Autumn is the perfect time of year to hike with your dog, with brisk weather to keep your dog from overheating. Plus the changing leaves make a gorgeous backdrop for photos.
Though many hiking trails allow dogs, some are more dog-friendly than others, with off-leash hiking trails and fenced-in dog parks.
Here are some of the best dog friendly hiking trails in Toronto:
Sherwood Park has over 40 acres to explore with your dog. They allow dogs on their walking trails, and also has a fenced-in off-leash area for dogs. There are also designated off-leash pathways where you can let your dog run free, as long as they’re recall trained and stay within your sight.
High Park is one of the largest parks in the city, spanning nearly 400 acres. Dogs must be leashed everywhere with the exception of the off-leash dog park. The dog park section is not fully fenced, so you should only let your dog loose if they’re reliably recall trained.
Taylor Creek has over 50 trails that you can explore with your dog. Dogs were once permitted to hike off-leash, but the rules changed when the park became a protected wildlife area. Now, letting your dog loose can lead to a hefty fine. You can however, let your dog run around in the fenced off-leash dog park and make friends.
Colonel Samuel Smith Park has lakeside hiking trails and is known as being a great site for birdwatchers. Though you may not let your dog off-leash on the hiking trails, it has a fenced-in dog park.
Thorton Bales Park has some challenging trails and steep slopes, great for tiring out a high-energy adult dog.
Bronte Creek Park is one of the few hiking sites that allow dogs to hike off-leash on their trails. Dogs are also permitted to swim in the river.
Which Toronto Parks Aren’t Dog Friendly?
Most parks and hiking sites allow dogs to walk around on-leash. However, always double check if you’re headed to a place that might be a wildlife conservation area or a national park. To preserve endangered species of plants and animals, certain parks don’t allow dogs at all, on-leash or otherwise.
When Should I Allow My Dog Off-Leash?
Only let your dog loose in areas that have signage that specifically permit off-leash dogs. If you don’t see any signs, you will have to follow leash laws. Keep your dog on a regular 6-foot leash at all times.
Even on off-leash trails, you may want to use a leash. If your dog doesn’t have reliable recall, they can get into a lot of danger. Would your dog return to you if they spotted a deer? A snake? A bear? A coyote?
Keeping Your Dog Safe While Hiking
Always apply some kind of flea and tick protection prior to your hike. You may use a monthly preventative like Frontline, though keep in mind that some dogs have adverse reactions to those chemicals and some pests are becoming resistant to them. You may want to use a natural repellent like Wondercide instead of, or in conjunction with, conventional preventatives.
If you’re letting your dog off-leash in an unfenced area, always carry a pungent snack like freeze dried liver or beef jerky. Keep the leash in your hand or in your pocket so you can round your dog up if they’re getting too distracted to recall reliably.
Keep on the lookout for foxtail grass and poison ivy, as well as anything your dog might be tempted to eat, like mushrooms or discarded food on the trails.
Always bring plenty of water, plus a collapsible travel bowl for your dog. It doesn’t matter how short the hike will be. Remember, short hikes tend to be the most dangerous, as people never expect to get lost or sidetracked.
Get Your Dog Ready To Hit The Trails!
Need help with training a reliable recall? Call Healthy Houndz for dog training in Toronto and North York. We look forward to helping you do more with your dog.