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Sharing Public Spaces with Dogs

by Anne-Marie Mayes

In Thunder Bay, we have many great parks around the city including trails or open fields. Most of these areas, including conservation areas and popular walking spots like Boulevard Lake are covered by city by-laws requiring dogs to be on-leash. These areas are for everyone, with or without dogs, to enjoy and exercise or take in nature. People using these parks do not expect to have loose dogs approaching them or running around. As a dog owner myself, I know that the owners of these dogs are only trying to exercise them and have the dog enjoy themselves but it should not be at the expense of others.

Some dog owners who let their dogs off-leash in city parks do not realize that some people are uncomfortable around dogs and that having dogs run around them or even jump on them is extremely stressful.   Similarly, not all dogs are comfortable with other dogs and their owners walk specifically in places where dogs must be on leash for that reason. I am asking everyone to please show respect in these areas and not only think about themselves but others who use these spaces as well. 

If you would like to get your dog more exercise in parks or nature trails,consider the use of a longer leash and practice recall in open areas where you can see people coming and are able to keep your distance to prevent your dog from approaching others. If you want your dog to play with others, consider setting up a play date with some dog friends in a fenced yard or visiting one of the designated off-leash areas. Remember to always clean up after your dog as part of being a responsible dog owner and good neighbour.


Dog owners in our city can get a bad rap for modelling bad behaviour and breaking local bylaws. I feel that we need to set a good example of how to act in public so dogs will be more accepted and given more privileges when it comes to attending different areas in our city whether indoor or outdoor. Unfortunately, it only takes one incident to spoil it for others.  When walking your dog off-leash it is important that you have a reliable recall and walk in areas that allow off-leash dogs. If you need help training recall or another behaviour contact a Certified Dog Trainer so you and your dog are prepared.

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