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Metro Vancouver has more than 75 dog parks and off-leash trails so you can hike, bike and play with your four-legged friend, or sit back and enjoy the scenery while your dog makes new friends
There’s a time and place for structured walks with your dog. On-leash training challenges your dog to exercise discipline and reinforces your position as pack leader.
But off-leash outings are a must for maintaining and improving fitness, exploring and discovering the sights and smells of the outdoors, and socializing with other dogs.
There are 35 designated off-leash areas in the City of Vancouver and dozens more in the surrounding communities. There are places to play, swim, socialize, explore and hike, so you can exercise with your dog as you hike the trails at Pacific Spirit Regional Park or sit back against a log and take in the views of Burrard Inlet while your dog makes and chases new friends at Hadden Park in Kitsilano.
During a recent eight-month stay in Sydney, Australia while my husband worked on the animated film Legend of the Guardians, we became the proud owners of Charlie the chocolate Labradoodle. Since coming home to Vancouver we’ve had a great time exploring many of the off-leash parks and trails.
Following are four of our favourite off-leash parks and trails.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since becoming a Vancouverite it’s to be undeterred by inclement weather.
When you have a dog you don’t have the luxury of staying inside when it’s raining, so get yourself a waterproof jacket, some fabulous rubber boots and a cute umbrella.
Even when you’re all geared up it can still be a downer to venture out in a downpour.
Pacific Spirit Regional Park is one of my favourite rainy-day destinations because many of the trails are sheltered by a dense canopy of trees. And the network of trails lets you walk for as long or as little as you like.
When we set out for a day trip to explore Deep Cove and do a little hike along the Baden-Powell trail, we were unaware that the trail leading up to the bluff (known by many names including Deep Cove Lookout, Quarry Rock and Indian Arm Lookout) was an off-leash trail. Hooray!
It was such a great hike, not too difficult but nicely challenging, and the view at the top was magnificent. The dogs (Charlie's best friend Randy came with us) were in heaven, exploring the forest around the trail, chasing each other ad nauseum, and stopping to greet passing dogs and their owners.
A word of caution once you reach the top: there are very sharp drops from the rock so keep a close eye on your dog(s). We adopted a better-safe-than-sorry policy and put them on their leashes.
Click here for trekitnow.com's Deep Cove slideshow and trail overview.
Our little Aussie loves the beach and Hadden Park (or Kits Dog Beach, as we call it) has a large, clean area for dogs to play in the sand and swim in the water – it also has breathtaking scenery for you to enjoy too (see map).
Depending on when you visit the park there could be dozens of dogs or just you and yours. If you want to make sure your dog has plenty of opportunities to socialize, aim to go at peak times like right after work or on the weekend.
Another way to ensure your dog gets snout-time with other canines is to join a breed- or interest-specific group. Meetup.com is a great place to search for interest groups like "The Vancouver Small Breed Dogs Meetup Group" or the "The Vancouver Dog Pack Runners Meetup Group."
The western section of Spanish Bank Beach Park is another great beach-front, off-leash spot (see map). There is a big grassy area and a nice little beach, perfect for a game of fetch on grass, sand or in the water, and also plenty of opportunities for your dog to socialize.