A Dog Gone Good Time!

Camp Bow Wow
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Founded in Denver, Colorado, in December 2000, Camp Bow Wow has grown to become an $80 million-plus business with over 130 locations in forty states, and a location in Canada! With upwards of thirty new franchises on the way and the support of their almost two hundred franchisees, Camp Bow Wow has established itself as the premier doggy daycare and overnight Camp in North America.
Camp Bow Wow provides dogs with a fun, safe, and caring home away from home. Dog owners have the peace of mind that their furry family member is being cared for in their absence. At Camp Bow Wow, “It’s all about the dogs,” and it is this passion for dogs and their care that has served as a catalyst for the company’s growth and success over the years.

In addition to the numerous awards received by franchisees in their local communities, Camp Bow Wow has been named to the Entrepreneur magazine Franchise 500 list for the past five years, and received the Inc. 5000 Honor Roll award for inclusion in the annual Inc. 5000 list for five consecutive years. Founder Heidi Ganahl has also been recognized as an outstanding woman in business by several sources and selected as one of the top ten most promising women entrepreneurs by Fortune magazine in 2014.

The company itself has been featured in a variety of publications and media outlets including recent appearances in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Fox & Friends, and Good Morning America. Despite the success, the awards, and the recognitions it has received over the years, Ganahl has been faced with her share of professional challenges and personal tragedies that have defined her journey.

Plans for Camp Bow Wow originated in 1994 when the doggy daycare market began growing in popularity. With two dogs of her own and a passion for the care and well-being of all dogs, Ganahl and her husband developed a business plan, hoping to make their dreams of Camp Bow Wow a reality.

“I started the company because I had two dogs of my own,” said Ganahl. “I couldn’t believe how bad the kennels were. They were places I would never take my dogs so I thought, this is not brain surgery. Why can’t we make a cool place for dogs to hang out?”

Sadly, tragedy struck and Ganahl lost her husband in a plane crash, a devastating blow that would not only significantly change the direction of her life, but would see the plans for Camp Bow Wow put on indefinite hold while she once again tried to find meaning and purpose.

Five years later, Ganahl was still deeply affected by the loss. Her younger brother, in an attempt to break his sister’s slump, made the suggestion to resurrect plans for Camp Bow Wow. In 2000, that is exactly what Ganahl did, persevering to establish what would become one of the most successful franchises in North America.

Offering the highest standard of service, Camp Bow Wow has changed the landscape of the doggy day care market. It employs cutting-edge technology and truly caring approaches to pet care and training.

“We are going to continue to focus on technology and just making it really fun to stay at Camp in lots of different ways, like apps and things like that,” said Ganahl of the plans to remain on the cutting edge of technology with computers and smartphones. “We were the first pet care facility to put live webcams in, and those are a really big part of our business now.”

Camp Bow Wow experienced rapid growth, with Ganahl making the decision to franchise in 2003. Franchising offers individuals and partners a great opportunity to start their own business. With Ganahl’s goal of reaching $98 million in system sales by the end of 2015, Camp Bow Wow is proving to be an excellent franchise option for those who have a passion for dogs and success.

“I think people are getting that franchising is a great way to start your own business,” said Ganahl, “Because you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and you have a proven track record of making it profitable and running them correctly.” Camp Bow Wow offers much support for franchisees including extensive training opportunities and zoning expertise to help them achieve success.

Camp Bow Wow is a fun, safe, upscale environment for dogs to come and stay, play, and be loved while their owners are away. Camp Bow Wow boasts large indoor and outdoor play areas, certified Camp Counselors who are trained in pet CPR and first aid, and live webcams that enable Camp staff and family members to check in on their furry family members.

Camps offer day care and overnight boarding options. Dogs take part in daytime Camp activities and can retire at night to their own private, spacious, temperature-controlled cabins, complete with comfy cots, fleece blankets, and a Campfire Treat. Camp Bow Wow also offers a variety of other services including grooming, training, and in-home pet care.

Camp Bow Wow serves dogs their own food to ensure the animal’s dietary wellbeing and meets all special requests in terms of treats, medical needs, and care for older dogs, as well as those who have special requirements, at no additional cost to owners. Camp Bow Wow maintains stringent standards for cleanliness, and safety is held in the utmost importance.

In addition to the robust training opportunities that are available to franchisees and staff members, Camp Bow Wow operates in accordance with strict rules to ensure the safety of all Campers. Campers must be spayed/neutered, current on all shots, must socialize well with other dogs, and should be in overall good health.

For dogs who do not meet the criteria, and for non-canine pets, Camp Bow Wow has expanded its services, presenting alternatives such as the Home Buddies program. Developed in 2009 to provide complete in-home pet care for dogs and other pets, Home Buddies provides love and care in-home for all pets in an owner’s absence.

Camp Bow Wow’s bonded and insured Home Buddies Caregivers are pet CPR and first aid certified. Home Buddies services include dog walking, pet sitting, and poop scooping for yard clean-up.

Additionally, Camp Bow Wow introduced its Behavior Buddies program to help good dogs become great dogs, through reward-based training. Utilizing its renowned training program, Camp Bow Wow can help modify and correct behaviors in dogs of all ages.

Training options include obedience training (Level I: Basic Puppy/Basic Adult, Level II: Advanced, Level III: Public Polishing and Canine Good Citizen Preparation), private training, in-home private training, in-Camp private training, board and train, play and train, puppy socialization, and one hour seminars.

Beyond its services, one of the most important components of the work being done at Camp Bow Wow is the Bow Wow Buddies Foundation, which was started in 2007. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives and wellbeing of dogs through the support of foster programs, spay and neuter efforts, disaster assistance, canine cancer research, and animal welfare education.

“That’s a great love of mine,” said Ganahl. “We do a lot of things with it, from training therapy dogs to helping in disasters – disaster relief situations like Katrina or wildfires – and then we also have a huge foster program through Camp Bow Wow. We love dogs a lot, and it is very important to us that they all have homes and basic health care and are treated humanely.”

Bow Wow Buddies Foundation has raised over $100 000 for canine cancer research and has adopted out over 10,000 dogs through the Camp Bow Wow foster program, and has created a network of therapy dogs around the country, ready for deployment, in addition to other educational efforts.

To increase its capabilities, in 2014, Camp Bow Wow was sold to VCA Inc., a well-known and trusted name in pet care. The move better enabled it to grow and serve its clients by drawing on VCA’s network of over seven hundred animal hospitals across North America and the resources that accompany such expansive reach in the pet care industry. Ganahl has remained on board as CEO.

“Don’t put the dollar before the dog,” explained Ganahl. “We believe that if you always put the safety and the happiness of the dogs first, then your customers will keep coming back. So the good news is they have, and the dogs have a wonderful time.” The results are a true testament to the dedication of the team at Camp Bow Wow who work diligently to ensure the safety and well-being of their furry friends.



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