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open a doggy daycare business
6 min read

How to start a doggy daycare business

Has the thought of running a doggy daycare business been hounding you for a while now?

With 27% of UK adults owning a dog (an estimated population of 10.2 million pet dogs-!), pet daycare businesses are a booming sector right now. Doggy day care, in particular, has seen a massive increase, caused by people returning to workplaces after prolonged periods of working from home.

Dog daycare startups are certainly in high demand right now – could this be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to pursue your passion?

What is doggy day care?

Different from kennel boarding, dog walking and pet sitting services, doggy day care is a short-term daytime care for dogs. It works a lot like day care for children – owners drop their dog(s) off in the morning on the way to work, and while they’re gone, their dog receives lots of care and attention. Your dog’s day gets filled with activities based on its specific needs and temperament, feeling more at ease and stress-free than if they were to be at home alone. Dogs don’t naturally enjoy being alone, preferring the company of their family. Doggy day care solves this problem by keeping them company and giving them the chance to socialise with other dogs. Owners’ minds are also put at rest knowing their pet is in a fun and safe environment, while they’re at work.

Get a business plan in place

A business plan is a document that describes your business. It will show in detail:

  • Why and how you will run your business
  • Financial forecasts – how much money you will make and how you will raise funds
  • How you will promote it
  • Who your customers will be
  • How many staff members you’ll need and at what stage they will be recruited.

A business plan is a working document that can be changed and updated at any time. There is no set format for a business plan – it can be a formal or informal document.

It’s not necessary to have a business plan. However, spending the time to put business ideas down on paper and planning what you will do should mean that you can work towards creating a successful and financially viable business.

To help you get started, get your free UK business plan template below.

doggy daycare business

Define your doggy daycare services

If you’re opening a doggy day business, make sure to spend time doing your research. What type of services does your target audience require the most? What do they value most? What are your competitors offering? Start building a list of all the services you plan to offer, such as drop-off and pick-up times, food, and what days and times you’ll be open. Will you open on the weekend? Offer emergency overnight stays?

Offering a range of services can increase your appeal, such as dog walking, grooming, bathing and obedience training. A range of food options is also worth offering, as not all dogs eat the same food.

Cater for convenience

Convenience is everything when it comes to competing for customers’ business. Once you’ve defined your basic services, spend time thinking about how you can continue to make life easier for your customers. (Could you speak to some local dog owners for some ideas?)

A home collection and drop-off service is one of the ultimate time savers for owners. A fantastic example of a business offering just this is Bruce’s Doggy Day Care, which offers its own custom designed and built doggy buses! Featuring fitted beds, bespoke temperature control and even some calming scents such as lavender, all buses can be live tracked, so owners always know where their dog is by tracking it via an app or email.

doggy day care business

Plan your pricing

Base your pricing strategy on the quality of your services, but ensure they remain competitive. Unless your location and equipment is superior, charging more for the same service isn’t going to give you an advantage over your competition. If a customer questions why your prices are higher than other local businesses, you need to be able to explain why. Equally, don’t price your services too low, as this can actually cause suspicion!

In the UK, most doggy day care businesses charge between £15 and £40 per day. If customers use your facilities frequently, you might want to set up a weekly or monthly recurring fee.

Dog daycare startup costs – establish a financial plan

Make sure you know what the dog daycare startup costs will be, and what capital expenditure will be necessary. Costs will vary depending on the type of facility you set up, as well as your location. For example, if you run your business from home, you will need to allow for essentials such as equipment, food, and pet-proofing your premises, as well as insurance, licensing, and qualification fees. Should you be setting your sights on a larger commercial facility, you’ll need a more substantial space. Renovation might also be required to meet the needs of the animals, such as a separate section for puppies, a playground, etc.

You’ll also need to invest in the necessary equipment, from toys to food bowls, beds to cages, and food to cleaning supplies. Another key consideration is a reliable heating system to ensure they are warm and comfortable.

Training and qualifications

You’re probably thinking about the training and qualifications you’ll need to open a doggy daycare business…

Rightly, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is increasingly demanding formal professional qualifications for everyone involved in animal welfare. This training will not only help with competency, but providing qualifications increases your credibility as a business and professional standing with customers, (as well as inspectors!).

It’s important to truly understand what dogs need, and that you can keep them safe and happy in any circumstances. Nothing demonstrates this better than the nationally-recognised Ofqual Level 3 Professional Day Care And Boarding Qualification. The Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT) offers a distance learning course, allowing you to study at home and in your own time. It involves around 60 hours of study, and you will be supported by one of the IMDT’s tutors. The Dog Business School also offers a wide range of Ofqual courses for dog businesses.


Location is essential when running a doggy daycare business

If your location isn’t convenient for your target audience, they’re not going to use you. If you’re looking to run your business from a separate building, spend time (and effort!) finding a good location that’s on budget (you won’t want to spend too much initially on rent). You’ll need a location that offers both indoor and outdoor facilities such as paddocks, offering dogs plenty of space to run and play.

You’ll need to have enough space for cages and equipment, as well as an information desk, waiting area and employee facilities. Cleanliness is also crucial – your location should be safe and clean to safeguard both animals and humans.

Security is also vital. It should be properly fenced to prevent dogs from escaping and risking injury. No wild animal should be able to enter your facility, either.

Hire the right staff

When you’re in a position to hire a team, spend time finding the right people that share your passion for animals, while having the appropriate experience. They need to be well trained and knowledgeable when it comes to pet care, and be capable of performing a variety of tasks such as grooming, walking and entertaining the animals.

Doggy day care rules

Ensure your business runs smoothly by setting day care rules regarding dogs and customers. These rules will protect you from liability, such as:

  • Not accepting adult dogs that haven’t been neutered
  • Not accepting puppies that are too young
  • Dogs must have up-to-date vaccinations and a certificate must be provided by the owner

An interview or trial period must be in place before accepting a dog in case they are aggressive, are difficult to control and pose a risk to others.


Before promoting your business, ensure you get your branding right from the very beginning. Ensure your name and logo stands out, is memorable, and quickly communicates what your business is.

When it comes to offline marketing, think about the best places to advertise to your target audience. Can you distribute flyers near dog-friendly parks, pet supply places, veterinary clinics, etc? Can you offer referral commissions?

Digital-wise, ensure you have a user and device-friendly website that clearly communicates your services, and clarifies why customers should use you, while making it easy for people to get in touch and locate you. Once your website is in place, it’s time to start testing out a selection of online ads (such as Google PPC, Facebook, Gumtree, etc) to see which platform and ad type(s) perform best in pushing quality inquiries your way.

Remember to spotlight your licence in your marketing. While you can’t operate without one, it’s still important to communicate this with customers, as it reassures them that your business is reputable, and that you can be trusted to keep their dogs safe and happy while they are staying with you.

How much does a doggy daycare owner make?

How much you can make as a doggy daycare business owner will depend on your location, services, and market conditions. A well-established and successful doggy daycare business in the UK can potentially generate annual revenues ranging from £50,000 to £250,000 or more. 

To estimate your potential income, consider the following:

  1. Average daily rate: Determine the average rate you plan to charge per dog per day. This can vary depending on factors such as location, facilities, services provided, and competition. As a rough estimate, doggy daycare rates in the UK typically range from £15 to £40 per dog per day.

  2. Capacity and occupancy rate: Calculate the maximum number of dogs you can accommodate at your facility and estimate your desired occupancy rate. Multiply the average daily rate by the number of dogs and the number of days in operation to get a monthly or annual revenue estimate.

  3. Additional services: If you plan to offer additional services such as grooming, training, or retail sales, consider the potential income generated from these services separately.

Remember to deduct operating expenses, including rent, utilities, staffing, supplies, marketing, and other costs, to estimate your net income.


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