I always considered Toronto somewhat of a dog-friendly place … then I became an owner of one!
It didn’t take me long to realize that there were strict times my pooch had to be on her leash in certain areas, that she was fiercely unwelcome inside some of my favourite eateries, cafes and pubs — or even out on some of its patios — and that, well, smokers got treated better than pets by most landlords in this city!
Okay, it could be worse, but we’re definitely not Paris, where it’s normal to allow canines into restaurants, bistros and cafes. Or even Vancouver, where eateries may legally permit leashed dogs to sit with their owners on patios and terraces, just as long as they are well-behaved.
In my opinion, the number of off-leash dog parks, how dogs are treated in public spaces, transport options and availability of important services — such as grooming and vet care — are just some of the things which should be looked at when considering what makes a city dog-friendly.
With that in mind, as a recent dog owner, I went on a mission to discover a dog-friendly Toronto. Here’s what I found!
This Yorkville coffee shop may be a little tough to find at first — it’s below street level, after all — but your four-legged friend will surely be quick to sniff out the big jar of dog treats waiting for them on Goldstruck’s counter.
No, this snug roaster on Broadview won’t let your canine indoors, but with a hangout area, water dishes and mat for them to chill on out front, I don’t think they’ll be in any hurry to complain. Mine certainly doesn’t!
Believe it or not, this Leslieville spot was Toronto’s first dog-friendly cafe! Time flies. Find treats and water aplenty for your pup here, as well as the rare invitation to join you inside.
No, this downtown Toronto neighbourhood within the former Railway Lands isn’t a “condo”, per say. But it’s the largest residential development ever created in Toronto, and one defined by soaring condominiums on every corner, so as far as I’m concerned, it fits. It’s also got off-lease areas and a few projects (like the Parade buildings) with pet spas built into the lower floor, plus is home to Pet Social — which provides cutting edge knowledge of pet nutrition with top of the line, premium and holistic foods, innovative and functional pet supplies and accessories.
Currently in construction at Berkley and Parliament, this Signature Communities project will have a pet spa on the ground floor, as well as be walking distance to the off-leash dog run at Corktown Commons. Incidentally, local dog owners continue to petition the City for better infrastructure at the Commons, so consider that an added bonus!
Situated at Richmond and Spadina, this Menkes development houses both an onsite pet spa and indoor dog run. No surprise here, but oth have been very popular, especially the latter when Toronto’s climate drops every winter.
Use of the Met Condos’ Pet Spa is made available to residents for grooming their pets at their own risk and responsibility. A ramp to the bathtub for washing pets, a table for grooming and dryer is provided.
They don’t just have a wicked dog wash station, but the building overlooks the Kay Gardner Beltline — a popular spot for dogs, dog walkers and dog admirers alike.
Neighbouring Roncesvalles, this inner-city park is home to Dog Hill, which is popularized by its active dog-drinking fountain. My girl especially enjoys its lengthy off-leash trails, where ponds and rivers abound.
You wouldn’t be able to tell when looking at it from Yonge Street, but this Rosedale park has one of the largest dog areas in town. One that feels more open and accessible than others in Toronto, and offers a nice amount of seating for owners.
No, this beloved expanse along St. Clair West doesn’t possess the lengthy trails of High Park or size of Ramsden, but its proximity to the Artscape Wychwood Barns make it a perennial favourite.
Two words: POOCH POUND! As if the massive patio at this Liberty Village pub wasn’t enough — replete with outdoor games, too — it’s got a space to tie up your dog, where an attendant will supervise them and spoil them with water.
What I particularly love about this cafe and bar adjacent to Christie Pits are the fence-side spots next to the patio, so you can enjoy your dog’s company while enjoying a cappuccino.
The Rhino doesn’t just offer one of the most expansive patios in Parkdale, but amongst the most spacious pet-friendly ones, at that.