We have all heard the saying a “Good dog is a tired dog” or even the bold “A bored dog is a bad dog” and after this long Winter there are probably lots of Ancaster’s good dogs stirring the pot at home.

Spring is just around the corner and there is no better place to blow the dust off your dog than at the Ancaster Leash Free Dog Park (also called Cinema Park.) The Ancaster Dog Park is located just off Golf Links Road between Legend Court and Kitty Murray Lane beside the Ancaster Silver City Cinemas. Just a hop, skip and a jump for most Ancastonians.

I have taken my dog Wilson to this particular park on many occasions. I must admit that in this ridiculously cold weather you are more likely to find me at home in front of the fire with my pup but there are lots of diehard dog park folk that will brave the low temperatures to get in fido’s daily romp, And romp they do. My dog loves the park. We generally stay for a least an hour and he returns home happy and tired albeit dirty.

The Ancaster Leash Free Dog Park is a big dog park in comparison to most others. It’s fully fenced, there are benches on which to sit and rest, there’s a rain water runoff canal in which the dogs can play and get muddy, and there are garbage cans located at the exit in which to deposit your dog poop. Ahh..yes…poop. There are rules at the park, not least of which is clean up after your dog. If you forget your poop bag there are always plenty of park goers willing to spare a bag.

Rules at the park are very important. You put a bunch of dogs in an open field and say “go play” rules need to be followed for the benefit of all dogs and owners. These are some of the basics.

  1. Always stay close to and keep an eye on your dog(s). I know we all like to chat at the park (about our dogs generally) but don’t turn your back on your dog. If your dog wants to walk, walk with him. You need to see how he’s interacting, how he’s feeling, has he had enough…and again…did he poop.
  2. No toys or treats at the dog park. Toys can make dogs possessive. We want the dogs to interact with each other, not to obsess over the treats in your pocket or the ball in your hand.
  3. You are accountable for your dog’s actions. Know the temperament of your dog before you even consider going to the leash free park. If your dog is overly shy, doesn’t listen to your commands or most importantly is aggressive, perhaps a leash free environment with other dogs is not the place for your dog. And that’s OK, but please work on these issues before you visit a leash free park, not at the leash free park.
  4. If your dog injures another dog do the right thing. As mentioned in #3…You are accountable for your dog’s actions. It may have been an accident, your dog may never have done anything like that before but should your dog have a run in with another animal you must immediately control you dog, leash him and seek out the owner of the injured dog. It’s the right thing to do. Each owner that brings their dog to a leash free environment understands that there’s always a risk that someone may get hurt. Like children in a park, accidents can happen. It’s rare, they are normally very minor resulting from play, but it can happen.

A full list of do’s and don’ts can be found on the Ancaster Leash-Free Dog Park Facebook page. This is a very active community of dog lovers and park supporters who would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Events are held throughout the year to help with the maintenance of the park and also serve to strengthen the community of Ancaster’s dog owners.

If you have a dog and haven’t visited the leash free park in Ancaster yet, I suggest that you do. If you think your dog is a good candidate for off leash play and exercise pack him up in the car and spend a while. Try just a short visit to start and see how he does. He will get dirty. He will get excited, but that’s all part of the fun. You may be hesitant on your first visit but remember its leash free. Do not keep you dog on a leash, stay close and let him explore. It really is such a joy to watch your dog playing freely with other dogs.

Come on Wilson…Let’s hit the park. See you there.

For more info on Dog Parks you can check out this Beginners Guide to Leash Free Parks from the Ontario SPCA

Photo courtesy Dave Scott – Ancaster Dog Park Regular & owner of themug.ca

Photo courtesy Dave Scott – Ancaster Dog Park Regular & owner of themug.ca

Post courtesy of Vicky Toon owner of Yellow Dog Grooming