More and more dog owners today consider their pets an integral part of their family, almost like their children, and refuse to leave them alone while they’re at work. This explains why the global pet sitting market is worth more than $2.5 billion and still growing.
If you’re a true dog lover, you can start your own doggy daycare and grab a share of that market while spending quality time with your furry friends. Demand for doggy daycare is massive, and it’s a simple business to start from home if you have a bit of space. You will, of course, run into challenges, so it’s a good idea to start with the right knowledge.
Thankfully, this step-by-step guide has all the information and insight you need to develop and launch your doggy daycare and put you on the path to puppy-filled prosperity.
Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Pros and cons
Every business has pros and cons that you should consider before deciding if a doggy daycare is right for you.
- Playtime – Dogs are able to interact and play with other dogs
- Exercise Opportunity – Provides physical and mental activities for dogs
- Huge Market – Over 70 million US households own a dog
- Peace of Mind – Gives dog owners peace of mind
- Risk of Injuries – Dogs might get into fights with each other and get hurt
- Stressful environment – Some dogs might find it overwhelming and stressful
Doggy daycare industry trends
Market analyst Grand View Research says the pet sitting market includes daycare services, dog walking, pet transportation, and more.
There’s also an opportunity for the savvy entrepreneur to make real money in the pet tech industry. Research firm Global Market Insights valued the pet tech industry at more than $5 billion in 2021 and expects it to grow a whopping 20% annually through 2028.
Industry size and growth
- Industry size and past growth – Grand View Research values the global pet sitting market at $2.6 billion, with the US contributing more than a third of the revenue.
- Growth forecast – The global market is expected to grow almost 9% annually through 2027.
- Number of businesses – The US has the most doggy daycare facilities in the world at 374 as of October 2021.
Trends and challenges
Trends in doggy daycare industry include:
- Pet humanization culture and return-to-work trend will drive demand for doggy daycare services
- Pet tech, such as smart vests that monitor heart rate and collars with a geo-location device, are increasingly popular
- Use of digital technologies in providing dog owners updates about their pets
Challenges faced by the doggy daycare industry are:
- Risk of bullying, fights, and injuries
- Maintaining the health and safety of dogs
In 2021, US pet owners spent an incredible $126 billion caring for their animals, according to research firm Statista.
- Average consumer spend – Dog owners each spend an average of $228 a year on kennel boarding, according to the latest APPA survey.
- Potential customer base – Nearly 70 million US households own a dog.
- Average prices – Doggy daycare in the US costs $25 per day and $15 per half-day.
What kind of people work in doggy daycare?
- Gender – 94% of animal daycare providers in the US are female, while 6% are male.
- Average level of education – 36% of animal daycare providers have a high school diploma and 25% hold an associate degree.
- Average age – The average age of an employed animal daycare provider in the US is 32 years old.
How much does it cost to start a doggy daycare business?
The startup costs for a doggy daycare range from $3,000 to $15,000. The high end includes renting a facility, so if you start your daycare from home your costs will be much lower.
You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your doggy daycare business. Here’s a list to get you started:
- Crates for holding dogs
- Food and water bowls
- Toys and treats
|Startup Costs||Ballpark Range||Average
|Setting up a business name and corporation||$150 - $200||$175
|Licenses and permits||$100 - $300||$200
|Insurance ||$100 - $300||$200
|Business cards and brochures||$200 - $300||$250
|Website setup||$1,000 - $3,000||$2,000
|Daycare equipment||$1,500 - $5,000||$3,250
|Facility rental||$0 - $6,000||$3,000
|Total||$3,050 - $15,100||$9,075
How much can you earn from a doggy daycare business?
The average price of doggy daycare in the US is $25 per day per dog. If you start your daycare from home, your profit margin should be around 90%.
If you care for five dogs a day, five days a week you’ll bring in over $32,000 in annual revenue. This would mean almost $30,000 in profit, assuming that 90% margin. As your brand gains recognition, you might rent a commercial space and hire staff, reducing your margin to around 40%. If you care for 25 dogs a day, 5 days a week, you’ll have annual revenue of over $160,000 and profit of $65,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry for a doggy daycare. Your biggest challenges will be:
- You need enough space, including outdoor space, to host at your home
- You’ll face competition from established area daycares
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Step 2: Hone Your Idea
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a doggy daycare, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research doggy daycares in your area to examine their products and services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a doggy daycare that watches dogs on evenings, weekends, holidays, or a daycare that offers special grooming services.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry.
This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
You may decide to offer other products or services to increase revenue. You could offer:
- Bathing and grooming
- Dog training
- Overnight boarding
How much should you charge for doggy daycare?
Prices for doggy daycare range from $12 to $38 per day. Once you open a facility outside your home you’ll have costs for rent, overhead, and labor. At that point you should target a profit margin of around 40%.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market will be dog owners, most likely professionals who need daycare during work hours. You can probably find these people on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out a facility. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on Craigslist, Crexi, and Commercial Cafe.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
- Central location accessible via public transport
- Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
- Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
- Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
- The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
- Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
- Including keywords, such as “pet daycare” or “doggy daycare”, boosts SEO
- Choose a name that allows for expansion: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
- Use online tools like the Step by Step business name generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
- Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
- Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
- Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
- Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
- Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
- Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
- Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
- Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to doggy daycare centers.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your doggy daycare will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
- Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
- General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
- C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
- S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just needs to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.
Step 6: Register for Taxes
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans: This is the most common method, but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
- SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
- Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
- Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a doggy daycare business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits
Starting a doggy daycare business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.
If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account
Before you start making money you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your doggy daycare business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
- General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
- Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
- Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
- Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
- Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
- Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
You can use industry-specific software, such as Pawfinity, DoggieDashboard, or ProPet, to help you with scheduling, online booking, and dog check-ins and check-outs.
- Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
- If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Some of your business will come from the casual passerby or online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
- Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Book Now”. This can sharply increase customers.
- Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence, and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
- Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as 10% off for a successful referral.
- Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your center and website.
- Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events.
- In-Person Sales – Offer your services at local markets and trade shows.
- Sponsor events – You can pay to be a sponsor at events that are relevant to your target market.
- Post a video – Post a video about your doggy daycare. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
- Email marketing/newsletter – Send regular emails to customers and prospects. Make them personal.
- Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
- Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients.
- Press releases – Do press releases about new facilities, services, etc.
- Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
- Pay–per-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to perform better in searches. Research your keywords first.
- Influencer marketing – Pay people with large social media followings to promote your doggy daycare. You can find micro-influencers with smaller followings and lower rates.
- Make a podcast – This allows you to make a personal connection with your customers.
- Testimonials – Share customer testimonials about how your doggy daycare helped them.
- Create infographics – Post infographics and include them in your content.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that set it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your doggy daycare meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your doggy daycare business could be:
- A playground paradise for your beloved dog
- Old and young dogs can learn new tricks with our training
- Give your dog a spay day with our expert bathing and grooming
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a doggy daycare business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in pet care services for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in doggy daycare. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a doggy daycare business would include:
- Dog Caregivers – feed and care for dogs
- Groomers – bathe and groom dogs
- Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media, other marketing
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Start Making Money!
Demand for doggy daycare is growing as people increasingly give their pets the level of care that used to be reserved for people. It’s an industry worth more than $2.5 billion, and you can grab a piece of that market for a very small investment.
It’s a fairly simple business to start from home and eventually expand into a larger facility. The profit potential is good, especially if you’re able to franchise and take over the doggy daycare market! You’re off to a great start by acquiring the invaluable information in this guide, and you should now be ready to begin your entrepreneurial journey.
Doggy Daycare Business FAQs
How much does it cost to start a doggy daycare?
Startup costs can be as low as about $3000 if you run your business from home. You just need to register and license your business, build a website, and get all the equipment.
Can I run a doggy daycare from my home?
As long as there are no restrictions where you live, you can run a doggy daycare from home. You need to have enough space, including outdoor space, for the dogs to play and be well-supervised.
How profitable is a doggy daycare?
Prices for doggy daycare can be as high as $38 per day, so you can make money even if you just care for a few dogs in your home. You can become more profitable if you rent a larger facility so that you can care for many dogs at once.
Do I need a license to run a doggy daycare?
There is no specific license required for a doggy daycare. You may need licenses and permits at the state and local levels. Check with your local government offices for requirements.