Hello! Are you interested in starting a dog treat bakery business? Well, good news, this article will tell you what you need to know. Plus, you can sign up for this free training workshop that will teach you how to start your own side hustle baking and selling dog treats.
Hi! My name is Kristin Larsen, and I run Believe in a Budget, a blog about personal finance and my experience with various side hustles. (It feels like I’ve tried them all over the years!)
As I’ve written about before here on Making Sense of Cents, my favorite online side hustle is working as a Pinterest virtual assistant. Managing Pinterest accounts is a great way to earn an income entirely online.
But today, I’m here to talk about a completely different side hustle, one that can be run entirely offline if you want (or entirely online, or a combination!).
While I love being able to work from home (or anywhere) on my computer, there is something to be said about stepping away from the computer and doing work that doesn’t involve the ‘virtual world’ – work that requires you to move around a little instead of being planted in front of a screen all day long!
In the case of this side hustle, it involves moving around the kitchen baking up beautiful and delicious dog treats.
Yes, dog treats!
The side hustle I’m speaking of is starting a dog treat bakery and I’m so excited to share it with you today. As a successful dog treat baker myself, I know first-hand how in-demand and lucrative this business can be.
How do you start a dog bakery?
How I Took My Dog Treat Bakery from Passion to Side Hustle to Full-Time Job
My dog treat bakery story started over ten years ago when I was an interior architect and designer at my 9-5 job.
At the time, I was the proud dog mom of Bella, a sweet-but-very-high-maintenance pup. Her birthday was coming up and I wanted to give her a birthday treat that fit her ‘diva dog’ personality.
I went to the local pet store and perused the aisles, but all I could find were treats filled with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce that looked like they had been sitting on the shelves for years. After a disappointing visit, I walked out the door and decided that I was going to bake Bella a treat.
This was kind of laughable since baking was not something I had done much of in my life, but I was going to figure out a way to make it work.
I decided to do some research by going to a local bakery and spending a lot of time staring at the baked goods (awkward!), trying to figure out which one I could recreate for Bella. I finally decided on a pretty cupcake adorned with white icing.
I went home, researched dog-safe ingredients and got to work planning Bella’s birthday treat. After a quick trip to Target to buy a mini cupcake tin, I started baking.
About an hour later, her birthday cupcake was baked, iced and ready to serve. Despite its small size, it was a huge success – she loved it!
As soon as I saw how much she loved her treat, you could say I became a little obsessed with making wholesome, healthy treats for her. Soon, I started gifting them to friends and family.
I went from developing a single cupcake recipe to developing over 20 different dog treat recipes – everything from treat bones to cookies to brownies to cakes!
Pretty soon, the friends and family who were on the receiving end of my gifts were saying: ‘Kristin, our dog(s) LOVED your treats. Can we buy some to gift? Can my friends/family/co-workers/neighbors buy some?’
With those questions, Diva Dog Bakery™ was born!
My little ‘obsession’ quickly became a side hustle, first bringing in $100 to $200 a month, then over $500 a month, just selling through word-of-mouth. It was the easiest money I had ever made!
In a serendipitous turn of events, I ended up losing my 9-5 job a few months after I started Diva Dog Bakery™. It was during the Great Recession, so I couldn’t find a job in my industry anywhere. My unemployment checks weren’t enough and I was quickly going through my savings.
I was initially stuck in a ‘dog treat bakery = side hustle’ mindset, so it didn’t immediately occur to me to try to turn my side hustle into a full-time business. But when my money was drying up, it finally clicked: I can turn this into a full-time business!
I went all-in on my bakery and hustled hard. I sold at multiple farmers markets every Saturday (shout-out to my parents who helped me ‘be’ in multiple locations at once!), started a successful Etsy shop and also sold products wholesale.
Pretty soon, I went from going broke to making a solid $3,000 to $4,000 per month… despite the economy being in the biggest downturn since the Great Depression.
Needless to say, I was ecstatic!
The especially exciting thing about my earnings is this was nearly ten years ago when the dog treat industry wasn’t nearly as hot. These days, my efforts could easily bring in double that!
The Opportunities in the Dog Treat Industry (Why You Should Start a Dog Treat Bakery)
When I first started my dog treat bakery, the idea of buying homemade cupcakes or brownies or cookies for your dog was still considered a little ‘out there.’
These days, dog owners are much more tuned in to the idea of pampering their pooches and they’re willing to spend money to make it happen.
Here are a few interesting stats for you:
- The dog treat market is incredibly hot right now and getting even hotter… to the tune of almost 7 BILLION dollars in sales in just 2020 alone! (source)
- Over six out of ten dog owners are concerned about the safety of the dog treats they purchase. (source)
- Dog owners are especially interested in purchasing dog treats with wholesome, easy-to-pronounce ingredients. (source)
It’s never been a better time to get started with a homemade dog treat bakery!
How Much You Can Earn Baking Dog Treats at Home
If you just want to run a fun-but-profitable hobby, you can easily earn $500 to $1,000 a month with a dog treat bakery as a side hustle.
At this level, you can do all of the work yourself in just a few hours a week. If you have kids, you can also have them pitch in. A dog treat bakery is a great family business!
If you want to turn your dog treat bakery into a full-time business, you can scale it into four figures a month, or even five figures a month.
If you want to scale your dog treat bakery into a full-time business, expect to work 30 to 35 hours a week yourself. If you want to have a heavy farmers market presence, you will probably need to bring on some help for a few hours each week so you can have a presence at multiple farmers markets at the same time. (The best ones are usually on Saturday mornings.)
If things get really busy, you can bring on baking help, marketing help, shipping help and more! You can make this business as big (or as small) as you’d like.
Where to Sell Your Dog Treats
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you can run your dog treat baking business in a way that suits your lifestyle. You can run it offline, online, or both!
There are so many ways and places to sell your treats, but here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Word-of-mouth sales (e.g., friends, family, co-workers, church)
- Farmers markets
- Wholesale to local businesses (e.g., pet stores, veterinarian offices, gift shops)
- Etsy shop
- Social media for local sales
- Social media for nationwide sales
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Dog Treat Bakery?
Like nearly all businesses, starting a dog treat bakery comes with a few start-up costs, but you will easily earn these back when sales start coming in, or you can even take pre-sale orders! (Have I mentioned that the profit margin on dog treats is amazing?!)
Typical start-up costs for homemade dog treat bakeries in the U.S.* include:
- $20 to $50 for the initial ingredients, plus a few inexpensive baking tools if you don’t already have them in your kitchen
- $0 to $75 for treat packaging costs
- $25 to $50 for a business license
- Between a $25 one-off fee to up to a $50 per-treat fee to register your treats with your state – this will depend on your state’s regulations
*Costs and laws outside of the U.S. will vary from what is listed here.
Are Dog Treat Bakeries Regulated?
Yes, but not nearly as much as ‘people food’ bakeries. (Good for would-be dog treat bakers, but a little sad for our furry friends!)
In the U.S., the exact regulations you will need to follow are decided by your state and sometimes your local area (e.g., county, city). This is easy information to find out by contacting the following agencies:
- State department of agriculture or feed control office
- State and local health departments
You can also contact your state’s business agency and tell them you want to start a pet treat bakery. Many states have information on file about pet treat bakeries that tell you everything you need to do.
Don’t be intimidated by this process – in most cases, all you have to do is fill out a few forms and pay a few small registration fees!
How to Get Started as a Dog Treat Baker
When I first started Diva Dog Bakery™, I honestly had no idea what I was doing.
Although I saw success pretty quickly, there was a lot of trial-and-error because I had no one to guide me. I didn’t know anyone who owned a bakery, let alone a dog treat bakery.
The one thing I definitely did right at the beginning – and what I recommend to you if you want to become a homemade dog treat baker – was to spend some time in the kitchen learning how to make treats.
Because I wasn’t much of a baker (and maybe you aren’t either), getting a little baking experience under my belt was very helpful.
I also tested out my treats on my dogs and the dogs of some of my friends and family. Dogs may not be able to talk, but you can tell pretty easily which treats they love eating and which treats they’ll turn their nose up at!
With this data, you can start to package up and sell the most-liked treats. You can scale it from there and start to build up your business.
If the idea of going it alone on a dog treat bakery business sounds a little intimidating, I’d like to welcome you to join the Diva Dog Bakery™ course where I’ll teach you exactly how to build a thriving dog treat bakery business!
Here’s what the course covers:
- How to best make and store dog treats (this is where you’ll practice your baking techniques)
- How to turn your hobby into a legal dog treat business
- How to package your treats beautifully without hours of effort (beautifully packaged treats command premium prices!)
- How to price your dog treats so you maximize your revenue
- Where to sell your dog treats: offline, online or both
- The best methods for accepting payment
- How to most efficiently and inexpensively ship and deliver your treats
- The best ways to promote your business so you build up a following of raving fans and repeat customers!
You’ll also receive valuable bonuses, including:
- My full dog treat recipe book, which includes the most popular and profitable recipes I used in my bakery
- Guaranteed analysis/nutrition labels to use on your treats (required by certain states)
- 30 days of free access to the Diva Dog Bakery™ Community so you can get all of your questions answered while you grow your business, including live training
It has been so exciting to help new dog treat bakers launch their businesses! Cheering on every baking success and every business success is truly the best part of my day.
Lessons Learned from a Cupcake… and a Phone Call
I like to say that Diva Dog Bakery™ started with a cupcake.
But it really, truly started when, after gifting treats to friends, one of those friends called me and said: ‘Kristin, can I buy a bag of your dog treats?’
Until that moment, I had no idea that anyone would actually want to pay for the treats I had been making as a labor of love.
I learned a valuable lesson that day: there is a market out there for so many different products and services. Whether it’s a product or service that we dream up on our own or that we learn from a course, there is probably someone who wants to buy it from us.
We just have to figure out a way to make that sale happen… and then make it happen again and again!
Dog Treat Bakeries are a Great Business to Start
If you’re interested in starting a business that’s ‘outside the box’ of the typical online businesses, then I highly recommend starting a dog treat bakery.
The industry is booming, the work is enjoyable, the profit margin is fantastic and (maybe the best reason of all) you have the cutest customers!
To get started on your dog treat bakery journey, I’m offering a free dog treat bakery workshop! Check out the sales page here and sign up for the free workshop.
If you have any other questions about starting a dog treat bakery after watching the workshop, just email me and I’d be happy to answer them.
Are you interested in starting a dog treat bakery?