Dogs are great for business–no surprise there. The pet industry has grown significantly every year since 1994 with an estimated income of $69 billion in 2017. Dog walking services alone are a $900+ million industry, and pet grooming and boarding businesses boast revenue topping $8 billion. Also, dogs are awesome.

Kris Carey, owner of Sit on Cue, is a dog trainer and dog sitter in Virginia. His boarding business, Dogvacay, recently merged with Rover, an online network of pet sitters and dog walkers. Carey knows the dog business inside and out, so we took the opportunity to fetch some first-hand/paw knowledge.

Lendistry: Tell us about your business and how it developed to what it is today.

Kris Carey: In 2011, my wife and I adopted our dog, Legend, from the local city-run shelter. We had no idea how to choose the right dog for our family and in hindsight, he showed all the signs of a dog that had severe social anxiety and lacked confidence. Many days it was challenging just to take him for a walk. After realizing that we didn’t have the tools to navigate or correct his behavior, we hired a dog trainer, but needless to say, halfway through the training, we realized Legend wasn’t making any progress.

Since I was child, I’ve been fascinated, and maybe a little obsessed with dogs. I decided to pursue a certification in dog training, which led me to starting a canine etiquette academy, Sit On Cue. I wanted to give other dog owners a better experience and tools to have a happy and healthy relationship with their dogs. I’ve recently added dog daycare, boarding and dog walking to our suite of services.

Lendistry: Why are dog businesses so appealing?

Kris: According to the American Pet Products Association, revenue in the pet industry is expected to be $69 billion in 2017 with about 65% of households in the United States having at least one pet. It’s practically recession proof.

But, the personal fulfillment comes from helping dog parents develop a deep bond with their four-legged friends. Most times, it’s not about training the dog, it’s about helping the dog owner truly become the pack leader. When you experience the dog owner begin to understand the dynamics of the relationship and step into being the pack leader, and seeing the dog respect that.

Lendistry: What changes have you seen in dog-based business in the past few years?

Kris: Although dogs have always been man’s best friend, we’re starting to see them become an even more important member of the family. From the increase in natural and organic pet foods and snacks to doggie spa treatments and luxe boarding accommodations, owners are pulling out all the stops to ensure their companions are well taken care of.

Lendistry: With so many dog businesses out there, what can dog business owners do to raise the bar?

Kris: Find unique opportunities to service your current and future customers. There are so many creative ways to provide dog owners with products and services that enhance their relationship with their K-9 friend.

Lendistry: Thank you so much, Kris!

39-40% of California households own at least one dog, so even if you’re not a dog-specific business, finding a way to welcome your customers’ four-legged family members (within the health codes of your county) is a great way to boost your influence in the community. Most health laws do not allow dogs in businesses where food is sold, but restaurants with outdoor seating can accommodate canine customers most of the time, and dog owners also appreciate it when you offer dog-friendly treats. If outdoor seating isn’t an option for you, simply placing a water bowl by your entrance with a sign to the effect of, “We’re sorry we can’t host your pup, but here’s a drink on the house” sparks some goodwill to walkers-by and will help dog owners remember you as a future dining choice.

For office-based companies, dogs are still beneficial. An NPR article featured the growing trend of companies allowing employees to bring their dogs to work: “According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 7 percent of employers now allow pets to come to work with their owners. That’s up from 5 percent five years ago. Benefits managers say it’s a nonfinancial benefit that speaks to the growing demand among workers for work-life balance.” It’s no wonder that this is a benefit for everyone, as pets are known to reduce stress, and studies have even shown that the ability to bring pets to work increases productivity.

No matter what business you’re in, be a dog business.