Dog-friendly Toronto, ON: Who Let the Dogs Out? Woof Woofstock Pet Festival!

Victor Chilling at The Chelsea

Victor Chilling at The Chelsea

The minute we entered our 19th floor room at the Chelsea Hotel on Gerrard Street in Toronto, Victor bee-lined for the desk. “Wait a minute,” I yelled as he dragged me in before I could get his leash off.

He’d found it. We’d booked a bring-your-canine-buddy suite (for $35 extra) and waiting in the room was a dog bed, a food and water bowl, and a package of dog treats that Victor likely knew was there before I put the keycard in the door.

The pet-friendly Chelsea Hotel Toronto recently underwent a massive internal facelift and branding revamp. It’s still one of the largest hotels in Canada’s largest city and still the only with a waterslide jutting out two floors above the Yonge Street entrance. There are two pools – one for families (with the slide) and another atrium-style one with adjacent gym for adults. But none for dogs.

Treats from The Chelsea

Treats from The Chelsea

woofstock 2015 dog in tieYet that’s about the only thing not dog friendly here. There’s a remarkably flexible policy – they understand you might need to leave the pet in the room for short stints, so you must leave your cell number at the desk just in case.

To avoid being out long, you can have food delivered to your room, or the Market Garden restaurant on the main floor accepts pick-up orders even for breakfast. In the summer, take the dog with you, sit on a bench and devour tacos from the food truck outside.

This weekend, though, we aren’t here just because Victor enjoys ordering room service and curling up in high-thread-count comforters. (The dog bed was a nice idea though).

We’re here to attend Woofstock, the city’s annual two-day event celebrating all things dog held this year, September 26 and 27, 2015, at Woodbine Beach Park.

Check out the characters we met at Woofstock!

woofstock 2015 pink dog dogtrottingA variety of vendors filled the park, from big-named brands handing out free samples such as Purina, Milkbone, Royal Canine and ProPlan to independent stores, entrepreneurs and inventors selling everything from all-natural treats to newly designed feed bowls to Dead Sea mineral dog shampoo.woofstock 2015 cockapoo

Even Greenpeace was there, taking names and kicking environmental devastation butt. (I can’t wait for the donation requests to come rolling in).

Dog Lovers Days agility and lure courses were also set up along with PawsWay/Purina’s course outside the main grounds.

Two things surprised me though about this event now in its 13th year and fourth location:

First, I simply parked at the Woodbine Beach lot for free. (Yes, free parking in Toronto!)woofstock 2015 bulldog

Second, there were no signs directing people. I asked some questions then followed the parade of canines across the street and into the next green space hoping they were headed to a park full of vendor tents and food trucks complemented by events such as a costume contest and, surprisingly, public dog readings by a pet psychic.

woofstock 2015 almost vic but not dogtrotting.netDon’t judge yet. We booked our appointment for next month. Apparently, Victor is an old soul trapped in a young dog’s body and he’s not as old as I think. I look forward to learning more … Stay tuned. woofstock 2015 little dog


  1. […] Woofstock is promoted as North America’s largest dog festival, so need I say more? Held outside at Woodbine Beach Park, there are vendors, freebies, demonstrations, contests and doggie play areas. Plus, it’s free (in the summer). […]

  2. […] you want to stay closer to downtown, check out the pet-friendly Chelsea Hotel. From either hotel, it’s best to cab it to the Distillery District because parking is […]

  3. […] to Winter Woofstock! (If it seems to come on the heels of Summer Woofstock, you’re right. Thanks to the PanAm Games in Toronto this summer, many events where […]

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