[box type=”download” style=”rounded” border=”full” icon=”none”]This is the second post in a series about ways to earn an income doing work you love. I’d love to write one about your passion…just send an email and tell me what you love.[/box]
Last month, we rescued a puppy.
It was not the smart thing to do.
We have the world’s most awesome dog already. And at 18 months, Olive is still a puppy herself. We also have two girls that just turned five. We’re remodeling the home we live in, and we’re still getting acclimated to a new town.
No, it wasn’t the smartest thing we could do. But it was the only thing we could do. Our hearts didn’t care about the practicalities. He chose us. We just brought Jack home. With us. Where he belonged.
If you’re a dog lover, you get it.
If you’re a dog lover, you totally get what I’m talking about.
The history of domestic dogs tells us that most likely humans didn’t actually domesticate them. We never taught wild dogs to work, hunt and live with us.
Dogs chose us.*
Dogs domesticated themselves. Dogs adapted themselves to our routines and our lives. They are the ones that created this centuries-long partnership…this bond between man & dog. Not us.
For centuries, we have evolved together…dogs & humans. We’re connected.
Our development, our histories and our survival are intricately intertwined. We would not have become what we are without them. They would not have become what they are without us. This is a symbiotic relationship.
It’s no wonder so many people are utterly committed to dogs.
You can dedicate your life’s work to your love of dogs. You can create a business that you love with every fiber of your being. Below are one dozen ways to go about it.
The Awesomely Obvious Ideas
Dogs don’t like to be alone. Dog mommies and daddies don’t like to leave their sweet babies alone all day while they’re at work. You can watch dogs occasionally when their owners are working or traveling. As a dog sitter, your job is to ensure the dog or dogs you’re keeping are getting the food, water, exercise, playtime and all the cuddles.
Dog Sitting is great for dogs who need a place to stay, but don’t like to hang around other dogs. But some dogs LOVE to play with other dogs and rarely get a chance to do so. Sooo….
You can give those dogs what they want and start a Doggie Daycare…which is essentially a full service day care center and spa…for dogs…in one building. Just like with your kids’ day care, most doggie daycare centers offer socialization with other dogs, meals, snacks, playtime, teaching time and nap time. Most of these facilities also offer boarding for overnight or extended stays, and many of them offer grooming services too.
Here are some fantastic examples of dog sitting/doggie daycare services:
Tails by the Bay Dog Camp is a fun, play-hard, sleep-hard doggie resort in Homer, Alaska.
Sleepover Rover is a regional, online service & directory for people who need to find a pet sitter and people who want to pet sit.
Puppy Socialization, Dog Training or Dog Behaviorist
There are three business ideas here. You may want to specialize in one of these areas or you could offer all three.
A Puppy Socialization Expert is less about training and more about giving puppies and opportunity to play with other dogs. You’ll also spend quite a bit of time teaching new dog owners about things like house training, crate training, choosing the right food and how to not end up with a closet full of chewed up shoes. And teaching kids how to play their new puppies without either of them getting hurt.
Puppy Socialization expert can market their services through all the places where people get or research puppies like breeders, dog rescues and dog shows. You could even sell the services directly to the breeder. They get the reassurance that the new dog owner will know how to welcome this puppy into their home and they can pass on the cost of your services to the new dog owner.
It’s totally obvious that we have a puppy in the house, isn’t it?
A Dog Trainer is as much a people trainer as they are a dog trainer. Dog trainers offer classes and private instruction to new dog owners. You can teach dogs (and their people) anything from basic obedience & leash skills to helping skills, circus tricks, skijourning, and agility.
A Dog Behaviorist takes training a step further and helps families solve the behavior problems. Aggressiveness, incessant barking, snapping, peeing in the house, digging, chasing cars…there are countless issues that make a dog’s and dog owner’s life more stressful and less enjoyable. Many times, if these issues are unresolved, the dog will end up scheduled for d-day in a pound. So, a dog behaviorist is often a last ditch effort to literally safe a dog’s life.
Dogs need to be walked. They have a need for playtime and biology breaks. An unwalked, unexercised dog is an unhappy dog. And an unhappy dog will eventually start displaying behavioral issues.
But people are busy or they work an hour and a half from home or they’re physically unable to walk their dogs. A good, affordable and loveble dog walker can fly in and safe the day!
Think about the numbers: Say you’re a dog walker charging $40 a week per dog. You can walk up to six dogs at a time. So, you hit one apartment building, gather all the dogs, walk them for an hour and get them all back home with a bowl of fresh water. In less than two hours, you’ve made $240. You can do that twice a day…or 3 times a day if you want to work full time. A morning walk, an afternoon walk and an evening walk. That money adds up. And the best part is you get super fit while playing with dogs all day.
If you want to learn more about becoming a dog walker, check out the Professional Dog Walkers Association International (isn’t it awesome that that’s a real thing!?).
All of the Above
All of those ideas can be housed under the same roof. That doesn’t mean you have to do them all. Find the one thing you love and do that. Then partner with other people who are doing the thing they love. Create one stop resource providing loving, valuable additional services to your dog owners in your community.
Uncommonly Cool Ideas
Gourmet Dog Treats
Did you know you can combine your love for cooking with your love for dogs and have the best of both worlds!?! You’re a doggie chef!
There’s no end to the different ways you can make money cooking for dogs. Some independent dog chefs, like Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods, make natural, organic, raw dog food…and even deliver it to their customers’ homes.
Then there’s the licensed dog-crack dealers called Yummy Chummies. They make one awesome dog treat (and yes, it’s seriously like crack for dogs) and distribute it to local or regional stores.
Another variation on this theme is Chelsey Homan’s totally fun, Doggy Decadents. She makes beautiful, fancy all natural dog treats and sell them directly to dog foodies through a treat-of-the-month club + distribute them to local & regional shops.
You might thing this is just nasty, but this can be hero’s work. Sometimes this service can make the difference between a family deciding whether to keeping or getting rid of a dog.
It’s also lucrative.
Mission Driven Suggestion. If dog-friendly rentals are as rare in your area as they are in mine, your poop scooping business can contact property management companies and landlords. Suggest a deal: They raise the rent $50 for dogs and pass that increase on to you. In return, you clean the yard bi-weekly or monthly. You can even offer to help the tenants house-train their dogs…or partner with a dog behaviorist to do that. If any waste related damage exceeds the tenant’s pet deposit, you offer to cover the difference in your contract (up to a reasonable, agreed upon amount).
I firmly believe that if more poop scooping, dog training or dog walking businesses did this, there would be noticeably less dogs ending up in shelters. You would be saving dog’s lives!!
That’s hero’s work.
Dog Event Producer
People love their dogs. After working most of the day, dog owners want to exercise and socialize too. But they also want to spend time with their dogs. A dog event producer could organize weekly play dates and dog jogs, hikes and field days with prizes for frisbee, fetch, and agility. Dog owners love to meet other dog owners. Dogs love to play with other dogs.
Serious social media, a great website, an email announcement list and some business cards would cover your marketing needs. You could sell memberships that include attendance at events and sell tickets to events for non-members. You could even sell merchandise with your logo for the dogs and their parents.
I thought for sure this already exists out there in the world…but when I did a search for it, all I could find is posh, pink websites talking about throwing birthday parties for dogs. So, this is officially on my Otter List (as in, “somebody otter.” If this sounds like something you’d love to do, contact me! I’d love to be a part of that planning process!
Dog doting is not a fad that’s going to go away. And the truth is even the world’s most loved dog will only be a part of our life for a short time. Your snapshots capture the memories you’re creating with your dog. But great photos preserve the emotion & the personality of your dog in a way nothing else can.
As a pet photographer, you can schedule studio time & photo shoots. But, you can also be proactive. Go to the dog park on a beautiful day. Go to the agility competitions and dog shows. Go to the dog jog. Take beautiful pictures, give people a biz card with your website address where they can look for (and buy) their pics online.
Take full advantage of social media by sharing lower resolution, watermarked proofs of your best photos on Facebook and Pinterest. In Facebook, post a link to the album on the event page or on the event organizers page. Don’t forget to allow people to tag themselves in your pics.
If you’re taking great pictures, people will take notice….and they’ll share them with others. Seth Casteel of Little Friends Photos is a perfect example. Check out this article about the huge surge in business he experienced when his unbelievable underwater dog photos went viral…literally overnight.
Working together for a better world
The following business ideas are typically run as non-profits. But non-profit doesn’t mean non-income. If your heart pulls you here, you can definitely structure your program to allow you to earn a living.
Train Assistance Dogs
If you have a natural talent for training dogs, this work can have a profound impact on everyone it touches. Assistance dogs provide a specific service to their handlers and have an immeasurable impact on their quality of life by giving them a sense of freedom and independence. There are guide dogs for the blind and the visually impaired, hearing dogs for the deaf and hard of hearing and service dogs for people with other disabilities.
For more information about training assistance dogs, check out the incredible resources on the Assistance Dogs International website.
Run a Therapy Dog Program
A therapy dog is trained to be comforting and affectionate to people of all ages in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and disaster relief areas. The simple act of petting and hugging a dog can have a transformative affect on people in solitary or stressful situations.
A great example of a successful and thriving therapy dog program is Florida’s Canine Assisted Therapy. If you’re considering creatinga dog therapy program, a couple of your first steps should be to check out Therapy Dog International and the America Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Program.
Be a super hero
Volunteer for your local Humane Society. They need people to socialize with the animals, walk the dogs & play with them. Donate dog food or blankets or toys. Foster for the no-kill shelters. Adopt an adult dog. Spay & neuter your dogs….even your full blooded dogs. You’re not a breeder. You’re a pet owner. There are so many dogs out there without homes already. If you own a dog business, donate some of your services to a shelter. Bathe the dogs, take their photos, walk them, teach them some basic manners…anything you can do to help them find a home.
Just the beginning
These twelve business ideas…over 2000 words…are just the tip of the iceberg. I could easily write an equally long Dog Business Ideas, Part 2. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of ways to earn a living while honoring your love for dogs. If this is the life you want, but none of these ideas quite fit the bill, let’s set up a time to chat about that.
I want to hear your heart
Leave a comment below. I want to know about your love for dogs, the dog business you’re starting or the coolest dog business idea I left out. Mostly, I just want to hear from you. I want to hear your heart.[hr]
After reading this, your heart may settle on the perfect dog business for you. That’s fabulous!!! Now, keep moving while the
force adrenaline is strong within you. Schedule a flash session to solidify your idea, or get some 1:1 business building advising or go all in and claim one of the few, much-coveted seats in the next Self-Made Business Academy Three-Day Build.
My Pet Business is an incredibly comprehensive resource for starting a pet business.
The Business section of the Doggington Post.
Find & support your local no-kill shelters at the No-Kill Network.
*Dogs chose us.
This fantastic documentary is for anyone who loves dogs or has a dog…or is a human. I put this at the end of the post because I wanted you to read the whole post AND I want you to watch this whole video. I promise, it will enrich your life.
There is so much research out there that validates a legitimate, centuries-old symbiosis between humans and dogs. So, don’t ever let anyone tell you that your decision to commit your life to this amazing animal is small or futile or silly.