Ottawa offers a busy, bustling downtown scene, which is home to many national museums and award-winning attractions. But with luscious green spaces and the famous hills of Gatineau Park nearby, this city is the perfect destination for both dog and dog owner. When visiting Ottawa, there is no need to leave Fido at home! Ottawa is home to many pet-friendly hotels, located in the downtown core as well as in the outskirts of the city, with many in proximity to walking paths, hiking trails and wonderful off-leash dog parks.
If you and your pet are staying in Ottawa’s busy downtown core, there is a lot to see and do. Consider taking your dog along with you to explore the scenic banks of the Rideau Canal, Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can wander down to the Ottawa Locks and watch boats glide through the gates, or wander south along winding walking and bike paths towards Dows Lake. Ottawa offers more than 600 kilometres (373 miles) of pathways, which are enjoyed by cyclists, pedestrians and dog lovers alike! Or take your pet for a stroll through the ByWard Market neighbourhood. The ByWard Market is one of the oldest and largest famers’ markets in Canada, as well as the name of the eclectic neighbourhood that surrounds it. Take Fido along as you visit 175 outdoor stalls that sell plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, as well as arts and crafts. This open air market operates year-round: rain, shine or snow!
And during the summer months (May to August), dog owners can take advantage of NOKIA Sunday Bikedays, which see more than 50 kilometres (31 miles) of parkways in Ottawa and the surrounding Gatineau, Québec, region closed to motorists and reserved for cyclists, in-line skaters, runners and walkers. Take your pet for a jog or a leisurely walk without having to worry about traffic!
Major’s Hill Park is also worth a visit. Behind the historic Fairmont Château Laurier hotel, the park is conveniently located, removed from any busy downtown streets and offers great walking paths, as well as scenic views of the Parliament Buildings and the Ottawa River. Fido must remain on a leash in this park, but it is a lovely spot to sit down, take in picturesque views and relax.
Gatineau Park is located in the province of Québec, about a 15-minute drive north of Ottawa’s downtown core. Covering 361 square kilometres (nearly 90,000 acres), the park is a year-round outdoor playground offering beautiful views of the fall leaves, wildlife and a vast network of hiking trails. As long as Fido is on a leash, take him with you to hike around the park or to visit one of the its many lookouts such as the Champlain Lookout, which offers amazing views of two major Canadian geological formations—the Canadian Shield and the St. Lawrence Lowlands. Gatineau Park offers activities in every season. General admission to the park is free, but a Gatineau Park Cross-Country Ski Pass is required to ski on the trails in the winter months.
For the most part, dogs must be kept on a leash in downtown Ottawa. But the outskirts of the city offer several freedom-friendly options. In the city’s south end, you can visit Conroy Pit, which is commonly referred to by dog owners as “Doggie Disneyland.” Part of the Greenbelt’s Pine Grove trail, Conroy Pit is where Ottawa’s furry friends like to meet. And the best part? It is legal to be off the leash! On any given day, you’ll find many dogs running freely and playing together. Closer to the city’s west end is Bruce Pit, which is also known as “Ottawa’s premier dog park.” Bruce Pit is the largest dog park in the city, offering several acres of forested land and many hiking trails. Like Conroy Pit, Bruce Pit is a legal off-leash dog park that even comes with its own photo gallery! And if you’re looking for a smaller, less busy park, Ottawa has many other options.
If you feel like doing a little more shopping with your dog, visit the Glebe neighbourhood. The Glebe is one of Ottawa’s older communities, located geographically within the boundaries of the Queensway (Highway 417) to the north, the Rideau Canal to the east and south, and Bronson Avenue to the west. When exploring the Glebe neighbourhood, make sure to stop in at Wag, an upscale dog shop and home of the Doggin’ It Cafe, both located on Bank Street. The Doggin’ It Cafe is Ottawa’s first pet-friendly café! Enjoy a cup of coffee and catch up on emails with the café’s free wi-fi, while Fido enjoys a treat from the “treat menu.” This establishment is very dog-friendly, allowing you to take your dog in with you or to tie him outside. You can also visit Global Pet Foods on Bank Street, a family-owned and operated store, which offers holistic pet foods, supplements and quality accessories for dogs, cats, small animals and birds. This community as a whole is pet-friendly, with many businesses offering a fresh bowl of water to rehydrate your pet during the warmer months!
In Nepean, Ontario, located just outside of Ottawa’s downtown core, Greenhawk Harness & Equestrian Supplies is worth a visit! This tack shop caters to Ottawa’s equestrian crowd, but features a dog product section that offers a wide selection of toys, supplements, treats and Greenhawk’s popular winter dog coats. You can leash your dog and take him in with you, where he will be greeted by the friendly staff, who usually have treats in hand. Greenhawk also has a resident golden retriever named Lexus, who likes to greet customers as they come in! And about a 20-minute drive from the downtown core, located in Kanata, Ontario, is Bark & Fitz, another upscale pet supply store offering natural pet foods and products.