Dog friendly excursions in Toronto

As you know, we welcomed a Shih Tzu puppy into our home this past summer. Gizmo has brightened our lives immensely in the midst of a gloomy couple years, and has quite successfully distracted me from the disappointment of still not being able to resume travelling.

We’ve spent the last four months exploring dog-friendly places around Toronto. Here are a few of Gizmo’s favourite excursions in the city.

Sunnyside Park

Sunnyside Park was one of Gizmo’s favourite spots to frequent in the summer. The Martin Goodman mixed use trail was great for a stroll, and in August it was the perfect vantage point to watch the Canadian International Air Show. She is very well trained and has been desensitized to loud sounds and crowds, so tolerated this outing really well.

We also liked to stop by Sunnyside Beach to let Gizmo dip her toes in the water. A word to the wise: Toronto bylaw states that dogs are allowed on city park beaches only between November 1 and March 31, but enforcement is admittedly spotty. Gizmo actually made friends with the lifeguards over there, so I bet they would make an exception for her anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Toronto Islands

We always loved visiting the Toronto Islands even during our pre-puppy days, but it has been lots more fun to bring Gizmo over there. She enjoys feeling the lake breeze on the ferry ride…

…and gallivanting on the Islands’ green space and beaches, especially the ones on Centre Island and Gibraltar Point. We do have to watch her closely when she’s on the grass, as she has a taste for Canada geese poop. Blech.

Scarborough Bluffs

Following Gizmo’s first sleepover at my mom’s house, we took her on a family outing to the Scarborough Bluffs. This escarpment forms much of the eastern portion of the Toronto waterfront, surrounding Bluffers Park and beach. The area is gorgeous and worth visiting with or without a puppy friend. There are nice hiking trails in the surrounding area which the Wandering Canadians wrote about a few months ago. Gizmo is a lazy bones dog and wouldn’t take more than five steps at a time, so had to be carried most of the way.

There were lots of human visitors on the beach, so we were actually kicked off that one and instead took Gizmo to the rocky section further out in the park.

High Park

High Park in Toronto’s west end has become one of Gizmo’s favourite spots in the city. This is one of the few places where she will walk for hours without plopping down like an immobile blob. We’ve taken her to the High Park Zoo where she met various creatures, but was not very interested.

She has recently taken to leading us down the hiking trails, which are nice for admiring autumn colours. There is also an 8.5 acre off-leash Dog Hill in the park, but we have not yet explored this area.

Trillium Park

Trillium Park opened in 2017 at the site of the old Ontario Place theme park. This “urban forest” is another favourite for Gizmo and she has gone on many walks down the paved trails and along the small patch of rocky beach nearby. She also likes to sneak in bites of Canada goose poop here, so is kept on a short leash for certain stretches of the walk.

Fort York/Garrison Common

Fort York National Historic Site is the early 19th century military fortification situated in the Fort York neighbourhood in downtown Toronto, originally built to house members of the British and Canadian militaries and to defend the entrance of the Toronto Harbour. It is an interesting place to explore, along with the neighbouring park area to the west, Garrison Common. I’m not sure if dogs are permitted in the historic site, but Garrison Common has a well maintained open green space that is really nice for running around, or sitting pensively.

For more updates on Gizmo’s adventures, check out her Instagram @gizmomo.tzu.