Despite the rocky economy, there’s still one area people are more than willing to spend money on: pets. Last year, people in the U.S. spent more than $40 billion on pet products, including medical care, grooming, and boarding and sitting services, according to the American Pet Products Association. They further predicted that in the next few years, the amount we spend on our furry and feathered companions will increase by more than 5 percent, to almost $50 billion. If you are an enterprising individual with bit of extra time and a love for pets, particularly dogs, there are a number of ways to cash in on this booming business.
One of the best ways to get into the pet business is to start a pet sitting business. You can do this either in your home, or in the client’s, depending on what types of pets you are planning to care for. There are two major advantages to this type of entry-level business: it’s fairly flexible as far as scheduling goes, and almost every pet owner will at some point need your service. There are a few options available with this choice. If you live in a fairly rural area, or your property includes a large amount of land, you might think about offering to board pets at your home. If your residence is more of a suburban or urban type of setting, you might still be able to provide sitting service for some pets, possibly specializing in smaller animals like rodents or birds. A third idea would be to offer in-home sitting, where you would stay in the client’s home and care for their animals. As an additional feature, you could offer minimal security and maintenance tasks such as taking in the mail, turning lights on in various parts of the house, watering the plants, and other tasks that make it appear that people are at home.
If you love dogs, but can’t keep them for extended periods, a more feasible job might be to run a doggie day care, or even just offer doggie play dates in your home. There is an increasing demand for these services, as more and more pet owners are finding out that their pets suffer from separation anxiety the hard way, by coming home to a demolished house or severely nibbled couch, slippers, or other possessions.
Since we’re talking about sitting, maybe your talent lies in teaching dogs to sit, and stay, and be well-behaved, perfectly mannered companions instead of wild affectionate bouncy balls. If teaching and training come naturally to you, you’re in an excellent position, because many pet owners don’t have the time or the patience to train their dog, and obedience classes are none too inexpensive, either.
If your dog training skills are limited to basic commands, perhaps a dog walking service is the business for you. Most dogs require some level of exercise to maintain their basic health, and busy owners often just don’t have the time to do it themselves.
Maybe you’re the type who likes everything to be kept neat and clean. If you are, then perhaps a bathing and mini-grooming service would be more to you liking. As anyone who’s ever had to shampoo a dog knows, it’s neither a neat nor an easy task, even if the dog in question is fond of water. Many owners are more than happy to have someone else take care of that chore for them. You could operate a mobile-style service, where you go to each home and bathe the dogs, or, if you have the means, you could rent a small grooming salon area in the community. Another necessary, if somewhat unsavory chore for pet owners is cleaning up their pet’s waste. If you have a reasonably strong stomach, and don’t mind dealing with it, you could make a fair amount of income cleaning up and disposing of pet waste, either on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on the pet owner’s needs.
Finally, if you have an eye for fashion, and a slight degree of artistic ability, you can easily establish yourself in the pet fashion industry. More and more people are replacing their grown-up children with “fur kids”, pets that are treated like children. Everyone wants to have the best-dressed kid on the block, right? If you can sew or knit, you might consider offering handcrafted sweaters, vests, hats, scarves, or even taking special orders for such items. If your skills are limited to decorating, perhaps a line of dazzling designer collars, leashes, pet dishes, and other memorabilia would better suit you. Once again, the largest section of this market has gone to the dogs. However, collars, leashes, dishes, and other items for cats is also a possibility. If you’re all thumbs when it comes to creating something, you can always sell someone else’s designer goods, and charge a percentage of the sales as a convenience fee.