Whether you’re wanting to run a hobby-level dog bakery or go full steam ahead into a business that focuses on dog food products, a dog bakery can be a great way to fulfill your interest in both dogs and business.
Do some research into what is popular with dog owners.
This can vary in terms of flavors and shapes but what will always remain the same is the need to ensure that the baked items are suitable and safe for dogs and that they are nutritious.
Typical shapes for doggy treats include dog bones, dog shapes (whole dog, a dog’s head, dog’s paw, etc.), dog bowl shapes, basic shapes (circles, triangles, etc.) and wicked shapes such as a cat or a squirrel!
Flavors for doggy treats include meaty, cheesy, chocolatey (dog chocolate, not human chocolate, which is toxic for dogs.)
Know what ingredients you cannot use when baking doggy treats.
Avoid any ingredients that are not appropriate for dogs, or that are known to be toxic to dogs. Since some of these may be commonly used in human food, make no assumptions.
Read further How to avoid foods dangerous for dogs.
Decide what you’re wanting to bake for the doggy treat range.
Doggy treats definitely call to mind dog biscuits but you can also make dog cakes, dog meaty bites, dog snack sticks, dog bones, dried meat products, etc. You might want to concentrate on just one sort of dog treat or you might decide to bake a small range to begin with.
Decide where you will produce the doggy treats.
This will depend on your budget and the local laws with respect to baking food items. Some possible choices include:
Baking from home. This means you’ll need plenty of kitchen space and an area to store the ingredients. Moreover, your local laws with respect to food production will need to allow for this and in some cases, your kitchen may need to be inspected and certified.
Baking using a time-share kitchen. Book a spot in a commercial kitchen and pay by the hour for your use. You will need the ability to transport both ingredients and finished products to and from the rented kitchen.
Baking using your own bakery. If you have an existing commercial premises, such as a cafe or food store, you might be able to use the cooking facilities there. Again, you’ll need to meet local laws, especially with respect to making human and pet food on the same premises. You will also have the overhead costs to meet, as well as the ingredient costs.
Develop your brand.
The packaging of the dog biscuits and other treats is a part of your brand, so it should be something that gives buyers a good impression.
Decide on a logo for your business. Use a dog design (dog’s head, a whole dog, a paw mark, etc.) in colors that are clear and can be used throughout your product line.
Make use of packaging that allows the doggy treats to be featured.
Unless the particular product is impacted by light, clear cellophane is a great way to package baked dog goodies. People can see the shape, texture and colors through this material and be attracted to it.
Consider making some of the packaging seasonal, to attract purchases during special occasions.
This includes Halloween, the holiday season and summer vacation time.
Decide how you will sell the doggy baked goods.
There are various possibilities, depending on whether you have a real store or you’re working from home, etc. Here are some ways to sell the treats:
Sell through an online store. This might be one you set up from scratch or it could be done through an auction site, etc.
Sell through your own bakery store if you have one.
Sell by consignment through existing stores that sell pet food and pet items.
Sell through mail, online or phone orders. Advertise in local papers, magazines, etc. and provide contact details for the transaction.
Sell at farmers markets, fairs, general markets (craft, etc.) and specialist seasonal pop-up markets.
Sell to family and friends only. Have them spread the word, you might also rope in neighbors and their families.
In each case, know the laws with respect to selling food suitable for domestic animals.
Ring your local council, municipality or chamber of business to find out more details relevant to your area.
Hold a party on your grand opening.
Invite people to bring their dogs along to the event, to try the new products. A party is a great way to get known and to test out your baked products.
Make promotional materials.
These could include such things as:
Pamphlets detailing the products you make, including any specific tailoring that clients might request
Signage for a storefront, for displays in stores, on a vehicle, etc.
Competitions (for example, give away a basket of baked treats to your local school for their bazaar, silent auction or fundraiser as a way of promoting your business among local residents)
Sample packs; you could give these away to commuters on their way home, have them set up in stores happy to help out, etc. Sample packs should include full disclosure of the ingredients and provide plenty of information on how to find your business to start buying your baked doggy treats.
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