Hitting the off-leash parks and trails with your pup is an amazing experience. Dogs love free range walks, but it’s important we respect the regional rules about being leashed in public spaces. That’s why I always recommend hitting a local dog friendly off-leash park/trail that allows you to give your dog that off-leash experience in a safe environment.
Dog friendly trails and off leash parks have so many benefits. They provide great bonding time for you and your dog. It also provides your dog the ability to socialize in a safe pet friendly space. It gives you the chance to practice training your dog in a bigger space. Hitting the trails is also a great way of keeping both you and your dog active. Lastly, these spaces help grow and build trust with your pet and with other pets in a safe environment.
When thinking about taking your dog to a dog off-leash park or trail I stress that it’s highly inadvisable to take your dog to an off-leash park until they have undergone basic training, such as the training offered at puppy preschools, followed by more advanced training. You need to be confident that your dog will come to you when called. If you feel unable to keep your dog under control, he or she is not ready for an off-leash park. As an alternative, your dog may benefit from a fenced off area within an off-leash park where they can safely run off leash.
You also need to be confident that your dog will relate to other dogs without becoming fearful or aggressive. Dog parks are highly arousing to all dogs due to the physical environment and the presence of other dogs. The stimulation of sudden contact with unfamiliar dogs of varying breeds, sizes and temperaments can be overwhelming for nervous dogs. If your dog has not learned to socialize with other dogs, the interactions in an off-leash park, such as being approached by a group, or exposed to rough and tumble play, mounting, sniffing, chasing and barking, can be perceived as threats rather than sources of enjoyment.
Now, if you’re confident in your dog and ready to hit a off-leash park/trail here are a few more things to consider. The risk of contracting infectious diseases caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites always increases when dogs congregate together. To reduce this risk, your dog must be fully vaccinated, de-wormed and treated for external parasites (like fleas) before hitting an off-leash park/trail. Lastly, if your dog is unwell or is being treated by any medication that suppresses their immune system, avoid taking them to an off-leash park without first seeking advice from a veterinarian.
These parks and trials are self-run so remember to clean up after your dog. Dog trails and off-leash parks thrive because of our pet parent community so let’s all try and do our best while visiting these parks. If we abuse our parks, we are only doing ourselves a disservice. Also report any dangerous behavior, such as aggressive dogs or littering as this is what ruins the fun for the rest. It’s important to keep our pet community safe.
Here in the Durham Region, we are very blessed to have some great off-leash parks and trails. Here are some, based on the city, that I love and recommend!
- Greenwood Conservation Area
2290 Greenwood Rd, Ajax, ON L1T 4S4
- Audley Off-Leash Dog Park
2001 Audley Rd, Ajax, ON L1Z 1B6 (just behind the sports complex)
- Harmony Valley Conservation Area
915 Grandview St N, Oshawa, ON L1K 2E3
- Cedar Valley Conservation Area
1655 Canadore Crescent, Oshawa, ON L1G 8A6
- Heber Down Conservation Area –
5000 Cochrane St, Whitby, ON L1P 2A3
- Whitby Off Leash Dog Park South
470 Jeffery St, Whitby, ON L1N 9Y2
The Move Your Doggie team hopes you’re able to hit one of these off-leash parks/trails this summer. Feel free to comment below with your favorite off-leash park/trail in the Durham Region!