Ottawa is fairly well known for the extensive trail system that runs through the city; a well-designed multi-use path that runs from Kanata to Orleans and winds its way through Nepean and Centretown, as well as plenty of Nation Capital Commission trails, paths and conservations to explore, and parks in every neighbourhood. Most of the trail systems are family, and dog friendly – but not all, as some of the conservation areas contain fragile ecosystems. It can be especially tough when you’re moving to a new area or neighbourhood to know which of the local trails, paths, and parks are dog friendly – and which you should avoid when taking your furry friends out for some exercise. I’ve done the some of the research for you, and put together an interactive map that shows the best parks, paths and trails around the city to explore with your dog!
The largest system of trails that winds through Ottawa is the NCC trail system – just be aware which trails are dog friendly; which are on-leash, and where you can let the dog run free (but under control) in an off leash area. For up to date information about all of the NCC trails, and an up to date map visit the NCC hiking and walking guide. There are 12 KM of trails where dogs are never permitted for conservation purposes, and a large number of the trails are on-leash permitted from April 15 – November 30th each year. The Capital Pathway does allow dogs on-leash year-round and this includes Watts Creek Pathway, the Greenbelt Pathway East, and the Greenbelt Pathway West with approximately 45KM of pathway available to explore year-round between the three trails.
For off-leash dog play there are both fully fenced off leash parks, as well as a few parks that are partially fenced or not fenced at all, but do have designated areas where dogs are allowed off-leash. Fully fenced parks can be a great place to work on your dog’s recall skills, or to let your dog run around and burn off some energy without having to worry about them running off into the street, or into the woods after a squirrel or chipmunk. Some of the fully fenced parks even offer separate zones for small and large dogs. Alternatively, the parks that allow off-leash dogs, but are not fully fenced tend to be a bit more open, and some combine the feel of a trail system with the open space of a park. You will want to be sure that your dog has good recall at the more open parks, and maybe carry a few treats just in case.
FULLY FENCED OFF-LEASH DOG PARKS:
Lansdowne Dog Park – 1525 Princess Patricia Way
A small, fully-fenced dog park in The Glebe that is conveniently just steps away from Lansdowne Park. On Sunday mornings you can take your dog to run around and burn off some energy, before heading to the Lansdowne Farmers Market for some fresh fruits, veggies, artisanal food and crafts!
Hampton Dog Park – 512 Island Park Drive
Arguably the largest of the fully fenced dog runs within the city; this NCC designated off-leash area in Westboro is usually quite busy, but there is always enough room for dogs to run or play. It does tend to get a bit muddy in the spring, so dress accordingly.
Jack Purcell Dog Park – 320 Jack Purcell Lane
A popular park in Centretown, there is always a few dogs here to play with.
Riverside South Dog Park – 814 Earl Armstrong Road
This small fenced-in park is located next to Ottawa Fire Station 37, in Riverside South, and offers a fully fenced park option in the south end of the city.
Tech Wall Dog Park – 551 – 575 Laurier Avenue West
Another popular fully fenced park to let your dog burn off some energy and get exercise, this park is located in Centretown.
McNabb Dog Park – 180 Percy Street
This park is located in a school yard in Centretown, and has very specific hours that dogs are permitted inside. There are no dogs in the park from 7 am – 6:30 pm Monday – Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday dogs must be leashed between these hours. After 6:30 pm dogs may be off-leash.
Shefford Dog Park – 845 Shefford Road
One of the city’s newest fully fenced off-leash dog parks, this Gloucester park is located behind Blair Animal Hospital.
Ferguson Forest Dog Park – 275 Highway 44, Kemptville
This park is located out of the city, in Kemptville, but it offers separate small and large dog zones within a fenced area, and on leash trail access throughout the forest.
Barkwood Forest – 7580 Fernbank Road
All dogs must be assessed at a public (30-45 minute) Open House walk before they can become members of this park. There is a monthly membership fee that provides you with access to this 100 acre fenced forest in Stittsville that features a number of marked trails.
NOT FULLY FENCED, BUT OFF-LEASH PERMITTED:
Conroy Pit – Conroy Road & Hunt Club Road
There are Multiple Access Points around the park, with the most popular being NCC Greenbelt P17 on Conroy Road, and at Athans Park.
An NCC designated off leash area (except where marked otherwise) in South Gloucester, this is a popular park, especially on weekends. With a few open field areas, and a number of looping trails there is sure to be something for every dog and their human. Be aware of your surroundings – this is a public space and there are often joggers, families, and cyclists enjoying the park as well as dog owners and their pets.
Bruce Pit – 175 Cedarview Road, Nepean
Very similar to Conroy Pit, this is an NCC designated off-leash area, except where marked otherwise, in Bells Corners. The park includes a number of looping trails and open fields where dogs can run and play.
David Bartlett Park – 5201 McLean Crescent, Manotick
A semi-fenced park in Manotick, this off-leash park is surrounded by residential homes on one side, and the river along the other. There are points of water access along the river, where dogs may cool off in the summer with a swim.
Brewer Park – 100 Brewer Way
A small off-leash area that is south of the Brewer Park baseball diamonds, and has access to a small swimming pond. Be aware of the proximity to Bronson Avenue, especially if your dog is still working on their recall.
Stanley Avenue Park – 183 Stanley Avenue
The North West corner of this New Edinburgh park is an NCC designated off-leash area, that also gives your furry friend water access for a swim in the river on a hot day.
Just outside of Ottawa you can find plenty of other trails that can be good for a day trip to hike new paths with your pets. The Gatineau Hills, Ferguson Forest in Kemptville, over 50 KM of trails of various lengths throughout North Grenville, and the Marlborough Forest in North Gower, offer new terrain to explore nearby – just make sure to stay up to date about the rules and regulations of each park, especially if you plan to bring the dogs.
WINTER TIME FUN!
Getting enough exercise in the winter can be tough for pets in Ottawa; between trail closures, cold temperatures, and mountains of snow. Luckily, there are a few great options in and around the city to keep your dog stimulated and active throughout the colder months.
Classes and Training are a great way to keep your dog active, both physically and mentally. They’re a great way to burn off some energy year round, but especially during the more challenging winter months. There are a number of great options for classes around the city including:
Chantelle offers all levels of Life Skills and Behavioural classes and private training, as well as a wide variety of Dog Sports – from introductory agility to competitive level training, tricks and more! She also has an indoor rental facility year round and an outdoor agility course during the warmer months.
A wide variety of levels of obedience, scent training, agility and specialty classes are available at Best Friends Dog Training. Private instruction is also available.
With classes beginning with three levels of Puppy Kindergarten, and progressing through Good Manners (Obedience) of all levels, into Agility and specialty classes, there is something for every dog at Ottawa Canine School! Classes in French, and private instruction are also available.
A multi-purpose facility, Ferghus and Company offers a wide variety of classes that include agility, obedience, and specialty classes, as well as classes that involve kids and dogs training, and puppy playdates. They also offer facility rentals of their indoor gym, outdoor dog park and agility field.
Carp Country Canines Play Park is a year round outdoor rental facility where they offer private use of a 2 acre fully fenced area by the half hour. This is a great way to let more reactive, or nervous dogs have a chance to run and play in a controlled environment.
Another option for the colder months, or even a rainy day in the summer is to send your pup to one of the fantastic Doggy Day Care Facilities within the city for a half or full day where they will get plenty of socialization and exercise with other dogs. Most will require a temperament test, or assessment, usually a half hour or hour in length – before your dog attends a half or full day of care. A few of the doggy daycares around the city include:
The Ruff House
Unleashed Dog Day Care & Grooming
Mutts n’ Pups Doggy Daycare & Spaw
Happy Paws Dog Daycare
Dog Days Dog Care & Training
Many of these daycares also include training classes, various levels of grooming available, and some include a base fee, and add-on packages. This list is apt to change frequently as new facilities open up, or services change. Check with each company for hours, prices and services offered.
Are there any dog parks, trails or facilities that I didn’t mention, or that you know have changed their policies? Please let us know your favourites, and any current changes! We hope to keep this blog up to date, but with how quickly bylaw rules and policies can change, or businesses can open and close there is always a chance that some of this information is out of date or incorrect.
**Many of the parks and trails mentioned do include multi-use areas, and there is always the chance that your dog may encounter someone on a bike, scooter or rollerblades, kids of all ages, other dogs of varying temperaments, or any other potential trigger. You know your dog best, and which precautions to take in the event that they might react, or run off. Be safe, be alert, and be aware of your surroundings, including any bylaws or regulations of the areas you visit. **