One of the most beautiful sights to a dog owner’s eyes is a park full of happy, gambolling pooches having the time of their lives, off the leash and running free as nature intended. Ottawa is lucky in that we have a number of off-leash parks where your furbaby can get some exercise and socialization time with other dogs.

We polled the dog owners in the office and asked them for their favourite off-leash parks in the Ottawa area. These four topped the list.

1. Conroy Pit

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If you live in the east end of Ottawa, chances are you’ll want to visit Conroy Pit with your dog. This area especially sees a huge influx of dogs on weekends when people have more time to drive in from the surrounding areas. Located on Conroy Road just south of Hunt Club, you’ll often see hundreds of cars parked up and down Conroy of sunny afternoons.

This park is fenced in, but keep in mind there are gates intended for local residents that dogs could escape through. If your dog is one of those breeds that just heads for the horizon no matter how much you plead (whippets, we’re looking at you!), you may want to keep him or her on a long lead.

The earlier you go in the morning, the less canine and human traffic there is.

2. Bruce Pit

The west end’s most popular off-leash park, Bruce Pit especially gives larger dogs a chance to really stretch their legs. Like Conroy Pit, it may be too big for young dogs just learning about the freedom of a large dog park. If your dog doesn’t have good recall, you may have some difficulty rounding them up when it’s time to come home. Bruce Pit is fenced but won’t hold a determined escape artist.

Again like Conroy, you’ll frequently see giant knots of dogs playing together. There are lots of larger dogs, and some who like to really like to rough house. Owners of small dogs and dogs with demure personalities may want to keep their dog on a leash at first to make sure he or she can hold their own. Just as importantly, you want to be sure your dog won’t be too aggressive either – unless you don’t mind paying massive vet bills from other owners.

3. Jack Purcell Dog Park

One of downtown’s most popular dog parks, Jack Purcell is located a few minutes from Elgin street. The fenced-in area has a special surface that’s kind to dogs’ feet, and there’s even a water fountain just for dogs. There are plenty of benches where owners can relax while their dogs give each other some exercise.

While nowhere near as large as Conroy Pit or Bruce Pit, for dog owners in the area it’s an essential part of their day. Here is their Facebook page.

4. Landsdowne Dog Park

This is another fenced-in dedicated play area for dogs in the downtown core. What makes Landsdown and Jack Purcell special is that the secure fence means the leash can come off. Like Jack Purcell, it’s not large, but it’s really handy for people who live in the area.

Landsdowne is located at the corner of Holmwood and O’Connor – here is their Facebook page.

5. On-Leash Parks to Explore

All parks in Ottawa, small and large, are rated as either no pets allowed, on-leash allowed, or off-leash. If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of parks to check out, try this list from You can also use the Ottawa Dog Blog parkfinder tool.

While there are lots of parks where dogs are allowed, not all of them are as truly dog friendly as the ones we’ve listed above.

Here are a couple of great on-leash areas:

  1. The Experimental Farm, especially the Arboretum.
  2. Most of Gatineau Park.
  3. Most of the Greenbelt.

Again, please respect that these are strictly on-leash areas. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed on NCC shorelines, which is unfortunate because many breeds love to play in the water. At time of writing, they can get their swim on in New Edinburgh Park (not fenced), Heart’s Desire Park/Jock River Boat Launch in Barrhaven, and David Bartlett Park in Manotick.

Even in Dog Parks, Manners Matter

Don’t forget that other people use off-leash parks too. You can help avoid controversies like the one the dog owners of Terry Fox Park have run into by being a good off-leasher.

  1. The most important thing is to make sure your dog is trained not to jump on people. For toddlers (or grownups who are afraid of dogs), being chased, jumped on, or even bitten is a terrifying and dangerous experience. It can also risk losing the park’s off-leash status if non-dog owning members of the public complain.
  2. Don’t be one of those people who don’t clean up after their pet. Even other dog owners don’t want to step in a big pile of poop. Yes, it is biodegradable but it takes a lot of time before the pile disappears. As one commenter put it, “I wouldn’t take a chance on lying down in the grass around here!”
  3. Teach your dog not to bark too much. There are homes surrounding all the parks, whether they’re downtown or in the burbs.
  4. Keep dogs out of children’s playgrounds, splash pads, and other kid zones. Even if your dog behaves well and doesn’t hurt anyone, lots of parents just don’t like it.

Nothing will start a dog-banning campaign faster than a bad-apple owner who doesn’t take responsibility for training their pet. This isn’t just good manners, they’re part of NCC regulations and you can be fined several hundred dollars if your pet violates them. By being a good citizen, you can help keep our off-leash parks dog-friendly for years to come.

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