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Special Notice - Plan ahead, check for closures, and hike responsibly. See hiking safety tips

Dogs on the Trail

Hiking with your dog can be a wonderful way to explore the outdoors. As a pet owner and trail user, you a have a few extra responsibilities to the Bruce Trail, its environment and fellow users.

3 Main Guidelines for Dogs on the Bruce Trail

  1. Know where dogs are allowed & respect all signage.
  2. Keep your dog on a leash.
  3. Pack out your dog’s waste.

These guidelines, and a few more, are outlined below.

Please keep these tips in mind so you can have a "pawsitive" experience with your pet on the Bruce Trail.


1. Know where dogs are allowed.  See no-dog zones >

Dogs on leashes are allowed on most parts of the Bruce Trail. However, in a handful of areas dogs are prohibited at the request of the landowner.

2. Make sure your dog is ready & be prepared

Consider the difficulty of the hike and the age, ability and experience of your dog. Some hikes may involve stiles (set of steps for getting over fences), or ladders, or other difficult terrain.

Pack food, water, and accessories that will keep your dog energized, hydrated, and comfortable. Don’t forget your dog waste bags, and a towel for post-hike cleaning.


3. Keep your dog on leash

Keeping your dog on a leash on the Bruce Trail, even if they’re off-leash trained, is important for a few reasons:

  • Your Dog’s Safety:
    Natural dangers exist along the Trail including steep drops, ledges, noxious plants, and wildlife (including skunks and coyotes).
  • Safety and Comfort of Fellow Hikers & Fellow Dogs:
    Not all Bruce Trail users are comfortable with dogs. And not all dogs are friendly with other dogs.
  • Wildlife Considerations:
    Off-leash dogs can harass and injure native wildlife. Even a non-contact chase can cause a bird or animal to waste vital energy needed for breeding or foraging. 
    Off-leash dogs can be attacked by startled or predatory animals. Rabies, Giardia, distemper and parvovirus can be contracted from encounters with wildlife.
  • Private Landowner Considerations:
    Dogs wandering on private land along the Bruce Trail can lead to strained relations between landowners and the Bruce Trail Conservancy. It can even result in parts of the Trail closing permanently if landowners no longer wish to host the Trail.
    Respect all signage. Some landowners – especially those with cattle or with dogs of their own – have specifically requested that dogs be leashed or prohibited on the Trail through their land.
  • It’s the law in several places:
    In most parks and conservation areas through which the Bruce Trail passes, dogs are required to be leashed at all times.

Check out our new BTC dog leash for all our canine Bruce Trail fans!

4. Pack out your dog’s waste

Dog waste is more than a nuisance to hikers on the Trail: it also causes water quality issues and negative health effects for humans and wildlife. Please pick up and pack out all dog waste.

  • Don't leave poop bags on the Trail or at the trailhead.
    Carry your dog waste with you, even if you are hiking out and back on a particular segment.
    Use a smell-resistant container like an old Pringles can, or let your dog carry it out in her own backpack.
  • Don't flick dog poop into the forest. Remember, dog poop:
      -  Contains pathogens, parasites, and medications that are not a natural part of Niagara Escarpment ecosystems.
      -  Is carried by rainwater and snowmelt directly into waterways, where it causes bacterial contamination.
      -  Is nitrogen-rich so it depletes oxygen levels in water and soil, hurting fish and other wildlife.


5. Remove dirt and seeds from paws and fur

Invasive plants and insects can spread to new areas by hitching a ride on fur and paws. Once you finish your hike, carefully inspect your dog’s paws and brush your dog’s fur to remove any dirt, plants, seeds or bugs.

6. Check for ticks

Ticks are active anytime the temperature is 4oC or higher. Check your dog (and all hikers) for ticks after each hike.


Have fun and stay safe on the trails with your dog.