How to set up a dog boarding and kennel business

dog image by Michal Tudek from

Setting up a dog boarding and kennel business can be a lucrative way to turn your love of animals into a business. As many people who have pets cannot always be with them, especially when they go on vacation or leave home for an extended period of time, they need somewhere safe for their dogs to stay.

Dog boarding businesses and kennels fill this need by serving as hotels for dogs, in which the dog's every need is met while its owners are away. With the right kind of planning, you can launch a successful kennel business.

Visit kennels in your area. Because dog ownership varies significantly with lifestyle, kennels will also vary depending on the area of the country in which you live. City kennels may be significantly smaller than kennels in the country, for example, and owners may need to search harder for open areas in which to exercise the dogs. Talk to the owners of the kennels about their businesses, while researching the size, pricing and set-up of the different kennels you visit.

Make a business plan. Based on the space you have, your initial financing and the amount of time you have to put into the business, come up with a business plan that discusses the way in which you want to run your kennel and your ultimate goals. At the beginning, you may want to offer discounts or deals to attract clients, just as the amount of space you have will determine the number of dogs you are able to house. If you have enough funds, you may consider purchasing a franchise of an established chain of kennels.

Purchase property or convert property you already own for your kennel. Most cities won't allow you to set up a business from your home unless it also has commercial zoning. Check with your local chamber of commerce and department of city planning for more information and to acquire the proper permits. When searching for or converting a building, you will need enough space for the animals (the amount will vary depending on the size of the animals you plan to keep, but shouldn't be less than one square yard per animal), a place for the animals to play, which should be outdoors and large enough for them to run around and exercise, and a place for the animals to go to the bathroom, which should be separate from the play space. Make sure the rooms inside give you enough space for an office to keep paperwork, are well-ventilated and well-lit to keep the animals healthy and happy.

Buy supplies. Among the things you will need to set up your kennel are pens of different sizes for the dogs, food and feeding supplies, a fence for an outdoor play area, watering bowls and dog toys.

Create the kennel space. With the pens you have purchased, set up the area in the way that makes the most sense for your business. A group of pens, organised by size, works well for many businesses. The area should be properly ventilated, and you may consider installing benches for your dogs, as well as the possibility of rugs or carpeting in each pen (though this can make cleaning more difficult). Double-check that the pens are well-secured and that the latches all work.

Make sure you comply with all local and federal regulations for businesses. Check with your local chamber of commerce to find out how to register for a tax ID number and to see which other regulations you will need to follow.

Advertise. After you are properly set up, advertise in local magazines and newspapers, at local businesses (especially pet-related businesses and veterinary clinics) and online. Setting up a website will draw attention to your business and help you get your first few clients. After that, continue with your advertising as you build a word-of-mouth reputation with your existing clients.