Toronto: 2.8 million people. More than 230,000 dogs. With so many people who love dogs and many others who don’t, here’s how we can all work together to live in harmony:
The City has Green Bins for organic waste in all dog off-leash areas in parks, other select locations in parks and a few street litter bins that accept dog waste across the city.
Dogs must remain leashed in public, unless in designated dogs off-leash areas. Your dog must be kept on a leash no more than two metres long. You must be holding on to the leash; leashing your dog to a pole or bike rack is not allowed. You can be fined $365 if your dog is off-leash.
Learn more about the requirement to keep dogs on leash. You can also find dogs off-leash areas in your neighbourhood and view amenities, such as small dog designation, fenced, availability for use by commercial dog walkers.
Pick up after your dog on private and public property. The City has Green Bins for organic waste in all dog off-leash areas in parks, other select locations in parks and a few street litter bins that accept dog waste across the city.
Bag and dispose of dog waste in Green Bins if available. Any bag can be used as the bags are removed at City organics processing facilities. In parks that do not have a Green Bin, dispose of dog waste in garbage bins or take it home to dispose of in your own Green Bin.
Dogs go missing every day and a licence helps to bring them home. The licence must be renewed yearly and the licence tag must be worn. When you pet is licensed you automatically become a BluePaw member and receive exclusive offers and discounts on pet-related products and services.
The maximum numbers of pets that you can own is six cats and three dogs. You cannot walk more than three dogs at once anywhere in the city, including sidewalks and parks, without a commercial dog walker’s permit.
If you are tying up your dog on your own property, there is a time limit of one hour. The tether used to tie your dog must be more than three metres long. You cannot use a choke collar, choke chain or pronged collar for your dog at any time. Martingale collars, which are consider a humane choke collar are still permitted.
Your dog must be protected from the cold and heat. Leaving your dog in the yard without shade or water in the summer and adequate shelter in the winter is risking your dog’s life.
The Noise Bylaw prohibits persistent barking, whining or other animal-related noise in a residential area. Respect your neighbours and make sure your dog isn’t disturbing others.
If you have a problem with a noisy animal in your neighbourhood, consider speaking with the owner first. If this approach does not work, call 311. If the animal owner does not fix the issue, officers can issue notices of violation, written warnings, and may lay charges.
As a dog owner you should exercise reasonable precautions to prevent your dog from engaging in a dangerous act. A dangerous act is defined as any bite, attack, act of menacing behaviour or any combination of a bite, attack or act of menacing behaviour.
The Province of Ontario’s Dog Owners’ Liability Act (DOLA) is legislation that governs dogs, including pit bulls, intended to increase public safety. If you are found guilty of an offence under DOLA, a court could issue a control order, fine or a destruction order for the dog.
Owning a pet is a long-term commitment. Although the following are not requirements of the Animals Bylaw, the City encourages following these steps to make sure that you have the best experience possible with your dog.
Spaying and neutering prevents and reduces a number of serious and expensive health problems, unwanted behaviour related to mating and prevents pet overpopulation.
The City’s Chip Truck offers a microchip, rabies vaccine and a pet licence for $35. If your pet has a current City of Toronto licence, the cost of your microchip is $10. No appointment is necessary.
Walk your dog often and on a leash (no longer than two metres). If you would like to give your dog additional exercise, consider visiting one of the City’s dogs off-leash area. Learn more about what you need to know to use dogs off-leash areas.
Dog owners should respect the natural environment in parks and trails. Dogs should be allowed off-leash only in designated dogs off-leash areas so that they don’t trample or endanger plant material and other park resources. Dogs should not chase wildlife.
Keep your dog’s vaccinations up-to-date and visit a vet yearly for a check-up.
Your dog probably loves summer, and for good reason! Here are some helpful tips so you both can enjoy the season safely.
Leaving your pet in a hot car for even a short period of time can be very dangerous. Even with all windows cracked, the temperature of a car’s interior can quickly rise to deadly levels. Shade offers little protection on a hot day and moves with the sun.
Remember, dogs do not sweat the way we do. They cannot cool their bodies in hot temperatures. When overheated, they can go into shock, leading to irreversible organ failure and death. Young, old, overweight dogs and breeds with short muzzles are most at risk of overheating.
If you see a dog unattended in a parked car, call 311 and stand by the car until help arrives.
Make sure your pets are protected from fleas and ticks from June to September. Talk to your vet about the best flea and tick prevention product to meet your dog’s needs.
Your dog also may be allergic to one or more seasonal items, including grass, plants and mold. If you think your dog has allergies, is scratching and maybe even losing fur, be sure to visit your vet.
Always keep your dog hydrated. Provide lots of cool, clean, fresh water. During a long walk, take breaks and look for water for your dog. Even better, carry a water bowl with you.
Try to exercise your dog during the coolest parts of the day (dawn and dusk). In summer, asphalt on sidewalks and streets can become so hot that they can burn a dog’s paws.
Winter is a fun season, but can present some hazards for your dog. Here are some helpful tips so you both can enjoy the season safely.
Number one tip: if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside or walks short when possible.
Remember never to shave your dog down to the skin in winter; longer coats provide more warmth. If your dog is short-haired, think about getting a warm sweater or coat that covers from tail to belly.
Before going outside, put booties on dogs to protect paws from salt and ice. Or try massaging a protectant into paw pads, and bring a towel on long walks to clean off any irritated paws.
The City works to reduce the environmental impacts of road salt use as much as possible by actively managing salt use. Learn more about the City’s salt management plan.
After walks, wash and dry your dog’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals, and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can give them dry, flaky skin.
Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm. Talk to your veterinarian to see if your dog needs extra food during the cold weather months.
Remember that antifreeze is a lethal poison for your pet. When possible, consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Always clean up any spills from your vehicle.
Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. Think cozy dog bed.
Your dog should be sheltered inside your home if at all possible. Dogs kept outside may be unintentionally exposed to bitter cold temperatures in the winter and scorching heat in the summer.
To protect your dog from harsh weather, provide a well-constructed dog house. Proper outdoor shelter for dogs must meet the following standards:
The shelter must be well constructed, have a roof, enclosed sides, a doorway and a solid level floor raised at least two inches from the ground. There should be no cracks or openings other than the entrance. The shelter must be insulated. Rainproof openings for ventilation are required in hot weather.
Protected and weather proof entrance: the entryway must be protected by a self-closing door, an offset outer door, or covered by a flexible flap.
Bedding: a sufficient amount of dry bedding such as cedar shavings or straw must be provided to protect against cold and dampness. The bedding should be changed weekly to prevent mold and to keep the doghouse sanitary.
The shelter should be small enough to allow a dog to warm the interior of the structure and maintain body heat, but must be large enough for the dog to stand up, turn around comfortably and lie down.
The shelter should be placed where it will be adequately shaded in the hot weather and have the best protection from the wind in cold weather. In addition ensure your dog has:
If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them inside quickly because they may be showing signs of hypothermia.
Frostbite is harder to detect and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.
If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog, report the bite or attack to Toronto Public Health (call 416-338-7600) and Toronto Animal Services (call 311) as soon as possible. If you are transported to the hospital, report the bite or attack to Toronto Public Health and Toronto Animal Services as soon as possible after treatment is complete.
If your pet has been bitten or attacked by a dog, report the bite or attack to Toronto Animal Services (call 311) as soon as possible.
If your pet has been bitten or attacked by a dog, report the bite or attack to Toronto Animal Services (call 311) as soon as possible.
Depending on the details of the incident, Toronto Public Health may:
Once Toronto Animal Services receives information about a dog that has committed a dangerous act, the following happens:
Staff from Toronto Animal Services will walk you through the process after you’ve had a negative encounter with a dog. An officer will:
The officer will consolidate all evidence as part of the investigation.
If it’s determined that the dog committed a dangerous act, one of the following actions will be taken:
When the dangerous act is the first on record with the City, an officer will examine all of the circumstances of the specific dangerous act when determining if the dangerous act is severe.
There are a number of bite levels available to help determine the severity of the dog bite or dangerous act. Depending on the circumstances, an officer may use one or more of these bite levels to determine the severity of the bite or attack, as required by the Animals Bylaw. Any dangerous act at Level 3 or above will generally be considered severe.
Download a tip sheet about Canine Bite Levels by Dr. Sophia Yin.
During an investigation into a dangerous act, an officer will consider whether the dog was acting in self-defence at the time of the dangerous act. If the officer determines the dog was acting in self-defence, the officer may determine that the dog is not a dangerous dog.
When determining if a dog was acting in self-defence, the officer will consider whether:
The Dangerous Dog Review Tribunal is a local five-member board of the City of Toronto. The Tribunal was established under the authority of the City of Toronto Act and is conducted in accordance with the Statutory Powers Procedure Act. The chair and two panel members are present during a hearing. The panel listens to appeals of dangerous dog orders issued under section 15.1 of the Animals Bylaw. Download a brochure on the Dangerous Dog Review Tribunal.
The owner of a dog who is issued a dangerous dog order may request a hearing to appeal the order. The owner must submit an appeal as required by the Animals Bylaw.
A request for a hearing must be in writing and be mailed or delivered to the address that is listed on the order within 30 days of the issuance of the dangerous dog order. Owners must submit the applicable appeal fee and their written request must include:
Although a request for a hearing may be made, the order to comply (requirements) take effect once the order is served and remain in effect until a hearing is held, and the Tribunal decides if the designation of a dangerous dog is confirmed or rescinded.
The Tribunal will determine the following:
The Tribunal has the authority to confirm the determination of a dangerous dog and uphold the dangerous dog order or rescind it and exempt the owner from all requirements of the order. The Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to exempt an owner from some or part of the requirements on a dangerous dog order.
The grounds of appeal are limited and the dog’s behaviour after the act is not considered during the appeal process.
At an appeal hearing, both the dog owner and the City are welcome to present evidence. All documents and evidence must be disclosed to the other party and Tribunal no later than 14 days prior to the hearing. If a party fails to disclose a document or discloses it late, the Tribunal may disallow the document from being entered into evidence.
Hearings before the Tribunal are public and documents provided to the Tribunal will be made available upon request.
The Tribunal may provide their decision at the time of the hearing, but is more likely to provide a written decision within 15 days of the hearing to both the dog owner and the City. The City will provide a copy of this written decision to the victim or victim dog owner.
The fee to appeal a Dangerous Dog Order can be found in Chapter 441, Appendix C. Effective May 6, 2021, the appeal fee is to be reduced by 50% where the resident meets ALL of the criteria set out below. The applicant must:
Learn more about the Dangerous Dog Review Tribunal.
Need to make a complaint about the Tribunal process? Visit Municipal Licensing & Standards – Complaints & Compliments.