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Everything you need to know about owning a dog in Vancouver

From where to live, walk, shop and relax with your dog - we've covered it all in this handy guide.

Photo | @ms.moxyroxy

Full of ancient rainforests, towering mountains with alpine lakes and gloriously sandy beaches, it's no wonder that Vancouver is dog owner's paradise.

Canadians are known for being big pet lovers, so where else to live but one of the most beautiful places on earth?

If you're moving from another province, or even from another country, there will definitely be some rule changes when it comes to your pup that you'll need to take into consideration before you make your move.

We've covered everything from where you can take your dog to run, swim, play and even shop with you, as well as touching on the bylaws for the City of Vancouver.

Choosing a place to call home

First things first, you might already know where you want to live depending on where your work or family are located, but if you and your dog are obsessed with lengthy hikes for example, looking for a home in the North Shore or with close accessibility to the mountains and nature will be the place for you.

Living in Downtown Vancouver or the West End has it's own draws, but for those who need to commute in and out by car for adventures, it can be a real drag - especially when lots of buildings don't provide their own parking and street options are limited.

You also might have more of an anxious pet, so taking into consideration how busy an area is in terms of both foot and car traffic is a good start to ensure your pup feels relaxed and stress-free in their neighbourhood.

Getting to know the rules

It's the most boring part, but it's also the most important element when moving to a new city to ensure that you and your pup are safe and meet the guidelines set in the city's bylaws.

First off, if you want to own a dog, it has to be registered with the City - and you’ll have to stump up an annual dog license fee of $45.

Although this might seem odd to new dog owners or those moving from another place in the world, registering your dog is all about public safety, for example, if there has been multiple incidents with a certain dog, or if the dog gets lost, it can be reunited with it's owner by city staff.

There are some other rules too - like that you can't keep or own more than 3 dogs, a dog on heat has to be kept inside (although city officials told OMD! that owners should use their common sense when it came to this point) and your dog's leash can't be more than 2.5m long - who knew?

Each district has their own set of rules, so make sure that wherever you settle down, you look those up first.

Where you can walk your dog

Vancouverites love their dogs, and they love being outdoors, so it makes sense that the city has plenty of dog parks to accommodate all the furry citizens of Vancouver.

Several popular Vancouver beaches have their own off-leash parks for pups to enjoy the sand in, like Spanish Banks or Kitsilano's Hadden Park, so pups can run, play and swim to their heart's content while owners can kick back against a log in the sunshine.

But if you have a dog who's recall isn't quite there yet, the city also has plenty of enclosed off-leash areas so you can have the added comfort of knowing they can't run off into a road or away after a squirrel.

Trout Lake in East Vancouver, Queen Elizabeth Park in Mount Pleasant and Charleson Dog Park in Fairview are also great spots to hit up with your pup, along with several of OMD!'s favourites in Vancouver.

And remember, even if there aren't written rules for how to behave at dog parks, we've put together some simple dog park etiquette guidance to ensure both you and your pup are happy to go back for fun time and again.

The best hiking spots

Vancouver is known for it's beautiful trails and stunning mountain views, and who better to enjoy them with than your furry-best friend?

If your pup loves the great outdoors as much you do, Vancouver has some amazing dog-friendly hikes on offer - and there's even some that allow your dog to roam free and let off some steam.

St Mark's Summit, the Baden Powell trail and Dog Mountain are just a tiny handful of destinations you can go with your pup for an adventure near the city.

And having such beautiful coastal and rainforest backdrops, Vancouver's hikes are known for being Insta-worthy - with places like Eagle Bluffs, Jug Island and Pacific Spirit Regional Park being at the top of every dog influencer's hiking list.

When the seasons change and it gets a little cooler, there are still some fantastic hikes to challenge yourself and your pup with that take safety into mind too.

For fall adventures, Golden Ears Provincial Park, Burnaby Mountain and Mount Strachan are great places to enjoy crispy leaves, chilled air and bright, beautiful autumnal trees.

When the snow sets in, these lower level hikes are suitable for any age and ability - for both dogs and their humans.

Don't forget to bring along these outdoor essentials for four-legged hikers!

Bringing your pet along to patios

Although dogs aren't allowed inside premises where food is being prepared or served, as per B.C. Public Health regulations, many Vancouver businesses take pride in being inclusive of our four-legged friends and have outside seating areas with space to keep your pup close to you.

Le Marché St. George, Black Kettle Brewing Company, The Arbor, Bridges and Local are several of the cafes, breweries and restaurants in the city that allow your pet to dine with you (or close to you).

There's also plenty of plant-based restaurants like MeeT on Main, Kokomo and The Cider House which cater to vegetarian and vegan diets, all while allowing your pooch to dine in the sunshine with you.

To find more dog-friendly businesses, check out the map in the PawSwap app.

Shopping with your pooch

Whether shopping is fun or stressful for you, it's good to know that in some stores, you can bring along your four-legged buddy with you to help make the experience just that bit better.

Whether it's homeware, skincare, books or even houseplants, whatever you're shopping for in Vancouver, there are options that always welcome your four-legged besties to come inside with you.

In fact, some Vancouver stores are so pleased to see your pups that they keep treats on hand, with some even offering dog owners free items simply for bringing their pups along - as long as they have downloaded the PawSwap app.

Check out 12 of OMD!'s favourite dog-friendly stores here, and sign up to the app to find even more dog-friendly businesses in your area!


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