How to start a dog day care business

December 19, 2023

Starting a dog day care business can be a rewarding venture, but it requires a good level of knowledge in caring for animals, great organisation and strong communication skills. It’s essential to thoroughly research and plan to ensure the success and sustainability of your business.

Understanding local regulations, obtaining necessary permits, and creating a safe and engaging environment for dogs are critical steps in this process. Remember to continually assess and improve your services based on feedback and the evolving needs of your clients and their pets.

Here’s a guide to help you get started.

Why do people need dog day care businesses?

Dog day care businesses have grown in popularity for several reasons, reflecting the evolving lifestyles and needs of pet owners. The combination of changing societal norms, an increased focus on pet wellbeing, and the convenience provided by dog day care services has contributed to their growth in recent years.

As the National Living Wage is £10.42 per hour for the 2023/24 financial year, this may not sound like a particularly attractive level of earnings. However, you can multiply these figures by walking several dogs at the same time. It’s important to assess how many dogs you can comfortably and safely walk in one go, as well as the size and temperament of the dogs involved.

Busy lifestyles of pet owners

Modern lifestyles often involve long work hours and busy schedules, leaving pet owners with limited time to attend to their dogs’ needs during the day.

Socialisation and exercise

Dogs are social animals that thrive on interaction. Day care provides a controlled environment for socialisation and regular exercise, addressing behavioural issues and promoting overall wellbeing.

Preventing loneliness

Dogs left alone for extended periods may experience loneliness and boredom. Day care offers companionship, reducing stress and anxiety for the pets. This is a convenient solution for pet owners who may not have nearby friends or family available to care for their dogs during the day.

Safety and supervision

Day care facilities prioritise safety, with trained staff ensuring dogs are supervised and secure. This reduces the risk of accidents or injuries that could occur when dogs are left unattended.

Staff can also monitor dogs for signs of illness or distress, providing an early alert for potential health issues.

Specialised services

Some day cares offer additional services such as grooming, training, or even pickup and drop-off services, catering to the diverse needs of pet owners.

Peace of mind for owners

Knowing their dogs are engaged, well cared for, and having a positive experience during the day gives owners peace of mind and allows them to focus on work or other commitments.

A growing humanisation of pets

As pets have become more integrated into families and lifestyles, they’ve increasingly become treated as valued members of the household. This shift has led to an increased demand for services that enhance pets’ quality of life.

Urban living

In urban areas, where living spaces might be smaller, and outdoor access can be limited, day care provides an outlet for dogs to expend energy and enjoy social interactions.


The benefits of starting a dog day care business

Starting a dog day care business can offer a range of benefits, both personally and professionally. Here are some of the main advantages that may appeal to you and help you decide to move forward.

Passion and fulfilment

If you love dogs, running a dog day care allows you to turn your passion into a business. Spending your days surrounded by happy dogs can be incredibly fulfilling.

Flexible schedule

You have the flexibility to set your operating hours, making it an attractive option for those seeking a more flexible work schedule.

Low entry barriers

Compared to some other businesses, starting a dog day care typically requires less initial investment and has lower entry barriers.

Community engagement

A dog day care can become a hub for local pet owners, fostering a sense of community. Building relationships with clients and their pets can lead to long-term customer loyalty.

Health benefits

Interacting with dogs has been linked to various health benefits, including stress reduction and increased physical activity. Owning a dog day care provides regular opportunities for such interactions.

Learning opportunities

Running a dog day care business can be an ongoing learning experience for anyone passionate about animals, from understanding various dog breeds to staying informed about the latest trends in pet care.

Business growth potential

As the demand for pet services continues to rise, there’s potential for business growth. You can expand your services to include grooming, training, or other pet-related offerings.

Job creation

If your business expands, you may have the opportunity to create jobs within your community, contributing to local employment.

Profitability

With proper management and a good understanding of your target market, a dog day care can be a profitable venture.

Personal growth

Managing a business comes with challenges that can contribute to personal growth and development. You’ll learn valuable entrepreneurial and managerial skills.


What qualifications are needed for starting a dog day care business?

While there are no specific qualifications required, a strong understanding of dog behaviour, health, and basic training is essential. Previous experience working with dogs, perhaps through volunteering or employment in a related field, is beneficial.

Basic business skills will also benefit you. These could include knowledge of marketing, people management, customer service, and finances.

How to start a dog day care business

Here are all the things you’ll need to consider and the steps to follow in setting up your business.

Know your legal requirements and licences

Check with your local council for specific regulations related to running a dog day care business. You may need a business licence, and if operating from a dedicated location, compliance with health and safety standards is crucial.

Take out insurance

Obtain liability insurance to protect your business in case of accidents or injuries. To protect yourself and the dogs in your care in the event one of them becomes ill, you’ll have to establish clear policies regarding vaccination requirements and health checks for the dogs in your care.

Secure a location

Whether from home or a dedicated facility, ensure you have enough space to accommodate the dogs comfortably. Set up a secure and safe environment with fencing and designated play areas. You’ll also need to create separate spaces for dogs of different sizes or temperaments.

Implement safety measures such as dog-proofing your home or business location, and having a reliable method of identification for each dog.

Invest in equipment and supplies

Invest in dog-friendly furniture, bedding, and toys. There will need to be proper ventilation and sanitation for indoor areas.

You’ll also need to look at what play equipment you can afford to buy. This might include toys, climbing frames, tunnels, slides, trampolines or treadmills.

Organise your staffing

If you plan to hire staff, make sure they have a genuine love for animals and receive training on handling different breeds and behaviours.

Plan the daily schedule

You’ll need to have a plan in place for how the dogs that come to you will spend their days, taking a range of different factors into account. Here are some of the ways you can show the dogs a good time, keep them happy and healthy, and give owners value for money.

  • Structured playtime – Create a schedule with structured play sessions and rest periods.

  • Enrichment activities – Provide puzzle toys, agility equipment, and other enrichment activities to keep dogs mentally stimulated.

  • Socialisation – Ensure that dogs have opportunities for social interaction with compatible playmates.

  • Supervision – Maintain constant supervision to give the dogs the attention they need, as well as ensuring all of their safety and wellbeing.


How to promote your business

Effectively marketing your dog day care business is crucial for attracting clients and building a positive reputation. Here are strategies to promote your dog day care operation.

Create a professional website

Develop a user-friendly website that highlights your services, pricing, and premises. Include high-quality images of your day care space and happy dogs.

Remember local SEO

Optimise your website for local search engine optimisation (SEO) to ensure it appears in local search results. Include location-based keywords on your website, and claim your Google My Business listing so that people can see the key details of your business in local searches.

Obtain online reviews

Encourage satisfied clients to leave positive reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, or specialised pet service review sites. Respond promptly to reviews, addressing both positive and negative feedback professionally.

Partner with vets

Establish partnerships with local vets who can refer clients to your day care. See if you can put up posters in their waiting room and offer discounts to their clients as a way to encourage referrals.

Engage with the community

Attend local community events, fairs, or farmers’ markets with promotional flyers, brochures, posters and business cards. Sponsor or participate in pet-related events to increase your visibility.

Create referral programmes

Implement a referral programme where existing clients receive incentives for referring new customers. These could come in the form of discounts on services or other perks.

Produce printed marketing materials

Design and distribute flyers, brochures, and business cards to local pet-related businesses, such as pet stores, groomers, and veterinary offices.

Show up on social media

Leverage platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to showcase the daily activities at your day care. Engage with your audience through posts, stories, and user-generated content.

Invest in targeted social media advertising to reach potential clients in your local area. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow you to specify your target audience.

Email marketing

Build an email list of current and past clients, and potential customers. Send regular updates, promotions, and valuable content to keep your audience engaged and make sure you’re front of mind in their inbox.

Run special offers

Offer introductory rates, package deals, or discounts during slow periods to attract new clients.

Partake in regular networking

Network with other local businesses, especially those in the pet industry. Establishing relationships with groomers, trainers, and pet stores can lead to mutual referrals.

Find online communities

Join online pet groups and forums to share your expertise and promote your services. Participate in discussions and offer your knowledge. People can get to know you as an authoritative pet care professional and you can learn from others too.

Create engaging content

Develop content that educates and entertains your audience. This can include blog posts, videos, or infographics about pet care tips, training advice, or fun activities for dogs.


What are the costs of starting a dog day care business?

There are a range of different costs you’ll incur, so it’s good to do your research and find out how much you’ll need to invest. They may include the following:

  • Startup costs – Costs will vary depending on the scale and location of your business. Consider expenses like licensing, insurance, facility setup, and equipment. There may be numerous costs you hadn’t considered, such as software subscriptions, domain name and website purchases.

  • Operational costs – Factor in ongoing expenses such as staff salaries, utilities, cleaning supplies, and dog food. You’ll need to make sure the dogs are kept warm at all times during winter, and have provisions in place for hot days in summer, such as air conditioning or fans.

  • Pricing structure – Research local competitors to determine a reasonable pricing structure. Prices often vary based on the services offered, such as half-day or full-day care.

  • Employee costs – Doggy day care workers’ wages can vary, but the average hourly rate may range from minimum wage to £10 or more, depending on experience and location. Experienced staff or those with additional responsibilities, such as training or grooming, may command higher pay.

Get pet business insurance with Protectivity

Get your dog day care business off to the best possible start, protecting yourself and your furry friends with the right insurance.

With Protectivity’s pet business insurance, you can opt for public liability with between £1 million and £10 million of cover. Then there’s key cover up to £10,000 for new keys and locks, if you enter a client’s property to walk their dogs. Our care, custody and control cover gives up to £100,000 worth of cover for animals in your care. You can also choose equipment cover, non-negligent cover, employers’ liability, commercial legal expenses or a close family extension.

Find out more and get a quote today.

This blog has been created as general information and should not be taken as advice. Make sure you have the correct level of insurance for your requirements and always review policy documentation.