Is Dogsview Park (Downsview Dog Park) North York’s Best Designed Dog Park?

As North York’s newest dog park (officially opened November 2020) and in the spirit of passing its first anniversary since it opened, we will be looking at the 2-acre (1.5 acres of usable off-leash space) Dogsview Park located in Downsview Park.

Despite its relatively smaller size, this might be a contender in North York as one of the best-designed dog parks in the area. With a surprising amount of amenities including:

  • A dedicated fenced small dog park
  • A dedicated water supply for humans and dogs
  • Lounge chairs for dog owners
  • Intentionally crated dog park terrain

Don’t let the smaller size deter you from adding this dog park to your next dog park adventure list.

Downsview Dog Park Overview

Here’s a quick summary of the park before we dive into the detailed review:

Hours of Operation: 5:30 AM — 12:00 AM daily

Parking: Free

Main Address: Circuit Path, North York, ON M3K 2B8

Plan for: 20–30 minutes in the off-leash area. Up to 2 hours for an on-leash walk around the circuit path and forest trails

Did you know? Downsview Park officially refers to its dog park as Dogsview Park.

Key Features You’ll Love:

  • Dedicated fenced small dog park
  • Dedicated water supply for dogs (in the main off-leash area)
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Bike Rack nearby
  • Unique multi-mound terrain for uphill and downhill play

May not be ideal for:

  • Large dogs that jump (low fences)
  • Dog owners looking for late evening or early morning visits

Directions to Downview Dog Park

Dogsview Park is a dog park located in the central-southern region of Downsview Park. Regardless of how you arrive or where you park, you’ll need to walk at least several minutes on the circuit path (the main perimeter trail of the park) to make your way towards the dog park.

While this might seem like a con at first, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that because of this, Dogsview Park is located:

  • A peaceful distance from high traffic areas of Downsview Park
  • Offers a great view of the Lake
  • In the winter becomes a great view for watching tobogganers slide down the ‘Mini Mound’ nearby
  • Dogs can play in a less distracting environment

Parking at Downsview Dog Park

Parking is free at Downsview Park.

Only visiting the dog park? I’d recommend parking to the south of Downsview Park. Street parking is free on Downsview Park Blvd (near the townhomes) and gives you the closest access to the dog park. From the street parking, simply walk around the ‘Mini Mound’ to reach the off-leash area.

Planning to explore the rest of Downsview Park? I’d recommend parking at the dedicated parking lot located at 70 Canuck Ave, Toronto, ON.

If you’re visiting on a normal day, the side streets and dedicated Downsview Park parking lot should have more than enough parking space for your visit.

Note: Visiting Downsview Park during a special event? Additional overflow parking lots can be found on Downsview Park’s Map & Directions Page.

9 Key Features of Downsview Dog Park

Here is an in-depth look at all the key features offered at Dogsview Park that you and your dog will love:

1. Dedicated Small Dog Off-Leash Area

The small dog off-leash area is restricted to dogs 20 pounds or less.

Important Note: Both fenced off-leash areas share the same initial double-gated entryway. After entering the main area, there is an additional gate to access to small dog off-leash area two steps away.

The small dog off-leash area takes up about a third of the off-leash play area.

This dedicated area features:

  • Flat woodchip off-leash area
  • Short paved walkways
  • Shade (eventually) — trees are planted inside the dog park. All the trees are still young though will need several years before they mature enough to provide shade — in the next upcoming years, however, there won’t be any shade at the dog park

2. Dedicated water source

There is a dedicated water fountain that serves both humans and dogs. Spouts are human height and dog-bowl height. The foundation is located inside Dogsview park, inside the main off-leash area.

Notes:

  1. Like most other fountains, the dog fountain is not in operation during the winter months (November to April). Some dog owners at Dogsview Park mentioned that the dog fountain was not working last May either. To minimize the gear you’re carrying, I recommend a collapsible silicone bowl with a carabiner that you can attach to your water bottle or your treat pouch. That way you can keep your hands in your pockets during these cooler months!
  2. Visitors using the small dog off-leash area will need to cross into the main off-leash area to access the fountain. There is no dedicated water access in the small dog area or outside the off-leash area.

Related: Etobicoke Valley Dog Park Review — An Off Leash Trail Oasis

3. Multi-terrain

Whoever designed this dog park prioritized fun stimuli for dogs. The off-leash area includes multiple terrains for varied textures and physical abilities including:

  • Multiple grassy mounds for uphill and downhill racing fun (also serves as great hide and seek when playing with other dogs!)
  • Woodchips in the heavy chase & play area
  • Flat grassy areas further back for the relaxed off-leash dog sniffers
  • Concrete hard surface for humans and non-muddy treks

4. Double-gated entryway with extra traffic corral

Dogsview park’s entryway is not only double-gated but also features a corral type of fencing (where you need to walk around fences) to help regulate the inflow and outflow of dogs.

5. Cheerful Red Muskoka Chairs

We aren’t even close to cottage country and yet somehow two cheerful red Muskoka chairs found it’s way into Downsview’s dog park! As a fellow dog owner, I can’t help but rejoice with this decision!

Downsview Park designed this dog park to be a serene and comfortable lounge space for humans too!

6. 3.7KM accessible on-leash trails across 291 acres of multi-use land

As a former Canadian Forces Toronto Base, Downsview Park is a massive parcel of land at 291 acres.

Since this space opened to the public in 1999, this former military base has now transformed into an integrated park with a growing list of family-friendly features including:

  • An apple orchard pavilion
  • 3.7 KM of paved walking trails
  • 162,000sq ft. Indoor Merchant Market and Farmer’s Market (weekends 10:00 Am — 5:00 PM)
  • 485,000 sq ft. multi-purpose sports complex — aka “The Hangar
  • 45 Acres of Forest with woodchip trails
  • 9-acre Storm Water Lake
  • Prairie Land
  • Urban Farms
  • Outdoor urban art
  • Children’s play zone

The 3.7 KM trail also known as the Circuit Path traverse the outer perimeter of the open Downsview Park space. This path along with its growing network of interconnected pathways and forest trails means Downsview Park makes for an excellent on-leash stroll filled with stimulating and enriching sights and sounds for you and your dog to enjoy.

7. Natural division of off-leash space for play and sniffs

The dog park itself has an almost teardrop-like shape. Near the entrance or the ‘base’ of the teardrop, the area is wide and offers multiple mini mounds for a more challenging chase and play.

As you walk further into the dog park, the tapered end becomes flatter and the woodchips make way to grassy landscapes. This grassy area has few dogs and is a great place for more shy dogs to spend some time quality off-leash time sniffing around and working on desensitization activities.

8. Garbage and Recycling bins are located inside the off-leash areas.

9. Bike racks at the off-leash entrance

Dog-owning bikers, this is your sign to visit Downsview Park. Not only can you spend some off-leash time, the dedicated bike racks ensure that your dog can also enjoy some quality off-leash time too before hitting the trails with you again.

Missing Features You Should Know Before Visiting Downsview Dog Park

Here are some features that are missing from Dogsview park that you should know about before visiting:

1. Comfort stations are relatively far away

Plan your washroom usage accordingly. Washrooms are located about a 10 minutes’ walk away at the orchard pavilion.

Flushable washrooms are only available to the public from May to November.

From November to April, the washrooms will be locked. Visitors will only have access to portables at the orchard pavilion.

2. No Additional Lighting

Unfortunately, Dogsview Park does not have floodlights or solar lights. Early morning or late evening play in the off-leash area likely won’t be possible.

The main circuit path has intermittent lighting on the pathways. Parts of the path are not well lit either so I would not recommend Downsview Park as a great park to visit in the dark.

3. Low fences

This is the most frequent complaint mentioned in negative reviews. Downsview Dog Park’s fences are relatively low. Any larger dog or any dog with significant hops can vault these fences with relative ease. On-leash walks around the park may be a better option for these dogs instead.

Reminders When Visiting Downsview Park

When visiting Downsview Park, please remember to:

  1. Keep your dog on a leash while exploring the park outside the designated off-leash areas
  2. Pick up after your dog

Downsview Park rules for dogs include:

  • Keeping your dog on a leash (no longer than 2.4 M or about 7 feet) at all times outside of the designated off-leash area
  • Repairing any holes dug by their dog while in the park

There aren’t any fines that I’ve seen, however, you may be asked to leave the park if you fail to do so.

For dog owners with reactive dogs or those seeking to avoid accidental off-leash encounters please note that you may see off-leash dogs in the following spaces despite the park rules:

  • Atop of The Mound
  • The meadow directly beside the off-leash dog area
  • In the forest trails

Related: Earl Bales Dog Park — An Off-Leash Dog Park with Ski Lift Views in North York

Review of Downsview Dog Park

It was a wet, and icy winter weekend day. Still, despite the weather conditions, there were more than a handful of people that visited Downsview Park.

Most were dog owners strolling through the park around the circuit path.

We loved that Circuit Path’s walkways were wide and well salted. The walkways were so wide there was ample space for dogs to pass by each other with a family of four walking in opposite directions.

We ended up spending almost 3 hours at Downsview park on our first stay. Here’s how we ended up spending our time:

  • 45 min in Dogsview Park (most of the time was solo exploration since there were so few visitors)
  • 1.5 hours exploring the forest grove trails with Limone (we saw an owl and plenty of other winter birds here too!)
  • 30 minutes atop ‘The Mound’
  • 15 minutes exploring parts of the Circuit Path with Limone

Initial Impression of Dogsview Park

Whoever designed Downsview’s dog park made sure to think of design and experience. Unlike most dog parks that are just fenced-in open, flat spaces, this Dogsview Park was intentionally created with mounds of varying sizes and shapes. Paved pathways and designated rest spaces for owners were also thoughtfully incorporated into this park.

We loved that Downsview Dog Park was designed to be a place for dog owners to enjoy, relax, and linger. Considering there were no dogs in the space we lingered here longer than expected!

Forest Grove Trails

If you decide to spend some time walking and exploring the rest of Downsview Park, we highly recommend the Forest Trails north of the dog park.

For many urban dogs, an additional on-leash trail walk through a woodchipped forested network of trails is highly stimulating and rewarding.

This urban forest also has an active birding community. On our second visit, we saw an owl and several species of birds!

The Mound

Yep. That’s the official name for the big hill near the forest trails according to the Downsview Park Map. If you can make it up without slipping, the Mound is a great place to enjoy a scenic view of the park and its neighbouring area. From here, you can even spot the Wilson Yard, the largest TTC subway yard and bus garage!

Seasonal Details

When I write my dog park reviews, I try to include seasonal details — even if I’ve only visited the dog park location a few times. I refer to Google Reviews for some additional seasonal information if I’ve only visited a few times to fill out the other seasonal information as much as possible.

If you have any tips or additional comments, feel free to send me an email, message me on Twitter, or slide me a DM on Instagram!

Here are some key points to note depending on which season you are visiting this dog park.

Spring — You may want to avoid visiting Downsview Dog Park’s main off-leash area during Spring. Muddy pools form at the bottom of the mounds at the dog park and the mounds themselves become quite slippery thanks to the mud. Guaranteed a wet and muddy dog if you do decide to visit during the spring!

Summer — N/A overall a great time for dogs and dog-owners alike. Once the trees have matured in the dog park, this will be a great shaded area as well.

Fall — You may want to bring a towel — much like spring the park can become a bit muddy — especially around the mound areas, but there will be less water pooling than spring / early winter.

Winter — From personal experience, late winter and warmer winter days will result in ice around the paved walkways in the dog park. Unlike the circuit path, the walkways inside the dog park are not salted so it can get quite slippery. Please be careful when using the dog park’s paved areas! The woodchipped areas however are great! I’d also recommend a towel to wipe away the salt and mud afterwards too.

What other reviewers are saying

Despite it being a relatively new off-leash dog park (opened September 2020), Downsview Dog Park / Dogsview Park has received an overwhelmingly positive review on Google Reviews. With 96 reviews and an average of 4.8 stars out of 5, this is another great dog park that dog owners should visit.

Here are the recurring positive comments:

  • Peaceful and quiet
  • Great view
  • Very Clean
  • Nearby bike racks

In terms of negative or low-rated reviews, this is what most dissatisfied visitors have to say:

  • Drainage issues in parts of the park
  • Small dog park — especially after you subtract the fenced-off space for the trees and small off-leash dog area
  • Low fencing

Related: Cedarvale Dog Park — A hidden gem nestled in midtown Toronto

Downsview Dog Park Summary

Although a bit on the smaller end, Dogsview Park is one of the newest and better-designed off-leash dog parks in Toronto.

This dog park is a great fit for most small and medium-sized dogs.

Owners of larger dogs may find the off-leash area to be a bit *too* small and the fences a bit *too* low, but Downsview Park as a whole makes up for that with its wide array of terrain, trails, urban sights, and garden spaces.

Thanks to its location in the vast Downsview Park, its discreet central location within the park, this Dogsview Park makes for a serene, quiet and enjoyable visit for most dog owners and dogs.

Downsview Park offers many things that Toronto dog owners are looking for including:

  • Free parking
  • Dedicated and fenced small dog off-leash area
  • Additional on-leash park space
  • A cheerful and inviting ambiance
  • Massive space great for on-leash walks

For Toronto dog owners that have a car, this is well worth a visit if you’re looking for a more serene space to spend some time with your dog.

What We Always Bring With Us to Dog Parks

We prefer to bring silicone collapsible water bowls with us instead of specialized dog water bottles. Why? Limone drinks more water than most dog water bottles can carry. We save ourselves from carrying extra bottles by carrying an extra-large water bottle with us and pouring water into the bowl instead.

Dog Waste Bags. Standard item to always have with you whenever you’re out with your dog. We get ours from Costco — Poops! 720 count + 1 dispenser option for CAD 21. If you were to buy the same amount from Walmart, Homesense, or other pet specialty stores, it can easily run you past CAD 40 for a similar quantity. Get it from Costco! You won’t regret the $$$ savings!

Dog Treats. This is a given — we don’t have any favourites yet but we tend to carry a couple of handfuls of treats with us to call her back or coax her to come back home with us.

Dog Treat Pouch. I admittedly did more research than I cared for before settling on this dog treat pouch. Out of all the dog treat pouches on Amazon I settled with this one because:

  • It can carry 2 rolls of poop bags — one on the side and one in the back, so even if I run out from the first roll I’ll always have a backup handy (technically you’re supposed to use the back hidden pocket to store your phone since it has a headphone hole but… I don’t use it that way)
  • It has a mesh outer bag for small quick-grab items like my clicker.
  • A deep front zipper pocket to store my keys and phone (it’s deep enough for my Pixel 3!)
  • A massive treat/toy pouch with a full drawstring. Some may hate it but I LOVE the neon green lining. Every treat stands out against the neo green lining make it very easy for your to look for specific treats. Also this pocket is massive enough to carry a small toy with you too
  • You can wear it multiple ways — the bag comes with a long strap and accessories so that you can wear it however you’d like. With the clip, you can waer it directly on the side of your pants. With just the strap, it that can be worn messenger-style (my preferred style), and with the clip + strap, you can wear it like a waist pouch.

What’s on Limone:

Depending on the situation we rotate Limone through various harnesses and collars:

Similarly, we rotate Limone’s leash based on our needs. These are the three leashes we use regularly:

Have a specific dog park you’d like to see reviewed? Let us know in the comments below! We (Limone included) would love to explore new places and share our thoughts with you!

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