Are you interested in a career as a professional dog walker? Are you wondering how to make money walking dogs in Canada?
If so, you’re in the right place! Dog walking can be an incredibly fun side hustle. Dog walkers with bigger goals can also turn pet sitting and dog walking into a full-time business.
Below, I’ll share some of the best dog-walking apps you can use to get started, answer a few commonly asked questions about the dog-walking business, and outline the steps you’ll need to take if you want to turn this side hustle into an official business.
Let’s take a walk!
The Dog-Walking Business: Perfect For Dog Lovers
Around 58% of Canadian households have at least one dog or cat, according to a 2020 survey published by the Canadian Animal Health Society. The survey also revealed that Canada’s dog population currently sits at around 7.7 million, which means that there’s no shortage of dogs that need to be walked!
Dog walking is where most people start. However, dog walkers may also be offered related jobs, including:
- Pet-sitting (dogs, cats, or even exotic animals)
- Dog exercise (using a dog treadmill or running/playing fetch with dogs)
- Feeding or administering medication to pets
- Grooming or related pet care
- Dog training
If you’re reading this, chances are that you own a dog yourself. Perhaps you’ve even volunteered to help care for a neighbour or family member’s dog while they’re travelling or out of town.
One of the main challenges faced by dog owners is that it can be hard to travel or take on long work shifts with the responsibility of their pets.
Most veterinarians recommend that dogs should be taken out for a walk or potty break every eight hours or at least three times per day. Senior dogs often need to be taken out up to five times per day.
Those who work long shifts are often more than happy to take their pets out in the morning before work and at night once they get home. However, most dogs will need to be taken out at least once in between.
This is especially true for larger, more active dog breeds, which need consistent daily exercise to maintain a good temper.
If you love dogs, this is the perfect side hustle for you, as you’ll get to spend your whole day being around them. If not, consider checking out my conclusive list of the most satisfying side hustles in Canada.
5 Best Dog-Walking Apps In Canada
If you’re just starting out as a part-time dog walker or want to see if pet-sitting is your cup of tea, your best bet is to sign up with a dog-walking app. This is a great way to get a feel for the industry and meet potential clients who you can build long-term relationships with.
The advantage of using these apps is that they’re well-known and easily accessible by pet owners (who can use them for free). When pet owners are going out of town, feel unwell, or simply have a long work shift planned, they’ll browse through dog walkers and pet sitters in their area.
If they’re happy with your services, they can leave a review and re-book you in the future. Each platform is a bit different. Some charge dog sitters a monthly or annual fee to list their services, while others take a percentage of your earnings.
These apps often handle payment processing as well, which can prevent you from getting stiffed by dishonest clients.
1. Rover App
- Get Started: Rover.com
- Listing Fees: $35 sign-up fee, 20% of earnings
The Rover app serves as a convenient platform connecting dog walkers and pet sitters with pet owners. Rover is, by far, the most popular dog-walking and pet-sitting app in Canada, which can increase your likelihood of finding clients and getting jobs.
Through the app, you can send updates, photos, and even GPS-tracked maps of walks to pet owners using the Rover Card feature. This is a great way to build trust and credibility with your clients.
As a dog walker or pet sitter, you can create a profile, set your rates, and offer various services like dog walking, overnight care, or house sitting. When you sign up as a service provider, you’ll be charged a $35 account review fee to ensure that your listing is legitimate.
Once your account is approved, you’ll be matched with local pet owners needing your services. Rover handles all payment processing, which makes the process safe and easy. Rover takes a 20% cut of your earnings in exchange for its services, allowing you to take the remaining 80% home.
2. Spot Dog-Walking App
- Get Started: Spotdogwalkers.com
- Listing Fees: No listing fee, as you’ll be paid a set fee based on walking time
If you’re brand-new and unsure of how to price your services, consider signing up with the Spot Dog-Walking platform.
Unlike Rover, which allows dog walkers to set their own prices and offer multiple services, Spot treats registered walkers as employees and offer a set price depending on how long you walk dogs for.
Here is the average payment structure, according to the Spot Dog Walking website:
- 15-minute walk – $11
- 30-minute walk – $13
- 45-minute walk – $15
- 1-hour walk – $17
- $3 for each additional dog
Spot dog walkers can also earn bonus payments for last-minute walks or if they’re required to commute through heavy-traffic areas.
3. Petbacker App
- Get Started: Petbacker.com
- Listing Fees: No sign-up fee, the app takes 15-25% of earnings
Petbacker is available in over 20 countries, which makes it a great platform for digital nomads and backpackers who are travelling and looking to earn some extra cash. It’s 100% free to sign up as a service provider with Petbacker.
Once you sign up, you can set your own rates, providing that they’re reasonable. Petbacker will then take 15-25% of your earnings, depending on how long you’ve been on the platform and how many jobs you’ve successfully completed.
Petbacker has a very strict operating policy, and your account can get suspended if you’re suspected of using other dog-walking apps or requesting payment outside of the app. For example, if you only charge $1 for a dog walk, Petbacker will assume that you’re likely trying to solicit a cash payment from your clients.
That being said, you’re free to accept any tips you receive.
- Related Reading: How tips are taxed in Canada
4. Pawshake App
- Get Started: en.Pawshake.ca
- Listing Fees: Pawshake takes an average of 19% of your earnings
The Pawshake app serves as a connecting platform between pet parents and local pet carers, providing an alternative to conventional dog kennels or pet hotels.
Dog walkers and pet sitters can register on the platform to offer their services. Once registered, they can provide a variety of services, including home visits, dog walking, house sitting, and overnight dog boarding (keeping pets in their own homes).
Pawshake focuses on creating a family-like atmosphere for pets, offering an opportunity for sitters to personalize their care according to each pet’s needs. Similar to Petbacker, the app is available in over 15 countries, making it a good side hustle for travellers.
- Get Started: Petsitter.com
- Listing Fees: $32 per month for a premium subscription, no percentage of earnings taken
Petsitter.com allows pet sitters and dog walkers to create a profile, list services, and set their own rates. Unlike Rover, Petbacker, and Pawshake, which all take a percentage of your earnings, Petsitter.com does not take any of your earnings.
Instead, the platform makes money from selling its monthly premium subscription service, which is $32.
Technically, pet sitters can sign up for a free limited membership to list their services. However, limited users are only allowed to send/receive one message with clients, which makes it pretty much useless. If you want to have the ability to send and receive multiple messages, you’ll need to sign up for the premium subscription.
The benefit of this platform is that you get to keep 100% of your earnings. However, Petsitter.com doesn’t offer payment processing solutions. This means you’ll need to request and accept payments directly.
To make it easier for your clients, I suggest offering multiple ways for them to pay you or sign up for a card processing service like Square so you can accept credit card payments.
How Many Dog-Walking Services Can You Join?
Technically, you can join as many dog-walking apps as you’d like. However, some platforms (such as Petbacker) have strict policies and may suspend service providers who list their services on multiple apps.
To ensure you’re in the clear, read the policy of your primary dog-walking app before signing up for an additional platform.
Do You Need A Business Licence To Walk Dogs In Canada?
The average dog walker operates as an independent contractor, using popular dog-walking apps like Rover or Spot to find jobs walking dogs. However, some may choose to start their own business and turn it into a full-time career.
Dog walkers typically are not required to obtain a business licence, and most dog-walking apps don’t require pet sitters and dog walkers to provide business information.
Similar to rideshare/delivery apps like Uber, DoorDash, or SkipTheDishes, dog-walking apps will treat you as an independent contractor.
That being said, you should research your local laws and regulations before starting.
Certain towns, cities, and provinces in Canada may require dog walkers to obtain a business license or local permit, depending on the scale of their business or if they’re walking more than one dog.
For example, in Toronto, you’ll need to apply for a commercial dog-walker permit if you want to walk multiple dogs (between four and six dogs) at a time. The cost of the permit is $315 per year.
How To Start A Dog-Walking Business: 5 Easy Steps
So, you want to become a business owner and start accepting dog-walking jobs on your own terms. Although you don’t always need an official business to provide your services, registered dog-walking companies can save more money on taxes, as they’ll be able to claim deductions and other small business tax credits.
Here’s a quick guide to starting your pet-sitting business.
Step 1: Create A Business Plan
While it’s not required, creating a business plan will help you stay organized and is a great opportunity to lay out your short-term and long-term goals, which will keep you on track. Additionally, if you want to scale your business and apply for small business loans, lenders may ask to see a business plan.
Step 2: Get Your Pet Sitting Certification
Obtaining a pet sitting or pet first aid certification improves your credibility and can help you book more jobs. One of the most highly recognized certifications you can start with is the Certification for Professional Pet Sitters (CPPS) offered by Pet Sitters International.
Step 3: Start Your Business
In addition to registering your business with federal and provincial authorities (which you can learn more about here), you should also purchase liability insurance for your dog-walking business.
Accidents can happen at any time, especially when you’re dealing with unpredictable pets. Dogs can escape their leashes, may attack others, or can cause damage to property while under your care.
Without liability insurance, you could be held personally responsible for any damages and could be required to pay for them out of pocket.
Step 4: Sign Up With Dog Walking Apps
If you’re just starting out, consider listing your services on one of the dog-walking/pet-sitting apps that I mentioned above. Just make sure to choose a platform that won’t penalize you or suspend your account for offering your services elsewhere.
Step 5: Create A Website And Market Your Business Online
Once your business is set up, it’s time to start marketing your service so you can find high-quality clients. Having a great website is a must, as it serves as a virtual business card where clients can read more about you, look at your services, and contact you with any questions.
Creating social media pages for your business on key platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn is also a good idea.
The more ways that you offer clients to connect with you, the better!
Conclusion – Do Dog Walkers Get Paid Well?
You can earn a good living if you’re serious about pursuing a career or starting a business walking dogs and caring for pets.
The more experience you have and the more you focus on building long-term relationships with clients, the more you’ll stand to earn. It can be particularly beneficial to target high-end neighbourhoods and cities, where you can offer specialty services and charge more.
Looking for more great business ideas? Keep reading to see my list of the 20 best business ideas to start in Canada!