How to Become a Doggy Daycare Pro

11 minutes • 28 July 2021

Dogs are social creatures bred to be companions for people. The realities of work and career and the need to make a living mean some people cannot be with their furry friends all day. A dog alone is a lonely dog. Isolation can lead to destructive behaviors and general mischief. When a dog gets bored, trouble often follows. Plus, there’s the practical matter of potty breaks.

This is where the doggy daycare pro comes in. Daycare facilities give dogs the opportunity to exercise, socialize and receive the attention they crave. Professionals in this field also administer any medicines a dog may require, as well as providing meals, treats, playtime and even walks. The result is a happier dog and pet owners who can work through the day confident in the knowledge that their dogs are receiving good care and their homes are not being destroyed.

Large group of dogs outside at a doggy day care

As a doggy daycare pro you’ll enjoy working with different dog breeds as you make their lives better. Doggy daycare pros can also make an above-average salary by launching their own business.

All you need to get started is a love of dogs and the motivation to succeed. Read on to discover what’s involved in becoming a doggy daycare pro.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • How much money you can make as a doggy daycare pro
  • The required training and certifications
  • Professional groups to join
  • Employment opportunities for doggy day care pros
  • Finding clients
  • Plus helpful tips

How much money can you make?

Doggy daycare pros typically charge $25 – $30 daily per dog. Fees can be higher depending on the dog breed, the age of the animal and any special considerations such as administering medicines or preparing meals a certain way. Owners of doggy daycare businesses report annual salaries as high as $149,000 a year.

Doggy daycare pro playing with a puppy

Training and Certification

You don’t need a federal license, educational degree or formal training to become a doggy daycare pro. At most, a state business license will be necessary. Still, training and certification is the proven way to show the world you are a competent professional who can be trusted to take excellent care of animals. It stands to reason that consumers who can choose an accredited daycare facility (or one that is not) will be much more likely to go with the accredited doggy daycare center. Even if the pricing is different, people who love their pets are not going to gamble for the sake of saving a few dollars. Certification is important.

Doggy daycare pros typically have extensive experience working with dogs, possibly a degree in animal care, or deep experience in related fields such as a dog trainer, vet technician or breeder.

Here is a list of doggy daycare training programs you can review as you evaluate a program that best suits your certification needs.

Among the topics you’ll learn in training:

  • Working with different dog breeds
  • Evaluating dogs for temperament and socialization
  • Basic business skills relevant to running a doggy daycare
  • Emergency first aid and canine CPR
  • Scientific techniques for training dogs
  • Managing multiple animals and the staff who care for them
  • Effective communication skills for dealing with customers
Three dogs standing in a play set at doggy daycare

Professional Groups to Join

When you join professional organizations in your field you’ll be able to network with other members and learn from their experience, trade tips and techniques, find out about job opportunities and stay engaged with your profession. Professional memberships, when displayed on your resume, website and at your place of business, show clients that you are serious about your career. Here are two of the most popular professional groups for doggy daycare pros:

The International Boarding and Pet Services Association offers educational materials on business assets, industry mastery, staff training, accreditations, and assistance for the pet services industry. Members include the owners and employees of pet boarding offices, dog walkers, pet sitters, veterinarians, trainers and pet suppliers. Benefits include training and certification programs, a listing on their searchable online directory of pet boarders, industry news, workshops and an annual conference. A membership costs $302 per year.

Dog looking through a fence at a doggy daycare

The Association of Animal Behavior Professionals (AABP) was founded as a professional association and certifying body supporting a community of animal behavior technologists utilizing non-coercive methods in working with clients’ dogs. Joining this group provides you with scientific insights into dogs’ behavior and how to manage different breeds. Other benefits include:

  • License to market your membership, (including use of the AABP logo)
  • Access to a member’s forum for networking and discussion
  • Listing on the web site directory
  • Members may apply for AABP Certification
  • Certification: Emphasized listing on the web site
  • Certification: Official “AABP Certified,” which may be used for marketing purposes
  • Certification: Use of the “AABP Certified Member” logo

You can also meet other doggy daycare providers and exchange ideas through informal networking groups. This list features dozens of online networking groups for doggy daycare providers that you can review and consider joining.

Employment

Check local doggy daycare centers for job openings. Be sure to print copies of your resume and professional credentials in advance so you’ll have them ready. If you plan to send job applications via email, create .pdf files of your documents that you plan to attach. These types of files are considered safe for online delivery, meaning your email is less likely to end up in an employer’s spam folder.

Also check online job-search services like Indeed and ZipRecruiter. You can set up notifications on these sites to receive email alerts about openings that match your geographic location.

Finding Clients

To succeed as a doggy daycare provider you’ll need steady business. Ideally, you’ll get a blend of repeat customers and new customers. This will help you stay busy while maintaining cash flow.

Dog lounging in a dog house at a doggy daycare

Work with a printing company to create business cards, then launch a website for marketing your doggy daycare services. The website needs pictures of your facility and staff working with different dogs, plus a list of the services you provide, as well as your location and contact information, which must be clearly visible at the top of every page on your site. The upper right-hand corner is a good spot for your location, phone number and email, but wherever you display this information it needs to be in the same spot on every page. Search engines scan this information to match your website geographically with people searching for pet boarding.

Next, create an Instagram page to highlight your doggy daycare business. Instagram is the #1 online venue for small business owners to showcase their services. A dedicated business page on Instagram is always promoting your doggy daycare.

Now build a Facebook business page. This is a fast way to grow a following by offering helpful information to enhance their life with pets. You can run promotions for your daycare and create teaser links to your business website by posting articles and news about dogs in your Facebook posts.

Finally, create a Google My Business page. With this service you can list hours of operation, post photos of your daycare facility and a map of your location. There’s also a place for customers to leave reviews of your services, so you should ask everyone to post praise on your Google My Business page.

Setting up a business presence on each of these sites takes less than an hour. All are free services that work 24/7 to promote your doggy daycare. That means you can spend more time caring for dogs and less time trying to find customers.

Dog standing and waiting inside a fenced area at a doggy daycare

Other ways to grow your business:

Veterinarian Referrals

Contact local veterinarians and foster business relationships with them. Dog owners will often ask their vets about other pet concerns, including daycare. A referral from a vet is a powerful marketing asset.

Partner with Local Shelters or SPCA

This immediately gets your business in front of people who are adopting pets. Leave a supply of advertising flyers and business cards at the local shelter or SPCA for visitors to pick up. Volunteering for an hour or two each month at the shelter can build goodwill. Think of it as an investment in the free advertising you will receive.

Contact Independent Pet Stores

Small business owners understand the value of working with other professionals in the community. Concentrate on pet stores that sell organic animal food, specialty chew toys and other items that usually attract wealthier customers. These are more often busy professionals who need daycare for their dogs.

Doggy daycare pros sitting on a couch petting two dogs

Good to know

Before opening your doggy daycare, there are several legal and business considerations to work through. Talk to an attorney specializing in small-business issues or an accountant about the advantages and disadvantages of organizing your business as a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company, or other entity. Also check your local government offices about business licensing and any special permits that may be required to house and care for animals in your location.

If business growth creates the need to hire employees, you want to be sure they are certified and qualified before starting work. Everyone employed at your daycare center should be trained in pet CPR and emergency first aid.

While it may be tempting to sign up every customer who comes through the door, especially when you’re just starting out, before accepting a new dog into the daycare you should seriously consider interviewing the owner and meeting with the dog to evaluate the animal’s behavior. Is the dog socialized and even-tempered? You can spare yourself a lot of problems and headaches by taking this precautionary step.

You’ll also need to carry liability insurance for your own protection, as well as release forms for customers to sign that prevent legal action against you or your business.

Paperwork doesn’t stop there. You’ll also need a form on file for every dog, listing all vaccines and health history as well as any conditional the animal may have and any medications that need to be given during the day. Complete contact information for the dog’s owner should also be on this form.

To maintain a decent work-life balance, you’ll want to make it clear to your customers that they must pick-up their dogs by a certain time at the end of the day. Otherwise, you’ll be at the mercy of people who show up to collect their dogs whenever they feel like it. You may want to create a policy where a customer gets two warnings for arriving after hours to pick up a pet. After that, you can charge a late fee. It may sound extreme, but there are unfortunately people who will try to take advantage of your services if there are no consequences.

As your business grows, you can put technology to work. Many doggy daycare providers have webcams set up throughout the facility so customers can check in on their pets during the day, using a smartphone, tablet or computer. While not inexpensive, these video systems continue to come down in price. Offering video streaming sets you apart from competitors and is one more selling tool for encouraging customers to work with you.

You can also diversify your services to make the business even more appealing. Pet pick-up and drop-off services are popular with busy professionals. If they can also arrange for their dog to receive training, grooming and other services while at doggy daycare, that’s even better.

If you enjoyed this article, check out some more great PocketSuite.io content that can help you grow your career as a doggy daycare pro. Here’s a great place to start.PocketSuite has thousands of business owners who all started where you are right now. Our community is always happy to help you ramp up, grow your client base, and achieve your income goals, both within the PocketSuite app and as part of our exclusive Facebook Community Group. PocketSuite’s vision is for any professional to be able to work for themselves and make a great living. It starts here. It starts with you. It starts today. Let’s get started, download PocketSuite now! Feel free to reach out with any questions (we’d love to hear from you)! Text us @ (415) 841-2300.