How to Start a Dog Day Care Business

In the modern age, more pet owners are seeking full-time care and enrichment for their dogs. That’s where a dog daycare comes in. A dog daycare is where owners can leave their dogs for a few hours or a whole day and get them back happy, healthy, and well-socialized.

But how to start a doggy daycare business from scratch? What are the steps to opening up a doggy daycare? This article will offer a detailed guide on starting a doggy daycare. Additionally, we have included a sample dog daycare business plan to help you turn your dream of owning a dog daycare into a reality.

Overview of the Dog Day Care Industry

Before learning how to start your own dog daycare, a clear understanding of the industry and the market is crucial. The dog daycare industry is a growing and lucrative sector. According to a report by Grand View Research, the dog day care industry was valued at USD 1.12 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.8% from 2022 to 2030.

Overview of the Dog Day Care Market

Source – Grand View Research Report

However, the dog daycare industry is also highly competitive, with many existing and new entrants in the market. Identify your target market, competitors, and unique selling proposition (USP) to succeed in this industry.

Identifying Your Target Market and Competitors

Your target market is the customers most likely to use your dog day care services. To identify your target market, you need to conduct some market research and analysis and answer questions such as:

  • Who are the dog owners in your area?
  • What are their demographics?
  • What are their psychographics?
  • What are their needs, wants, and pain points?
  • How often do they use dog day care services?
  • How much are they willing to pay?


Segment your target market and create customer personas by answering these questions. Customer personas can help you tailor your services, pricing, and marketing strategies to your target market.

Your competitors are the other dog day care providers in your area who offer similar or substitute services to your target market. To identify your competitors, you need to conduct some competitive analysis and answer questions such as:

  • Who are the main competitors?
  • What are their services and pricing?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are their customer reviews and ratings?
  • How do they market and promote their services?
  • What are their unique selling propositions (USPs)?

Assess your competitive position and find your advantage by answering these questions. Your competitive advantage makes your dog day care different and better than your competitors.

Create a Dog Day Care Business Plan

Once you have a clear idea of your target market and competitors, create a business plan for running a dog daycare. A dog daycare business plan outlines the business goals, strategies, and actions, as well as the metrics used to measure success.

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You can use a dog daycare template for writing a business plan or take the help of a SBA business plan consultant, but a typical business plan consists of the following sections:

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Market analysis
  • Services
  • Marketing and sales
  • Operations
  • Financial plan
  • Appendix

Let’s use the example of a fictional dog daycare business called “Bark N’ Play” to illustrate the essential components of a business plan.

Understanding Local Legal Requirements

Bark N’ Play will be established as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in the state of Maryland. We will register the business with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

According to Anne Arundel County Animal Control, the following are the requirements to set up a dog day care in Maryland, US:

  • Property size – The applicant must have a minimum property size of 20,000 square feet and provide proof of it. The number of dogs allowed on the property depends on the property size, as shown in the table below:
Number of DogsMinimum Lot Size
1 to 4No Requirement
5 to 625,000 square feet
7 or more40,000 square feet, plus 5,000 square feet for each additional dog above 7
  • Zoning approval – The applicant may contact Zoning Enforcement to request a letter of zoning approval. The pet care business must comply with the home occupation requirements of § 18-10-128 of the County Code.
  • Pet license and vaccination – The applicant must obtain a pet license and provide proof of current rabies vaccination for all cats and dogs on the property, per § 12-4-702 of the County Code. The number of cats is limited to no more than nine per household.
  • Pet care license – The applicant must apply for a pet care license and state the name, home address, and the maximum number of dogs or cats to be maintained. The license fee is $50 and the license is valid until June 30 of each year.
  • Animal care and facilities – The applicant must provide an exercise area, daily food, fresh water, and cages for the animals, as specified in § 12-4-807 of the County Code. The exercise area must have sufficient fencing and a secure locking gate, and the cages must be of sufficient size and made of impervious material.

To ensure full compliance with all relevant laws and regulations, we will consult with local government offices, legal professionals, and industry experts during our planning and setup phases.

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Document for passing government compliance requirements for immigration to the US, Canada, or the UK.

Facilities and Equipment

Bark N’ Play will operate from a leased commercial space located at 123 Main Street, Anytown, Maryland 20852. The facility will encompass approximately 2,500 square feet, divided into the following areas:

  • Reception and Retail Area (500 sq ft): This area will serve as the main entrance and check-in/check-out point for clients. It will also feature a small retail section for selling dog-related products and accessories.
  • Indoor Play Area (1,000 sq ft): This climate-controlled, well-ventilated space will be dedicated to indoor play and exercise for the dogs. It will have non-slip flooring, ample lighting, and separate areas for small and large dogs.
  • Outdoor Play Area (500 sq ft): A secure, fenced-in outdoor play area will be constructed to provide fresh air and outdoor activities for the dogs. It will feature artificial turf or a natural grass surface, shaded areas, and water stations.
  • Grooming Area (200 sq ft): This area will be equipped with a stainless steel grooming tub, a hydraulic grooming table, and professional grooming tools for providing basic grooming services.
  • Feeding and Rest Area (200 sq ft): This space will be used for feeding and resting the dogs. It will have individual crates or kennels, comfortable bedding, and feeding stations.
  • Storage and Utility Areas (100 sq ft): These areas will be used for storing supplies, cleaning equipment, and housing utility infrastructure such as HVAC systems and water heaters.

Essential equipment for Bark N’ Play will include:

  • Sturdy crates and kennels in various sizes
  • Comfortable dog beds and blankets
  • Stainless steel bowls for food and water
  • High-quality leashes and collars
  • A variety of safe and durable toys
  • Cleaning supplies and equipment
  • First aid kit and supplies
  • Office furniture and equipment
  • Closed-circuit TV (CCTV) security system
  • Signage and marketing materials

All equipment will be selected with a focus on safety, durability, ease of cleaning and maintenance, and creating a comfortable environment for the dogs.

Staffing and Training

Bark N’ Play will employ the following staff members:

  • Manager (1 full-time): The manager will be responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, managing staff, handling client relations, and ensuring compliance with all relevant regulations.
  • Dog Handlers (3 full-time, 1 part-time): The dog handlers will be responsible for supervising and caring for the dogs during playtime, feeding, and rest periods.
  • Receptionist (1 part-time): The receptionist will handle client check-in and check-out, answer phone calls, and assist with administrative tasks.
  • Groomer (1 part-time): The groomer will provide basic grooming services, such as bathing, brushing, nail trimming, and ear cleaning.

All staff members will undergo comprehensive training. Training will cover the following topics:

  • Dog behavior and body language
  • Positive reinforcement training techniques
  • Safe handling and restraint methods
  • Canine First Aid and CPR
  • Cleaning and sanitation protocols
  • Customer service and client relations
  • Emergency preparedness and safety procedures

Staff members will receive regular training sessions and workshops to stay up-to-date with the best practices in the industry.

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    Services and Pricing

    Bark N’ Play will offer a comprehensive range of services to meet the needs of our clients and their dogs. Our services and pricing are as follows:

    Dog day care – We take care of your dogs from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Your dogs can enjoy:

    • Indoor and outdoor play areas
    • Water, treats, toys, beds, and bowls
    • Extra services such as feeding, medicating, grooming, and training (upon request)

    Our dog day care prices depend on the size and frequency (see table below)

    SizeSingle Day5-Day Pass10-Day Pass20-Day Pass
    Small (up to 25 lbs)$25$115 ($23/day)$210 ($21/day)$380 ($19/day)
    Medium (26 to 50 lbs)$30$140 ($28/day)$260 ($26/day)$480 ($24/day)
    Large (51 lbs and up)$35$165 ($33/day)$310 ($31/day)$580 ($29/day)

    Grooming – We offer grooming services by a licensed and certified groomer on Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. by appointment. Your dogs can get:

    • Bathing
    • Brushing
    • Trimming
    • Nail clipping
    • Ear cleaning
    • Teeth brushing

    Our dog grooming prices depend on the size and coat type (see table below)

    SizeCoat TypeBathBath and TrimBath and Cut
    Small (up to 25 lbs)Short$15$25$35
    Small (up to 25 lbs)Long$20$30$40
    Medium (26 to 50 lbs)Short$20$30$40
    Medium (26 to 50 lbs)Long$25$35$45
    Large (51 lbs and up)Short$25$35$45
    Large (51 lbs and up)Long$30$40$50

    Training – We offer training services by a certified and experienced trainer on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. by reservation. Our training programs include:

    • Obedience Training
    • Agility Training
    • Other specialized training programs

    Our dog training prices depend on the type and duration (see table below)

    Group class1 hour$20
    Private session30 minutes$30
    Private session1 hour$50
    Board and train1 week$500
    1. Boarding Service – We offer overnight or even longer boarding services. Your dogs can have:
    • A private and comfortable kennel
    • Access to the play areas
    • Water, treats, toys, beds, and bowls
    • Extra services such as feeding, medicating, grooming, and training (upon request)

    Our dog boarding prices depend on the size and length of the stay (see table below)

    SizeSingle Night5-Night Stay10-Night Stay20-Night Stay
    Small (up to 25 lbs)$40$180 ($36/night)$320 ($32/night)$560 ($28/night)
    Medium (26 to 50 lbs)$45$200 ($40/night)$360 ($36/night)$640 ($32/night)
    Large (51 lbs and up)$50$220 ($44/night)$400 ($40/night)$720 ($36/night)

    We will offer discounts and package deals to encourage long-term client relationships.

    Marketing and Promotion

    Our marketing strategy aims to raise awareness and attract clients for Bark N’ Play. We will use various methods, such as:

    • Website – We will launch a website that showcases our services, facility, staff, and pricing. It will also have an online booking and payment system and SEO optimization.
    • Social Media – We will create and maintain Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. We will post updates, promotions, photos, and engagement with our followers.
    • Local Advertising – We will place ads in local print and online platforms and distribute flyers and brochures at pet-related establishments.
    • Referral Program – We will reward our existing clients with a $25 credit for every new client they refer who signs up for at least 10 days of full-day care.
    • Grand Opening Event – We will host an event on our launch day to introduce our business to the community. It will feature facility tours, discounts, giveaways, and other incentives.
    • Networking and Community Involvement – We will join local business events, networking groups, and pet-related community activities. We will also sponsor local pet events or organizations.
    • Email Marketing – We will collect and send email communications with updates, promotions, and newsletters to our clients and prospects.
    • Partnerships and Sponsorships – We will partner with local pet businesses to offer cross-promotion and discounts.

    We have allocated an initial annual marketing budget of $20,000 to promote our services, build brand awareness, and attract new clients. We will divide the marketing budget across the following areas:

    Dog Day Care Marketing Plan

    Management and Operations

    Operational and Strategic Planning

    Bark N’ Play has policies and procedures to ensure our clients and their dog’s safety, well-being, and satisfaction. Our management and operations follow these principles:

    1. Safety and Security – We protect your dogs from harm with:
    • Strict handling and supervision protocols
    • Emergency procedures and first aid training
    • A six-camera CCTV security system
    • Cleanliness and Sanitation: We keep our facility spotless with:
    • Daily cleaning and disinfection of all areas
    • Frequent changing of potty and pee pads
    • Regular waste removal and hygiene practices
    1. Dog Handling and Behavior Management – We manage your dogs’ behavior with:
    • Positive reinforcement techniques
    • No physical punishment or aversive methods
    • Separation by size and temperament
    • Health and Vaccination Requirements: We ensure your dogs are healthy with:
    • Up-to-date core vaccinations and county license
    • Proof of flea and tick treatment
    • Veterinary clearance for any sick or contagious dogs
    1. Client Communication and Relationships – We communicate with you openly and transparently with:
    • Regular updates on your dogs’ activities, behavior, and well-being
    • Collaboration and feedback to meet your needs and expectations
    • Detailed records for each dog
    • Staff Training and Development: We train and develop our staff with:
    • Initial comprehensive training
    • Regular refresher courses and workshops
    • Access to industry resources and best practices
    1. Continuous Improvement – We improve our facilities, services, and operations with:
    • Feedback from clients and staff
    • Regular review of policies, procedures, and pricing
    • Sustainability and profitability goals

    With these guiding principles and best practices, we aim to create the safest and most caring environment for our clients’ beloved furry family members. The satisfaction and well-being of every dog is our top priority.

    OGSCapital for Your Dog Daycare Business Plan

    At OGSCapital, our team of experienced strategic planning consultants specializes in helping entrepreneurs learn how to open and run a dog daycare. We provide end-to-end guidance, from crafting targeted business plans to guiding you for future growth and profitability.

    With over a decade of experience advising startups across industries, we offer:

    • Customized business plans crafted specifically for your dog daycare concept and goals
    • Insight into profitable business models, ideal facilities, and realistic financial projections
    • Guidance on licensing, operations, marketing, and staffing considerations
    • Ongoing support and plan adjustments as you establish and grow your daycare
    • Proven frameworks to help you secure funding from investors and lenders

    By leveraging our specialized knowledge and resources, OGSCapital empowers new dog daycare entrepreneurs to build the solid foundation necessary to thrive in this competitive industry. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn how to start a dog day care center!

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q. How profitable is a dog boarding business?

    A dog boarding business can be profitable if it has a high occupancy rate, offers additional services, and operates in a high-demand location. The average profit margin for dog boarding businesses is around 10 to 25% of their annual revenue.

    Q. How big is the dog daycare industry?

    The dog daycare industry is a large and growing segment of the pet care market, with a revenue of $1.12 billion in 2021 and a projected CAGR of 6.8% from 2022 to 2030. There are 157,133 pet grooming and boarding businesses in the U.S., and dog daycare represents over 40% of the revenue share in the pet daycare market.