Paws in Parks
There are 12 leash-optional areas and three pilot leash-optional areas for responsible dog owners in Victoria.
Each leash-optional area has a specific location and time when dogs can exercise off-leash, and has a dispenser stocked with biodegradable doggie bags and a trash bin.
With the exception of these leash-optional areas and private property, all dogs must be on a leash in the City of Victoria.
Find leash-optional areas in Victoria: Leash-Optional Areas.
View the City's Animal Responsibility Bylaw.
Rules to 'Paws' For
In addition to knowing when and where dogs are allowed off-leash, there are some simple rules for handlers to follow:
- Make sure your dog is wearing a current licence tag on their collar
- Pick up after your dog and dispose of waste in a garbage can
- Keep your dog outside of playground boundaries
- Do not allow your dog to dig holes in a City park
- Do not let your dog jump up on people
- Ensure you have control of your dog at all times, both on and off-leash
Learn more about licensing your dog here.
Pay for your dog licence online here.
Spear grass is a wild plant that thrives in the type of dry soil found in many green spaces during the summer months. The pointed seeds can become tangled in animals as they walk through the grass. To help your four-legged friend avoid spear grass, keep them out of tall, dry, grassy areas. After a romp outside, brush their paws, ears and eyes.
The City has conducted several trials to control spear grass. To help slow the production of seeds, our current practice is to keep problem areas cut to a height of 50 mm.
No Dog Areas
Please note that no dogs, other than certified assistance dogs, are allowed in the following areas:
- A small area of Beacon Hill Park (the heron rookery), located south of Good Acre Lake
- Ross Bay Cemetery
- Gonzales Beach between June 1 and August 31
- Pioneer Square
Playgrounds with sand, rubber, or wood chips
Beacon Hill Park and Dallas Road Waterfront
Within Beacon Hill Park, dogs must be kept on-leash at all times and are not allowed in the Heronry at Good Acre Lake, and at playgrounds in the park. Off-leash regulations are in place to prevent dogs from running uncontrolled along the pathway, bumping into people causing injury, and to protect wildlife in the park from being chased, such as the peacocks, squirrels and deer that make Beacon Hill Park their home.
Dallas Road Waterfront Pathway is a popular spot for walkers and joggers, tourists, and dog owners exercising their pets. The leash-optional area is located between Dallas Road and the pathway, from Douglas Street to Clover Point. Please note dogs are required to be on a leash when on the pathway and anywhere south of the pathway.
To balance the needs of all users of the pathway and park, the City of Victoria has additional Animal Control Bylaw presence during summer evenings and weekends to educate dog owners and ensure they have close supervision of their dogs and carry a leash at all times. Dog owners who don't have proper control of their pet or who do not follow the dogs off-leash rules can face a fine ranging from $100-$300.
To align with federal regulations, the City is amending the Animal Responsibility Bylaw to make Gonzales beach an on-leash area. The summer prohibition on dogs at this beach remains in place as it has for years. The only change is that dogs can't be off-leash other times during the year.
Gonzales Beach is located within a federal migratory bird sanctuary and this change protects species at risk and other birds who use the beach as an important summer and winter habitat.
The City is working with the Canadian Wildlife Service on updated signage, education and outreach to provide clarity for the public on the location of dogs off-leash areas and the impact that off-leash dogs can have on habitat and species at risk.