OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Humane Society is urging dog owners to continue to practice physical distancing with Fido while visiting off-leash dog parks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The safest approach at a dog park is to keep your dog on-leash and maintain the six foot physical distance from other humans and dogs at the dog park,” says Dr. Shelley Hutchings, Chief Veterinarian at the Ottawa Humane Society.

The City of Ottawa reopened off-leash dog parks on Tuesday as the Ontario Government began to relax the COVID-19 restrictions across the province.

Dr. Hutchings says it is important for your dog to get some exercise during the pandemic, but everyone needs to take precautions.

“Physical distancing recommendations are still in place in our community and people should be aware that physical distancing is a household activity,” said Dr. Hutchings in an interview with CTV News Ottawa.

“Just like we are physically distancing our self, pets should be physically distanced as well from other people and animals outside a household. This can pose a challenge in an off-leash dog park scenario.”

Dr. Hutchings says the “safest approach” for you and your pet is to keep your pet on a leash while visiting dog parks.

Dr. Hutchings notes that health officials are still learning about the role of pets in the transmission of COVID-19, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends physically distancing your pet from others outside your household as a cautious approach to keep them safe.

The Ottawa Humane Society recommends if you want to attend an off-leash dog area to get your dog some exercise, consider visiting at a time when no other pets are present.

“It’s very important for the health and welfare of dogs to get out, have outdoor activity and regular exercise. Those activities really promote the human-animal bond,” says Dr. Hutchings.

“It’s certainly a very safe thing to be able to take your dog out for a walk on leash, just keep that physical distancing from other humans and other animals while you’re out with your dog.”