Top 5 Places to Take your Dog Swimming in Toronto


There are only a couple of weeks left of summer, but with all the heat waves this year, Summer doesn’t look like it’s coming to an end anytime soon. Even though we enjoy the hot weather, we also enjoy finding ways to cool down in the summer too. Our dogs are no different in looking for ways to cool down in the summer heat. And what better way is there to cool down than splashing about in some water!

Although Toronto may seem like a concrete jungle, there are many options in and around Toronto to take your dog. From pet-friendly beaches, parks, creeks, and lakes, listed here are a few places to take your furry friends swimming this summer: 


1. Cherry Beach

Cherry Beach is located at the end of Cherry Street in Toronto and is known for its designated off-leash dog area on its Western boundary where dogs can swim on the beach. This beach is open to the public to regularly enjoy with the City testing the water to ensure safe water quality. The beach is also a little rocky so that it may be more comfortable on your dog’s paws, instead of hot sand. At Cherry Beach, you can splash around with your pup, spend a whole afternoon or evening at the park with your pooch, and bring a picnic or a barbeque to your hangout overlooking the water. For more information about the beach, click here.


2. Balmy Beach/Silverbirch Park

Balmy Beach/Silverbirch Park is located on 2 Silver Birch Avenue in Toronto. This beach and path have great reviews as a dog-friendly space with beautiful views. This beach is an urban space, so a walk with your dog through the shops can bring you straight to the beach to cool down in the summer. From the beach, you can enjoy the water with a great view of the City. The area also has a nearby park and benches so that your dog can run around and dry off in the sun. For more information about the park, click here.


3. Etobicoke Creek Valley 

Etobicoke Creek Valley is located a bit outside of Toronto but a great dog-friendly place to visit if you’re looking to get out of the City. This area includes a beautiful nature path to walk, run, or bike on with your dog. Since the trail is alongside a creek, your dog can hop in to cool down after a day of activity. This would be a great little road trip to spend some quality time in nature with your furry friend. For more information about the Valley park and trail, click here.


4. Sherwood Park 

For a small scale adventure with your dog, you can visit Sherwood Park in the midtown neighbourhood of Toronto. Although this isn’t a beach, your dog can still have a great time going out for a walk and swimming in the nearby creek to cool off before heading home. Sherwood Park would be a great little local adventure for you and your pup to enjoy anytime!


5. Humber Bay West 

Humber Bay West is located on 2225 Lake Shore Boulevard West in Toronto. This place is a lakeside park that offers trails, paths, and areas to picnic and relax. During the day you can enjoy riding your bike or walking the trails and paths with your furry friend. You can even pack a picnic or afternoon snack to recharge for more adventure afterwards. Along with a beautiful view of the lake, you can take a dip in; you get a beautiful view of the Toronto City Skyline to enjoy as well. A day at Humber Bay West would be a day your pooch will surely remember! For more information about the park, click here

With Summer still in full swing, it’s not too late to take your pup out and explore these places in and around the City. Air conditioning isn’t the only way to keep cool this summer! Visiting parks, beaches, and lakes can keep you and pooch cool while having fun in the sun at the same time! Make sure to visit the websites linked for more information about the area you’re visiting. 

Why you should still use a dog walker, even though you are working from home.

Why you should still use a dog walker, even though you are working from home.

2020 has been a really confusing, stressful and scary year so far.  Many people are working from home, and will be for the foreseeable future.  You can walk them whenever you, or they, want.   You can spend all day with your beloved pup.   

The off leash parks have reopened, and dog walkers are allowed to restart their businesses.  But you’re home all day now….why would you need a dog walker?  There are a lot of really good reasons to continue using your dog walker.  Today’s topic:

Social Distancing: 

  1. We can bring 6 dogs with us:  Dog walkers can manage and are allowed to bring up to 6 dogs with them into the off leash parks.  This means one person for every six dogs, two people for every 12 dogs or 3 people for 18 dogs.    If 18 people brought 18 dogs in to the off leash park, social distancing would be harder to maintain—and that’s just assuming every one dog comes with only one person…many times they are coming with an adult and some kids, or two adults—so it’s entirely possible that there could be more humans than dogs in the off leash area.
  2. Our dog behaviour knowledge:  Dogs have their own language.  It’s there if you understand it.  Unfortunately, many people don’t.  This could lead to two or even more owners having to step in when behaviour escalates.  As dog walkers, we are knowledgeable in dog behaviour.  We’ve already recognized a dog to avoid even before they start playing with our dogs.  We can step in before they start interacting and redirect our pup to someone more suitable without any involvement of the other owner, thereby maintaining social distancing. 
  3. We come prepared:  Managing multiple dogs is our job.  It’s what we do day in and day out—we’re experts at it.  And as such, we come prepared for it.  We bring treats and toys.  These tools allow us to facilitate recall and redirection without physically managing the dogs. 
  4. Dog Walking is our job: We’re at the park to work, not socialize with our friends.   Our eyes are on the dogs, and we’re engaging with them.  

How to Make a Snuffle Mat for Your Dog

dog with enrichment toy

For Toy Tuesday, we are sharing a video on how to make a snuffle mat from an old towel.  What’s a snuffle mat, you ask?  Think of it as a shaggy carpety mat type thing that you hide some small treats in and then your dog has to spend time sniffing them out and eating them. Basically, it’s a toy that provides some mental stimulation, which is especially great since some of our pups aren’t getting their usual physical exercise.  For this mat, you only need: a towel and scissors.  You can use multi coloured towels, too, if you like, but it’s not necessary. 

The video is from our good friend, Nicole, at We Work for Treats.  

Step #1 Build your Snuffle Mat:

Step #2 Prepare your Mat for your dog:

You’ve got your mat ready, now comes the fun part.  For this, you’ll need some treats. (These could be special treats, or they could even be their regular kibble.  Use whatever your pup is willing to hunt for.)  Scatter the treats in the mat.  Make sure to get them right down into the mat.  The better you do at hiding them, the harder your dog will have to work to find them.  

Pro Tips: 

  1. If you’re putting your mat into a box, like shown in the video, hid some treats under the mat.  Actually, you could do this regardless.  If so, just make sure your pup is locked up in another room, so you can prepare the mat without them hovering over you.  
  2. Make some of the treats REALLY delicious….like toss in a couple pieces of chicken or cheese.  But make those ones really hard to get to.  
  3. You can make this mat larger depending on how long you would like your pup to be working on it.  It doesn’t have to be small like shown in the video.
  4. If your dog likes squeaky toys and if you have squeakers (the small plastic replacement ones) you can hide those under the mat, too.

We hope you and your pup enjoy this snuffle mat!  Let us know how it goes. 

Don’t forget to share you pictures and videos with us at: #playtimewithcitizencanine


How to play Tug with Your dog



Tug is a great game to play with your dog, because it’s one of the few games you can play were you can really be down on their level.  This really helps to build your relationship.  But not only that, it’s good mental and physical exercise.  However, there is right way to play, and an even better way to play.  So let’s get started!


#1 Choose your Toy:

Pick a  that is toy designed for tugging, and that you won’t use for other games such as fetch. The toy should be durable and flexible. The best tug toys are typically made out of rubber or similar material and have a comfortable handle that keeps your hand away from the dog’s mouth. 

Pro Tip:  have a toy that you ONLY use for tug. This will help your dog know when it’s time to play and when it’s not.  “Oh, Mom’s got out the tug toy.  Time for Tug!”  instead of:  “Oh, Mom is swinging her sock around….must be tug!”


#2 Pick your Play Space:

Play in a large area without distractions, clutter, or dangerous objects. Outdoors is great, but the beauty of tug of war is that it can be safely played indoors if you have a bit of space. Make sure there is room for you both to move about and that there is nothing in the way should one of you back up.


#3 How to Play:

Tug of War with DogI sometimes see people shove a toy in their dog’s face as a way of starting tug.  Does that normally work for you?  If I shoved Monopoly in your face and said: “Wanna play?  Wanna play?  Wanna play?”  Would you be more or less likely to play with me?  Dogs are pretty much the same.  Entice them.  Start with your toy on the ground, move it around in short quick movements.  (Remember you’re trying to imitate a squirrel or other small creature. Be the squirrel!  You can do this.)  Once they catch the ‘squirrel’ don’t let go….fight for your life!  And it’s okay to let your dog win–nobody wants to loose all the time. Take turns winning.   

Pro Tip: only go side to side with the toy, not up and down.  Up and down can cause injuries, like whiplash.  


#4 Take Breaks

While playing tug of war, your dog might get excited and begin growling. This is normal, as the game itself is predatory behavior. However, it is important to keep your dog from becoming overly excited or aggressive, and take breaks to keep the game from getting out of control.

  • A bit of growling with the tail still wagging is probably OK, but anything too intense warrants a break. In fact, if you are feeling uneasy or in doubt at any point, take a break.
  • If your dog’s teeth come into contact with you at any point, play should stop immediately. Say your release command, and then take the toy and walk away for 30 seconds.
  • Two dogs can play tug of war with one another as long as they get along on a normal basis. The game should be supervised, and the same rules apply. Take breaks if they don’t follow rules, as this will help keep it from getting out of control.
  • To take a break, stop tugging and use the release command. Take 30 seconds or so to go through basic commands like sit and down. Once your dog seems more relaxed, the game may resume.

Tug is a great way to spend some of their energy and it’s a great way to spend time together.  Think of it as part of your 15 minute break or lunch break, and build in as part of your new quarantine routine.  It will give you both something to look forward to. Try making your own enrichment toys at home!

My favourite part of tug:  when, after winning, my pup offers me back my end of the tug toy.  

Remember to share your pictures and videos with us!  #playtimewithcitizencanine 

5 Enrichment toys you can make at home for your dog

Crossbreed dog holding a toy in its mouth

Its day 17 of quarantine.  Your dog has destroyed all her toys.  You’ve organized all your drawers.  You’re both staring at each other wondering….now what?  Or maybe your dog has destroyed all his toys and eaten all his chews, but you still have to work from home.  Well, remember when you organized that drawer last week?  That pile of clothes waiting to be dropped off at the thrift store……let’s grab out some of those t-shirts, because those can be made into enrichment toys for your dog!

We’ve perused the interwebs for cool ways to make toys that will restock your pup’s dwindling toy supply and that don’t cost a single cent.  The added bonus:  some of these are great for your pup to do on her own while you sneak in some work.   

Pro Tip: these can also be made with strips of denim for serious chewers.

Puppy Pro Tip:  take a small toy, wet and then stuff it in the freezer for a couple of hours.  Now you have a chew toy that helps to alleviate sore gums while they are teething. 

Here’s our 5 favs:   

1 & 2:  Straight and looped

The looped one is my personal favourite, because the loop works as a handle for me, and then I can really play tug with them.   The straight one can be made long enough for two dogs to play together.   


3:  The Tennis Ball Octopus

This one incorporates a tennis ball, and becomes a really easy and novel fetch toy.


4.  A sturdier take on the straight version

This one is pretty similar to #1, however, there’s a lot more fabric involved.  And the reason this one gets included as a separate item:  You can make this one nice and thick and then hide little yummy treats in it.  This is a perfect enrichment toy for during those conference calls.  You’ll probably get at least three minutes without your pup giving you the moony eyes.  Pro tip:  make more than one toy, and put different treats in each one.  Five toys = 15 minutes!  At least.


5. An even sturdier take on the straight version

 This one is the square knot, and it’s much thicker.   This would be ideal for stuffing with treats and the hardcore chewers.  Again, if you need to keep your pup occupied for awhile, invest in a couple of them. (A note on the video:  She’s a little ‘Disney kids,’ but I found myself giggling a couple of times.  And holding it with your feet was a pretty clever idea that I had not seen in other videos.)


The extra bonus with when you stuff these enrichment toys:  the pups really have to expend some mental energy to get all the treats.  This really helps to tire them out, which is especially good right now, when many are not getting as much physical exercise.  We also hope these little hacks help give your pup something to while you work.  But also don’t be afraid to take a break from work to play with your dog!   Let us know how it goes.  

Share your photos and videos with the hashtag: #playtimewithcitizencanine