Why the Bruce Peninsula is a great place for dogs

Some of the best trips you can take with your dogs are those where they can participate in activities with you every step of the way. Even if it’s not clear whether your dog would be allowed, over the years my motto has become “just ask.”

We visited the Tobermory area in early October and benefited greatly from the post-summer and pre-fall period when there are far fewer people clamoring to get to spots such as the sparkling turquoise water of the grotto at Bruce Peninsula National Park and other attractions in the area. While some of the resort community businesses are starting to close down or shorten their hours in early October, we found it was a great trade off to be there when there fewer people. It was better to access attractions such as the park, but also because it was less hectic for the dogs and people were generally more welcoming of them being there. Spring and fall are recommended as best times to visit to avoid crowds. Long weekends and summer vacation time is the busiest and can make your visit less than enjoyable.

Our Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Angel, enjoyed the hike to the viewing area overlooking the grotto at Bruce Peninsula National Park.

A highlight was being able to take the dogs on one of the glass bottom boat tours that ferry visitors through the waters of the Fathom Five National Marine Park. Instead of buying tickets for the boat tour ahead of time, we approached the ticket booth at Blue Heron Boat Tours  the morning we wanted to go and asked if we could bring the dogs. A TripAdvisor review I had read before we left home indicated dogs were allowed on the boat. The tour operator told us that if the cruise wasn’t full that day they would let us on with the dogs. In a short time we were given the go-ahead and enjoyed the tour which goes around to the various sunken shipwrecks that have been there for  more than 125 years, and as you will see in this video from the company, to the beautiful Flowerpot Island. The dogs were able to go anywhere on board (on leash).

The Blue Heron cruises take visitors to see the shipwrecks and Flowerpot Island. We were able to take the dogs on this boat and then hike across Flowerpot Island.

To get to the island we departed the main cruise ship and boarded a zodiac to reach the shore of the island. From there we got off and stayed for about hours, hiking across the island, exploring the caves and let the dogs roam around the beach.

The grotto at Bruce Peninsula National Park is an incredible place to explore with your canine friends. The grotto is a scenic cave area featuring an incredible pool of blue water, located on the Georgian Bay shoreline. During high season (all summer) the parking lot for this park fills quickly but in 2018  the park introduced a reserve parking system allowing you to book a four-hour time slot, making planning your excursion much more enjoyable. We took the dogs on a hike to the Grotto. On the day we were there in early October there were very few people on the trial.

We stayed at Wireless Bay Cottages which allows dogs in several of its cottages. Our cabin featured a small front porch and access to the shoreline of Georgian Bay where we watched the Chi-Cheemaun ferry come in each day. From here we were able to walk to the village to check out various shops and restaurants.

Natural attractions such as the Bruce Peninsula offer endless opportunities to enjoy a restful and educational vacation while at the same time enjoying the company of your dogs.

Top 5 considerations when booking a ‘pet-friendly’ hotel

When friends of mine moved across the country last summer from Halifax to Regina they opted to drive the distance, primarily because they were moving with their dog, a sweet shepherd-mix named Khaleesi. The challenge for my friends was to find hotels that would welcome them along the way.

In the course of their journey they stayed in seven hotels from Edmundston, N.B through to Toronto, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, MB, and Regina, SK, where they checked into the Residence Inn Marriott for five days while they waited for their house to be ready.

The  hotel chains they found to be most dog-friendly were Four Points Sheraton, Super 8, Residence Inn Marriott and Marriott’s Town Place Suites.

At the Durham College/UOIT Residence and Conference Centre in Oshawa, guests staying with dogs are provided with a door tag indicating a pet is staying in the unit to alert housekeeping staff.

To have as smooth a ride as they did make sure you consider the following five items on your dog-friendly accommodation checklist:

1. Know what you’re paying

When staying in hotels with dogs, always make sure you understand the pet policy upfront to avoid unexpected and unwelcome additional charges at checkout. For example, the Hotel Residence One King West in Toronto, located right at King Street and Yonge Street, allows dogs but their website says only those that weigh up to 20 1b  are permitted and their pet policy  indicates they will charge a $100 “deep cleaning” fee to your bill. My friends stayed there with their medium-sized dog and had no issues or extra charges but policies do change depending on demand.

Most hotels will also ask you to sign a waiver at check-in and outline a (long) list of things you will be responsible for if your dog does any damage to the room. Hotels such as the Westin also stipulate you can be subject to a $200 fee for non-compliance of any of the rules outlined on their websites.

2. Check on the size and number of dogs allowed

The Westin chain also markets their dog-friendly accommodation but has limitations on size and number. For example, the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto promotes the availability of its “Heavenly Dog Bed” and Doggie Welcome Kit, however, dogs must be under 40 lbs and more than six months old. There is also a limit of two dogs per room.

3. Look for chains that promote their dog-friendliness

By far, our best experience I have had is with Choice Hotels, which include Comfort and Quality Inn hotels. The chain offers more than 2,500 pet-friendly hotels. If you have a Canadian Tire Roadside Assistance membership you get preferred rates.

One of the best experiences we had was staying at the Durham College/University of Ontario Institute of Technology Residence and Conference Centre in Oshawa. In the summer many post-secondary institutions open their residences to paying guests. We were travelling for a dog show and were able to stay in a two-bedroom suite equipped with kitchenette and bathroom for about $100 per night. It featured free Wi-Fi, 24-hour coffee and tea service, a fitness centre as well as great green space to walk the dogs.

Upon check-in we were provided with a door tag to notify housekeeping staff that a pet was in the room.

4. Ask for a room easily accessible to the outdoors

Not all dogs love elevators so I always ask for rooms on the main level, ideally with a door right out to the parking lot or green space. This makes it easier for late night or early morning walks with the dogs.

5. Take your dog’s home comforts with you

Never leave your dog unattended in a hotel room. For many hotels this is one of the first rules they ask you to sign off on, but it’s also just common sense. Why would you leave your dog in an unfamiliar place and expect things to go well?

If your dog is crate trained it’s a good idea to take their crate into the hotel room to make them feel more at home as well as minimize the amount of dog hair that accumulates on the carpet which will reduce the chance you might be charged a clean up fee. Soft-sided crates fold down for easy storage and unzip on the top for added air circulation during the night.

If you don’t travel with crates consider something like a collapsible travel pet playpen.

Pack a few extra small towels of our own to put down for the dogs to lay on and feed them in the bathroom to avoid any spilling on the hotel room carpeting.

Take your dogs along on a trip is fun and staying in a hotel can be fun. Don’t let it be a stressful experience by failing to prepare. Despite the increase in people wanting to travel with their dogs, many hotels are starting to say “no pets allowed.” Make sure those who do continue to do so by being a responsible traveller.

Should you ever find yourself travelling without your dog on business or for other reasons the Fairmont chain has “canine ambassadors” in residence at all their locations in Canada. You can even take them out for a walk. Most of the dogs are labs. For example, Beau, a yellow lab, hangs out in the lobby of the Fairmont in Vancouver. (The Fairmont Vancouver also allows dogs at a cost of $25 per day.)




Take your dog to an off-leash amusement park

Let them run free

Trips that involve a considerable amount of driving mean you will need to stop along the way several times to give your dogs time and space to stretch and relieve themselves. Not all dogs enjoy a car ride so this is especially important for those who experience anxiety in a vehicle.

Whenever we are headed on a long-distance journey I search for the municipally-operated off-leash dog parks in the area and make a list on my smart phone or a small notebook with directions. Many cities and towns are creating off-leash parks in conjunction with volunteer community groups to help offset costs. Even the smallest towns are now offering off-leash parks as an alternative since some municipal bylaws allow for enforcement officers to ticket those who are using municipal parks to let their pets run free. Fines for doing so can be as much as $250.

On a recent trip to New Brunswick we discovered an off-leash park in Moncton that even had separate designated spaces for small dogs and large dogs. There were benches for the humans and other trails to enjoy with dogs on leash.

During a trip to Eastern Ontario we discovered the Quinte Dog Park in Belleville. In that same area Potter’s Creek Conservation Area features the Pooch Path located at the corner of Loyalist Wallbridge and Hwy #2.

Know your dog’s behaviour around other dogs before venturing into one — if they are not well socialized it could be a potentially unpleasant experience. Your dog should be good with greeting other dogs and playing, especially in very busy urban dog parks.

Many dog parks provide plastic poop bags for you to pick up after your dog, but try to remember to take your own just in case. The City of Toronto is currently testing the use of green bins in 20 parks across the city. Dog poop in plastic bags can be placed in the green bins and don’t have to be biodegradable bags. So far, an audit of waste bins located near dog parks showed that 84 per cent was organic waste.

The Bendor and Graves Tract located in Cedar Valley, Ontario near Newmarket is a wonderful fenced, off-leash dog park with surrounding hiking trails.

Locally, my favourite dog park for our three Tollers is the Bendor and Graves Tract, part of the York Region Forest Cedar Valley, east of Newmarket. The park has benches for the human traveller and large water bowls that are often full or you can replace with your own — always remember to bring water for you dog on any journey, even the shortest day trip.

Dog bowls like this one are provided at many off-leash parks. In this example a hole dug underneath the bowl provided a cool place for one visitor to place their bottle of water which they had left for the next visitor.

Admission to all dog parks I have ever visited is free, which is an incredible thing when you think about the joy your dog gets and the comfort you have in knowing they can be free in a safe environment away from roads and places where they perhaps aren’t always welcome.

So the next time you are hitting the road, take a few minutes to search the internet for dog parks in the vicinity of where you will be travelling. Even if you have to detour off a highway for a few minutes of peace to stretch legs and take a break it will be worth it for all involved.



Top 10 items for a canine first aid kit

Be prepared for the unexpected

Nothing can ruin a trip for you and your dog more than having a canine medical emergency when you’re far from home.

Over the years we’ve learned through experience, and a good pet first aid class I took a few years ago, that it could be helpful to have some basic knowledge and a few supplies handy in case of emergencies.

During a recent trip to our cottage four hours from home one of our younger dogs got into trouble via a container of cocoa powder. I thought taking ingredients to make Nanaimo bars at the cottage was a great idea — boy was I wrong! I hadn’t even made the pan of squares when Autumn decided powdered cocoa was irresistible.

I had packed the powdered baking cocoa in a plastic container and left it in a tote box full of dry goods in the kitchen, about three feet off the floor. Little did I realize the power chocolate had over a dog with a great sense of smell. Many dogs would not give powdered cocoa more than a passing glance, but Tollers are known for being gluttons and devouring anything that smells good. Loaves of bread are another item Autumn has enjoyed far too many times.

Usually we monitor the dogs very closely but one day when we went out for a short trip to the store Autumn sought out the tub of cocoa and dragged it into the TV room where she managed to get the lid off and spread the cocoa all over the floor and sofa cushions.

Autumn is fine now (she’s just a little sleepy here) but when she ate some cocoa powder on a recent trip the cottage we had to induce vomiting and consult a vet’s care.

As many will know, chocolate can be highly toxic to dogs. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder is considered most dangerous. Luckily, we estimated she had ingested the cocoa very recently but it was hard to know how much based on how much was spread all over the couch and floor and what was left in the tub.

Based on information we found online and from the vet we called we gave her a few tablespoons of 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide (available at most drug stores and grocery stores) and water and she soon began to vomit up the cocoa powder. As the vet in this video from Dog Health Insider explains,  the prescribed amount is one teaspoon for every 10 lbs of body weight. We fed it to her with a kitchen spoon but now pack a small plastic syringe in our pet first aid kit for such uses. A turkey baster can do the trick too. We just used a tablespoon with some water and she swallowed it fairly well. In a short time period

The dog should vomit within the next 15 to 20 minutes, aided by walking them around. She didn’t like the process at all, but it worked!

It’s also important to keep the time frame of consumption in mind. If it’s been two hours since the dog ingested the offending toxin it can be too dangerous to induce vomiting, or, if your pet has already started vomiting do not try to induce vomiting.

After Autumn had vomited several times, to be on the safe side we also took her to the vet, about a half hour away from our cottage, where she was given activated charcoal to induce further vomiting. She was fine and went on to be perfectly fine within a couple of hours, but having the peroxide in the first aid kit was a good first response to address the issue immediately.

We had called ahead to the vet to consult about the use of peroxide and to see if they were open. We have used Blue Sky Animal Hospital in North Bay more than once before so knew they would be great. One thing we have learned from past experiences is that having a list of vets in the area where you will be travelling is extremely helpful in addition to any information on any emergency clinics. In some small communities where emergency vet clinics do not operate, vets often share in taking on weekend “on-call” duties. I’ve spent a good amount of time some weekends calling around to clinics to see who is open. By checking out a few clinics ahead of time you can head out on your trip armed with that information, especially on holiday long weekends when many are not open.

In addition to hydrogen peroxide being a great item to have on hand for dogs and humans for minor first aid applications, it’s good to also have packed a kit of other items.

You can purchase pet first aid kits from pet stores and some animal welfare organizations — St. John Ambulance sells a good one for about $40. or make up your own with products from the drug store, pet stores or dollar store.

Some items to have in your travel pet first aid kit include medical tape, hydrogen peroxide, an elastic bandage, clotting powder for toenails that may become ripped, an ear cleaning solution and antiseptic ointment.
  • Disposable gloves to deal with wounds or other incidents
  • Elastic bandage to wrap wounds
  • First aid tape and gauze bandages
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Sharp scissors
  • Blanket or towel to keep them warm or lay on for treatment
  • Ice pack
  • Tweezers to remove debris from a wound or eye area
  • Antibiotic ointment

It’s also a good idea to pack copies of any pertinent medical/vaccination records and medications for your pet. It’s also good to have it handy if you need to visit an emergency clinic.

Pets can fly, you just need to know when and how

I’ll never forget sitting on the runway at Pearson International Airport waiting to see my dog Willow go up the luggage ramp in her kennel. We were headed to Vancouver for a vacation and she was going to be competing in an agility competition there as well.

A lot of planning and research had gone into figuring out how to take a dog on a flight across the country.

We had chosen to fly with WestJet and the airline’s staff had been great from the minute we booked the tickets to the second we walked through the doors at the airport terminal wheeling a dog kennel with Willow facing out a little more than curious about her next adventure.

Dogs can travel in airline-approved kennels. They must weigh no more than 100 lbs total including dog and kennel.

The WestJet attendant at the counter spied us coming in and said: “You must be travelling with us!” From there we started to relax. The counter staff processed us then put Willow’s hard-sided kennel through the x-ray equipment and ensured we were well informed about what would happen. A “live animal” sticker went on her kennel and she was placed in a well-ventilated area to await boarding, but it wasn’t until I actually saw her go into the cargo hold that I could breathe easy.

Taking your dogs on planes can be stressful but makes your vacations that much more fun once you get there.

If you have a small breed dog, taking them with you on air travel is much less complicated to contemplate — generally, if they are under 20 to 22 lbs (including an airline approved pet carrier) they can fly with you in cabin in a suitable carrier under the seat in front of you.

But even for those with small dogs the checklist of things you need to consider begins with checking several factors at the time of booking with the airline.

Most airlines limit the total number of cats and dogs allowed on board any given flight — usually two. So when you are considering a trip think about booking early to make sure you can get your dog in cabin.

If you have dogs larger than 20 lbs another reason to book early is to make sure that depending on what time of year you are flying that you can get your dog in the checked baggage hold for an early flight (summer months when it’s cooler) or late evening. The same goes for winter — you want to avoid very cold temperatures as the cargo area is not as temperature controlled as the cabin and can be very cold in winter and hot in summer. The number of dogs allowed in checked baggage is also limited to two-to-three per flight (depending on whether it’s a 737 or 767 aircraft.) If you can’t get them on a flight with you or in checked baggage you may have to consider cargo flights which will then mean a different pick up location and possibly a longer wait time as they clear customs and other clearance requirements.

Be sure to check with your veterinarian before booking the flight as well. If your pet is older they may not be in the best shape to travel.

Flying can be stressful on an animal and depending on the length of the flight it may be too much for them. Be sure to factor in the time from check in (usually 40 minutes before you are required to check in for your flight) to the time you can retrieve them from the “over-sized luggage” area of the airport.

When we landed in Vancouver (YVR) with Willow while WestJet was quick to get her offloaded from the plane I knew she would need to find a relief area. Fortunately the outdoor exit at the Vancouver arrivals area is close by. Many airports now have clearly signed “pet relief” areas so you can get them outside.

This CBC News video demonstrates how the pet relief areas at YVR are equipped with artificial turf and designed for those with service dogs in mind. (Click to play video report.)

As CBC reported, In 2016 YVR was the first in Canada to create an in-terminal pet relief area for travellers going to the United States located after the security checkpoints and available to service dogs and companion dogs pre-flight. While not outdoors, the artificial grass area serves to make dogs feel more comfortable

Calgary International airport (YYC) also offers this kind of facility now and Los Angeles International Airport has added 11 such stations — nine indoor and three outdoor locations. Keep your dog’s leash in your carry-on bag so that it’s handy when you get off the plane.

As more people travel with their companion animals and with service animals, airports such as those in Vancouver, Calgary and LAX are adding dog relief areas with fake grass and other facilities. Image: CBC News

The cost to fly a dog in checked baggage is about $60 each way for domestic flights in Canada and about $100 for trips to the U.S. You must also have an approved hard-sized kennel that weighs in at less than 100 lbs including the dog. Make sure the kennel is large enough for them to stand up and turn around in as well as stretch out. Including a blanket they are familiar with and has some scent from home on it is a good idea to help keep them calm.

Your cat or dog must be at least 12 weeks old and fully weaned to be accepted for travel.

Certain breeds such as short/snub-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds of cats and dogs cannot travel in the baggage compartment because they are susceptible to increased risks of heat stroke and breathing problems when exposed to extreme heat or stressful situations.

It’s a good idea to give your dog some food about four to five hours before the flight and not just before leaving home. This gives them time to digest it. Include a water dish in the kennel and include a few treats. Exercise them well before going to the airport. Don’t wait until you get to the parking garage and need to find a spot where they can comfortably relieve themselves.

Write your cellphone number in permanent marker on the side of the dog’s kennel so airport staff can reach you if needed. It’s also a good idea to include a note in a plastic baggie, taped to the inside of the crate indicating where your destination is and any other back up phone numbers in case anything happens to you on the journey.

Check your preferred airline for their requirements and restrictions.


Air Canada


Above all else, travelling with dogs also requires using good judgement and knowing when your pet needs to take a break. Ideally you both arrive safe and ready to enjoy your destination.

How about an afternoon of pints and pups?

The craft beer craze has taken Ontario by storm and in many instances we have found they often welcome well-behaved dogs, which means you can incorporate your canine friends in a tour of local breweries.

We first encountered this last spring on a trip to investigate Second Wedge Brewing Co. in Uxbridge, Ont. We had our newest Toller, Autumn in tow and were pleasantly surprised when they welcomed her inside. Second Wedge, like several breweries in the Greater Toronto Area, also has their own housedog Sadie.

Autumn came into Second Wedge Brewery with us to check out the brewery and enjoy a pint of Day Tripper.

Uxbridge is home to hundreds of kilometers of trails — part of the Durham Regional Forest Trail system. It has in fact been designated The Trail Capital of Canada, so you could begin your day with a hike nearby and finish with a cold pint at Second Wedge which has a wonderful outdoor patio area in addition to indoor seating.

Of special note is Market Brewing in Newmarket, Ont, a brewery that has put “Yappy Hour” on the calendar for several dates in 2018 including June 14, July 19, August 16, October 18 and December 13 from 4 to 8 p.m. Each Yappy Hour benefits a different charity and is hosted by a community organization in the brewery’s taproom. Market Brewing has green space behind its industrial location on Leslie Street so there is a good spot to air your dog if she needs to take a walk. You can also bring the kids and enjoy board games available onsite. Many craft breweries also offer some kind of snack onsite.

Drop by Market Brewing on June 14 for Yappy Hour!

We have also observed dogs hanging out with their people at Old Flame Brewing in Port Perry located in that town’s downtown core. There is good parking nearby.

On July 15th Old Flame and Second Wedge are teaming up for the 3rd Annual Pooch & a Pint from 12 to 4 p.m.. Show your support for a new animal for shelter for Uxbridge-Scugog. Receive a 12-ounce beer for a minimum donation of $10. As well on July 15 the Uxbridge Farmers’ Market is celebrating the Year of the Dog.

Sawdust City Brewery in Gravenhurst also welcomes dogs into their tasting space. Most craft breweries offer some kind of snack.

Market Brewing in Newmarket, Ont. hosts a ‘Yappy Hour’ once a month, inviting patrons to bring their dog to the brewery.

In Toronto’s east end, Left Field Brewery features Wrigley the Basset Hound as the head pooch in charge of customer relations.

Packing up: What should be in your pup’s travel bag?

Be prepared for the road. Having a bag packed with some essential items such as water dishes, toys and extra leashes and collars can make getting ready for a trip easy. (Click to enlarge photo.)

Packing can be a chore for some, but knowing you have a bag ready with essentials you can grab in a moment’s notice each time you head out for a day trip or longer can make the idea of getting away that much easier.

The same idea applies to packing for your dogs. I have a roller bag packed at all times with essential items and stashed in the basement ready to go. When it’s all in one place there is no extra thinking required and you’re never caught unprepared. Here is a list of the 10 essentials I always have ready to go:

Dishes. Stainless steel for meals and a collapsible water bowl to take on a hike or pop out of the car for a quick drink.

A collapsible dish for water can be a handy item to leave in the car at all times or pack in your getaway bag.(Click to enlarge photo.)

Extra leashes and collars. I’ve lost leashes before on trails or forgotten them at someone’s cottage or even left them at home and had to stop and purchase new ones on the way to our destination. Don’t be left without back up. Dogs can slip collars and they can break. I bring an extra for each dog.

Bear bell. If your dogs are lucky enough to be let off leash in wooded areas it’s a good idea to put a bell on them to let you know where they are and to potentially scare off bears, should they encounter them. The ones I have attach to the collar with velcro. Available at Canadian Tire and outdoor stores.

Small towel or blanket to rest water dishes on, wipe down a wet dog or give them a place to rest.

Grooming brush or comb should your dog encounter burrs, pine pitch or other problems along the way. It can also be a great way to bond with them sitting around a camp fire or during a raining day stuck indoors.

Tick remover. Ticks have become a problem in so many areas at almost all temperatures now in Canada and the U.S. I keep our tick remover attached to a carabiner clip on the outside of the roller bag for easy access. Here’s a video demonstrating how to remove a tick from a dog.

Treats! You never know when you will need to lure a pooch back in the car or reward them for behaving well on a long journey.

Simple first aid items such as ear cleaner, nail clippers, Quik-clot for nails, grooming wipes and some elastic bandages for small injuries. You can also buy inexpensive pet first aid kits online. See my post on developing your own first aid kit for your dog and the importance of having inexpensive items such as hydrogen peroxide on hand.

Toys! Something to fetch, chew or retrieve as a means to burn off some energy on long journeys or in strange places.

Paper towels or wet wipes for cleaning up.

When you’re prepared for the journey everyone has a good experience. (Click to enlarge photo.)

Roadtrip to Niagara

Full house. These three — Angel, Willow and Autumn — stayed with us in a one-room cabin at the KOA Campground in Niagara Falls, Ont. (Click to enlarge photo)

People often tell me I’m crazy when I explain that not only do we have three dogs but they pretty much go everywhere with us.

It started with one Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (NSDTR) 14 years ago. Willow travelled with us everywhere including trips to Atlantic Canada by car and Vancouver by air, boat and car. She’s flown on WestJet with great success and travelled on B.C. Ferries to Nanaimo. Willow was and continues to be a great traveller even in old age. She never barked in hotel rooms and always stayed calm waiting to go on flights. She’s always been great in elevators and asked to go out even when several floors up in a hotel.

Then a few years later we acquired Angel, another NSDTR who arrived from Missouri via Air Canada Cargo.  The third, Autumn, also a NSDTR, arrived in November of 2016 and has now made travel a little more complicated but still a lot of fun. We have a great dog sitter but honestly, I’d rather they come with us than stay home.

Hotels and motels often say they are pet-friendly but not all are created equal. Despite the fact the pet industry is a booming business — pet owners represent a $6.5-billion a year  business opportunity, according to The Globe and Mail — many hotel chains are opting out of the opportunity.  A “pet-friendly” hotel room has often been one previously inhabited by a smoker or one that is in dire need of renovations located far away from all other amenities. We once left a motel before even checking in because the dog-designated room was in poor shape. There are some chains that have embraced the pet market. We had a wonderful experience with two of the dogs at the Super 8 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. a few summers ago on our way to Lake Superior. The staff even provided special bedding for the dogs.

Travelling with dogs can limit where you stay and how you get there. For example, we’ve been trying to figure out how to get to Newfoundland without having to leave the dogs in the car on the vehicle deck for the entire journey on the ferry. (If anyone knows how to do this, please let me know. ) But with some planning and patience you can enjoy a variety of travel opportunities and take your pups along with you.

Recently we did an overnight trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) with all three of our dogs. No, we didn’t stay in a posh spa hotel, but we did manage to find a great place where they were all welcome, were able to enjoy the outdoors and at a reasonable cost.

Over the years hotels and motels have added additional fees for pets staying with their human companions — anywhere from $10 to $25 extra is about the norm. While roofed accommodation (yurts and cabins) at Ontario Provincial Parks do not allow pets, the KOA Campgrounds readily accept pets in campsites and certain cabins — primarily the ones that do not have washrooms. (Shared washrooms and showers are available in the campground.) In Niagara we rented a one-room cabin at the KOA in Niagara Falls, just off Lundy’s Lane, for $141  which included taxes and the $10/per dog fee for one night the last weekend in May. We had a really nice campsite and cabin (double bed with twin bunks) with side and rear yard areas for the dogs to enjoy with partial dividing fence between us and the cabins beside us . The campground also featured a designated area to walk dogs on the other side of the campground.

We stayed in this cabin with our three dogs at the KOA Niagara Falls, just a short drive from Niagara-on-the-Lake. (Click to enlarge photo)

During the day we enjoyed several of Niagara’s park areas with the dogs, including the Queen’s Royal Park located at the end of King Street. This park features public washrooms as well as picnic tables to enjoy a lunch or rest. I strolled the waterfront and sat at a picnic table with the dogs for a short time while my husband explored The Exchange brewery on Queen street in NOTL.

The log-style cabins have electricity and  are situated on a decent-sized lot with both a rear and side yard. There was a train track directly behind the fence but it did not have any traffic on it during sleeping hours. We heard it once. (click photo to enlarge).

Several families with kids approached me to ask about the breed. It was a great way to pass the time and enjoy the cherry blossoms. One thing you quickly become used to while travelling with dogs is splitting up on occasion so one person can explore a store or attraction while the other stays to watch and entertain the dogs. We switched spots when we later visited Chateau des Charmes winery in NOTL. I popped out to visit the inside of the winery and make a purchase from the wine shop while my husband let the dogs out in the parking lot area for a quick ramble on leash.

We have found that many craft breweries welcome dogs inside their establishments (look for a future blog post on this) which can make things much more enjoyable for both human and dog.

Some tips when camping or staying in hotels with dogs:

• Before booking accommodation think about your dog’s temperament and ability to adjust to staying in a strange place. Are they nervous or likely to bark around other people or if they hear sounds in a hotel room?

• Take your own water for the dogs and a portable bowl. Many shops and dog-friendly venues now offer water bowls in front of their establishment but don’t count on it.

• If you have room, take a kennel or dog crate for them to sleep in to minimize spread of dog hair in hotel rooms and your car. They are also safer travelling in a kennel.

• Always have disposable bags to pick up after your dogs. In some unfortunate circumstances some parks, such as Joffre Lakes Provincial Park in B.C., have begun banning dogs because people were not picking up after their dogs.

• Scout out parks and public areas for any “no dogs allowed” signs. Some parks with waterfront or beach access often do not permit dogs near the water.

• During summer be mindful that dogs need to be kept cool and may not have the same energy level they do in other times. Riding in cars can upset their stomachs, just like humans.

• Don’t ever leave your dogs unattended in a car, even if you think you will “only be five minutes.”

• Consider investing in “tie out” stakes for about $7 to $20 that screw into the ground and act as a tie post to keep your dog on leash but give them a little more space to move around. These can be found at Canadian Tire and Pet Smart.



Travelling with dogs

Three years ago we packed up our two Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers and hit the road for Nova Scotia. Yes, we were taking them to the home province! We had managed to book a number of hotels and inns to stay along the way. It was a great experience but what I learned along the way was that not all “pet-friendly” accommodation is created equal.

In a time when the pet industry is booming and people are spending a good portion of their discretionary income on their canine and feline companions, you would think travelling with pets would be easy.  There are certainly many options available but when you have more than one dog it can be a challenge. This blog will explore the options available and the fun things you can do on the road with your fur friends.

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