between the Life Saving Club and Sirens Restaurant
- Altona Beach – between Romawi and Mount Streets
Conditions for dogs being off-leash are:
- Dogs should be on a leash at all times in public places, except in certain parks and reserves that are designated off-leash areas
- Several off-leash areas are active sporting reserves. Dogs may not be let off the leash when organised sporting and community activities are being conducted on these reserves.
- Dogs must be on a leash within five metres of paths, even in off-leash areas. This includes concrete, asphalt, or gravel paths.
- Dogs are required to be on a short leash (no longer than two metres) within 10 metres of formal picnic facilities, trails, sports events and outdoor exercise equipment, wetlands and water bodies, car parks, markets and community events.
- Dogs are required to be on a short leash (no longer than two metres) within 50 metres of a playspace or BMX/skate facility.
There are 45 dog off-leash areas including 4 fenced dog parks with 8 areas having time restrictions.
These parks have fully fenced off-lead exercise areas:
- Craigieburn Fenced Park, Craigieburn
- Dwyer Street, Kalkallo
- Sunbury Park, Sunbury
- Broadmeadows Fenced Park, Westmeadows
- Several off-leash areas near schools are time-restricted. Dogs must be on a leash between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm at the following off-leash parks:
- Gibb Reserve, Dallas
- Progress Reserve, Coolaroo
- Holy Drive Reserve, Craigieburn
- Hume Tennis and Community Centre, Craigieburn
- Bradford Avenue Reserve, Greenvale
- Drummond Street Reserve, Greenvale
- Jacana Reserve, Jacana
- Westmeadows Reserve, Westmeadows
Dogs are prohibited at the following areas: Maygar Grasslands (Broadmeadows), Amberfield Grassland (Craigieburn), Kalkallo Commons (Kalkallo), Somerton Red Gum Reserve (Somerton), Albert Road Nature Reserve (Sunbury), Evans Street Grassland (Sunbury), Fullwood Drive Ceremonial Ring (Sunbury), Mt Holden Reserve (Sunbury), Sunbury Cemetery (Sunbury), Tandara Reserve (Sunbury), The Parkway Reserve (Sunbury) and Martin Dillon Reserve (Wildwood).
There are 36 parks with dog off-leash areas including 4 fenced dog parks.
Parks with fully fenced off-lead exercise areas are:
- Farm Road Reserve, Cheltenham
- Reg Marlow Reserve, Mentone
- Snowdon Reserve, Cheltenham
- Kevin Hayes Reserve, Mordialloc
Four sites have dog exercise equipment installed. These are located at Bicentennial Park (Chelsea), Kevin Hayes Reserve (Mordialloc), Kingston Heath (Moorabbin) and Bald Hill Reserve (Clarinda).
Dogs may be off the lead but under effective control in a public park or recreation reserve.
Dogs are to be on leads on footpaths, bike tracks, walking tracks, in shopping centres, car parks, within a reserve where an organised sporting event is being conducted, within a playground or play equipment area, within an organised public meeting, within a permanent barbecue or picnic area and conservation bushlands.
Conservation bushland areas where dogs must be on-lead include:
- Egan Lee Reserve
- Flamingo Road Reserve
- Gilmore Park Retarding Basin
- J W Manson Reserve
- Koolunga Native Reserve (except the lawn areas)
- Lakewood Reserve
- Tim Neville Arboretum
- Starlight Reserve
- Wicks Reserve (east and west)
- W G Morris Reserve
There is one off-leash fenced dog park at Knox Park Reserve, Knoxfield.
Dogs must be on lead within 15 metres of permanent barbecue facilities, children’s play equipment, organised sporting events, approved functions or public meetings.
These parks have fully fenced off-lead exercise areas:
- Banksia Park, Bulleen
- Aranga Reserve, Donvale
There are 104 off-leash areas including two fenced dog parks.
Dogs must be on-lead:
Within 30 metres of children’s play equipment areas or any permanent barbeque or picnic areas (when in use) in any park.
When sporting events are in progress on sports fields
These parks have fully fenced off-lead exercise areas:
- Martin Reserve, West Footscray
- McIvor Reserve, Yarraville
- There are 12 areas where dogs may be exercised off-lead including two fenced dog parks. Village Green (Maribyrnong) and Cruickshank Park (Yarraville) have time restrictions for off-leash access.
There are 35 parks and reserves that have been designated as off-leash areas. Even in off-leash areas, dogs must be kept on lead at all times while on any shared path and within 15 metres of:
- Playgrounds or children’s play equipment
- Public BBQ or picnic facilities
- An organised sporting event match or training session
- These parks have fully fenced off-lead exercise areas:
- Eastfield Dog Park, Croydon
Dogs are not permitted in some reserves to protect areas of conservation significance and biodiversity. They include Appletree Hill Reserve (Kilsyth South) (the part that is fenced), Baringa Flora Sanctuary (Croydon North), Bedford Park Wildflower Sanctuary (Ringwood) (the part that is fenced), Birts Hill Reserve (Croydon North), Bungalook Conservation Reserve (the part that is fenced), Cheong Wildflower Reserve (Croydon), Grandfill Reserve (Croydon), FC Rogers Reserve (Heathmont), Loughies Bushland Reserve (Ringwood North) and Stringybark Rise Flora Sanctuary.
Dogs must be on a leash if they are within 20 metres of a children’s playground or a permanent barbecue and picnic area.
Dogs must remain on the leash near fountains, ponds and lakes and not enter any body of water. They are prohibited from the entire precinct of Trin Warren Tam-boore, the recycling wetland in Royal Park.
There are eight parks designated as off-leash areas for dogs including 2 fenced dog parks at
There are four designated fenced areas where dogs may be exercised off-lead. These areas are identified by signs and have conditions that must be observed and obeyed when your dog is off the lead.
The fenced dog parks are:
- Diggers Rest Recreation Reserve, Diggers Rest
- Boronia Drive, Hillside
- Navan Park, Melton
- Fraser Street Reserve, Melton South
Within a designated off-leash area, the owner/person in charge of the dog must bring the dog under control if it is or is likely to be within 20 metres of:
- An organised sporting or practice event
- An occupied children’s playground
- An organised public meeting
- An occupied permanent barbecue or picnic area.
There are 31 dog off-leash areas and 1 fenced off-leash area.
There is a fenced dog park at: Southern Reserve Oval, Mulgrave
Dogs to be kept on a leash at all times when in a public place including roads, streets and footpaths. However, dogs can still be exercised off a leash in designated off-leash parks.
Dogs are prohibited from being within 15 metres of any children’s playground, barbeque or exercise equipment.
There are nine parks and reserves where dogs can exercise off-leash and 1 fenced dog park.
There is a fenced dog park at: Alf Pearce Reserve, Strathmore
Read more about this topic at https://www.melbourneplaygrounds.com.au/