According to the American Pet Products Association's 2009-2010 National Pet Owners Survey, 45.6 million households have a dog. In 2008, £28.1 billion was spent by US consumers within the pet industry, and £2.1 billion of that was spent on pet services including grooming and boarding. Dog Boarding Kennels is one of the more complex businesses within the industry due to many more restrictions and laws governing what you can and cannot do. If you love dogs however, it is all worth it in the end to ensure they have a loving place to stay while their owners must be away.
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Zoning & Licensing
Determine what the zoning restrictions and licensing requirements are for your city, county and state. Larger cities often limit the number of dogs you can have without a special kennel license. There may also be specific requirements you must adhere to when building your kennel; e.g. fencing requirements, etc. Many cities, counties and now even states often have restrictions on what breed of dog is or is not allowed in that area. Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and German Shepherds are a few of the breeds on many ban lists. Your local city office should be able to provide you with the necessary requirements for your area.
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Two options exist when starting a dog boarding kennel as a business: independent business, or purchase of a franchise. Both have pros and cons to them, and you must determine what is best for you and your vision. Owning your own independent business gives you outright ownership and control over your business; but the con is you have to come up with your own marketing plan. A franchise comes with a marketing plan and an established name behind it, but the con is you don't have the freedom to manipulate the business as you see fit.
The Physical Kennels
Take into account dog behaviour in addition to local laws when designing your kennels. Dogs must have a comfortable place to sleep, move around, exercise and do their business. Questions to consider: How will the dogs be exercised? Will the dogs be kept separate at all times which require more independent room to run? Will they be allowed to play together during parts of the day which means their independent space may be smaller? What services will you be providing in addition to boarding and what kind of space will that require? How will you keep dogs from escaping? For outdoor play areas, it is recommended that the fence be buried up to three feet deep to prevent diggers from tunnelling under, and high enough to prevent jumpers from going up and over.
Many dog boarding business now offer additional services in addition to boarding the dog. Decide what services you are going to offer your customers in addition to boarding, if any. Some examples of services you may offer in addition to boarding are: grooming, vet care, pet massage, obedience or behaviour training, etc.
Plan for the supplies you will need including: food, treats, dog beds, water bowls, food bowls and any grooming or supplies you need for additional services rendered. When selecting your supplies, keep in mind the level of service you want to offer your clients. Many dog food companies now offer all natural and organic food which many owners are switching too. You may also require owners to bring their own food to prevent any digestion issues as a result of shock to the dogs system from a sudden change in food. Metal bowls are easier to clean and sanitise. Dog beds will need to be cleaned thoroughly between each dog's stay.
Legal and Miscellaneous
Consult a lawyer regarding what you need to protect your business and yourself. You will need legal forms for the pet owners to sign including a waiver allowing you to take the dog to a vet in case dog falls ill. Ensure the owner informs you of any behaviour issues the dog may have, and any health issues including medications required and allergies. Keep daily records of each dog's activities including what they ate, how much they ate, exercise times, sleeping times, how well they played with others, etc. Reports not only let the owners know how their dog was while they were away, but they help resolve any issues by determining where the issue stemmed from. Investigate insurance needs in the unfortunate event something happens to one of the dogs.
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