Despite what my family thinks, doggy daycares aren’t a new phenomenon. Since the 1990s, kennels and doggy daycares have watched over our captivating canine companions while we’re on vacation or at work.
But with more millennials moving into urban environments and bringing their furry friends with them, the doggy daycare industry has exploded. The pet groom & boarding business has ballooned into an $8 billion industry with more than 110,000 stores in the United States. I don’t know the genius that turned hanging out in a room filled with dogs each day into a business, but I want to shake their hand … and then pet their dog.
However, it’s one thing to know that your prized pupper is being taken care of all day. But the truth of it is, we miss our dogs. And we want to see the fun they get into with their new friends.
At first, many daycares used live-streaming video (some still do) to give dog owners a glimpse into the fun our furry friends were having each day. But some socially savvy doggy daycare disruptors have found a way to replace expensive, multi-camera live streams with a fun, engaging social media presence.
I wanted to explore this small corner of the social media world because … well, I mean, who doesn’t like looking at dogs online all day?
FULL DISCLOSURE: I own a dog and send him to daycare regularly. Yes, you’ll get to meet both of them soon.
Barkadelphia (IG: @barkadelphia)
Opened in 2012 by dog lovers, for dog lovers, they take belly rubs very seriously. They regularly update their Facebook and Instagram page with daily dog photos and new members of the pack.
This seems like standard practice for a lot of doggy daycares in Philadelphia. Posting regular updates throughout the day so when their owners hop on social, they’ll see what their furry friends are up to. It also helps the daycare promote their services and increase their social following.
That’s basically what my first experience with doggy daycare was like after I got my first dog, Gideon. He’s almost 2 years old now, and a little gentleman.(Gideon’s first day at @phillydogschool)
Philly Dog School (IG: @phillydogschool)
I first signed Gideon up at Philly Dog School, which has four locations all over Philadelphia. They post regular updates to their Instagram page (one for each location) and you can tell the staff really have fun with the dogs throughout the day. I got to watch Gideon make new friends, chomp away at water fired from a squirt bottle, and take many naps on their cool tile floor. It was a fantastic introduction to the doggy daycare scene in Philly.
Just 4 Paws (IG: @just4pawsphilly)
I could stay on the Just 4 Paws Facebook page for days. They regularly post Facebook albums with 50+ images of their dogs going at it all day, then pick out some highlights for their Instagram account. If you find yourself searching for a dog fix throughout the day, their page is a great place to start. And if you’re a dog owner looking for a fun daycare in Germantown, look them up.
Parkbench (IG: @parkbenchphilly)
After Dog School, I took Gideon to a new daycare in Fishtown called Parkbench. Originally I started taking him there because it was closer to my house/the El, but I quickly fell in love with how they were using social media to keep owners connected to their dogs throughout the day.
Along with posting daily photos on Instagram, Parkbench uses IG Stories for some quirkier content. And they really have fun with it. You’ll regularly see employees playing with the dogs, building mazes for them to run around in, and even painting beach scenes on photos of napping pups.
I had a few questions about Parkbench’s social strategy, so I reached out to the owner – Nathan – to see how it all came together.
ChatterBlast Media: Did you have a social media strategy ready when you opened Parkbench? Or did it grow naturally?
Parkbench: Going into the start of [Parkbench], I figured we would use Facebook much more. But [our social media efforts] have all shifted strictly to Instagram. And it’s worked. We found traction almost immediately. We even ran two sponsored ads and got some business out of that too.
CBM: What made you stick with Instagram?
PB: Instagram just seemed right for what we were trying to do. Some daycares have live streaming cameras, but at the time of opening, I was in a money crunch and cutting any cost that I did not need was a real factor. Plus we could keep owners up to date for FREE with our Instagram Stories. On top of it all, we found out that it had become many people’s favorite part of their day. It gets their minds off the daily grind.
CBM: It’s great to see Gideon running around (mostly napping) and having fun throughout the day. What’s the reaction from owners been like?
PB: The reaction has been great. Like I previously mentioned, many people have told us that they look forward to our posts throughout the day, and even more so our Instagram Stories. It’s not just customers either. We have friends of friends, strangers, family members and even better, people’s grandparents. Though, on more than one occasion we’ve been told that our “Instagram website on the World Wide Web is so hilarious.”
CBM: Your account is always trying something new with updated stickers, painting dogs on the beach, or jumping on trending hashtags that are happening around Philly (like the Draft or the last big blizzard). Who comes up with these crazy ideas?
PB: We all do the painting here. I tend to do the beach scenes often, but we all do contribute. It brings some humor to the story and lets people see their dogs in a funny and different setting. Since the Draft was in Philly, it was fitting that we had draft of our own here. ESPN is usually on throughout the day, so my theme for that day was heavily influenced by who the Birds were interested in for this years draft. Besides that, any current event that we can make a joke out of here at PB with the dogs is relatable to all of our IG viewers as well. We know roughly 75 percent of our followers, so we try to appeal to all of them.
CBM: Any fun themes coming up?
PB: We’re getting close to Halloween, so we’re for sure going to have some funny material coming up. There may be a few costumes floating around here in the next month or so, which will be great for some Instagram Stories and posts, and for some positive moral here. It’s always funny to see a dog dressed up in a costume.
We couldn’t agree more, Nathan.