Did you know you can actually start a dog treat business as a side hustle? Of course you can!
I’m sure many of you know how much I love side hustling and often tend to think of new and interesting ways to make extra money on the side.
Long before this blog, I had my very own homemade dog treat business called Diva Dog Bakery, and it was fun, creative and very profitable.
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I’ve always enjoyed going to the pet store with my dogs in tow. The treat section always serves as a great way to reward your pet for good behavior and treats can also be an excellent training tool. Aside from that, many of us just love to grab dog treats just because.
Side hustling can help you earn more money to meet your financial goals and also fulfill a passion by taking on a project that you’ll enjoy. Starting your own dog treat business is no different.
Why should you start a dog treat business
There are so many good reasons to start a dog treat business. For starters, if you love dogs and also enjoy baking and trying out recipes, this could be the perfect cross between both interests.
Knowing that there’s a solid market for this type of business can also motivate you to get started. People love to spoil their dogs (self-included). So whether it’s for birthdays, special milestones or just a random afternoon snack, dog treats can come in super handy.
It’s also important to note that the dog treat industry is full of opportunities for you to try new flavor combinations and types of treats. Making homemade treats may attract customers who are willing to pay for natural and whole ingredients as well.
How much does it cost to start a dog treat business?
Luckily, this side hustle idea is fun, rewarding, and has low start-up costs. The great thing about this side hustle is that you can start slow and work with what you have. Research dog-friendly ingredients and create samples in your own kitchen.
Decide how you’ll package the treats and find out how long they’ll last.
Start small with friend and family
Friends and family can be a great area of support since you can give samples out to them to give their pets. This can help provide you with reviews and feedback.
Remember, homemade dog treats are made with regular baking ingredients that could even be used to make cookies for your own family.
Start your own business
Once you’ve decided that having a dog treat business on the side is right for you, you’ll want to start legitimizing your business. Here are a few things you’ll need to get or consider.
Business license, etc.
Think of a name for your business and get licensed. Remember, the name of your business can help set you apart and establish your brand. Give it a few days to brainstorm if you need to or ask friends and family for inspiration or ideas.
Then, contact your local Chamber of Commerce to determine how to register your business in your state. They can also help you determine if you need to obtain any licenses or permits.
Get a Website or Online Store
If you would like to start a pet friendly blog in general, you can learn step-by-step instructions to get your blog launched in just fifteen minutes!
Remember, if you’ll be shipping your dog treats, you’ll need to factor those costs in too and want to make customers feel safe when entering their personal information to order from you.
Sell In Person at Farmer’s Markets and Craft Fairs
You can always sell your dog treats locally in person at events and fairs. Keep in mind that you may need to pay to set up a booth or table but you can also negotiate these costs and even offer free samples and discounts to help you gain more customers long-term.
Open a Separate Bank Account For Business Expenses
It’s always best to keep your business and personal finances separate by having separate bank accounts for each. That way, it will be easier to keep track of the income and expenses that are specific to your dog treat side business.
You can open a business bank account at most banks or credit unions. You will need an EIN number which you can obtain on the IRS website for free.
Keep in mind that some business bank accounts may charge a fee if you don’t maintain a minimum balance amount. To avoid this, you can always just open a separate checking account for your business. It doesn’t have to be labeled as an official business bank account.
Determine How You’ll Accept Payment
Narrow down a payment solution that would be convenient for customers and for you. You can accept payments via Paypal or Stripe on your website. You can also consider using Square to accept card payments in person.
Compare features and fees to come up with the best payment option for your business.
What supplies do I need to start a dog treat business?
Start-up costs can be pretty low when launching your dog treat side business especially if you start working out of your own home. Here are a few supplies and expenses you’ll need to consider.
Remember, you can start with baking ingredients that you already have at home. Things like flour, eggs, cinnamon and oil. Start planning out which flavors you’ll add in whether it’s pumpkin puree or even bacon bits for a more savory dog treat.
Do some extensive research to see which ingredients will be safe for dogs and which ones you should avoid completely. You may even want to stick to certain types of brands or versions of a product. For example, gourmet dog treat brands that include peanut butter flavors often include all-natural peanut butter that doesn’t have added ingredients.
Consider buying some of these items in bulk from warehouse stores like Costco or ordering them online so you can have enough inventory to prepare batches of dog treats.
You’ll need baking tools like a cookie sheet, cooling rack, mini muffin tins (for pup cakes), mini donut pan, mixing bowls, measuring cups, and a variety of cookie cutters to start baking your treats.
I have also used my KitchenAid mixer more times that I can count as it speeds up the baking process, which will save you money in the long run!
Again, start with what you have on hand, then you can always add more supplies and upgrade your existing baking tools.
Food packaging and brand logo
It’s also smart to create packaging with your brand’s name on it. You can hire someone on Etsy to help you design a logo anywhere from $5 to $20. Simply perform a search for logo design.
One of my favorite resources it to purchase food packaging labels and logo stickers from Etsy. One particular company I have worked with on Etsy is Heirloom Ink because of their affordable pricing, quality of stickers and how well the color looks.
You should also list ingredients and the nutritional analysis on your packaging along with the name and address for your company.
Another important thing to note is that your state may have other regulations. Be sure to locate and contact your local Department of Agriculture Representative to see if you need to meet any other packaging requirements.
Shipping and packaging
Having the capacity to ship your dog treats out to customers can help you reach more people.
You can make shipping labels online and also utilize the free and affordable shipping boxes at your local post office. You can grab these boxes in person or order online for free.
Make sure you print your shipping labels online as it’s actually cheaper than going to your post office. I use this brand to print out my own shipping labels and can print out two receipts per page. This helps reduce cost!
Don’t forget, after you print out your labels you can schedule for your mailman to pick up your packages for free, which helps avoid a trip to the post office and saves time.
To offset the cost of shipping, you can add an extra $3 or $4 to each other that needs to be shipped out. Or, you can encourage your customers to buy a larger order to qualify for free shipping.
How to promote and market a new dog treat business
Carve out some time to promote and market your business to help you gain more customers and sales. This is an important step because if no one knows about your business, they won’t be able to buy from you. Here are some of the best ways to start marketing a new dog treat business
Create a social media presence
You can also share dog photos and run promotions on social media as well. Once you build up a following, consider investing in Facebook advertising to market your dog treat business.
Pinterest is a fantastic revenue to use to promote your dog treats for free! If you aren’t sure how to use Pinterest, consider hiring a Pinterest virtual assistant to help launch and grow your business. I also recommend this 20-step Pinterest workbook if you would like to DIY your business.
Ask to leave a business card at groomers, vet, etc.
See if you can leave a business card or flyer at your local dog groomers business or veterinarian. You can also drop your card off at other relevant businesses where potential customers may be visiting.
Volunteer to help at an event
Get out into the community and volunteer to help at a pet-themed event or expo. You can offer to give out free samples of your dog treats and also bring some packaged to sell.
How much money can I make with a dog treat business as a side hustle?
This will vary depending on a variety of factors like:
- How pet-friendly your ingredients are and whether most dogs enjoy the treats
- If you have tested out different flavors and optimized the products that sell best
- Whether you ship products and where you ship to
- How much your dog treats cost
- Your marketing and promotion strategy
Rest assured, this business can be really profitable. It is common to make $500 – $1,000+ per month depending on your availability. Many pet treat business owners make 5 or 6 figures per month.
You can always set an income goal and start small to see how much you can earn before ramping your efforts up. Income also dependss on how much you bake and if you would like to sell your dog treats for online or in person.
Starting your own dog treat business can be a great side hustle if you’re willing to put in the work and get creative with your treats. Follow these steps as a guide and prioritize what to focus on step-by-step.
Starting your own side business will require some work, but it’s also a super rewarding experience in the long run.
I recommend checking out my course Diva Dog Bakery™ – How to Start a Dog Treat Bakery. Using my personal experience of owning a dog bakery for several years and the current trends, I can help you start a dog treat bakery from home.
Would you like to start a dog treat bakery?