How to Start a Pet Care Business

For entrepreneurial pet lovers, there’s almost no question as to what type of business they would want to start. Becoming a trainer, groomer or sitter is likely a dream job for those who want to spend their days working with and caring for dogs and cats. But, as any pet care professional can attest, being a part of this industry is no easy task. Starting a pet care business is certainly an achievable goal, but you won’t succeed without a strong knowledge of both animal behavior and business basics. Before you start writing up that business plan, here’s what you need in order to work in the industry.

Regardless of what type of pet care business you want to start, a basic education in animal care and handling is the first step to working with animals. While you don’t necessarily need a degree in animal science, reading books, taking courses and attending industry events are essential to expanding your knowledge of animal anatomy and behavior. Groomers and trainers are responsible for more than simply washing and cutting fur and teaching tricks: They are often the first to spot issues like fleas and ticks, which they will need to know how to deal with.

While books and classes are a good start, a theory-based education can only get you so far. Firsthand experience handling animals is critical to starting and running a successful pet care business. Most groomers and trainers started out as apprentices under more experienced professionals before branching out and starting their own practices.

Because animal behavior can be unpredictable, protecting both yourself and your customers through proper licensing and insurance coverage is a must. Massara recommended doing thorough research into local ordinances and taking the proper steps to comply with them.

In the pet care industry, one must remember that professionals work with both pets and people. While the bulk of a trainer, groomer or sitter’s day-to-day activities involves the care and handling of animals, it’s the owners who ultimately drive your business. George Quinlan, NADOI member and founder of All About Dogs Behavior and Training Center, said that liking people and being able to communicate with them is just as important as loving animals.

A true love of animals and experience working with them only make up one half of the equation for an independent pet care business. The other side, of course, is knowing how to run a business. Speaking with other entrepreneurs, both in and out of the industry, can help in determining pricing structure, hiring needs, necessary equipment (if any), marketing and other essential elements of starting a business.