In recent years, the United States has seen an immense rise in the pet care and hospitality industry. A CAGR of 4.9% is reported with a 75 billion dollar industry and growing further. A dog fitness center is an obvious part of the overall pet industry that also has other similar aspects like the dog boarding industry.
What is a Dog Fitness Center?
A dog fitness center is much more than a dog daycare where dogs are brought and are kept for the day time and sometimes even in the night for regular physical exercise, plays, grooming, swimming and food.
It is not just limited to a general stroll accompanied by a person who will get the dog for a walk but it is specifically aimed to render physical fitness services for dogs. There have been regular cases arising related to obesity in dogs and their physical unwellness due to remaining confined to closed space.
Need for a Dog Fitness Center:
54% of the dogs reportedly in the USA are overweight and are suffering from ailments arising out of obesity and lack of body movement. Due to the sedentary lifestyle involving less time for physical exercise and lack of proper space, this case is only rising.
A dog, especially the ones with bigger size requires big space for running, playing and exercising. The lack of space has become an impediment leading to decline in general health, rise in frustration and hyper nature of dogs.
Getting Started with the Fitness Center
The success of a fitness center related to dogs in the United States mainly depends on three important aspects. These can summarised as:
- A foolproof comprehensive business plan with implementation in letter and spirit
- The requirement and demand of such center in the local area of operation
- Rendering affordable services with dedication towards quality service
Thus, a business plan must be comprehensive covering all aspects of the dog fitness center. We will cover the necessary aspects and requirements of a dog fitness center in detail along with the finance incurred for the same.
Key Aspects in Dog Fitness Center
The service you aim to offer along with its quality matters a lot in this business. A need for open space spreading close to half an acre is also necessary in order to accommodate at least 50-70 dogs.
Along with this, a quality infrastructure which includes a lawn, a swimming pool for dogs, training equipment, playing stuff and agility boosting obstacle equipment for concluding training is important.
Lastly, the location of your center also matters as it will determine the inflow of customers. A place situated amidst the homes of your customers is a good choice but it might also be costly. Similarly, a place at the outskirts of the area can be cheaper but it will become hard to attract customers as they will have difficulty in visiting the center on a regular basis.
Requirements to Start Dog Fitness Center
There are certain requirements in order to start your dog fitness center. They are listed below with small summaries for better understanding.
Space to Accommodate Dogs
You need half an acre of space at least to start your fitness center that will also have various infrastructure like mass kennels, swimming pools, fitness equipment, a lawn, your office and accommodation for your staff.
Location of the Space
The location of space must be determined with due diligence keeping in mind the financial aspects as well as the market aspect of getting customers. As one can understand, customers do want a center located at a place which can be easily accessed on a daily basis. It should not be too far from the place your potential customers reside.
In order to find a better alternative and solve the issue of expensive space and lack of customers, one can have a small office cum accommodation center for dogs at a location easily accessed by your customers and also having a dedicated training center at some distant location (say 5-15 miles) from your office.
As and when your customer drops their dog to your office, your staff can take them to the designated center for training. This can save you the additional cost of expensive space. You can determine the same after deliberation.
Infrastructure in your Center and Equipment Requirements
You need a dedicated infra to accommodate at least 50-75 dogs along with various equipment and training facilities. You will also need some space and accommodation for your training staff and medical staff.
Some of the infra requirements can be summarized as below:
- A dedicated mass kennel for accommodating 50-75 dogs that should be in separate space
- A swimming pool for dogs
- A well maintained green lush lawn for dogs to play
- Treadmill, underwater treadmill and similar equipment made for training
- Obstacles and other grooming stuff
- Medical clinic, break room, grooming salon, etc.
Apart from this, you will also need space to accommodate your training and medical staff along with the office staff who will be staying overnight.
Service Offerings and Fitness Plan
It is also important to determine the services you will offer in your fitness center. The services offered must be comprehensive and structured in a reasonable way that caters to the needs of the dog and your client and also that gives you enough returns for your business.
Some of these services can be summarised as:
This generally covers swimming exercise for dogs. Some of the dogs are averse to water and may not be comfortable in waters therefore it can remain optional. For young pups, this can be used in order to make them learn swimming.
This also depends on weather, given the fact that in winters it is not feasible to give aquatic training to dogs and in summers, swimming in water can refresh the dogs.
Treadmills and Underwater Treadmills:
To improve blood circulation and to increase agility, treadmill exercise is a must. With the movement of the dog, such treadmill exercise can be regulated to increase obedience and fitness.
Underwater treadmill is another exercise aiming to reduce the anxiety of dogs with regard to water and also make them enjoy and play with water.
Outdoor Running and Play:
Most of you all must have thrown a toy bone or a ball to a distance and must have asked your dog to bring it back. Similar exercises not only improve the fitness of the dog but also makes them disciplined and attentive.
While outdoors, like in a lawn, dogs can play with each other together for some time. Just like we love to socialize, dogs also need to socialize with other dogs. This helps them in reducing mental stress and frustration.
Obstacle Course with Cones and Stairs:
As you must have seen how dogs are trained by putting obstacles like cones and stairs which not only makes them more disciplined but also very attentive and fit. Other such exercises can also be included which might be popular in your location.
Every dog loves grooming like taking a nice bath with warm water, getting their hairs combed, powdered, massaged and obviously patted. Grooming salons will offer such related services.
Though this doesn’t form part of the traditional fitness service in such but fitness definitely includes medical services which might be required for some dogs. You need to have a vet doctor with some basic medical facilities.
Employees, Staff and Trainers:
You need to plan accordingly to hire dog trainers, vet doctors, office staff and other required staff to manage and run your fitness center. Get in touch with other such centers to know how to hire your staff.
Financing your Business
Finances are important to determine the profitability and operation of your business. It usually can cost you $18000-50000 in order to start and run your fitness center. All the space required, infra buildup, equipment, training staff, medical services and other daily based expenses will be counted to determine the same.
The location of your center along with training to your staff, daily expense of running the center, legal formalities of registering your business, advertisement and others will also add up.
In order to ensure profitability, you need to structure your fee structure that you will charge from customers in a way that at least sounds lucrative for them and is profitable for you.
You can include packages for your customers, some additional complimentary services, discounts in particular seasons, special discounts for customers will have many dogs or those who are your regular and old customers, other attractive packages for those who are buying higher end packages.
A comprehensive structure of fee and services should be determined based on market analysis and due diligence in order to attract customers and also gain profit.
Advertisement is of ample importance to spread the word that you are in the market. Brand building is another step to increase credibility and visibility of your center. In the center lies the importance of your impeccable and dedicated service that will build your brand.