How to Start a Dog Walking Business in Ontario: Step-by-Step Guide + Funding Options

In 2022, according to a nationwide survey, there were estimated to be around  7.9 million pet dogs in Canada, as such the demand for pet services such as dog walking has steadily increased over the years.

According to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, the average dog owner spends $276 annually on dog walking services. This presents a significant opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to start their own dog walking business.

Aside from the financial rewards, there are many advantages to starting a dog walking business. Dog walking can be a fun and rewarding experience for both the dog walker and the dog. It can also be a great way to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

Furthermore, starting a dog walking business can provide a flexible schedule and the ability to work from home.

However, starting a new dog walking business also comes with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges can be building a loyal client base in a competitive industry. Additionally, it can be difficult to manage a schedule that accommodates multiple clients and their specific needs.

Furthermore, navigating local and provincial regulations, obtaining necessary licenses and insurance, and hiring and training employees can also be daunting tasks.

Despite the challenges, starting a dog walking business can be a fulfilling and profitable venture for those with a passion for pets and an entrepreneurial spirit.

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to start a dog walking business:

Step 1: Research the Market and Competition

A thorough market research will help you better understand the needs and preferences of your target market, assess the demand for your services, and develop a competitive strategy that sets your dog walking business apart from the competition.

Here’s how you can research the market and competition:

  • Identify your target market: Determine the demographic of your ideal customer. Are they busy professionals, seniors, or families with young children? Knowing your target market will help you develop the right services and pricing.
  • Research the demand for dog walking services: Look for statistics and data on the demand for dog walking services in your area. Check the number of households that own dogs, and how many of them use dog walking services.
  • Study your competition: Look for other dog walking services in your area and their pricing, services, and business model. Identify what makes them successful and how you can differentiate yourself.
  • Conduct surveys and focus groups: Reach out to potential customers in your target market to understand their needs and preferences. Conduct surveys or focus groups to ask about their experience with dog walking services and what they would like to see from a new provider.
  • Attend local events and networking events: Attend local dog events and networking events to meet other dog owners and industry professionals. Use this opportunity to learn more about the market and make valuable connections.
  • Check online reviews: Check online reviews of other dog walking services in your area to get an idea of their reputation and the things customers value most.
  • Analyze pricing: Look at the pricing of other dog walking services in your area to determine the market rate. Determine if you can offer competitive pricing or if you need to differentiate yourself with premium services.

Step 2: Develop Your Services

Determine the types of services you will offer, such as dog walking, dog park visits, and pet sitting. Consider offering different packages, like discounts for multiple walks per week or special rates for longer walks.

To develop your services:

  • Determine the needs of your target market: Understand the needs of your potential customers, including their preferences, concerns, and what they expect from a dog walking service. Consider conducting market research or surveys to gather this information.
  • Identify your unique selling proposition: Determine what makes your business unique and different from competitors. Think about your expertise, specializations, and any added value that you can provide to customers.
  • Define your services: Develop a list of services that you will offer, such as dog walking, pet sitting, dog park visits, or feeding services. Consider offering customizable service packages that cater to different needs and budgets.
  • Determine the service area: Decide the area you will serve, such as a specific neighborhood or city. Determine the radius of the service area and whether you will offer additional services for customers outside of the service area.
  • Develop pricing strategies: Determine the pricing structure for your services. Consider your competition, your target market, and your unique selling proposition when deciding on your pricing strategies. You may want to offer a pricing plan based on the length of walks or number of pets, or package deals for multiple services.
  • Develop customer policies: Develop policies that will guide customer interactions, such as payment policies, cancellation policies, and other guidelines. Consider incorporating policies for emergency situations and special requests.
  • Create service contracts: Create a standard service contract that outlines your services, policies, and pricing. Include detailed descriptions of your services, payment and cancellation policies, and other terms of service.

Step 3: Develop a Business Plan

A business plan helps you identify your goals and priorities for your dog walking business. It provides clarity on the steps you need to take to achieve your objectives and helps you stay focused on what’s important.

Additionally, a well-developed business plan can be essential in securing financing from investors, lenders, or banks.

To develop a business plan:

  • Executive Summary: Start with an overview of your business, including its name, location, and mission statement. Summarize the key elements of your business plan, such as services, pricing, target market, and financial projections.
  • Business Description: Provide a detailed description of your business, including its legal structure, ownership, and management team. Describe the services you will offer, your unique selling proposition, and how your business will stand out in the market.
  • Operations: Describe how you will operate your business, including scheduling, staff management, and customer communication. Outline your hiring and training procedures, and how you will ensure the quality of your services.
  • Financial Projections: Create financial projections for your business, including startup costs, revenue projections, and expenses. Include a profit and loss statement, cash flow analysis, and balance sheet.
  • Conclusion: Summarize your business plan and emphasize why it is a viable business opportunity. Consider including a call to action for investors, partners, or customers.

Step 4: Register Your Business

Registering your business provides legal recognition to your business entity. It makes your business a separate legal entity from its owners, which can provide legal protection and liability protection to the owners.

Registered businesses also have access to various government services and programs, such as funding programs, grants, tax credits, and other forms of assistance.


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    To register your business:

    • Choose a business name: Choose a unique name for your dog walking business that is not already in use by another company. You can check the availability of business names using the Ontario government’s Business Name Search tool.
    • Register your business name: Once you have chosen a business name, you must register it with the Ontario government. You can do this online through the Service Ontario website or by mail.
    • Register for a business number: All businesses in Ontario must register for a business number with the Canada Revenue Agency. This number is used to identify your business for tax purposes. You can register for a business number online or by mail.
    • Register for the Harmonized Sales Tax: If your dog walking business earns more than $30,000 in revenue in a year, you must register for an HST account. This account allows you to collect and remit the HST to the government. You can register for an HST account online or by mail.
    • Obtain necessary licenses and permits: Depending on the location of your dog walking business, you may need to obtain additional licenses and permits. For example, some municipalities require a business license for dog walking services. Check with your local government to see if any additional licenses or permits are required.
    • Obtain insurance: Consider obtaining liability insurance to protect your business in case of accidents or injuries. You may also want to consider bonding insurance, which protects your clients in case of theft or property damage.
    • Register with relevant professional organizations: Consider registering with relevant professional organizations, such as the Professional Dog Walkers Association or the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. Membership in these organizations can provide credibility to your business and access to resources and training.

    Step 5: Create a Website and Social Media Presence

    A professional-looking website and social media accounts can help establish your business as reputable and trustworthy. It can also provide a platform for you to showcase your services, experience, and testimonials from satisfied customers.

    Here’s how your can create an online presence:

    • Choose a domain name: Choose a domain name for your website that is easy to remember and relevant to your business. You can purchase a domain name from a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Namecheap.
    • Choose a website platform: Choose a website platform to build your website, such as WordPress or Squarespace. These platforms offer easy-to-use templates and customizable designs.
    • Design your website: Choose a design that reflects the personality of your business and the needs of your target market. Include information about your services, pricing, service area, and contact information.
    • Optimize your website for search engines: Optimize your website for search engines by including relevant keywords in your content and meta tags. This will help potential customers find your website when searching for dog walking services in your area.
    • Add social media links to your website: Include links to your social media profiles on your website to encourage visitors to follow your business on social media.
    • Choose social media platforms: Choose social media platforms that are relevant to your target market, such as Facebook or Instagram. These platforms offer opportunities to share photos and information about your services.
    • Create social media profiles: Create social media profiles for your business, including profile photos and descriptions that reflect the personality of your business.
    • Develop a social media strategy: Develop a social media strategy that includes posting relevant content, engaging with followers, and using hashtags to reach new audiences.
    • Cross-promote your website and social media profiles: Cross-promote your website and social media profiles to drive traffic to both platforms. Include links to your website on your social media profiles and vice versa.

    Step 6: Network and Advertise

    In a competitive industry like dog walking, it’s important to differentiate yourself from the competition. By networking with other pet-related businesses and promoting your unique selling points, you can stand out and attract more customers.

    Here are some tips:

    • Join local pet-related groups: Join local pet-related groups, such as dog training or pet rescue groups. Attend events and meetings to network with other pet owners and professionals.
    • Attend pet-related events: Attend pet-related events, such as adoption events or dog shows. These events offer opportunities to meet potential clients and promote your business.
    • Offer referral incentives: Offer referral incentives to your current clients, such as a free walk for every new client they refer to your business. Word-of-mouth referrals are a powerful marketing tool in the pet industry.
    • Advertise online: Advertise your business online through social media platforms, Google AdWords, or local online directories. Consider offering a special promotion for first-time clients to encourage them to try your services.
    • Distribute flyers and business cards: Distribute flyers and business cards in areas where pet owners are likely to be, such as local pet stores or veterinary clinics. Make sure your flyers and business cards include all relevant contact information and services offered.
    • Partner with local businesses: Partner with local businesses, such as groomers or pet stores, to cross-promote your services. Offer to distribute their promotional material in exchange for them promoting your business to their customers.
    • Get involved in the community: Get involved in your local community by sponsoring pet-related events or volunteering at local shelters. This can help raise awareness of your business and demonstrate your commitment to the community.

    Step 7: Hire Employees

    If you are starting a small-scale and plan to handle all of the responsibilities yourself, such as advertising, scheduling appointments, walking the dogs, and handling administrative tasks, then you may not need to hire employees.

    Hiring employees can also help you delegate tasks, save time, and increase efficiency.

    It may allow you to take on more clients or take on bigger projects, which can help grow your business:

    • Determine your staffing needs: Determine your staffing needs based on the size of your business, the number of clients you have, and the demand for your services. Consider whether you need part-time or full-time employees.
    • Develop a job description: Develop a job description that outlines the duties and responsibilities of the position, as well as the qualifications required. This can include experience working with dogs, availability, and physical fitness.
    • Post job listings: Post job listings on relevant job boards or social media platforms to attract potential candidates. You can also reach out to local dog training schools or pet-related organizations to find potential candidates.
    • Conduct interviews: Conduct interviews with potential candidates to assess their qualifications, experience, and fit with your business. Consider asking behavioral questions to assess their ability to handle dogs and difficult situations.
    • Check references: Check references to verify the candidate’s qualifications and experience. This can include calling previous employers, checking social media profiles, or contacting personal references.
    • Perform background checks: Perform background checks on potential candidates to ensure they have no criminal history or other red flags.
    • Hire and train employees: Hire the best candidate for the position and provide training on your business policies, procedures, and expectations. Make sure they understand their role and responsibilities, as well as any safety protocols.
    • Set compensation and benefits: Set compensation and benefits for your employees based on the industry standard and your business budget. This can include hourly wages, health benefits, and paid time off.

    Step 8: Provide Exceptional Service

    In a service-based industry like pet care, providing excellent service is even more critical because it directly impacts the well-being of your clients’ pets. When you consistently provide excellent service, your clients will be more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.

    Word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of advertising, and a good reputation can help you attract new clients.

    Here’s how you can provide exceptional service:

    • Develop a relationship with your clients: Get to know your clients and their dogs by listening to their needs and preferences. This can include their dog’s favorite toys or treats, their walking routine, and any special requests.
    • Communicate clearly and frequently: Communicate with your clients regularly to keep them informed of any changes to their dog’s routine or schedule. This can include updates on their dog’s behavior or any issues that arise during walks.
    • Maintain a high level of professionalism: Maintain a high level of professionalism by arriving on time for appointments, dressing appropriately, and following all business policies and procedures.
    • Provide exceptional care for their dogs: Provide exceptional care for their dogs by being attentive to their needs and ensuring their safety during walks. This can include bringing water and treats, monitoring their behavior, and being prepared for any emergencies.
    • Be responsive to feedback: Be responsive to feedback from your clients and make changes as necessary to improve their experience. This can include adjusting your schedule or services based on their feedback.
    • Offer additional services: Offer additional services, such as pet sitting or grooming, to meet the needs of your clients and provide a more comprehensive service.
    • Provide a personal touch: Provide a personal touch by sending personalized messages or photos of their dog during walks, or offering special treats or gifts for their dog’s birthday or other special occasions.


    Starting a dog walking business can be a challenging yet rewarding venture for anyone passionate about pets and entrepreneurship. With dedication, hard work, and a passion for pets, you can turn your love of dogs into a thriving business.

    Resources for Dog Walking Business in Ontario

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