Do you want to start a dog daycare & boarding business from home? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a dog boarding business with NO money and no experience plus a sample dog boarding business plan template. 

What is Dog Boarding?

A dog boarding service is usually referred to a kennel business by most people, but they aren’t the same because a kennel usually cares for other pets beside dogs. Kennels typically consist of concrete runs and steel cages with the dogs being kept away from other pets and usually run by well trained staff to provide 24/7 care for the pets.

A dog boarding business is far different as this service is usually provided by someone with a passion for dogs. This unlike the kennel usually provides the dogs with the environment that they are used to as they are not confined. Dog boarding is usually for shorter time periods than the kennel.

Also, the dog boarding business ensures that the dogs get more exercise and they is usually a secured place outside where they can play. A dog boarding business is usually tailored to the dog owner’s requests and special requirements such as treats, regular routines, minimum amount of exercise, dietary and any other special requirements. Due to the fact that running a dog boarding business requires less overhead, it is often more preferred cost wise by dog owners.

What Does It Take to Start a Successful Dog Boarding Business?

While it might look like a dog boarding business is very easy to start, you should however realize that the business will likely face a lot of challenges and so it is necessary that you conduct a proper research so as to be prepared to grow a thriving business.

Ask questions from those that are already running the business before committing yourself to starting the business. While this is a business that is going to ensure that you make good money, it is also one that will enable you to have substantial capital on ground in order that you might be able to run the business effectively till you start generating income.

Aside from the profit aspect of establishing a business, you will need to determine if you have the required time to run the business as this is a business that will require a substantial amount of your time. Even though you might have all necessary factors such as passion, capital, adequate space and time and there is no need for such business in your area, then you are likely to fail even before you have started.

Finally, having a business plan before starting a business no matter how trivial it might be is very necessary because with a business plan you are able to be guided as regards certain decisions you will take during the course of starting or running your business.

17 Steps to Starting a Dog Daycare & Boarding Business from Home

1. Understand the Industry

61 percent of Americans own a pet with more than $34 billion being spent in caring for these pets. The dog boarding business industry is seen as stable due to the fact that it is resistant to economic downturn when compared to other industries during the recession of 2008 and 2009.

According to a report by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, the current level of those who own dogs is the highest that has ever been recorded in nearly two decades as dog ownership has increased by 7 percent since 1996.

Even though there are more than 6,000 boarding kennels scattered all over the united states, most of the dogs that are kept there are hunting dogs that can handle the confinement and stress of being in a restricted environment. Most kennels are often located in areas that are not easily accessible or too far out for domestic dog owners dwelling in the city and suburbs, and with the tainted reputation that has dogged kennels over the years, from health related problems for the dogs, to calamities such as fires, dog boarding businesses have been gaining more prominence.

65 percent of households in the United States as at 2015 owned at least one pet with pets being found in households of varying economic levels; however, households that had high income levels are found to contribute close to 60 percent of the entire revenue generated by the industry.

According to reports from the American Pet Products Association (APPA), the pet industry generated nearly billion in 2016; this showed an increase of over 4 percent from what was generated in 2015. The average annual growth experienced by the industry has been a steady 5.4 percent since 2002.

The revenue generated by the boarding and grooming services market under the pet services sub-industry was more than $5.7 billion in 2016. The reason for the growth in the industry is due to many dog owners taking their dogs as members of the family as well as the creation of specialty products that are to cater to the convenience of the dogs.

More dog owners are also putting up their dogs on social media accounts such as Instagram and as such have to continue providing utmost care for their dogs in order to be able to show them off.  A large number of pet owners now turn to the internet to get information regarding pet services.

It is estimated that the pet industry is one that will continue to boom in future as forecasts is healthy for all segments even though certain segments are pegged to see a significant amount of growth when compared to others. The positivity seen in this industry is due to researches which state that dog ownership led the owners to living fuller lives than those without. Also, dogs that were adequately catered for either at home or in boarding facilities provided better companionship for their owners.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who require dog boarding services are those that do not have the time to care for their dogs due to personal (health or vacation reasons) and or work reasons.

Therefore, if you are looking to define the demographics for your dog boarding business, you should ensure that it is not limited to just a small set of people as there are other target markets out there that might require your services and so it is important that you conduct a thorough market research before defining your demographics.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

The dream of an entrepreneur is how they can stand out from others – especially if the industry is stiff with competition or completely saturated – in the same business environment, which is why some resort to offering niche services in addition to their core services or as a standalone.

However, while offering a niche service might enable you to stand out from others, it is very vital that you conduct a thorough research on the niche services you intend to offer so that you do not waste your finances, time and efforts into something that will not be beneficial to you.

Below are some of the niche ideas that you should therefore take into consideration within this particular business;

  • Boarding Services
  • Dog Day Care
  • Dog Training Services
  • Dog Spa Service
  • Dog Walking Services
The Level of Competition in the Industry

The level of competition in the dog boarding business is fierce as small scale operators have to compete against large scale boarding facilities in the industry. Also, operators have to compete against those that offer a wide variety of services to dog owners.

What dog owners are expecting from a dog boarding service is a convenient atmosphere that is safe and will not bring about any sort of health related problems. Also, dog owners expect that the dog carer is someone that is passionate about dogs and will be able to give their dogs the utmost care they need. Due to this fact, some dog owners usually prefer individual and small scale boarding facilities to the larger ones.

Most dog boarding services are careful about the kind of services they provide especially as the internet can now make or break a business and so if you are looking to start your dog boarding business in the United States of America, you should be aware of the competition from others in the industry as well as the pressure that you will face from dog owners.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

Every industry has brands that stand out and this industry is no different. While technology has played a great deal in boosting awareness for some brands and helping them stand out, others have attained popularity due to how long they have been in the industry, the quality of their services and the relationship that they have with their customers – the dog owners.

Below therefore are some of the well-known dog boarding businesses in the industry;

  • TLC Pet Boarding LLC
  • Pets are Inn
  • HeartStrings Pet Resort
  • Canine Country Club & Feline Inn
  • Doggie Suites
  • Bark Avenue Pet Resort
Economic Analysis

The pet industry is one that has shown significant growth even during periods of serious economic downturns. Even though the industry is stiff with competition, specialty services such as boarding services, training services, sale of foods with special ingredients and grooming services have continued to stand out.

A large number of dog owners see their pets as family members and due to this fact are often willing to spend extra money in order to care for and indulge their dogs. This trend has caused different niches in the industry to stand out.

Baby boomers who have kids that have left home have not only replaced them with pets but are also pampering them as well. According to a 2016 research study by Packaged Facts, a larger percentage of households in the United States have small dogs than huge ones. Most of those in this category are usually baby boomers who prefer small dogs because not only are they easier to lift but they also require less time outdoors.

Millennials on the other hand with their independence and disposable income are also buying pets and spoiling them majorly because they live a fast paced life and rarely have the time to invest in human relationships which are deemed much more complicated.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

One decision that you will make when starting your dog boarding business is whether to start your business from scratch or buy a franchise because even though each option comes with benefits, you should go for the one that aligns with your core goal and objective as none guarantees outright success.

Entrepreneurs that choose to buy a franchise are those that are looking to hit the ground running and do want to have to bother about having to deal with startup challenges. While there are a large number of franchises available, it is important that you conduct a thorough research on the ones that catch your attention so that you don’t end up wasting time and money.

Starting one’s business from scratch is a great way of learning all there is to know about the business as you can make mistakes and learn from them, thereby making you gather experiences necessary to the growth of your business. Also, you get to be in control of all parts of the business and can therefore determine the pace of the business.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

When starting any business as an entrepreneur, you should not only expect threats and challenges but you should also be prepared to combat them if you want your business to succeed. However, while there are certain threats and challenges that could be easily handled during the course of starting your dog boarding business, it is important to know that not all will be easily handled.

Some of the threats and challenges that you are therefore likely to face when starting your dog boarding business in the United States are; intense completion from existing as well as new competitors, changes in customers tastes and preferences, economic downturn that will result in customers having less income to spend on discretionary items such as dog boarding services.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

When it comes to starting a business in the United States, one of the most important decisions that has to be taken is what sort of legal entity to choose for your business and this is due to the fact that your choice will have either a positive or negative impact on your business and so it is important that you understand what you are looking to achieve with your dog boarding business so that you can achieve your goal and objectives.

For entrepreneurs in the United States of America, there are certain legal entities that entrepreneurs can choose from when looking to start any business and they are; sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and Limited Liability Company (LLC).

There are several factors that make these legal entities differ from the other and they would need to be taken into consideration and they include; the flexibility of the legal entity, the ease at which the legal entity can be set up and controlled by the entrepreneur, how the tax is structured under the legal entity and the extent of liability that the entrepreneur is exposed to.

If you are looking to start your dog boarding business on a small scale, it isn’t a bad idea to choose either a sole proprietorship or partnership as they are somewhat similar in nature in terms of the ease at which they can be set up and controlled, how tax is being paid, what happens to the profits and losses incurred by the business and the amount of liability the entrepreneur is exposed to.

The major difference between a sole proprietorship and partnership is that while the former is run by a single person, the latter is run by two or more partners. You can start your dog boarding business as either a sole proprietor or as a partnership and later change legal entity as your business starts to expand and grow.

The corporation and LLC also have certain similarities in common as they both offer the entrepreneur limited liability due to the fact that the legal entities are regarded as distinct from their owners. However, while the corporation is more stringent to set up and control, the LLC is more flexible in nature. If you are not sure of what legal entity to choose, seek the services of an attorney.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

Having your start-up capital, passion and what you intend to achieve with your business without having a name for your business means you aren’t ready to start the business, as a business name not only identifies your business to your intended target market, it also sets you apart from your competitors.

Having a business name ensures that you are able to properly file for a business permit with which to start the business. If you are however running as a sole proprietor, you can choose to use your name in running your business. In order to stand out, ensure that the business name is unique, catchy, memorable and indicative of the kind of business you intend to run.

Some of the catchy business names that you might therefore need to consider when looking to start your dog boarding business include;

  • Top Doggie Inc
  • Barks and Gruffs Boarding
  • Paws Boarding Services
  • Woofy Boarders
  • Canine Boarding Inc

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

Whatever business you intend running in the United States, procuring insurance policies is one aspect of the business you cannot overlook because insurance policies ensure that you do not bear the risks associated with running the business.

If you are going to be boarding several dogs, you should understand that there are health hazards for yourself, staff and the dogs, so it is important that you protect your business so that you do not keep paying out of your own pocket every time an incident occurs. Engage the services of an insurance agent to help you chose the appropriate insurance policies for your dog boarding business.

Below are some of the basic insurance policies that you should take into consideration when looking to start your dog boarding business in the United States;

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Casualty Insurance
  • Property Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Hazard Insurance
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance
  • Overhead Expense Insurance
  • Business Owner Policy Insurance
  • Umbrella Insurance

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If you are running a business or service that is new and unique to your industry, then it is important that you apply for an intellectual property protection. This will therefore ensure that your business is protected against theft from others in the industry. A dog boarding business is however not a business that the entrepreneur would need to bother about applying for an intellectual property protection for.

If however you intend to apply for an intellectual property protection for your company name, logo, slogan or any other material that you deem valuable to your company, then you can, but it is necessary to note that entrepreneurs in this industry do not consider this as a priority.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

The dog boarding business is one that provides boarding services for dog owners who need to travel either for business or pleasure, and so does not require any sort of professional certification before one can run this business. All that is required is that you are passionate about dogs and can take adequate care of them while the owner is away.

If you however intend to stand out from the various competitors in the industry, you might need to acquire certain professional certifications but this is not regarded as a huge factor by the clients.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

Whatever business you are looking to start in the United States, having basic documentation in place is absolutely necessary if you do not intend to run into trouble with the authorities. If you do not know what documents will be required of you when looking to start your dog boarding business, you can visit the city council or ask those who are running the same business what you will need.

Below are some of the documents that you will require in order to be able to run your dog boarding business successfully;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Operating Agreement for LLC
  • Service contract documents
  • Business Plan
  • Business License and Permit
  • Insurance Policy
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Federal Tax Identification Number

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Whether you are looking to start a small or large scale business, it is important that certain critical aspects such as finance are sorted out if you do not intend for your business to fail. Even though the dog boarding business does not require a huge capital to start up, you will need to take care of overheads and certain running expenses till your business starts to generate revenue that will take care of expenses.

If you are going to be sourcing for capital from third parties, then it is important that you have a business plan at hand as this will show how committed you are to the business. Below are some of the financing options that you can explore when looking to start your dog boarding business;

  • Raising part of start-up capital from personal savings and sale of personal properties
  • Sourcing for soft loans from friends and family members
  • Get loan from interested investors and business partners

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

One important factor that cannot be ignored when you are looking to start your business is where you intend to locate the business as this can affect the success of your business. One thing you must take into consideration when looking for an appropriate location for your business is the nearness to your target market. This is important if you want to get a fair share of the target market.

If you are looking to start your business on a small scale and have adequate space in your home, then this is a business that you can run from your home and save yourself the cost of leasing a facility or worrying about certain overheads and running expenses. However, you should know that this will limit your business especially if you do not have a large yard.

As soon as your business starts to expand that will require more hands, then you might need to think of leasing an appropriate facility to run your dog boarding business from. Also, if you are in the hub of competitors where most are leasing facilities and are succeeding, then it might also be necessary for you to lease one yourself.

If you are going to lease a facility, ensure that the facility is spacious enough to accommodate your growing business so that you do not have to keep changing facilities every now and then, ensure that your clients can easily access the facility and that it isn’t too far for your target market.

It is important that you engage the services of a real estate agent to help you choose an appropriate location.

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

The dog boarding business is usually preferred by domestic dog owners because of the personalized and convenient care their dogs get while they – the owners – are away. Dog boarding facilities are not like kennels where there are usually other pets or where the pets have to be put in kennels and so those who consider their pets as family members will definitely not go for the kennel option.

If you are going to be running your dog boarding business from home, you should ensure that there is adequate space for the dogs. If you are living with other family members, then you might need to demarcate your personal space from your business space.

You do not need a lot of equipment to start your dog boarding business but you will definitely need leashes, bio degradable poop bags, first aid kits, food bowls, water dish, a vehicle, and collars. Administrative wise, you will require phone, computer, printer and office supplies.

The dog boarding business is one that can be run by a single person especially if the business is still a small one. However, if the business has grown substantially, then you would require the help of others to run the business. You would therefore need; Chief Executive Officer (CEO – Owner), accountant, marketing team, front desk officer, office manager, dog handlers, cleaner, and security guard.

From the above break down, you will require at least 10 key staff in order to be able to run your dog boarding business successfully.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

Those who start a dog boarding business are those who are passionate about dogs and either have dogs of their own and also the necessary experience to handle the business.

In running a dog boarding facility, you will be expected to care for the dogs in an environment that is comfortable for them, ensuring that they are fed at the appropriate times, take their medications, engage in exercises, get up at the right time and get cleaned whenever necessary.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

Marketing is one serious aspect that no entrepreneur starting or running a business should take lightly because the major ways through which revenue can be generated for a business is through marketing. When considering starting your dog boarding business, ensure that you have created the marketing goals and objectives which you want your business to achieve.

It is after you have created your marketing goals and objectives that you can think of crafting the marketing strategies that will align with your overall goals and strategies. Also, for your marketing strategies to be effective, you will need to engage in a thorough study of your intended target market so that you can understand what it is they expect from you and what you should expect from them as well.

You will also need to take your competitors into consideration because they also will have marketing strategies in place that they are looking to use in standing out from others. You might need to study your successful competitors in order to adapt some of their winning strategies for your own business.

You might need to use both online and offline means to reach your target market. Ensure that you set aside a certain amount of money to use in marketing your business to your intended clients. Below are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can use when looking to start your dog boarding business;

  • Ensuring that your dog boarding business is listed in yellow pages and online directories
  • Consider promoting your dog boarding business with Groupon
  • Use word of mouth marketing to market your dog boarding business
  • Make use of your social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote your dog boarding business
  • Create a professional website and use this to promote your dog boarding business
  • Drop off brochures at the local veterinaries and  fliers in mail boxes of those in your target area

17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

No one intends to run a business that people will not be aware of because this means that you cannot achieve your intended goals and objectives. Due to the fact that boosting one’s brand and creating a corporate identity achieves a dual benefit for the business, it is important that the target market through which one intends to deploy the strategies on be thoroughly researched.

Another good thing that boosting awareness for one’s brand helps to achieve is that not only will you be noticed within your target market but you will also compete against your competitors as your strategies will enable you to stand out.

The dog boarding business is a competitive industry; therefore you will need to deploy your strategies through different means in order that you might be able to catch the attention of your target market.

The good thing about engaging in publicity for your brand is that not all activities will cost money as technology has allowed business owners to be able to deploy strategies that do not only have a far reaching  impact but are also able to reach a larger target audience while costing little or nothing.

Below are some of the strategies that will be used to boost awareness and create a corporate identity for your business;

  • Create a website and ensure that you deploy SEO strategies so that your website can rank tops in search engines
  • Engage in several community dog related events and activities
  • Distribute handbills and fliers in various strategic places where dog owners are likely to be at such as public parks, veterinary clinics and many other such places
  • Use your social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to promote your business
  • Encourage all your loyal and satisfied customers to help spread the word about your business
  • Promote your dog boarding business in popular dog forums and blogs