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How To Earn Your Dog’s Trust

How To Earn Your Dog's Trust

Earning your dog’s trust is the first step to a wonderful, lifelong relationship of love, learning and fun. Whether you’re trying to get your newly adopted dog to warm up to you, getting to know your friend’s dog, or just want to be a pal to every dog you meet, follow these steps to earn ANY dog’s trust. 

Give Your New Dog Some Time

It’s important to be patient with your dog. Do not take it personally if they do not want to sit next to you on the couch right away, or if they do not yet come when called. Do not worry if they favour one person, seem to dislike one of your family members, or if they take a while to bond with anyone at all. 

On average, it takes at least two weeks for your new dog to start to settle in. For some, it will take longer. It may take even longer for your dog’s true personality to blossom. 

Respect Your Dog’s Space

Imagine if you made a new friend on the bus or train during your commute, and they immediately bombarded you with a hug and a kiss. You’d be mortified, right?

Dogs feel similarly about physical affection. Do not invade a dog’s space to force affection on them, and definitely do not go in for a kiss or a hug if you do not know them. Hugs, kisses, picking up a dog, and other invasions of space are a sure way to lose trust, rather than earn it. You can also put yourself at risk for a bite. Instead, allow the dog to approach you, and let them decide how much touch is appropriate. 

Comfort Your Dog When They’re Scared

Once your dog has started to warm up to you, you can help them adjust to other new things that might scare them. Contrary to popular belief, it is okay to comfort a dog when they’re feeling scared. You won’t reinforce their fearful behaviours or make their anxiety worse. Instead, you’ll become their comfort when they’re unsure of a situation, and they’ll look to you rather than overreacting to their surroundings. 

Try Hand Feeding To Earn Your Dog’s Trust Around Food

You can feed all or part of your dog’s meals by hand, rather than serving them in a bowl. There is no need to do any training at this point, so your dog does not need to earn each bite. You can, however, wait for them to calm down and make eye contact with you before offering up pieces of food. 

If your dog is very fearful, do not force them to come to you for food if they’re not ready. It’s okay to just place some food on the floor close to you. Using food to lure your dog into situations for which they are not yet ready will actually make them more fearful and less trusting. 

Hand feeding can help prevent resource guarding. However, if your dog does growl or snap at you when you go near their food, it can quickly get worse if you try to work on this behaviour at home. Consult a positive trainer or behaviourist instead of trying to resolve resource guarding on your own. 

Always Find Ways To Reward Your Dog

Naturally, using force, fear, or intimidation to train your dog will destroy your dog’s trust. Even if some trainers use painful or startling methods to train does not mean that your dog will understand your intentions. What dogs DO understand is that they must avoid what’s scary or painful, which results in a dog that obeys because they’re scared, not because they’re having fun. 

Instead, look for the good. The more you reward your dog for good behaviour, the more they’ll do good things, and the more they’ll enjoy learning with you. Positive reinforcement rocks. 

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How To Teach Your Dog To “Leave It”

How To Train Your Dog To Leave It

“Leave it” is a powerful skill that can potentially save your dog’s life. 

Litter, baited meat, and pesticides can all lurk along your walk, and if your dog is not trained to keep their nose out of “street food”,  it may take just one bite to cause serious harm. 

Use A Muzzle To Curb Trash Eating

While your dog is still in training, you can keep them from eating trash with a muzzle. A basket muzzle is not unpleasant for your dog if it’s properly fitted and you have done some muzzle training. Your dog should be able to open their mouth, pant, and drink water while wearing their muzzle.

What Does “Leave It” Actually Look Like?

When you ask your dog to “leave it”, they should make eye contact with you and walk past the forbidden item. 

You should not have to yank at the leash to pull them away. However, if you’re still working on training and your dog is about to eat something dangerous, you may need to pull them away to keep them safe. 

How To Teach “Leave It”

“Leave it” begins with a simple, easy game. Grab two tasty, healthy training treats and sit on the floor next to your pup. 

Place one treat in the palm of your hand and let your dog investigate, but do not let them take it. Close your hand or pull it away when your dog gets too close. There’s no need to say anything at this point. 

After a few tries, your dog will give up. The moment they start to back off and look up at you for guidance, praise them lavishly and offer them that second treat. 

Repeat this exercise a few times. As your dog starts to figure out what you expect of them, you can start to add the cue “leave it”. 

Now that your dog knows how to leave a treat in your hand while you’re sitting on the floor, you can move on to bigger challenges. Try standing when you ask your dog to leave a treat on the floor that you can cover with your foot if needed. 

Start taking treats on your walks. Every bit of interesting trash can be a training opportunity. When you encounter something that your dog finds intriguing, ask them to “leave it,” and encourage them to make eye contact with you. 

What If My Dog Doesn’t Listen?

Inevitably, your dog will go for a treat before you’re able to stop them. There’s no need to punish them or startle them if they make a mistake. 

Only physically intervene if your dog has picked up something dangerous, like trash from outside. If your dog won’t take a treat in exchange for the trash, offer them a treat after you remove the trash from their mouth. Take care when taking items from your dog, as stressful situations can cause or exacerbate resource guarding issues. 

If your dog is having trouble resisting tempting items, you can practice training with a less desirable item. For example, you can use a piece of kibble or even a toy as the forbidden object, then  use fresh chicken or turkey as the reward. 

Always set your dog up for success. Only move forward with one variable at a time. For example, you can graduate from leaving a piece of kibble to leaving a piece of steak, OR you can move on from practicing in the living room to practicing in the backyard, but not both at once. 

Advanced “Leave It”

Try leaving something yummy along a path where you often walk your dog, and then see if you can get your dog to refocus on you when you walk past.

You can also try having your dog sit and stay, placing a target item between you and your dog. Then, ask them to come to you. Do they stop and eat the treat, or do they come to you right away? 

“Leave it” does not always apply to food. You can also ask your dog to leave the cat alone or the squirrel at the park. 

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Lightning-Fast Recall: How To Get Your Dog To Reliably Come When Called

Recall: How To Train Your Dog To Come When Called

Picture this: you call your dog just one time, and they come blazing towards you like a rocket.

No hesitation, no sniffing, no calling out their name over and over. Just a dog who listens. 

Training your dog to come when called quickly and reliably is useful if you want to be able to trust your dog off-lead when you go on hikes, to the beach, and on other unfenced properties.

It’s also important that your dog listens to you if they ever escape your yard or dash out of your door. Reliable recall can be the difference between getting your dog safely back into your arms, and the heartbreak of your dog getting lost or stolen. 

What You Need To Teach Your Dog To Come When Called

Before you begin, make sure you have these supplies:

A long line is like a lead, just longer. They typically come in 15, 30, and 50 foot lengths. A 30 foot long line gives your dog enough freedom to run around as though they’re loose so you can safely practice recall. Always use a long line in a wide, open space, far from roads, other animals, and people. 

High value treats are the key to getting your dog to choose to come to you over chasing a squirrel or greeting another dog. Cheese, hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats are popular choices, though they can be very unhealthy. If your dog responds well to fattening treats, you can use small pieces and mix them into a bag of kibble or healthier treats. That way, the tempting aromas will seep into the less-exciting tidbits. Not all treats have to be fattening, though – there are plenty of healthy, high value treats that will get your dog’s attention without risking their health. 

A clicker is optional. Some dogs seem to learn faster when trained with a clicker. A clicker is a clear, concise way to communicate with your dog when they’ve done something right. You can use verbal praise alongside or in lieu of a clicker. 

A whistle can help you recall your dog from a distance. 

How To Teach Recall

Start at close range in a familiar, low-distraction area, like your living room. Try calling your dog from just a few feet away. 

Gradually increase the distance. When your dog gets good at coming to you in the living room, try calling them from the kitchen, or from a bedroom. Practice every day. Coming to you should always be followed by a good thing, whether it’s a treat, a meal, or playtime. 

Common Mistakes When Training Your Dog To Come When Called

Poisoning the cue happens when you inadvertently teach your dog to associate your recall cue with anything other than praise and rewards. For example, your dog might take longer than expected to respond to you. Scolding your dog, or even failing to praise them when they finally do show up can make them even less likely to recall promptly in the future. 

Calling your dog when they’re distracted sets them up for failure. Only call your dog if you’re certain that they will come to you, especially when you’re just starting to work on recall. Over time, you’ll build up a strong reinforcement history. Your dog will become accustomed to hearing their name and coming immediately, rather than get into a habit of failing to recall. 

What To Do When Your Dog Fails To Respond

Even if you try to set your dog up for success, at times you’re going to call them and they’re going to ignore you. 

Try getting a bit closer to them and calling them just one more time. Conversely, it can also help to start to walk in the opposite direction. If your competition is a moving target, like a rabbit that your dog is about to chase, it can help to encourage your dog to chase you instead. After all, chasing you means a guaranteed treat, while their prey will most likely get away from them. 

Avoid using the long line to reel your dog in. You do not want to rely on using pressure to communicate with your dog, and being pulled can actually be aversive. Causing tension can build stress and make it less likely for your dog to want to come to you in the future. 

If all else fails, go get your dog. Even if you’re frustrated, resist the urge to scold your dog. If your dog is not reliably trained, only let them loose in safe, fenced-in areas. Always follow leash laws and keep your dog from other greeting other dogs and people until you get their permission. Even if your dog is friendly, the other dog or person may not be. 

Learn More With Healthy Houndz

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Are Dogs Colourblind? See Through Your Dog’s Eyes For Better Training

Are Dogs Colourblind? Poodle with colored balloons

If you could see the world through your dog’s eyes, what would you see? Are dogs really colourblind? You might be surprised to find that your dog’s vision is better than you expected. Even so, dogs cannot see as well as humans. Learn about your dog’s vision to improve the way you use visual cues to train and communicate. 

Are Dogs Really Colourblind?

What Your Dog Sees - Rainbow over field of red flowers, dog vision comparison

It’s true that dogs are colourblind, but there is a common misconception that they see the world in shades of grey. 

Dogs actually see very similarly to humans who have red-green colourblindness. They see their surroundings in shades of dull yellow, brown, and blue. 

 If you throw a red ball into the grass therefore, it’s going to be hard for your dog to locate it by sight. You may want to choose blue or yellow toys and training equipment so they stand out better for your dog. 

Some dog trainers also wear blue or yellow shirts to help focus their dog’s attention. While there is no need to change your whole wardrobe for your dog, you might want to wear blue when you are working on off-lead recall. 

How Clear Is Your Dog’s Vision?

Normal vision for humans is 20/20, meaning that you should be able to see clearly up to 20 feet. 

For dogs, normal vision is equivalent to a person with 20/70 vision, meaning that objects that are 20 feet away appear to be as blurry, as though they’re 70 feet away for a person with normal vision. 

How Dogs See Are Dogs Nearsighted Dogs Have 20 70 Vision

Simply put, your dog is nearsighted. They can see you clearly when you’re a few feet away, but they might have more trouble locating you by sight if you’re across the yard. 

Dogs also seem to respond more to objects in motion than at rest, especially if they have a heritage rich in hunting genes. 

So if you’re working on recall and want your dog to come when called when you’re across the yard, your best bet is to move around while you call them to get their attention. 

Can Dogs See At Night?

While they may not be able to see all colours or at a distance, dogs do have us beat in one area: seeing at night. 

Dogs have a reflective layer at the back of their retinas called a tapetum lucidum. This layer acts as a mirror that reflects light in low light settings to help them see better at night. Naturally, this means that dogs cannot see in the complete darkness, but they’re able to see better than we can at dusk. 

Even so, you should still opt for reflective and light-up harnesses and collars if you walk your dog at night or if there’s a chance they could get lost and find themselves running near roads at night. Reflective gear helps make your dog visible to drivers to lessen the chance that they’ll get hit by a car. 

Engaging Your Dog’s Other Senses

Your dog relies on all of their senses to keep their surroundings in check. 

You can help sharpen your dog’s senses by allowing them to sniff on walks, playing hide and seek, and doing nosework. 

You can also take advantage of your dog’s acute sense of hearing to help them locate you. Dogs are better at hearing high pitched sounds, so a whistle can be more effective than using your voice for recall. 

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The Hidden Dangers Of Retractable Dog Leads

Dog On Retractable Dog Lead - The Dangers Of Retractable Leads

Dogs naturally walk faster than us, so you may feel like you’re hindering your dog’s freedom when walking with a standard 6 foot/1.8m lead. 

Many dog owners turn to retractable dog leads as a way to give their dogs more leeway.  These devices however, can actually encourage unwanted behaviour, fail to contain the dog during an emergency, and even cause life-threatening injuries. 

Why Retractable Dog Leads Slow Down Training

Does your dog constantly pull at the lead, dragging you from bush to bush or straining to track down critters? 

Teaching leash manners is difficult for many because pulling is a “self rewarding” behaviour. Every time your dog pulls, they get to move forward, perhaps towards something interesting like a discarded chicken wing or a fire hydrant. 

One of the most effective ways to stop pulling is to simply stop in your tracks. Your dog’s pulling is then not rewarded by moving forward, so your dog learns that they must return to your side before the adventure can continue. 

With retractable leads, your dog experiences constant tension from the spring-loaded mechanism. In order for it to work, your dog has to pull. 

With a standard lead, a well-mannered dog should leave a j-shaped slack in the lead while they walk beside you. You want your dog to respond to pressure on the lead by returning to your side, not by continuing to pull ahead like they’re in the Iditarod. 

Injuries From Retractable Dog Leads

When using a retractable lead, ifyour dog suddenly dashes into the road, you have just moments to engage the locking mechanism and reel them in. If you don’t act fast enough, your dog could get hit by a car.

In some cases, people panic and reach for the thin cord as it’s rapidly dispensing out of the handle, causing a painful friction burn. The cord can also wrap around your or your dog’s legs. For small dogs, this can be especially dangerous, leading to lacerations and broken bones. 

Retractable leads are no match for large, strong dogs, who can actually snap the cord if they pull hard enough. Then, your dog would be on the loose, running into the road or running up to people or other animals. 

How To Safely Give Your Dog More Freedom On Walks

If retractable leads are dangerous and unreliable, and standard leads feel too restrictive, how can you safely expand your dog’s range of exploration without putting their safety at risk?

The best way is to use a long line in a wide open space, like a park or a field. You can safely practice recall training without the risk of losing control of your dog. You can use a long line to train your dog to walk off-lead, though you’ll still need to obey leash laws and choose safe areas. 

Your dog can also safely explore fenced areas, such as a dog park during off-peak hours, a friend’s garden, or even a rented space from SniffSpot, an app that lets you book a yard for your dog for a small fee. 

Walking Your Dog Should Be Fun!

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Online Dog Training Classes… Do They Really Work?

Are you thinking of taking online dog training classes, but aren’t sure if they’ll work for you?

While not all courses are the same, you and your dog can learn a lot from home by following an online curriculum that can easily fit into your schedule, and at your own pace. 

Without leaving home, you can teach your dog to be more confident, better at picking up new skills, and best of all, more fun to be around. 

You’ll Love Online Dog Training Classes If…

When it comes to private or group training sessions, there is usually a lot of information to take in all while you’re trying to work with your dog. This can make it tough to retain what you’ve learned. 

With an online training class, you can replay lessons as much as you wish, take notes, and email your instructor when you have questions. 

 From the comfort of home, you can train without distractions, e.g. other dogs, noises, and other people. If your dog is reactive or still learning how to pay attention to you in a distracting environment, online training classes are a godsend. 

In group classes, you and your dog may have trouble keeping up with the pace of the class… or you may even pick up new skills faster than the other student teams. An online class gives you a curriculum to follow, but you can always revert back to steps or jump ahead whenever you’d like. 

Before You Begin

First, make sure you select a class that covers topics that personally interest you. Are you excited to learn brain training games to teach your dog? Or are you looking forward to raising your puppy into a well-rounded adult?

The class you choose should not only cover what actions to take with your dog, but why you’ll be taking them, and how to set your dog up for success. They should also focus on using rewards and games to make training fun, whether you’re improving on problem behaviours or learning new tricks. 

Why Online Dog Training Classes Might Not Be For You

There are definitely some benefits to in-person training classes that online courses just cannot replace. 

When you work with a private, in-home trainer, your trainer can see how you work with your dog and help you diagnose issues based on your own strengths and weaknesses, your dog’s subtle body language cues, and the unique dynamic of your household. 

In some cases, in-person professional help is a must to avoid rehoming your dog. Aggression, severe reactivity, and resource guarding are often made worse when owners try to work on these issues at home, even with online guidance. 

How To Make The Most Of Online Dog Training Classes

As with all classes, you’ll get more value from online dog training classes when you take them seriously and focus on making progress, rather than completing the course as quickly as possible. 

Carve out some time each day to work on the course lessons. If there are ten units, for example, you might create a lesson plan to work on one unit per week. Maybe you would do the coursework on Mondays, then practice with your dog every day after work for the next few days. 

It could be difficult to watch the course videos and train your dog at the same time. Writing things down actually boosts your memory, and you’ll know what to work on when you’re done watching. 

If you’re not reaching your goals, get in touch with your course instructor for clarity or for additional information. You may find yourself hesitating to move forward if you don’t completely understand the course material, if you don’t feel confident in your training and communication skills, or if you feel like your dog is not understanding what you’re asking of them. 

Your instructor wants your questions and your feedback to help them make even better courses in the future. Most of all, they want you and your dog to succeed. Don’t be afraid to reach out!

How To Help Your Dog Adjust To Your New Baby

How To Help Your Dog Adjust To Your New Baby

A new baby is fun, exciting, and stressful all at once, especially for the family dog. 

Sadly, the addition of a new baby is a common reason for families to give their dogs up for adoption. 

Some dogs may pose a biting risk, while others may constantly get into the baby’s things. Some families simply find it overwhelming to care for their dog while they’re attending to their new baby around the clock.

Use these tips to help your dog adjust to your new baby so you can keep your family together and set up your kids, both furry and human, for a lifetime of friendship. 

Before Your Baby Arrives

If your baby is still on the way, you can get your dog used to the sights, sounds, and smells of a baby by having friends with children come to visit you.

It’s not necessary for your dog to interact with visiting babies and children. Socialization does not mean forced interactions. Instead, focus on making sure your dog does not find kids overly interesting or scary. 

You can also try playing baby sound effects on YouTube to help desensitize your dog before the baby comes. 

Some relaxed playtime, a stuffed Kong, or a long-lasting chew treat can keep your dog calm when they’re surrounded by unusual sounds and smells. 

Setting Boundaries Between Your Baby And Your Dog

Though babies who grow up with dogs have stronger immune systems and are less likely to develop colds, ear infections, asthma and allergies, you may still need to limit contact during the first few months of your baby’s life. Ask your pediatrician how much contact you can safely allow between your baby and your dog. 

Before your baby is born, you can carry around a doll in your arms, in a carrier and in a stroller to help your dog learn boundaries. You’ll need to train your dog not to jump to keep them from licking the baby or scratching them with their paws. 

Management tools like baby gates, crates, and a securely lidded garbage can will all come in handy from the time the baby comes home until your baby is a toddler. 

Setting Up Your Kids For A Lifetime Of Friendship

No matter how sweet your dog is, you should not allow your baby and your dog to spend time alone together. They should not be unsupervised, even momentarily, until you’re absolutely sure that your child has learned to respect your dog.

When your kid is old enough, teach them to leave the dog alone while they’re sleeping or eating, and to play safely using soft toys. They should know how to pet your dog in ways that they enjoy, and to never hit the dog or pull at their ears or tail. Your child should never sit on your dog’s back, even for brief photo ops. 

Ask For Help

As a new parent, you’ll discover that you need your family and friends more than ever. Not only will you need an occasional break from the baby, you’ll also need help making sure your dog gets love, playtime, and walks. 

It’s okay to ask close friends and family to give your dog some love, too. You can also hire a dog walker to take your dog out, or put them in doggy daycare, even if it’s just for a few days each week. 

Positive training is essential when helping your dog adjust to your new baby. 

As you set up boundaries, such as teaching your dog to stay out of the baby’s room, you’ll want to make sure lessons are taught in a fun, positive way. You want your dog to associate the baby with positive experiences, rather than thinking, “every time I see the baby, I get in trouble!”

Get in touch with Healthy Houndz for positive training in Toronto and North York. 

How To Help Your Dog Stay Calm At The Vet’s Office

How To Help Your Dog Stay Calm At The Vet's Office

Does your dog get nervous at the vet’s office? 

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can teach your dog to feel comfortable around your vet and even look forward to visits. 

Learn how to help your dog stay calm at the vet’s office, behave calmly in the waiting room, and find the best Fear-Free vets who can minimize stress during procedures. 

Why Dogs Hate The Vet

Naturally, we’d expect our dogs to be nervous when visiting their vet after associating them with painful shots and invasive tests. 

But some dogs become anxious when they’re in the waiting room of a vet they’re visiting for the first time. Why is that? 

As it turns out, dogs really can smell fear.

When a dog gets scared, they may express their anal glands. Other dogs can pick up on that scent and recognize the stress-related odour. Dogs also release odours from apocrine glands all over their body that may cause other dogs to pick up on their stress. 

Also, dogs can pick up on the smell of sweat that contains stress hormones, so they may notice if you’re feeling anxious about taking them to the vet, or if other people in the waiting room are feeling stressed. 

Of course, dogs may become fearful at the vet if they are not comfortable being handled by strangers, if they’re poked and prodded for tests, and when they get vaccines. 

Though you can’t do much to prevent your dog from smelling fear, or from experiencing potentially stressful procedures, there are ways we can minimize stress and help dogs have an overall positive time at the vet’s office. 

Find The Right Vet

Shopping around for a vet can be tough enough as it is. You need to find a practice in a convenient location, with the services your dog needs, with staff who make you feel comfortable. But it’s also worth considering whether or not the practice is fear-free certified. 

Fear Free programs help vets and other pet professionals conduct services in ways that are less stressful to pets. Some practices are Fear Free certified, while others are not, but may have staff who have gone through the professional program to help your dog stay calm at the vet’s office.

In Toronto, Downtown Toronto Animal Hospital is one of the few veterinary practices that holds a Fear Free certification. 

Wellesley Animal Hospital is not Fear Free certified, but many members of their staff have been certified individually. 

You can find certified practices in the Fear Free directory. If your vet’s office is not Fear Free certified, you can still ask about what measures they take to minimize stress in their patients. 

Teach Your Dog To Love Their Vet

You can prepare for vet visits by taking your dog on fun car rides. Short rides to a nearby park, or even to a drive-thru, can be a good way to get your dog excited about going in the car. 

Ask your vet if you can bring your dog for “friendly visits”.

A friendly visit is when you stop by for a few minutes to let the staff pet your dog and offer them treats. That way your dog will look forward to coming in when they have an appointment. 

While you’re waiting to be seen for your appointment, keep your dog in a carrier or on a short lead. If they’ll take treats, you can feed small bite periodically to keep your dog’s focus on you, not on your surroundings. Your dog doesn’t need to do anything to earn their treats while they’re at the vet. You’ll be using food to build a positive association, rather than reward a behaviour. 

Your dog should be muzzle-trained, regardless of whether they normally have to wear a muzzle at the vet. Muzzling is often necessary for preventative measures during bloodwork, nail clipping, and vaccines, and it’ll be much less traumatic if your dog gets to wear a muzzle they’re familiar with, rather than the cloth muzzle at your vet’s. 

How To Help Your Dog Stay Calm At The Vet’s Office

Some vets will let you bypass the waiting room and allow you to wait in your car instead. Many vets will allow this if you call from your cell phone to let them know you’ve arrived, and they’ll call you back when the exam room becomes available. 

If that’s not an option, or if you’d prefer to stay in the waiting room, you can use a scented bandana to help prevent your dog from getting worked up over fear-based scents. You can use Adaptil, a synthetic version of the calming pheromone that dogs release after having a litter of puppies. You can also try a lavender-based calming spray. 

Be sure to bring your own high value treats, as the dry biscuits that many vets offer aren’t tasty enough to get your dog’s attention while they’re feeling stressed. 

Positive Training For Nervous Dogs At Healthy Houndz

Does your dog struggle with anxiety? Reward-based training is the best way to help them overcome their fears and learn new skills. Get private, in-home dog training for Toronto and North York from Healthy Houndz! Contact us to get started.

Dog Friendly Hiking Trails In Toronto

Dog Friendly Hiking Trails in Toronto

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. 

190 Sherwood Ave, Toronto, ON M4P 2A8, Canada

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. 

Find High Park on Google Maps

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. 

 Find Taylor Creek Dog Park On Google Maps

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. 

dr 4b6, 65 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Dr, Etobicoke, ON M8V 4B6, Canada

Thorton Bales Park has some challenging trails and steep slopes, great for tiring out a high-energy adult dog. 

19th Sideroad, King, ON L7B 1K5, Canada

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. 

3201 Upper Middle Rd W, Oakville, ON, CA, L6M 4GS

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.

7 Reasons Why Your Dog Ignores You

Reason Why Your Dog Doesn't Listen To You

Is your dog stubborn? Does your dog ignore you, even though they know what you’re telling them to do?

It may seem that way, but there’s always an underlying reason. 

Dogs don’t purposefully disobey us to spite us. As they’re unconditionally loving even when we step on their tail or serve dinner late, we must be patient with our dogs when they don’t act as we expect.

Here are  the top seven real reasons why your dog ignores you:

1. Your dog doesn’t understand what you want. 

You may think that your dog understands what you’re asking of them… but do they really? 

Dogs understand clear, concise cues. They tend to understand “sit,” but may have trouble with “please sit darling so I can put your collar on and we can go outside for a walk.”

And that’s if you taught the cue to the point of fluency in the first place. You may simply need more practice. Try going back to square one and using one of the three core training techniques to reteach that skill. 

Research shows that dogs understand hand signals better than verbal cues. You can use a combination of hand signals and words to get your dog to understand you more easily. 

2. Your dog isn’t motivated by your treats. 

Food gets your dog excited about training, and can actually rewire their brain to feel calmer and happier in stressful situations. Using really yummy, aromatic treats will ensure that your dog doesn’t ignore you. You don’t need to become dependent on treats, but it helps to reward your dog regularly to keep them motivated. 

The best treats for training are cheap, healthy, and easy to find. Try some scrambled eggs. For something more portable, dehydrate your own chicken jerky. Even kibble moistened with a few drops of bacon drippings can catch your dog’s attention without making them gain weight. 

3. Your dog has developed an aversion. 

Usually when you call your dog, you give them a treat or a cuddle. But sometimes when you call your dog, and you put them in the bath, or you clip their nails, or put them in the car and take them to the vet.

Your dog may hesitate to come when called because they don’t know whether they’re getting a treat or a bath. 

To work on an aversion to being called, you can make those rough experiences more pleasant. 

Instead of struggling to do your dog’s nails every few weeks, try the no-fear way to trim your dog’s nails. 

Try visiting your vet with your dog just to say hello. Most vets will be happy to pet your dog and offer them a treat when you pop by. 

Changing the way your dog feels about nail trims, vet visits and baths will take time. In the meantime, choose a new emergency recall word, and only use it when you can offer your dog a delicious treat. 

4. Your dog is uncomfortable or in pain. 

Does your dog love to do their “roll over” trick – only on a bed or a soft carpet? It may hurt their back when they try to do it on your kitchen floor? 

Do they refuse to sit if they’re on hot sand or gravel? Maybe it hurts their paws. 

Sometimes it’s not that obvious. Your dog may have an underlying health condition that makes them tired, irritable, or can make it painful for them to do what you ask of them. 

5. Your dog is too distracted to listen. 

Does your dog listen perfectly in your living room, but act totally different at the park? 

In a space full of noises and distractions, it can be difficult for your dog to tune out the environment and focus on you. You can teach your dog to ignore distractions, it just takes some practice. 

You may want to start working on training by the front of your house, in your backyard, or another place that might be a little bit more distracting than your living room, but not overwhelming. Work on simple cues, and keep training short and easy.

In distracting areas, you may need higher value treats. While your dog may listen for kibble at home, you may need beef jerky to get their attention when you’re walking downtown. 

Along with treats, you can also use the environment as a reward. Work with your dog for just 30 seconds, and then use a cue such as “release!” to let them sniff freely. 

This is a good example of the Premack Principle – increasing instances of a low probability behaviour (your dog sitting when you’re surrounded by distractions) by reinforcing it with a high probability behaviour (your dog sniffing a tree.) Your dog will be more likely to “sit” for you if they know that you’ll immediately let them go sniff a tree. 

6. Your dog needs help with generalizing.

Another reason your dog doesn’t listen at the park: they don’t generalize very easily. 

You tell your dog “sit” in your living room while you’re sitting on the couch. Your dog is able to understand you not only because they know you’ll reward them for responding to “sit,” but also because you’ve training them while sitting in front of them in your living room.

“Sit,” at that point, does not yet mean“sit while I’m standing, holding your lead, while I’m catching up with my friend at the park”.

To train your dog so they’re truly fluent with their cues, you’ll need to practice in the kitchen, while you’re standing next to them, while you’re sitting, while you’re across the room, in a box, with a fox… you get the idea. 

7. Your dog is frustrated with you. 

Does it ever seem like your dog doesn’t listen to you when you’re standing right in front of them? Do they avoid eye contact, sniff the ground, and just seem to ignore you?

Sometimes the stress of training can make your dog anxious. If you’re feeling frustrated with them, they can pick up on that, but they may still not know how to appease you. 

Dogs may resort to calming signals when they don’t know how to respond to your cues. This is a common way for dogs to communicate between one another to keep the peace. They yawn, sniff the ground, and avoid eye contact as though to say, “I’m trying not to do anything to make you mad at me. I come in peace”.

Keep training sessions short, light-hearted and fun. If your dog is having trouble picking up on something, look for signs that they’re getting closer to success. 

Give treats generously – at least every ten seconds, even if they are not doing everything perfectly. Training should always feel like a game, not a chore, for both you and your dog. 

Still Not Sure Why Your Dog Ignores You?

Still not making any progress? Feel like you’re stuck in the same patterns? Resolving training issues isn’t always as simple as reading an article and instantly knowing the solution to your specific issue. 


Working with a professional positive dog trainer is the best way to learn how to communicate so your dog listens. Contact Healthy Houndz today to learn more about our private dog training programs in North York and Toronto.