If your dog loves to run, like ours, then Newcastle provides some spectacular places where you can both get some exercise.
Redhead Excellent for long walks and lots of interaction with other dogs, Redhead is off leash past the creek. There is a great cafe at the surfclub and dogs are welcome outside as long as they are leashed, but take note that there's a hefty fine for being on the main part of the beach (we got warned by lifesavers having walked back along the beach without having seen the sign).
Horseshoe Can get a bit crazy as it's a small stretch of beach on the harbour side of the breakwall at Nobby's and some dogs don't seem as well socialised as others but if your dog loves a swim, it's definitely worth a visit
Stand at the top and admire the vista - throw the ball down the gully and get the canine to bring it back - then take them home exhausted (you can walk up and down too if you're so inclined).
Tighes Hill Our local off leash area. Gets crowded around 5-5.30 (later during daylight savings) but as a regular this is a fantastic park. Plenty of space, trees, a creek for the dogs to cool off in and lots of friendly locals.
Speers Point I'm a relative newcomer to this park and there have been events on both times we've been there but it's well laid out park and right on the edge of Lake Macquarie.
There are some other places we love to go like over a pipe at the end of a local beach, but they're not strictly off leash areas so I'd better keep them to myself.
If you find somewhere else that's great - let me know. We're always up for checking out a new place.
Thomas Halton Park at Croudace Bay is dog friendly before 10:00am and after 4:00pm. It's a huge park right on the lake. The only possible problem is keeping the dogs off the cycle track. There's plenty of shade and water, barbeques and toilets.