Tag Archives: canine travel

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.

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.



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.)

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.