Forty-six per cent of households in the UK have pets, of this pet population, around 5 million are dogs. Many owners view their pets as part of the family so, they want them to have the best possible care whilst they’re away. In fact, 90% of owners pay to board their pets. So if you want to open a business providing accommodation for dogs, now is the ideal time.
Many people with this aspiration state that they wish to open a kennel. When in fact the business they are looking to go into is dog boarding. Kennels are small enclosures that are only designed for very short stays. Such as when visiting the vet and recovering from treatment.
A boarding business, on the other hand, is what you would use to house your dog for longer periods. They’re larger premises that are designed to provide a comfortable stay and enjoyable experience for your dog.
With spending on pets at an all-time high, opening a boarding facility can be a lucrative business. Clients typically value reputation over price when they choose their pets accommodation. This allows you to charge prices that cover your expenses, provide superior service and allow you to generate a reasonable profit.
But knowing where to start when you want to open a boarding facility can be tricky. Aside from the physical premises, you need to consider set-up fees, licensing requirements and your service offering. There are many add ons you can include to boost client value and your revenue.
Plus, you need to know whether opening a boarding facility is the right move for you. To help, we’ve detailed more on what you can expect, the skills required and things you need to consider.
Should I Open an Animal Boarding Facility?
You can’t work in this area for any length of time without love for animals. This is around the clock profession, so if you lack the passion for it, it can easily unravel.
It’s no exaggeration when we say it’s a 24/7 business.
Hiring staff is a considerable expense, so many boarders cover the majority of the work themselves. As this is a business that is busiest during the holiday periods, you need to be prepared for an anti-social schedule. Committing yourself to work during public holidays and weekends, as well as the school holidays.
While it may sound obvious, you need to be able to work effectively with animals. Dogs especially can be quite boisterous and sometimes unruly as there is no guarantee the dogs in your care have been properly trained. You need to have the patience and experience to help them as they acclimate and get settled in the facility.
Besides the physical handling of dogs, you must be prepared for the noise, mess and smells that come with boarding work. You need to maintain a clean and hygienic environment which involves mopping up and disposing of faeces.
But if you’re ready to commit your days to housing dogs, you’ll be rewarded with a highly enjoyable career.
The Skills You Will Need
Aside from having the desire to work with animals, there are certain skills and character traits that you’ll need. This is a career that quickly becomes your life, so make sure you’re aligned with the role.
To successfully run a boarding business, you need to be:
- Extremely confident when handling animals
- Able to delegate tasks to boarding management and employees
- Prepared for hands-on work like walking dogs, grooming and feeding
- Willing to carry out practical aspects of running the business like maintaining enclosures and the grounds of the premise
- Comfortable administering medication for animals on prescriptions
- Good with people since most of your business will be generated from client referrals
- In tune with the animals you care for and able to spot changes in behaviour that may be cause for concern
Requirements to Open a Boarding Facility
As of 1st October 2018, the Animal Activity Licensing standards requires any listed member of staff working in settings such as kennels, catteries, pet shops, dog daycares and dog home boarding must be able to demonstrate clear knowledge and experience, or a Level 2 Ofqual regulated qualification.
And to meet Higher Standards, at least one member of staff with a Level 3 Ofqual qualification must be present during working hours. Someone who is serious about animal welfare and operating a successful animal business should aim to complete a higher level 3 qualification so they are fully equipped with the skills and training for that role.
This can be achieved by completing any of these Ofqual Regulated Qualifications:
- Level 2 Award in Canine Care and Welfare
- Level 3 Award in Canine Care, Behaviour and Welfare
- Level 3 Diploma in Canine Care, Behaviour and Welfare
- Level 3 Diploma in Kennel and Cattery Management
- Level 3 Award in Dog Walking and Pet Sitting for Professionals
Completing Level 2 and Level 3 Qualifications will help you understand what you need to do to meet licensing requirements. The Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 requires animal accommodation businesses to be licensed by their local council.
Another aspect you need to consider is the start-up costs you need to invest to get the business off the ground. Buying premises with sufficient indoor and outdoor space won’t be cheap. You’ll also need to purchase the accommodation furniture, equipment and supplies. Plus, pay for ongoing expenses like home insurance, security, maintenance, food and wages.
You can start by converting space in your home to initiate your business on a small scale. Many aspiring dog boarders begin their operations this way, before scaling up at a later date. You could also recoup some of the expense by offering additional services. Many boarding facilities are now providing supplementary services like dog grooming, dog walking or dog training which you could capitalise on. In this instance, studying courses in these areas would also be of great benefit.
Other ways to Run a Boarding Business
If you don’t feel comfortable starting from scratch, there are other ways you can become a dog boarding facility owner. Arguably the lowest risk route is by buying a franchise. This allows you to run a business that is already part of an established, recognised brand. You’ll then be able to receive training and ongoing support.
Otherwise, you can buy an existing business that already has the working parts in place. Allowing you to take over the premises, trained staff and existing customer base. You can then put your own stamp on it and build a rapport with the clientele to ensure their repeat business.
Get Qualified Online
If you’ve realised your ambition to open a boarding business, learndirect can help you take the next step.
As the leading UK distance learning provider, we have many courses related to animal care. These can give you the knowledge and skills to provide exceptional animal care services. As well as teach you what is required to obtain the appropriate licensing for your business.
Our Level 3 Diploma in Kennel and Cattery Management gives you all you need to effectively manage a boarding business or apply for a role at a Kennel or Cattery. From providing appropriate animal care to daily administration and management.
As it is an online course, it allows you to study around your current commitments. So you can keep working or managing childcare duties. You can also complete the materials at your own pace, which enables you to qualify as quickly as you like.
Aside from being regulated by Ofqual, the course also meets Animal Activities Licensing (AAL) Higher Standard Requirements. Assuring you of the quality of the education you’ll be receiving ahead of your new career.
You’ll also be assigned a dedicated tutor when you enrol, so you’re not alone in your learning journey. If you have any questions, queries, or want feedback on your progress, just reach out to them.
Find out more about how you can take the next step to open your boarding business by clicking the link below.