Shellharbour's newest dog-agility park has set the city's tongues and tails wagging as the council announced the long-awaited facility was officially open.
Dog breeder Matt Whitehead was one of the many residents who spotted a social media post saying the new Warilla dog park was open, and rushed straight down to the Benaud Crescent facility to let his four Maltese-cross-poodles loose on Monday afternoon.
"It's very good, I like the activities, the ramps, the levers, the hoop and the tunnels," he said.
"I had no idea it was going to be open, but there's a lot of people here, so it's great to have something that brings people out to the area, and lets you meet up with other dogs too."
Set behind Warilla Pool and within Shellharbour War Memorial Park, the park is fully fenced, and divided so that small and large dogs can play separately.
"That separation is definitely a real selling point," Mr Whitehead said, as his four small charges barrelled around the agility park.
The park has been in the works for several years: in 2021 the council started investigating what it would cost to set up new off-leash areas.
Then, council staff estimated establishing new parks at Warilla and Croom would cost $100,000 each, with between $5000 to $10,000 for ongoing maintenance per year.
Both of these were originally slated to be complete by mid-2022.
Independent Ward B councillor John Davey, who popped down to the park to see how it was being received on Monday said there were "a lot of smiles" and positive feedback.
"We have a very high dog population in Shellharbour and we are aware of the pressure for people to get out and exercise with their dogs," he said.
"Everyone certainly seems very happy with it - there's everything you'd expect to find at an agility park, including shade and seating for people."
Until now, Shellharbour council has had two dog agility parks at Oak Flats and Flinders while the Croome Road facility is still in the works.
There are also off-leash areas areas at Barrack Heights, Mount Warrigal and Shellharbour.
For several years, the council has also been investigating introducing dog-friendly beaches - North Beach at Shellharbour Village, as well as Kiyong Beach at Reddall Reserve at Lake Illawarra.
Wollongong council has six off-leash dog parks, however only one of them - at Reed Park in Dapto - is a fenced agility style park.
The others are:
Wollongong has significantly more off-leash dog space than Shellaharbour, however, as it allows dogs to run free on 11 stretches of sand.
Wollongong uses a traffic light system to guide dog owners on beach, and allow has 13 orange zones where dogs have timed on-leash access.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.