Our “Red Woof Inn” — 5 Questions To Ask Before Opening a B&B for Dogs

By Friday, July 19, 2013

Chilly becomes a host dog for DogVacay.com for canines needing a paw-tastic place to vacation while their parents are away.

It’s a proud moment for a pet parent when her dog decides to start a business of their own. Okay, so I’m giving Chilly too much credit, as pet parents often do. Actually, we’ve decided becoming a host home with DogVacay.com might be a great way to entertain Chilly, our 3-year-old Labrador Dalmatian mix, while earning a little extra income. After all, our home is a pet paradise and my office is here–so it seems like this could be a good idea, (yet to be fully determined)

DogVacayChilly, our 3-year-old, too bored, very playful Lab-Dalmatian mix, loves it when our friend’s dogs visit or stay with us. As for my husband and I, more than a few friends have said if there is such thing as reincarnation, they hope to come back as one of the Levine pets. We have 3 fenced acres, complete with all the things dogs love–a pool, a barn, fearless squirrels and frozen peanut butter bones in the fridge.

Sure, all of that might help us market our listing, but what’s most important is that we love dogs and we understand that caring for someone’s beloved canine is an important responsibility. When we go away and Chilly stays with other friends or when Kasey (our amazing pet sitter) comes over, all we really care about is whether or not Chilly will be comfortable, safe and loved.

Is starting a canine B&B for you? If you can provide a guest dog or dogs with comfort, safety and love, then you might just be a fur-bulous pet host!

Based on our experience thus far, here are 5 important questions to ask yourself before you set up a profile on DogVacay.com or start a dog hosting business of your own.

  • Does the idea pass the sniff test after the initial excitement? In other words, you’re wagging about the opportunity today, but a week from now, do you still have the same enthusiasm for it? If not, make a list of pros and cons. Now might not be the right time, but you can revisit it later.
  • Are you thinking of doing it just for the money? If the dough is your only motivation, you might need to rethink this. You should truly be excited about caring for other people’s dogs. Remember, our pets are family members and it will be important that you can treat and accommodate a guest dog or dogs carefully, comfortably and safely. That will take a lot of time, attention and genuine caring on your part.
  • Do your own pets like other dogs? How will your pooch react to a strange dog shacking up for a few nights or more, playing with her toys, loving on her people, pooping in her yard?  If your dog isn’t dog friendly, this isn’t the job for you. Your dog and the guest dog will likely be miserable and stressed.
  • Why would people leave their dog with you over other options? Can you make a genuine case for yourself and your home being a great place for their dog to vacation? What can you share with potential clients that will endear them to your listing? Depending on where you live, there may be a lot of choices for people so you’ll want to get a leg up on the competition.
  • Is everyone in the family in agreement with this decision to host vacationing dogs? My husband wasn’t crazy about the idea at first, so we decided to give it a test run with parameters that we both agreed on. With DogVacay.com, you can always pause or cease your status as a host if it doesn’t suit you, your dog or others in your family.

I’ll keep you posted on our journey with DogVacay.com! In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts, advice or comments about similar experiences.