Dog Daycare and Dog Boarding Enrichment Guide: Boost Pet Care Business Revenue

Key to Profits and Sending Dogs Home the Best Version of Themselves

If you are wondering if you should roll out some type of enrichment program for your business, the answer is YES.  

Over the past 5 years dog daycare & dog boarding enrichment has proven to boost bottom-line profits (EBITDA) by as much as 75% over traditional dog daycare and all-inclusive dog boarding programs.  

Pet Owners WANT to find a way to provide a unique experience for their pets.  They want to somehow be included in the excitement of their pet hanging with all their friends and it’s your job to educate them and make PERSONALIZED RECOMMENDATIONS for their pet to have the best day ever.

5 Types of Enrichment for Dog Daycare & Dog Boarding

If you are new to Enrichment, I would recommend starting by creating a monthly Enrichment calendar where you focus on 2-3 days per week and providing free enrichment services to the dogs that attend daycare.  This is going to generate awareness among your customers (especially if you share photos and videos).  Many dog daycare businesses will focus the free enrichment days on slower attendance days to improve overall dogs in the door.  Take notes on the dog’s profiles within your dog daycare software and/or dog boarding software and create tags for which activities they enjoyed so you can in the future send out targeted marketing texts to drive adoption when these become paid services. 

Different breeds might have certain instincts

  • High-drive, high-energy working breeds will likely need more frequent and varied enrichment than pets bred solely for human companionship.
  • Hounds generally love to use their noses.
  • Terriers are known for having intense prey and chase instincts.
  • Herding breeds enjoy stalking and controlling behavior.
  • Northern breeds often have a strong desire to run.
  • Retrievers love to chase and carry objects.

Below are the 5 types of enrichment, however, you can have hundreds of different services that support each type of enrichment.  Test the waters and determine what services customers lean towards more than others.  Think about what services provide an opportunity for great photos and videos that can be shared through digital report cards and/or social media posts (key functionality in any dog daycare software and/or dog boarding software you have chosen).  

1. Cognitive/Mental Stimulation Enrichment

  • K9 IQ puzzles
  • Basic obedience, rally, or agility training
  • Learning new tricks & behaviors
  • Impulse control (leaving treats waiting to chase a toy or not darting out of an open door)
  • Nose work
  • Anything that requires mental focus

2. Social Enrichment

  • Hide & seek
  • Daycare with other dogs of similar playstyle
  • Canine Massage

3. Sensory Enrichment

  • Playing bird sounds or gentle wind chimes
  • Sniff walls or sniff walks
  • Varying the type, size, and taste of treats they eat

4. Nutritional Enrichment

  • Stuff kongs
  • Frozen Pupcicles
  • Scatter feeding kibble
  • Puzzle feeders
  • Lick Mats
  • Snuffle Mats
  • Pup cups
  • Holiday meals
  • Hiding treats under cones/cups/bowls

5. Physical Enrichment

  • Frisbee-led scavenger hunt
  • Flirt poles or Spring poles
  • Interactive games like fetch or tug-of-war
  • Physical play like wrestling with staff or other dogs
  • Flyball
  • Homemade agility courses
  • Dig pit
  • Paper shredding

Focus on Near Zero Labor Activities

When evaluating your enrichment program, keep in mind that focusing on services that have near zero labor required for delivery will not only boost your profits but also require fewer staff hours to deliver the services.  In the current pet care services market, finding/hiring/keeping great team members can be one of the most challenging things you do as an owner. 

Benefits of an Enrichment Program

A well-thought-out Enrichment program will benefit the dogs as much as your business. Below are the key benefits of an Enrichment program.

Prevents Boredom

Have you ever come across the saying “A tired dog is a well-behaved dog”? While ensuring our pets get enough exercise is crucial for their overall health, excessive physical activity without adequate mental engagement can lead to issues. We might end up with companions whose bodies never tire, yet their minds remain restless. (Dogs tend to build cardiovascular and muscle strength quicker than humans, making it easy for them to outlast us on hikes and runs.)

This is where enrichment activities come into play. When combined with appropriate physical exercises, activities such as food puzzles, snuffle mats, and engaging training sessions can keep your dog entertained without wearing either of you out.

Relieves Stress

The modern environment can be overwhelming for our canine companions. Their heightened senses of hearing and smell mean that stimuli we barely register, such as city sirens or strong scents from air fresheners in apartment buildings, can be incredibly intense for them.

Engaging in natural behaviors like sniffing and chewing can help dogs alleviate anxiety and become more at ease with their environment. Studies even suggest that sniffing can decrease a dog’s heart rate while they walk. Additionally, the simple act of eating, whether it’s their regular meals or treats, can have a calming effect on our dogs.

Builds Dog Confidence

Enrichment activities aren’t just about alleviating stress from intimidating situations; they also play a crucial role in boosting our dogs’ confidence. Through engaging with different objects and maneuvering their bodies in diverse ways, our dogs come to understand that challenges are not daunting but often lead to positive outcomes. This underscores the significance of introducing an Enrichment program to your pet care business!

Improve Pet Care Business Profits

Improve profit margins by increasing average revenue per pet (applies to dog daycare, dog boarding, and pet grooming).

Improve Staff Job Satisfaction

An Enrichment program keeps staff members engaged and helps remind them that while cleaning is a major part of care, playing with dogs and seeing them engaged is super rewarding. 

Sample Dog Daycare Enrichment Schedule

8am to 9am: Physical & Social Small Group Play

9am to 10am: K9 IQ Puzzles & Snuffle Mats while Resting

10am to 11am: Obedience Sessions (recall, small group sit, trick of the month)

11am to 12pm: Sensory Massage

12pm to 1pm: Small group play with Singing & Dancing

1pm to 2pm: Naptime

2pm to 3pm: Search for treats under cones/cups/bowls

3pm to 4pm: Small Group Bacon Bubbles

4pm to 5pm: Frisbee Scavenger Hunt for Treats

5pm to 6pm: Rest & Relaxation before pick-ups

Keys to a Successful Enrichment Program

Pricing for Profit

Your enrichment services should range between $4-$8 per activity.  If you are offering an Enrichment daycare service then the price should be 30% higher than your typical all-day-play program.  To optimize profits, you should focus on near-zero labor activities and/or make sure your pricing for cognitive enrichment which requires more staff is priced at 100% of the cost of labor to deliver the service. 

Call & Check-In Scripts

Scripting for the front desk to make personalized recommendations for each pup.  Having the ability to make a personalized recommendation reminds pet parents that you really know what their dogs need and want.  Staff should not see this as a sales expertise, but rather as achieving the goal of sending every dog home the best version of themselves. 

Dog Daycare Software and Dog Boarding Software + Online Booking

For companies who have already invested in a dog daycare software and/or dog boarding software program, incorporating Enrichment into the online booking process (and including images and descriptions) is critical to optimize your average revenue per pet.  You are also going to leverage your pet care software to organize and ensure all the services that are sold are also delivered.  This can be done through Enrichment reports and digital charting to know who delivered each service, what the labor was, and the overall profit on a service-by-service basis. 

Enrichment Schedules

Delivering enrichment during your regular scheduled rest and rotation sessions allows you to minimize labor and gives each pup an opportunity to relax while they.  Understand your labor and staff ratios to make sure you are profitable for every dog you add to the program.  Your labor expense should be 25% to 30% of the revenue generated from delivering the service. 

Marketing through Text, Social, Chalkboards & Website Content

Creating awareness among existing clients about how you are different and providing ways for pet parents to create custom experiences for their dogs is the 1st step.  You should be doing this through mass text messages, chalkboard signs in the lobby, and posting videos and photos of dogs participating in enrichment on social media.  But you don’t want to forget about updating your website to allow people searching for a unique experience to find out how you are different and your approach to sending every dog home the best version of themselves. 

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