Finding a good dog sitter in a crowded urban metro area can be challenging — particularly if one is looking for an offering with flexibility. Such was the difficulty the founding team at Dogdrop, Shaina Denny and Greer Will, encountered as self-described “Los Angeleno dog lovers with variable schedules.”
In fairness the issue wasn’t lack of options, exactly. In the last half-decade, startups catering to pet lovers in general and dog owners in particular have sprung up nationwide. On the whole, pet owners spend $86.7 billion a year on their pets, according to data from Mintel. Not all of that is pet-sitting services — that nearly $90 billion includes things like specialty foods, furniture, collars and even spa services for pets. But considering a decade ago the pet industry was worth approximately half of what it is today ($44.6 billion), it is clear pet owners are becoming more monetarily involved in pet ownership.
And in trying to quantify that sudden upsurge in enthusiasm one really doesn’t have to look much further than the millennial generation.Three-quarters of millennials in their 30s have dogs, and almost half have a cat. When we are looking at that big uptick and spending, it is really centered on young dog owners,
Those dog owners, however, have distinct needs, particularly around pet care. While dog-friendly offices have become more common in recent years, the majority of pet owners are looking for something for their beloved pets to do while they are at work. This is especially true of apartment dwellers, who are reluctant to leave their “fur babies” cooped up all day.
But the same token, however, many millennials work remotely part of the time, or work gig jobs on less than regular schedules. They too need doggie day care, she noted, but the marketplace is less designed to cater to their specific needs. Services like Wag and Rover, for example, have daycare services, but they geared toward customers who need all-day pet care — and their pricing reflects that, ranging from $46 per day (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) to $625 for a monthly pack.
Dogdrop is oriented a bit differently. The customer purchases a monthly membership with a certain amount of time associated with it. The least expensive option is $20 and buys three hours of daycare (and a 10 percent discount on speciality workshops offered) while at the upper end customers can purchase unlimited access to doggie daycare for $800 a month (which comes with a 20 percent discount on workshops).
“Dogdrop is for the modern dog parent who has high expectations of quality care and whose lifestyle demands convenience,” Denny said in a statement.
Beyond its customizable pricing structure, Dogdrop also advertises its facility as a “customer designed space for dogs to belong” where factors from floor plan to light choices are chosen to maximize a pet's well-being.
“We’ve created different spaces for open play, training and quiet time. Plus, the human area is so nice, so owners might even want to hang out for a while themselves,” Denny said. “We are centered around community, and our thoughtfully designed spaces are streamlining the dog service experience. We want dogs to be happy and healthy and for our human members to better incorporate their dog into their everyday life.”
There is clearly a big — and growing — market for pet care in the U.S.; the numbers alone tell that story. It can, according to reports from early this year, be a surprisingly cut-throat (or dog-eat-dog) environment, and Dogdrop will enter against some battle-hardened veterans in the form of Wag’s Dog Hotels and Rover when it officially opens for business next month.
But its owners are confident that dog owners are always at base looking for the best they can get for their pets, and that their startup is the firm best placed to offer that up.