Finding Natural Areas for Dog Walking in Your City (both off leash and on leash)

Best Dog Walking Spots in the City

This post is an extension from the winter dog walking trails in Ottawa post last month.

I was trying to think about how I found out about the Hunt Club - Uplands corridor (and that it was a great spot for dogs) - so here's how it happened:

NOTICE AREAS AROUND YOU AS YOU DRIVE + CHECK MAPS

I had been noticing it as a wild space as we drove by this spot frequently and knew it was a hydro corridor as well.  So I decided to check it out on Google Maps and it was shown as a taupe/grey "unclassified" space.  Not green (showing parks, golf clubs and other more formal green spaces such as the Arboretum) and not mid-grey that shows residential areas).  Zooming in, I noticed that at a very low scale (1:200 or so) informal trails were marked out in the area.  Google Satellite showed shrubby and grassy areas and even with Satellite I could see some of the more popular trails carved out into the landscape.  And by looking at where the trails connected with more formal pathways and roads, I noted some good places to park my car.

DO SOME GROUND TRUTHING

I don't own a dog, so if it's really hard to tell whether you can take a dog there, I'd suggest driving by and seeing if there are any signs.  We went (sans dog) for the first time in the fall and ran into some dog owners which helped confirm what was sanctioned (in terms of off leash or on leash).

On Leash and Off Leash Locations for Dogs


KNOW YOUR MUNICIPALITY POLICIES

Another thought on how to find out if you can bring your furry friend is that you could check out your Municipality or City's policy in terms of informal green spaces like this.  While you will find that specific parks have a Leashed Dogs or Unleashed Dogs policy (and some even have a "No Dogs" policy) these wilder spaces might not have one and a quick phone call or email may easily clear this up.

Finding Great Dog Walking in Your City

VERIFY PARK OR GREENSPACE OWNER

Check to see if you can find out who owns the property.  Here in Ottawa, we have to consider whether the space is under the jurisdiction of the National Capital Commission along with other institutional property owners (such as university or government campus).  Within and outside the city you may find other conservation organizations and authorities might be in charge of these spaces and some may even be wildlife refuge areas and have very specific policies about allowing pets or not.

FINALLY - WHEN YOU ARE THERE LOOK FOR ON-SITE SIGNS

Best Method of Finding Spots that Allow Dogs


OTHER METHODS:

See what maps you may find while out in parks!


GREENSPACE MAPS

Some cities have great information online or in other forms.  While we were visiting London Ontario this summer, I found this great map (above) that was installed in a local park that provided information on some of the other greenspaces that we might want to visit.  (If there is an indication (on the map) of the jurisdiction, contact the organization directly to confirm if it's a potential dog walking spot!)

ONLINE & IRL RESOURCES

Some cities have great dog park websites, either put together by the local government or perhaps by a local dog lover!  The City of Ottawa has finally published a great map - before they only provided a list of parks and restrictions.  Ottawa was lucky though to have the "Ottawa Dog Blog" for many years but unfortunately it was closed recently for personal reasons.  Reddit can be a wonderful resource and of course other dog owners are an IRL resource.  I have been offered a few great "lovely nature spots to visit" tips when outdoors from friendly dog owners even though we weren't out walking a dog!  Check out this full page of resources to find great nature spots.


ENJOY YOUR TIME OUTDOORS WITH YOUR POOCH!

And as always respect signs and keep control of your furry friend when out in nature.  Dog owners may think that a quick unleashed romp for their pooch in a "no dog" or "leashed" area might be OK but remember - not all birds nest in trees - there are ground nests and those that find shelter in low shrubs that can be disturbed by an unleashed dog along with the general predatory disturbance of dogs (quick movement, barking, chasing, unnatural scents) that upsets all wildlife!  (Wildlife IS affected by local dogs - see the studies at the bottom of this other Wild. Here. dogwalking post.)

Know exactly where to take your dogs so that they too can enjoy being out in nature as much as you do.  Let your dog take full advantage of the sanctioned off leash areas which will help make it an easy choice to respect the areas that DO prohibit dogs.  It's great that some areas allow wildlife to flourish just as the other areas are there specifically for the benefit of your favourite pooch! 

And check out my other Urban Nature Exploring pages for other ideas on how to find nature spots in your city!

Let us know the best ways that you find new places to take your pup!

Happy trails!

Winter Dog Trail Wild. Here.


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