Do you love spending time with dogs? Then starting a dog daycare at home may be a great way to earn money, have fun, and help out dog parents in your area.
But starting your doggy daycare the right way can make all the difference between a sustainable income source and a complete flop. This is why I’ll help you formulate your whole dog daycare business plan so that you’re ready for success!
How to start up a dog daycare at home
The best way to make a solid plan for starting a dog daycare is by having a set of processes that you can track and follow. Here are the key steps to taking your dog daycare business from an idea to a reality.
1. Check out the competition
Just like with any new endeavor, it’s important to learn from others who have paved the way before you. Read articles, watch YouTube videos, and reach out to others who have previously or currently run a doggy daycare.
Take a lot of notes and pay attention to the details that they share about both the good and the bad of running a dog daycare. This research will help you understand what you’re getting yourself into and give you a better chance at success.
By the end of your research process, you should have a list of the pros, cons, and necessary skills needed to succeed in this business. You may also want to include industry statistics such as average earnings, regional requirements, and estimated start-up costs. You don’t need to get specific on your numbers yet, but any context can help.
Want to work with dogs but aren’t sure if a doggy daycare is the right option for you?
Well, have you considered starting a dog bakery business instead? This is a fast-growing field with literally billions of dollars pouring into it each year (seriously, check our article on it below, I’ve got the stats there), making it a great money-making opportunity for anyone who loves dogs.
To see how to get started, take a look at our article on How to Start Your Own Dog Treat Bakery Business.
2. Educate yourself on business fundamentals
Now that you know what a doggy daycare will take and you’re still interested in moving forward, the next step is for you to make sure you have a firm grasp on business fundamentals.
This includes understanding the basics of running a business, such as bookkeeping, marketing, advertising, sales, and human resources.
While you may not be solely responsible for all of these areas in your business, it’s important to understand them so that you can make informed decisions and avoid any potential mistakes down the road.
As you’re learning about these different business topics, start to think about how they will apply to your dog daycare. For example, what kind of marketing strategy will you use to attract customers? How will you keep track of your finances?
3. Make a detailed dog daycare business plan
Now that you have all of the information that you need, it’s time to start putting together your dog daycare business plan. This document will outline your entire business, including your mission statement, brand name and elements, company overview, marketing strategy, financial projections, and more.
You can find templates and examples of business plans online or you can hire a professional to help you put everything together. Either way, make sure that your business plan is comprehensive and includes everything that you need to get your business off the ground.
Keep in mind that your business plan is a living document and you should update it as your business grows and changes.
4. Create an online presence and marketing materials
It’s good to start building interest early and establishing your online presence so potential customers start hearing your name. This is why creating an online presence is a great way to reach potential customers and let them know about your business.
FYI: It may seem obvious but creating your own website for your new business is a must these days.
Luckily, it’s super easy (and cheap!) to do even if you have no tech experience. My top pick for getting started with this, Bluehost, costs less than $3 per month – which includes a free domain name!
From there, you can have your site up and running in literally less than 20 minutes – just by following our step-by-step guide to launching your own site.
Linking your site to social media profiles made for your business is also important. You can also go more old school and create physical marketing materials like business cards, flyers, and brochures to help promote your dog daycare, if you want.
Once you’ve created your online presence and marketing materials, start reaching out to potential customers and inviting them to come and check out your business. You can do this through online ads, word-of-mouth promotion, or by hosting a grand opening event. And eventually you can start making money in one hour.
5. Learn about local regulations and requirements
Now that you understand the basics of running a business and you have an idea of what it will take to start a dog daycare, the next step is to learn about local regulations and requirements.
This includes things like obtaining a business license, getting insurance, complying with zoning laws, and following any other rules and regulations that may apply to your business.
Pro tip: To get started, you can reach out to your local chamber of commerce or small business association. They should be able to point you in the right direction and help you understand what you need to do to get your business up and running.
Ask questions about anything that you don’t understand and be sure to get everything in writing so that you have a reference point if needed.
6. Create a budget and start saving
Now that you know what your start-up costs are going to be as outlined in your business plan, it’s time to create a budget and start saving.
You can decide between starting your business on a shoestring budget and doing a lot of the work yourself or investing more money upfront to get things off the ground more quickly.
Either way, it’s important to have a solid plan in place for how you’re going to finance your business. This will help you figure out how to save money or apply for financing down the road.
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7. Obtain any necessary licenses, permits, and insurance
Now that you have a solid business plan in place, it’s time to start taking care of the legalities of starting your business. This includes obtaining any necessary licenses, permits, and insurance.
Each state has different requirements for businesses, so be sure to do your research and find out what you need in order to operate legally. In addition, you’ll want to get insurance to protect your business in case of any accidents or injuries. This is especially important if you’re going to be working with animals.
You won’t be able to obtain all of these documents if you haven’t rented a space yet (assuming you aren’t using your home), but it’s still good to know what you’ll need so that you can be prepared.
8. Find the perfect location
The next step when you set up a doggie daycare is to find the perfect location. This is one of the most important decisions that you’ll make for your business, so it’s important to take your time. Starting a dog daycare at home can be the perfect stay at home job, but you need to ensure your house and yard are ready for your furry clients.
Alternatively, some people choose to do this at a separate location, in which case you’ll need to find a space that meets all of your needs.
Some things that you’ll want to consider when choosing a location include:
- Zoning laws and regulations
- The size of the space
- The layout of the space
- Proximity to potential customers
- The cost of rent
Once you’ve found a few potential locations, reach out to the landlords or property owners and schedule a time to take a tour. This will give you a better idea of whether or not the space is right for your business and give you the opportunity to ask questions about the property.
9. Create a detailed floor plan
Now that you’ve found the perfect location for your dog daycare, it’s time to start thinking about the layout of the space. This is where a detailed floor plan comes in handy.
Your floor plan should take into account things like:
- The size and breed of the dogs that will be using the space
- The number of dogs that will be in the space at one time
- The age of the dogs
- Any special needs that the dogs may have
- Any administrative office space that will be needed
Your floor plan should also include an area for separating any dogs that may need to be put in time-out or away from the other dogs for any reason.
10. Furnish and equip your space
Now that you have a detailed floor plan, it’s time to start furnishing and equipping your space. This includes everything from dog beds and crates to toys and food bowls.
You’ll also need to purchase things like leashes, collars, and basic grooming supplies. Cleaning supplies are also important and help to maintain a safe clean environment for both you and the pups.
Remember that it’s ok to furnish the space incrementally. Start with the essentials and then add in additional items as needed or as your budget allows. You can also use DIY builds or find items on free groups on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to help reduce expenses in this area.
11. Start onboarding your customers
Now that you have everything in place, it’s time to start accepting your customers. You may want to accept just any customer that comes your way, but it’s important to be choosy when starting out.
The best customers are those that:
- Are looking for long-term daycare (not just a one-time stay)
- Have well-behaved dogs that get along with other dogs
- Are willing to pay the rate you’ve set for your services
- Are willing to sign a contract
- Are local (so you don’t have to deal with transportation issues)
By being choosy about who you accept as customers, you can help ensure that your business gets off to a great start.
Interview your customers, have a meet and greet with the dog, and make sure to take down health information. You’ll also want to write up a contract agreement that both you and the customer sign.
12. If needed, hire employees or contractors to help out
If you’re going to be running a successful dog daycare on a larger scale, you’ll eventually need to hire employees that are passionate about working with dogs and have experience in the industry.
Of course, you don’t have to do this from the start, but it may be something to consider down the track if your doggy daycare starts to grow.
When hiring employees, be sure to look for individuals who:
- Are responsible and reliable
- Have experience working with dogs
- Are comfortable working long hours
- Are physically fit and able to lift 50+ pounds
- Are passionate about dogs and their care
If you’re looking to hire your first employee, reach out to local dog daycares or dog-walking businesses and ask if they have any recommendations. You can also post a job listing on online job boards.
13. Scale your business (if you want)
Some people are happy with a small, dog daycare at home business. Others want to grow their business and scale it to a larger operation. If you’re in the latter group, there are a few things you’ll need to do to make this happen.
First, you may want to find a new location that can accommodate more dogs. This may mean moving to a larger home or renting a commercial space. You’ll also need to hire more employees to help with the increased number of dogs.
Franchising is another option if you’re looking to grow your business. With franchising, you’ll be able to use the existing brand name and reputation to help you open new locations quickly and efficiently.
How profitable is a doggy daycare?
There’s plenty of money for you to make in a doggy daycare since pet care is a 70 billion-dollar industry. For example, if you hosted 20 dogs 5 days a week for $30 a day, you would have revenue of $3,000 each week. After expenses, this should provide a full-time income for one individual.
The best way to calculate your dog daycare profit (or potential profit) is by having an accurate estimate of your expenses. When you minus your expenses from your revenue (total earnings), the remaining number is your profit.
If you want to increase your profits, you can increase your earnings. You can do this by taking on more dogs, providing add-on services, or raising your fees.
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Another way to increase your profits is by minimizing your expenses. Some ways to do this include reducing the cost of the space you use for your daycare, buying supplies in bulk to save money, or building elements of the daycare from scratch to save on infrastructure.
A dog daycare may become more profitable over time, because there may be a lot of start-up costs at the beginning. It may also be hard to profit at first if you don’t have a full roster of dogs attending at first. With a good plan and a healthy amount of patience, you can be successful in this business as the income grows each month.
How much does it cost to open a dog daycare at home?
In general, starting a doggy daycare can cost as little as $1,000 and as much as $20,000. One major factor that will determine startup costs is the property. If you already have a location that you can use, the cost will be lower. If you need to rent space, prices will be higher.
The average cost of a commercial rental space is likely to be around $5,000 per month, but this varies greatly depending on the size and location of the space. Since dogs take up a lot of space and also require outdoor space, it’s possible that your rent may be well beyond this amount.
You’ll also need to purchase some foundational items that will help you run your business. This includes crates, pads, cleaning supplies, toys, treats, water bowls, and food bowls, as a minimum.
Some additional startup costs include licenses, permits, insurance, promotional materials, a website, and setting up your business as an LLC or S-corp. While all these expenses may not be necessary, it’s important to be aware of them as they will add to the total amount you need to get your business up and running.
What qualifications do you need for doggy daycare?
While there aren’t many formal qualifications for starting a dog boarding business from home, customers like to work with people who have experience with and a love for dogs. Other certifications such as pet first aid or dog behavior training may help you stand out from the competition and give customers peace of mind.
If you don’t have any professional experience working with dogs, it’s a good idea to get some before starting your business. This can be done by volunteering at an animal shelter, taking on dog-sitting gigs, or working as a dog walker.
You can also learn other helpful skills for free or through paid courses online. This includes learning about dog equipment such as leashes, harnesses, and crates, as well as business-related topics such as social media marketing and accounting.
Understanding how dogs behave and what their needs are is essential for anyone starting a dog daycare business. The more you know about dogs, the better equipped you’ll be to provide top-notch care to your furry clients.
You’ll also want to learn how to handle dogs in emergency situations. This could include anything from a dog escaping the property to an aggressive pup to a medical emergency.
Do I need a license to look after dogs in my home?
Federal law in the U.S. does not mandate or provide guidelines for private animal boarding businesses. However, certain states require a boarding kennel license as well as local or state inspections. Certain organizations like the International Boarding and Pet Services Association (IBPSA) also offer voluntary certification.
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, it’s important to research the licensing requirements in your state and local area before starting your business. This will help you ensure that you’re following all the necessary regulations and operating your business legally.
Getting licensed in your state to start and maintain a business is a good idea no matter what you do to make money. Depending on where you live, a business license can cost around $60 and be as high as $200.
How many dogs can you have in doggy daycare?
Dog daycare facilities don’t have a specific cap on how many dogs they can host, but most businesses limit the number of dogs they take to provide each pup with individualized attention. A 3,000-square-foot space can house between 30 to 40 dogs, depending on the size and energy level of the dogs.
The average daycare facility run by 1 to 3 people has between 15 and 20 consistent dogs attending daycare. This ratio ensures that each dog gets plenty of attention, exercise, and playtime.
It’s best to start small and work your way up to a larger number of dogs as you gain more experience. This will help you avoid biting off more than you can chew and ensure that your furry clients are getting the best possible care.
Do dog boarders need insurance?
While it isn’t always required, it’s always recommended to have boarding insurance. Having a dog in the workplace comes with certain risks, such as the animal escaping its kennel or biting someone. You’ll want to protect yourself from any potential liability so that you don’t have to pay out of pocket if something goes wrong.
Insurance for dog boarding businesses typically starts at around $250 per year and can be as high as a couple of 1000 dollars, depending on the coverage you select. The amount of coverage you need will depend on the size of your business, the services you offer, and the location of your business.
For example, if you’re running a small dog daycare out of your home in a rural area, you’ll likely need less coverage than a large boarding facility in an urban area.
Having insurance will take the stress and worry off of your plate, which can free up energy for you to focus on running your business and providing top-notch care for your furry clients.
Do zoning regulations permit doggie daycares in residential buildings?
The regulations for what is permitted in a residential zone vary from city to city, so it’s important to check with your local zoning office before starting your dog daycare. For example, the property may have some limited non-residential uses, such as a home business.
A residentially zoned property is a location where single-family or multi-family dwellings are the primary use.
If your home isn’t eligible to be used as a commercial dog daycare, you may be able to have your property rezoned. Specifically, you may be able to zone your home as a space where you both live and work.
However, this process can be lengthy and expensive, so it’s best to check with your zoning office first to see if re-zoning is an option.
If this isn’t an option for you, renting a commercial space is the next best bet. While this costs more money than simply using your home, it’s important to consider the liability risks associated with having dogs on your property. You may find that the peace of mind and extra safety of renting a separate space are worth the cost.
And if you have neighbors who are less than happy about dozens of dogs prancing, barking, and playing in your yard, commercial space will likely be a better option for you anyway.
How to make a dog daycare that stands out?
When you’re running a dog daycare, there are a few key things you can do to make your business stand out from the rest. Here are some factors that will help you attract and retain customers:
1. Location, location, location
The first thing you’ll need to do is find a suitable location for your business. If you’re planning on running a home-based daycare, this may be as simple as making sure your property is zoned appropriately. If you’re going to be renting commercial space, you’ll need to find a location that’s convenient for your target market.
2. Create a safe and fun environment
Your dog daycare should be a safe haven for dogs – a place where they can run, play and socialize without the worry of getting hurt. To create a safe environment, you’ll need to have a well-designed space with plenty of room for dogs to run around. You should also have a separate area for small dogs and puppies, as they can be easily injured by larger dogs.
3. Make the booking and payment process simple
When customers are looking for a dog daycare, they want to be able to book and pay for services quickly and easily.
You can streamline the booking process by setting up an online system where customers can select the days and times they need. As for payments, you can either require customers to pay upfront or set up a recurring payment.
4. Create a relatable brand that your clients will love
There are plenty of doggy daycare brands offering their services, so it’s important that your branding stands out from the rest. Make sure that you create a beautiful and noticeable brand with good branding copy that excites your customers.
It’s also important to target the right clients. You don’t necessarily need to cater to every type of dog. If you live in an area with a lot of demand for your services, you can cater to specific breeds or types of dogs.
5. Offer additional services that your clients will love
In addition to doggy daycare, you can offer other services that will appeal to your target market. For example, you can offer dog walking, grooming, or even boarding services. If you have the space and the staff, you can even offer training services.
By offering additional services, you can attract a wider range of customers and increase your revenue. Plus, you’ll be able to offer your clients a one-stop-shop for all their dog-related needs.
6. Promote your business through word-of-mouth and online marketing
No matter how good your services are, you won’t be able to attract customers if they don’t know about your business. Make sure you’re promoting your daycare through word-of-mouth and online marketing.