Most pet owners know the importance of regular dog walking. However, no one is perfect, and it’s easy to miss a day of exercise here and there, especially in the wintertime. Academy Animal notes that dogs need between 30 minutes to two hours of activity every day, depending on the breed.
Dog Walking And Fitness Goals
Your health is just as important as your dog’s! Now that lockdowns are among us again, it’s the perfect time to go on some outdoor adventures. Public health restrictions can make getting in shape seem impossible, but it doesn’t have to be! Lockdowns are a good opportunity to take advantage of the outdoors and figure out your favourite walking locations, making it a great time for change and achieving fitness goals.
Many people with a New Year’s resolution to boost their physical activity don’t know where to start. One way to make physical activity more fun is to take advantage of Toronto’s trail and ravine network with your dog. With time at a premium for so many of us, pet trails are a great way to use dog walking (which you have to do anyway) as a means to achieve your fitness goals for 2022. Not only does walking keep your furry friend in top-notch health, but it can also work wonders for your mental health, well-being, and, of course, your feet!
Exploring some Toronto walking trails this season will boost your dog’s energy and mood, and they’ll thank you with good behaviour! It’s also a great way to get your 10,000 steps in and stay active, which will keep your feet healthy through the winter.
Let’s look at some of the most popular dog-walking trails and parks you can enjoy this Toronto winter season! But first, let’s go over some of the major benefits of incorporating walking into your routine.
What Are The Benefits of Dog Walking?
Taking your dog for regular walks is an excellent way to start fresh and achieve a healthy lifestyle in 2022!
- Walking gets your blood pumping and promotes healthy circulation to your legs and feet.
- Taking strolls with your pet can help strengthen the joints and muscles in your feet which is a good treatment method for painful foot conditions.
- Walking is a great way to kick start or supplement other forms of physical activity, like regular core strengthening and running. You can work your way up to both, even if you have mobility concerns.
- Regular walking helps improve balance and stability. Along with strengthening your muscles and joints, all of these benefits combined reduce your risk of injury.
- We didn’t forget to mention your pup! Exercise can lower your dog’s risk of liver and cardiovascular disease. Daily walking can also reduce your dog’s stress levels and chances of developing osteoarthritis.
High Park is a well-known downtown park that takes on a new light during the Toronto winters. It has an off-leash park between Grenadier Restaurant and the High Park zoo. It’s incredibly spacious and covers over 8.5 acres, so your pup can happily roam while you keep an eye on them. Dog owners can easily spot the leash-free zone with clear signs and instructions.
It’s also not just a large land space like many other dog parks. The off-leash area is unique and has both paved trails and nature trails (shown above). There is also beautiful scenery! The spectacular snow-dusted trees make for a picturesque afternoon with your pup.
If you’re keeping your dog on their leash, you can enjoy most of the park except for some areas like ice rinks, campgrounds and designated petting zoos. You can find the full list of prohibited areas here. Don’t worry: the off-limits areas won’t affect your walking experience. High Park is over 400 acres and Toronto’s second-largest park, the perfect place to start achieving your fitness goals this year.
The trails that run along Grenadier Pond on the west side of the park are especially scenic in the wintertime. There are also a lot of winding trails towards the east end of the park off of Colborne Lodge Drive. These trails take you all the way down to Lake Ontario, enjoying streams and tall trees along the way. High Park takes the cake when it comes to hidden gems!
Jack Darling Memorial Park
Taking walks along the water can make exercise seem like less of a chore and more like something to look forward to. If you love a good view of the water, the Jack Darling Memorial Park in Mississauga could be your next great find. The waterfront trail that winds along the park gives you a wonderful view of Lake Ontario. There are also several other pedestrian and dog paths scattered throughout the park.
The leash-free area is completely fenced off and is one of the biggest off-leash dog parks in the city. If your furry friend is looking for a friendly adventure with other pups, this might be their new favourite place.
Jack Darling park also has an area for small dogs under 25 pounds. Sometimes smaller dogs are intimidated by larger breeds, so the small dogs area provides a safe option. Just west of the off-leash park, it’s the perfect space for your dog to check out some wooded areas while getting some good exercise. To boost your own exercise experience, try playing catch with your dog! The running back and forth will get your legs and feet moving, and your heart pumping.
More Toronto Dog Walking Trails
- The Silver Birch Loop Trail near Mississauga is suitable for dogs, but you must keep them on a leash. It’s stunning in the wintertime and runs about 3.5 kilometres in length. If you enjoy views of the water, this may be the perfect trail for you and your pup. While exploring this loop, you’ll notice a river, and the paths and boardwalk are maintained well during the winter months.
- The Sherwood Park Trail near Leaside is a favourite among Torontonian dog owners. The trail is covered in a sturdy boardwalk, maintained during the winter. You can make sure you’re getting enough steps with your dog while checking out the 150-year-old trees!
- Dogs also love the Moor Park Ravine in Midtown Toronto, which runs from Mount Pleasant cemetery towards Evergreen Brickworks. There’s an abundance of different trees you can watch come to life while spring is around the corner. Even during the middle of winter, your pup will love the serene walk along the creek. The elevation changes will also be sure to keep your heart pumping, thus combining necessary dog walking with great cardio exercise.
How Can I Make Dog Walking More Fun In the Winter?
- We can’t stress this enough: Incorporate dog walking into your fitness routine. Time can be one of the biggest impediments to meeting fitness goals. By combining exercise with dog walking (which you have to do anyway), you can kill two birds with one stone (metaphorically – we don’t want to hurt any animals).
- Your pooch can experience pet foot pain and skin irritation, just like you can. If your dog is showing signs of discomfort, Paw products can keep your dog more comfortable and protect them from salt and snow.
- If you dog has shorter hair, try some dog clothes, like sweaters and coats to keep them warm (of course, if you have a husky you may want to steer clear of these).
- Bring along warm drinks for yourself and a healthy snack for your dog.
- Check the weather to see what part of the day will be the warmest.
- Let your dog play in the snow!
- If your children are coming along for the walking trail adventure, you can give them a walking puppy toy so they can get used to walking with a dog. Eventually, they’ll be able to walk the family dog on their own! This is also a great way to show your child how important physical activity is, and that it can still be a lot of fun!
Make The Most Of Toronto Winter Season!
Winter doesn’t have to be dull and dreary — it can be the perfect time to meet your fitness goals and bond more with your dog. Before you head out for a walk, make sure you also check out Feet First Clinic to invest in the right footwear for winter. Our product catalogue has everything you’re looking for, and you can give us a call to see what’s in store. Depending on the day, you might also get a glimpse of our furry mascot, Champ!