How to Start a Doggie Day Care

Updated November 21, 2016

You dream about starting a doggy day care and wonder what it will take to run a successful business. A love of dogs, detailed research and a business plan are a great beginning. Here is some helpful information to get you started.

Learn everything possible about doggy day care businesses. Study the successful pet day cares and note what services they offer. Ask the owners of the highly rated day cares for advice on starting your business venture. Talk to customers and find out what they look for in a doggy day care.

Educate yourself on any federal, state, city, township or county dog day care laws and regulations. Dog day care is not federally regulated. Always research the current legislative guidelines before you open your business. Many states do not require a license to operate pet day cares.

Acquire any necessary licenses. Get training that will be helpful for a dog day care business. If you will be on site regularly, you may want to learn dog CPR, have knowledge of general dog care and understand basic dog training techniques. Ask an experienced veterinarian for advice about dog care in a day care setting.

Develop a business plan. The plan should include funding needs, the facility details, compliance with any necessary zoning laws or regulations, services, business operation, supplies and staff requirements. Show your business plan to an expert and ask for advice on how to improve it. If you are new to business, you may want to take on an experienced business partner for your first business venture.

Determine your services. Typical service issues to consider include hours of operation, staff schedule, holiday and weekend hours, rates, pickup and drop-off times, reservation guidelines and pet requirements. Many day cares require that dogs have all current vaccinations and flea/tick protection prior to visiting the facility. You will also want to establish rules for pet medication administration and dealing with aggressive dogs. As you develop your services, consider what the clients will desire. Most pet owners want day cares to be staffed 24/7. They often want reassurance that their pet will get individual attention, be able to potty regularly, be in a clean environment and have time to play safely outside.

Secure any necessary funds. Make sure that you have appropriate funds for your doggy day care. A good business plan can help you obtain a loan.

Find a facility and make any renovations necessary for the day care business. The facility should have sufficient room inside and outdoors to keep the dogs comfortable. There must be a fenced-in area outdoors for the dogs to run and play. The potty run should be separate from the play area. Stock up on the supplies needed to keep the dogs well-tended. Make sure the facility complies with any local regulations.

Hire qualified, experienced staff who sincerely love dogs. Find people who have experience in dog care, dog health, grooming and pet sitting. It is always a good idea to do background checks on staff.

Develop a marketing plan for your business. The marketing plan should cover how you will advertise, network and contact potential clients. A phone book ad and website is not enough for a new business. Develop brochures, flyers and newsletters. You need to advertise in the local newspaper, put brochures in the veterinarian offices, and place flyers on notice boards at grocery stores and pet shops. Send a newsletter to dog trainers, veterinarians and clients to keep them informed on your services. This can lead to new business. Make your website both a service ad and a dog care educational resource. This can draw potential clients when they look up dog care concerns.

Network with other dog care professionals. You should get to know most veterinarians, dog trainers, groomers and other dog care providers in town. You want all dog care professionals to recommend you. Word-of-mouth recommendations generate business.


Join a dog day care association to network and learn the current issues in your field. Consider joining a dog care franchise so that you have a business plan template and name recognition to assist your new venture.

Things You'll Need

  • Dog day care research
  • Dog care training
  • Business plan
  • Marketing plan
  • Operating license (if your state requires one)
  • Facility with proper space for multiple dogs to be housed comfortably
  • Large fenced in yard for dogs to safely play outdoors
  • Outdoor potty area that is separate from the play section
  • Qualified staff
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