Insider Tips for Dog Parks in Edmonton

By Kristy Rhyason

2015-12-17 15.12.50We are so fortunate to live in a city with plenty of beautiful off-leash dog parks. Since adopting my dogs a couple of years ago, I’ve made it my mission to visit as many as possible in Edmonton and the surrounding areas. Based on those visits, I’ve put together some tips for visiting off-leash parks with your doggy friend.

Make Sure a Dog Park is Right for Your Dog

Remember that many dogs will not do well at a dog park; in fact, we recommend some dogs find other places to exercise. It’s important to have a very strong recall (or head to a fenced park) and a very well socialized dog. Dog parks are not for developing socialization skills – instead, check out some classes at the Edmonton Humane Society, Dogspaw, or any of our other local positive reinforcement trainers.

Visit During Less Busy Times

I always try to visit dog parks at times I know will be less busy – in the early morning or during supper time, for example. Winter is a great season to visit the dog park; I often find we have 2015-12-17 15.08.50the park to ourselves! Although I understand the temptation of an off-leash frolic in a park with your dog on a beautiful summer Saturday, the really busy times can be overwhelming for some dogs. Take the opportunity to explore a new neighbourhood on-leash instead!

Focus on Your Four-Legged Friend

Make sure to be in the moment while you’re at the dog park. Focus on your dog and carefully observe situations and body language. I always avoid standing around in groups and like to keep moving by hiking through some of the back trails. There is so much to explore, so this isn’t really challenging!

Respect Wildlife

We often encounter rabbits, deer, geese, ducks and coyotes on our walks. This is another reason to have a strong recall. If I see rabbits or deer before my dogs do, I will leash my dogs and change direction. I’d rather give wildlife their space and happily coexist. We watch local Facebook groups like Edmonton Dog Connections to keep up-to-date with coyote sightings and avoid areas with many encounters. However, I’ve seen a coyote walk right down the street in my neighbourhood before, so it’s best to always be cautious.

Besides these things, ensure your vaccinations and licences are up-to-date, pack your poop bags, and you’re ready to explore.

River Valley Parks in Edmonton

2015-12-17 15.12.04The off-leash areas along the river valley are some of my favourite spots in the city. I particularly enjoy the trails along the river at Buena Vista, Terwillegar, Mill Creek, and Gold Bar Parks.

Buena Vista Dog Park
is by far the park we visit most. There are lots of trails to get lost on, a dog beach for swimming and lots of room separated from bikes. I’ve encountered quite a bit of wildlife here including deer and coyotes, so be on the lookout. There is a large open field where they launch hot air balloons from (usually only on weekends in the summer) so be prepared for that as well. This park is absolutely beautiful year round. There is parking near the zoo and also at Hawrelak Park. Remember to watch the signs to make sure you are complying with on-leash areas.

Terwillegar Dog Park is huge and you will feel like you’ve been transported out of the city; it’s wonderful! There is a dog beach here too – just be careful of the currents. I’ve witnessed more than one small dog 2015-10-02 14.21.28get caught up. Luckily, it’s almost always very shallow. There are so many great trails to follow in this park that I don’t think I’ve even covered them all yet. There are short walks and long walks depending on what your pup needs. We have encountered coyotes in this park too, so keep an eye out.

Mill Creek Ravine is another gem. There are lots of places to access this park so check out a map before you go. The creek is stunning and the trail follows it through the trees. There are some cool wooden walkways that cross the trails and give it a great atmosphere. My dogs love to play in the creek too; they chase sticks as they get pulled downstream. It’s very shallow and safe.

Gold Bar Park also has an off-leash trail that runs along the river. This trail is stunning in the fall, although I enjoy it year-round. We park at Rundle, Gold Bar, or Capilano Park depending on how far we want to walk. There are lots of joggers and cyclists on this trail so make sure your dog is good with that. The river banks are a little high here (one time my dog couldn’t make it back up and we had to lift her) so be careful with smaller dogs. There are lots of pretty vistas and you can walk across the pedestrian bridges.

Neighbourhood Off-Leash Dog Parks

2015-12-17 15.11.21We are lucky enough to live right beside a small off-leash dog park – it’s been a great way to get to know our neighbours and their dogs. We’ve also explored quite a few of these mini parks around the city. They are often hard to find if you’re not from the neighbourhood and don’t often have many services, but they are cute and quiet. The City of Edmonton has a map to help you find them – there might be one closer to you than you think! Some of these parks are near busy roads and aren’t fenced. Even though my dogs have a really strong recall, we avoid the areas near the road just to be safe. We’ve really enjoyed hunting down these little neighbourhood parks and visiting places we haven’t been before!

Fenced Dog Parks in Sherwood Park, Leduc and Spruce Grove

If you’re looking for a fenced dog park, you’re going to have to head out of town. The parks in Sherwood Park, Leduc, and Spruce Grove are fenced and none of them are too far of a drive.
Deermound Off-Leash Park just outside Sherwood Park on Highway 21 and Township Road 522 is beautiful. Besides the open field, there is a lovely trail through the forest – bring your boots in the spring because it gets a bit flooded. There is a fence for most of the park, however some of the areas leading into the surrounding neighbourhoods aren’t fenced.2015-12-17 15.10.08

Leduc K9 Off-Leash Park has been convenient for us when we had time to kill before picking someone up at the airport, but it’s worth a visit just for fun too! The entire park is fenced and it’s never been busy when we’ve been there. Airplanes fly quite close overhead so fearful dogs might not enjoy it as much.

Cpl. Jim Galloway Memorial Off Leash Area in Spruce Grove is another great fenced park. This one has a separate area for small dogs too! Again, this is another park that is never too busy when we’ve visited.

If you’re looking for a fenced dog park in Edmonton, you can check out Central Bark at the Edmonton Humane Society. It’s a members only fenced park with a fee; membership fees go to maintain the park. They also have a separate area for small dogs.

Have I missed any really great dog parks? Do you have a favourite?