A turf battle is heating up between Vancouver dog owners who want more space for pets to run free and those — like some city officials — who want stricter limits on the animals' freedom.

The city's more than 200 parks have 35 off-leash areas, but only two of those are gated.

Some dog owners say their pets don't like the fenced-in option.

"The ones that are fenced-in are mainly stone or gravel and they're not interested," said dog owner Jim Winder. "It hurts their feet."

Professional dog walker Mary Gifford says open off-leash parks can work, if owners are responsible.

 "I think it's the responsibility of the owner to make sure that their dog is well enough trained to be able to be in an open space," said Gifford.

Some owners, like Hayley Newman, told CBC News that areas with barriers can be a practical solution.

"If people are having trouble with dogs running off and attacking other people or getting into peoples' lunches or whatever or whatever it may be, it's completely understandable and I'd have no problem with fences around," Newman said.

City cracking down

The City of Vancouver, meanwhile, is stepping into the fray by moving toward zero-tolerance of rule-breakers because, they say, the current off-leash policy is not working.

"If we're going to have off-leash areas in Vancouver parks, they need to be fenced or some physical separation between the on-leash and off-leash areas," said Park Board Chair Aaron Jasper.

The fight over dogs in parks is long running and is being fought in most Metro Vancouver communities.

Even in rural areas of Langley the off-leash debate is intense.

In West Vancouver, enforcement of bylaws has been increased because of complaints.

In some communities they're looking at putting fences around trails.

North Vancouver introduced that idea 10 years ago in a bid to preserve sensitive habitat.

"It's off-leash for probably 500 metres," said Richard Boulton, of North Vancouver Parks. "Beyond that you can put your dogs back on-leash and then loop through the park and come back up over here."

Changes are still in the review stage, but by fall Vancouver officials are counting on a policy that works for dog owners and non-owners alike.

With files from the CBC's Belle Puri