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Taking Your Pets To National Parks

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Pets are an important part of people's families and it is important that your furry family member is able to enjoy Canada’s National Parks with the rest of the family. However it is important for people to realize that pets can pose a risk to wildlife and wildlife can pose a risk to pets and their owners. Here are a couple of rules and regulations as well as tips to make bringing pets to the park a safer and positive experience for the family, the pet(s) and wildlife.

Pets must be kept under control at all times, this means on a leash. The leash must be no more than 3 metres in length (i.e. no retractable long leashes).

  • This includes while on hikes, in the camp ground(s), in town.
  • Leashes help to protect pets from becoming lost and from wilderness hazards such as other animals’ hazardous piece of terrain and getting into unhealthy plants and foods.
  • Pets must be restrained from approaching or chasing/harassing wildlife.
  • If a pet wanders away from you, they may attack large carnivores such as bears, cougars or wolves and be killed or harmed or they could lead these carnivores back to the rest of the family.

Some national parks such as Banff and Jasper have fenced, off leash areas. Please inquire with the national park you plan on visiting if they have such an area.

There are many sensitive areas within the national parks where pets are prohibited. It is the owner's responsibility to know which areas pets are allowed and which areas pets are not allowed.

For instance, dogs are not permitted in backcountry shelters or on trips with people who are using backcountry shelters. In the winter, dogs are not allowed to accompany parties skiing on machine-groomed or track-set cross-country ski trails. 

If you choose to bring your dog on trails in national parks, dog excrement must be removed or buried to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

It is dangerous to leave your pet in a locked vehicle on a hot day.

When out with your dog, give elk and other ungulates lots of space, especially during spring calving season. Elk can associate your dog with a wolf or a coyote and may attack. To decrease stress on your pet, during wildlife breeding and calving seasons, it may be best not to bring your dog with you on holiday.

It is recommended that pets are not left unattended and tied to an object, even in a campground. The barking of your pet may irritate other campers. If you leave food out for your pet while it is tied up, this food can attract wildlife. Your pet may be attacked by ungulates such as elk and because your pet is tied up it would not have the ability to run away. Pet food must be treated just like human food. It cannot be left out and it must be stored in a bear-proof container, vehicle, or structure.

If an animal follows or approaches your group, gather your group together and try to appear as large as possible.  If your dog is small, pick it up.  For larger dogs, have them close to your side.

Additional information for Alberta National Parks:

National Parks of Canada Domestic Animals Regulations (SOR/98-177)

Jasper National Park Safety and Hazards

Jasper Park Lodge Pet Brochure

Summer Dog Prohibitions in Banff National Park

Winter Dog Prohibitions in Banff National Park

Pets in Elk Island National Park

Pets in Waterton Lakes National Park

Information complements of Jasper and Banff National Park services