By Dr. Edison Barrientos, DVM, Owner
Today’s urban dog has many options for getting outside, exercising, and meeting new buddies.
Some Pet Moms and Dads just like to take them for a stroll on some of our many walkable downtown avenues. Queen Street West, Kensington Market, College Avenue, King Street West, Bloor St, and Queens Quay are some of the places where on weekends you can see almost as many canines as people taking in all that downtown has to offer.
I live in Little Italy and one of my favorite activities is just strolling down College St and sitting on a Patio, my dog Dali beside me while I sip on a cappuccino watching the world go by. On a warm sunny day, things don’t get much better….
For dogs that need to get their energy out in a more vigorous way, there are some great parks downtown. These are the places to go for dogs and their owners. There are many parks to choose from small leash-free enclosures to large parks where pet owners can go on long walks with their dogs running free.
As always, please make sure you pick up after your dogs and only let your dog off-leash in designated areas. It is also important to have your dog’s license up to date. City of Toronto Inspectors have been known to frequent these parks!
It is also worth noting that before taking your dog to these parks please make sure that your dog is up to date with all their vaccinations and flea and tick prevention. Interacting with other dogs and nature can expose them to certain diseases and parasites.
Below is a list of the top dog parks in downtown Toronto’s West End.
High Park provides the largest open space and a variety of trails. The off-leash area inside High Park is located between Grenadier Restaurant and the High Park zoo.
There are a variety of trails designated for dog walking, make sure your dog does not stray off these as other trails are for people's use or closed for regeneration.
At the end of the trail, you will find “Dog Hill” which is the epicenter of dog socialization. Frequently you will find dozens of dogs of all types and their owners. There are a bunch of Benches and tables where owners can rest as well as a water supply for the dogs.
On weekends it gets very busy so be prepared for a lot of dog play and interaction. Many dogs that go here are larger in size so it can sometimes be intimidating to smaller dogs. However, if you want to give your dog a real “wolf pack” experience this is the place to go.
Trinity Bellwood’s Park
This large beautiful urban park is located between Dundas St. W. And Queen St. W. It has always attracted a lot of dog owners as there is a large leash-free area in “The Hole”. This is a small valley in the north part of the park.
Here dogs can run leash-free and socialize with other dogs. Dog owners can throw the ball as far as they can without worry.
On afternoons and weekends, you can find a large number of energetic dogs running and playing. It is also a good place to meet and socialize with fellow pet owners.
It is worth noting that if you choose to take your dogs here they should be well-socialized and have a good recall as there is no enclosure in the leash-free area. Dogs have been known to get spooked and run onto busy Dundas St.
Stanley Park South Off-Leash Area
This smaller park at Niagara St in the Liberty Village area has an enclosed dog-running area. Here you will find a sandy surface where your dog can socialize with other dogs. This park is mostly frequented by people from Liberty Village and the King West neighborhood. It is a good place to take smaller dogs as it does not get as wild as in the larger off-leash parks. If you live in the area it is a good place to meet your neighbors.
Clarence Square Off-Leash Area
For condo dwellers, this off-leash area offers downtown canines an area to stretch their legs and meet new friends. Just steps away from Spadina and Front St. W. the park is small and enclosed. This park is usually not very busy during the day but after work, it gets quite busy. It is a good place for smaller dogs although all sizes have been known to frequent it.
Victoria Memorial Square Park
At Wellington and Niagara Street, in the King West district, this park is located in one of the trendiest parts of town just south of the Thompson Hotel.
This park is NOT off leash as there are no enclosures and a dog could wander onto Niagara or Wellington streets so make sure that your friend is on a leash.
Victoria Park is the central meeting place for many of the young professionals and their dogs who live in the King West Area.
The park has large trees and lots of squirrels which keep dogs always wanting to come back.
So there you go, 5 options for all different types of dogs and owners and experiences. We hope you have a chance to explore these places with your canine friend.
Who knows, maybe both of you will meet new friends!