Discover HRM – Sandy Beach Park

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Sandy Beach Park is located on Smith Rd (which is off Hammonds Plain) quite near the highway exit. I had never heard about it before, but with my current searching to discover the places so close to home I came across a blog post mentioning it. An off leash dog area that I hadn’t heard of? Let’s go!

The park starts up near the entrance sign and is considered off leash as soon as you get through the gates. If you’re crippled like me, you can drive (ever so carefully) down to the giant gravelled parking lot at the base of the entrance. At this point is the entrance the the beginning of the trail. 

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During the summer, you can walk this area off leash and then take the left where the off leash section continues. After October 1st, the whole area becomes off leash so we took a tour down to the human beach front and into a small trail at the end which led into the woods. 

Ranger LOVES the woods. It was my first experience letting him off leash with thicker woods nearby. I’m a wimp and the thought of my guy darting off and becoming lost has always kept me to flat uncovered areas that I can see him. That day with no dogs around, I swallowed any concerns and he passed with flying colours. 

Once in the woods, he basically circled in HUGE sweeping passes jumping over felled trees and splashing through the marshy area. 

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Pros

  • large off leash area
  • gravelled trail walkway
  • interesting area
  • close proximity to the city

Cons

  • longer drive from Dartmouth area (but still reasonable at 20 minutes)
  • trail isn’t as long as I would like (the dog section may be longer, but I will need to bring my rubber boots)

I know one con isn’t a lot, but I really enjoyed the place. I’ll be going back again soon and maybe I can look at it from an unbiased eye then. For now, it’s one of my favourite spots. 

Obedience Class #6 – Graduation Day

Today was Ranger’s last obedience class of the first set at this centre. I read through my different blog posts and can see a big difference in him from six weeks ago. We’d already done a basic obedience and knew all the commands previously, but our main goal was to have a dog that could be settled in a group and could maintain focus. 

I couldn’t be happier with how he’s done. Our loose leash walking with other dogs has improved greatly. Our ability to settle down beside me without trying to squirm over to every possible fallen treat or neighbouring dog is now the norm instead of a rare moment. 

The biggest difference though, is his focus. He seems to have reached a point in our training (both at home and away) where training in itself is rewarding. He’s always an attentive dog, but scattered. Now it’s like he gets what learning is. 

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Discover HRM – Silver Sands Beach

At a crisp 6 degrees at lunch time, it was sunny enough to pull me out of the house to find somewhere to explore in HRM with Ranger. The lucky place – Silver Sands Beach.

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The barrier is about 1km long with the ocean on one side and a lake on the other. The waves crashing against the beach followed by it receding through perfectly polished stones present a calm environment. The nice thing about this area is that it’s flat and narrow and long; meaning a dog off leash can be corralled with plenty of time. You know, if you’re one of those people who lets their dog off leash in on leash only spots. You know, if that’s your thing. *shrug*

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The parking is easy to find due to the giant windmill that catches your eye from down the road. If that’s not enough, the oversized moose will give it away. Once parked all you need is to duck around the gate (to prevent vehicles from trying to access) and follow the path down and along the stretch.

Trying to keep Ranger on leash was difficult as the big rocks kept snagging him. He wanted to run, but mountain goat he is not. About 1/3 of the way down is a more gravel/less boulder area and if you remember my earlier comment about being able to see from one end to the other, you’ll understand this is where I let Ranger have some fun.

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I love bringing his Jolly Ball to the beach because it will float, doesn’t hold water and is easy to clean. Ranger loved it here because it bounced and actually made him work for it.

His recall could do with some more work and there were a couple times I feel I needed to call more than necessary. That’s disappoints me, but he gave himself some wiggle room since he did a 180 to visit me when I called him off the trail of something. We had fun, and he spent most of the day lounging.

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Pros:

  • Good visibility to see who is around
  • Different terrain for dog to maneuver
  • Accessible parking

Cons:

  • The rocks are worn smooth making walking difficult
  • The area is narrow meaning that there isn’t a lot of passing room should someone else be there.
  • The large rocks will catch up a dragging line so you either need a short lead, a flexi-leash (which I don’t like) or to let them free…or untangle a million times.

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Beaches

  • Conrad Beach
  • Lawrencetown Beach
  • Rainbow Haven
  • Silver Sands Beach

Discovering HRM, Nova Scotia

Halifax Regional Municipality is a great place to own a dog for many reasons. There are wonderful vets, multiple dog related stores, and a thriving dog sport community. You run into some rentals that won’t allow dogs (or specific breeds) on their properties, but it isn’t impossible to find somewhere.

The biggest reason I love HRM? The trails.

A good dog is a tired dog and no dog (or human) wants to wander around the same place everyday for their walk and never see anything new. Being able to pile into the car and visit a new place (or one that hasn’t been visited in a bit) is a great way to mentally and physically tire your dog.

A couple years ago I used to camp and hike throughout the summer. That slowly fell away, but having Ranger means that I can get back to seeing places in HRM and the Maritimes that I wouldn’t without him.

HRM provides a website with links to their trail systems HERE

I’ve decided to create a list of all the different trails, beaches, parks, dog parks, and other dog friendly places in HRM. Pros, cons, pictures, and description. I’m sure it will be added to continually.

Beaches

  • Conrad Beach
  • Lawrencetown Beach
  • Rainbow Haven
  • Silver Sands Beach
  • Crystal Crescent
  • McCormacks’s Beach (FIsherman’s Cove)
  • Sandy Lake Beach

Parks

  • Laurie Park
  • Oakfield Park
  • Bell Park (Mt Uniacke)
  • Second Lake Provincial Park
  • Taylor Head

Trails

  • Fort Sackville Walkway Bedford/Sackville Connector Greenway
  • Dewolf Park Boardwalk
  • First Lake Glen Slauenwhite Trail
  • Atlantic View Trail
  • Cole Harbour Heritage Park
  • Musquodoboit Trailway
  • Salt Marsh Trail
  • North and South Granite Ridge Trails, Gibraltar Rock, Admiral Lake and Bayer Lake Loop Trail (wilderness)
  • Crowbar Lake Hiking Trail (wilderness)
  • Dartmouth Harbourfront Walkway
  • Portland Lakes Trail
  • Shubie Park Greenway Corridor
  • Chain of Lakes Trail
  • Frog Pond Trail
  • Barrington Street Active Transportation Greenway
  • Halifax Urban Greenway
  • Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk
  • Mainland North Linear Parkway
  • McIntosh Run Community Trail
  • Point Pleasant Park Trails
  • Sir Sanford Fleming Park Trail
  • Beechville Lakeside Timberlea Trail
  • St. Margaret’s Bay Rails to Trails
  • The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail (wilderness)
  • Jack Lake Trails

Dog Parks

  • Shubie Park
  • Seaview Park
  • Point Pleasant Park
  • Hemlock Ravine
  • Dartmouth Commons

I think that’s definitely enough to start with 🙂

Obedience Class #5

Tonight was Ranger’s fifth obedience class. The original trainer is back (taught classes 1 and 2) and there were a lot of missing dogs today. Since these classes are basically a review of things that we’ve already done, I’ve been using them to train focus and a settled mood. As usual we chose a new spot to sit so that we were flanked by two new dogs.

The hardest part of these classes is the monotony of the warm up commands. It’s hard to keep him focused, and quiet, when he’s bored. Splitting up the repetitions of each command seems to keep him a little more on task, but it is still hard.

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After that we did a little work on loose leash walking, but passing another pair with the dogs on either the outside or inside. I am so glad we worked on loose leash walking this weekend haha. Although he did have some interest in the other dog (big chocolate adolescent lab) I was able to keep him on task and his focus was on me…and the hotdogs.

The wobble board and mini teeter were met with the same enthusiasm as the stool; unrestrained and with lots of enthusiasm. The final minutes were spent with each dog trying the tunnel out. Which happens to be Ranger’s favourite agility piece. Which was greeted in true Ranger fashion. God I love my dog.

In other news:

Ranger was measured for his xback harness today and we picked out the royal blue webbing that will be paired with lime green padding. He was good considering we met some “strange” woman in her work’s parking lot who then took out a blue tape measure and proceeded to take a few notes.

I am so excited.

Tired in mind and soul

Entertaining Ranger can sometimes be a full-time job. Giving him a job is very important in maintaining his sanity (and ours).

Today at the pet store I picked up a new toy for Ranger; the Tricky Treat ball. I’ve always looked at them, but couldn’t justify the cost until today when they were on sale for only $10.00!

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Basically, all you do is toss in their regular dog food and they have to roll it, throw it, and smash it around so that the food drops out. You always here the phrase a tired dog is a happy dog, but  that needs to be physically AND mentally tired.

I can take Ranger to the beach for a big off leash run, but if I don’t tire his brain out too he will be ready to go after a short nap. Ranger has plenty of toys to play with, but having to work for his food is a great way for him to be entertained on his own.

Kongs are another great way to provide mental stimulation. They have different sizes and shapes, with a selection of puppy strength ones. My suggestion is to buy the biggest size your dog can comfortably carry. Ranger uses the black version of the standard Kong (red is the regular and black is for the power chewers) and we bought two so that there can always be one frozen and waiting in case of an emergency.

Ranger’s kong contents changes day to day based on if there are any leftovers to throw in or not. I always add a tablespoon of coconut oil for his skin and coat. Topped up with water once it’s filled and frozen. Ranger likes picking it up, throwing it forcefully into the ground and then cleaning up whatever comes out.

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After an hour of working on his ball, I have a quiet sleeping dog whose brain is allowing him to be settled and calm. Once he wakes up, we’ll work on meeting his physical demands.