While there’s plenty of parks you can bring your dog to for a ‘controlled’ walk on the leash there’s not many parks or beaches where your dog can go for an unleashed frolic. We take a look at the state of play…

Dogs on leash or off leash?

Traditionally in Ireland dogs were allowed run off the leash as long as the owner had them under ‘effective’ control (i.e. coming back when called, not jumping up on or harassing anyone). Life was good for both doggie and owner; having a free reign in most parks and beaches. But now, the rules are stricter and playing ‘go fetch’ is more like ‘go as far as your lead will stretch’!
Local authorities are responsible for the control of dogs. They decide and police the bye-laws that determine where in public dogs must be kept on a leash, or indeed whether they’re allowed there at all. Rules differ from one authority to the next so you’d need to check with your own local authority to see what the state of play is in your area – as well as what fines are in place for breach of the bye-laws.

Mostly, there’ll be signage at your local park, beach or walking trail that indicates whether dogs are allowed on leash, off leash, at what times of day etc. The Citizens Information website has a great summary of dog control rules and regulations http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/environment/animal_welfare_and_control/control_of_dogs.html

Tips for finding dog-friendly parks and dog-friendly beaches

Search online: check out and ask questions on online forums. You can get some really good information from fellow dog owners. http://irishdogs.ie has a good forum. There are plenty of others too; just google them.
Contact your local council: They’re the ones who set the rules for dog control in your area so should be able to give you information on local walks, parks and beaches for your dog.
Dedicated facebook sites: If you’re in the Cork area check out Dog-Friendly Cork facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/dogfriendlycork it lists dog-friendly social events, such as dog-walking clubs, and has a campaign for a dedicated dog park in Cork. 

Forest walks and trails for dogs

For the more occasional adventure, rather than your everyday stroll, there are a huge range of Coillte forest walks you can take your pooch on. Check out the map below for forest walks near you:
http://www.coillteoutdoors.ie/index.php?id=140

There’s also a limited number of trails that dogs are allowed on. Check them out at the Irish Sports Council site – Irish trails http://www.irishtrails.ie/Home/ (click on the map to find a trail, when you click on the trail you’ll get further information that tells you whether dogs are allowed or not).