Spending Time at Spanish Banks Off-Leash Dog Park

One of my favourite places in the City is Spanish Banks park. With a beautiful walking path, stunning views of the North Shore Mountains and the City and lots of beach and grassy space it’s tough to beat.   Now that the weather is starting to get better again Avy and I are resuming one of our favourite ways to relax  by hitting the beach in the evenings.

Today was one of those perfect days in Vancouver – perfect blue skies and not too cold.  So to take advantage of it, Avy and i went down to the beach with our friend Matt(one of Avy’s all time favourite people)  to enjoy the sun before the rain settles in again.  At the West end of Spanish Banks is a large dog off-leash area.  It has both a large grassy section (a bit on the muddy side this time of year) and a huge beach access for dogs.  The other day when we were at the beach Avy didn’t have the opportunity to go in the water – much to her dismay – so today we took the ball down to the waters edge and she got to have a swim.  It’s still a bit on the cold side but she didn’t seem to mind.

A challenge I’ve always had with the off-leash area at Spanish Banks, however, is that it’s almost too large – Avy gets very distracted.  She’ll run off with other dogs that she’s playing with or worse, steal a ball and refuse to give it back.  We’ve been working hard on Avy’s recall to try and curb this behaviour, and I was happy to see that it was working fairly well tonight.  A couple of times she was distracted by other dogs; with one exception she came back when she was called.  We’ll need to do some more work on this  though, getting her used to being in large open spaces with other dogs and still returning when she’s called will take practice.

One of my pet peeves with this particular off-leash area is the lack of signage indicating that it’s a dog park.  It is signed where the seawall enters the off-leash area, but if you’ve come from the parking lots or the other direction you would have no way of knowing you’ve just entered an off-leash park.  As a result people often engage in activities that aren’t necessarily suitable for an off leash area.  For example you’ll find people having a picnic, complete with hibatchi right at K9 nose level.  Nothing is more tempting to a dog than the smell of meat cooking right there on the ground.  Or you’ll find people flying kytes or setting up volleyball nets.  I realize that everyone has the right to use the space – dog park or not – but this particular beach has plenty of space for picnic’s and BBQ’s (complete with picnic tables), a huge beach volleyball area and lot’s of green space to interact in that are NOT in the off-leash zone.  If I could advocate one thing for this park it would be to increase the sinage in the area so that people who are wanting to BBQ or play ball with their young child know that they may have an unexpected visitor coming by  to say hello.

We didn’t stay too long tonight – sunset is still early and it gets awfully chilly, but you can expect to hear more Spanish Banks stories as the weather continues to get better – and hopefully you’ll hear how Avy’s recall is getting better and better too!

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