How do I get into the dog biz? ($40,000 and a dream of dog poo)


Are you a dog-loving self-starter? The Wall Street Journal‘s Sarah Needleman offers up a listing of some of the franchises available to those looking to delve into the world of pets and the humans who spend money on them — from agility gyms to dog daycare centers to pet waste removal service dispatchers. Is this your call of doody?

Zoom Room ( Founded in 2007 by Jaime Van Wye, Zoom Room specializes in dog-agility training, which involves weave poles, tunnels, teeter totters and other equipment. The company began franchising in 2009 and to date has sold seven units. No previous dog training experience is required to become a Zoom Room franchisee. Start-up costs range on average from $95,185 to $171,160, which includes the company’s $35,000 franchise fee, plus three months’ rent, operating expenses, initial inventory, utilities, equipment, signage, permits, legal fees, training, travel costs, software, marketing support and more.

Dogtopia ( This doggie day-care franchise provides overnight boarding, spa treatments, training classes and an array of retail items for pooches, including stylish sweaters, collars, leashes and bandanas. The company, based in North Bethesda, Md., was founded by Amy Nichols in 2002 and began offering franchises in 2005. Its 23 units are located throughout the country; two more are currently in development. The estimated initial investment to purchase a Dogtopia ranges from $242,900 to $458,300, plus the company’s franchise fee of $40,000. (For veterans only, that fee is $36,000.)

Fetch! Pet Care ( This home-based franchise offers consumers an alternative to kennel boarding by providing in-home, overnight or daily care to any kind of pet. Founded by Paul Mann in 2002, the Walnut Creek, Calif., company began franchising two years later and now has 180 units nationwide. It charges a $15,000 franchise fee, and start-up costs average an additional $10,000 to $15,000 for training, equipment, advertising, supplies, insurance and more.

DoodyCalls ( Headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., DoodyCalls boasts 35 franchisees throughout the nation who specialize in cleaning up after dogs. Recently, the 11-year-old business expanded its services to appeal to cat owners by offering to wash and sanitize litter boxes. Franchisees charge customers weekly rates of $14 to $16 to clean one litter box and $15 to $20 for removing dog waste. The cost of opening up a DoodyCalls unit ranges from $44,730 to $71,920, depending on the number of vehicles the buyer plans to use.

Pet Depot ( Labrador Franchises Inc.’s Pet Depot has been in business since 1991. The Glendora, Calif., company began franchising in 2001 and today has 34 units, plus one veterinary hospital. New franchises with both a retail store and hospital can be built in almost any state for an upfront $40,000 fee. For retail stores only, the initial fee is $30,000. Additional start-up costs range from $250,000 to $800,000 for equipment, inventory and training, says founder Roman Versch. Some states require buyers of the company’s veterinarian hospital to be licensed veterinarians.

Camp Bow Wow( Who says camp is just for kids? Camp Bow Wow and its sister brands, Home Buddies and Bow Wow Behavior Buddies, provide 24-hour care for dogs. This includes large indoor and outdoor play areas, campfire treats, baths and cabins with cots, plus home-care services such as dog walking, waste removal and pet sitting. Founded by Heidi Ganahl in 2000, the Boulder, Colo., company started franchising in 2003 and currently has 275 units in 39 states, plus one in Canada. It charges buyers a $50,000 franchise fee. Initial start-up costs average $150,000 for basics such as, lease negotiations and training.


2 Responses

  1. Melva Chafins

    May 6, 2013 3:26 pm

    The first thing to remember with a franchisor is that they are there to sell you a franchise. Even the best franchisor out there will attempt to market their product and downplay other franchises. What you want to realize here is that their goal and game is to have successful franchisees but that does not prevent them from possibly making a wrong fit with you. You are your best advocate. Keep your head and do not let their enthusiasm become overwhelming to you. `.

    Most interesting piece of content on our personal web page


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