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The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018

On 1 October 2018, the new Regulations of activities involving animals came into force which changed the previous licensing regime for businesses involved in dog boarding which includes home boarding and day care. Anyone engaged in this activity must be licensed and it is against the law to operate such a business without a council license.

How to start your own dog day care or home boarding business

A very rewarding occupation
If you love being around dogs and you are looking to do something completely different to what you are doing now that is thoroughly enjoyable, keeps you fit and gives you a lot of flexibility then looking after someone else’s dog may be the business opportunity that you are looking for.
Increasingly dog owners are looking for people to look after their dog while they are at work and home boarding for when they go on holiday. If you are a dog owner yourself and you take your dog on a couple of walks a day then why not take a few extra dogs with you and get paid for the privilege.

Dogs love being with other dogs and being part of a pack. Surprisingly they soon settle down and, in most cases, look forward to attending their day care facilities where they get enrichment through walk, play and rewards.
This is how I started. Sometime ago a friend of mine who ran a dog day care and home boarding business found that she was getting too busy and asked me if I would like to help her walk her dogs. This progressed into me looking after dogs at home and their owners became my customers. My own dog enjoyed having other dogs around for company. I applied for and was granted a council license and when the new regulation came into force in 2018 I was granted a 5 star license by my council.

Setting up your own business
So how easy is it to set up your own business. It is not difficult at all and
there is always advice available on the internet. This is what I think you should consider:
- Do you have a dog walking area close to where you live? You do not
really want to be taking dogs to walks in cars if you can help it as it   increases your operating costs and your car will get dirty.
- Are you able to section off your garden to create some separate areas for your dogs? In some circumstances you may have to segregate dogs in the event of injury or illness.
- Do you have a large indoor space that the dogs can socialise in, for example a large kitchen?
- Do you have an area where you can clean, wash and dry your dogs after a dirty walk?
- How secure is your garden? The council will require you to have lockable gates and a second gate so that your dogs cannot run out as soon as a garden gate is opened.
I think it is a good idea to have a few stair gates around the house so as the dogs can only go where you will allow them to.

Council licensing
Having considered the above, you should then apply to your local council for a dog day care or home boarding license. The council will come and assess you and your home. The rule of thumb is that the council will allow you to keep a number of dogs based on how many rooms in your house have a window. So for example if you have a three bedroom house, a kitchen, dining room and lounge and they all have windows then you could have 6 dogs. However, if you have your own dog then you would only be allowed to have 5 dogs.
In England your council will give you a star rating. You can read about this by clicking here. Councils in Wales, Scotland and NI do not do this as they are governed by different Animal Welfare Legislation.

In terms of the cost of setting up your business these are some ideas of the costs and things you need to consider/buy on a regular basis.
Council license £300
Insurance £100
Website £500 – use a professional. I would recommend Build The Website. https://buildthewebsite.co.uk
Marketing – use Facebook and local search engine optimisation for your website
Fire extinguisher
First Aid kit
Stair gate(s)
Identity tags
Poo bags – use nappy sacks as they are cheaper
Disinfectant spray for outside areas
Hygienic wipes

What fees should I charge
There are not set rules regarding fees and it is entirely up to you what you charge. Typically fees for day care will start at £16 a day and for home boarding £23 a night. It is your business so be flexible. If someone wants you to look after their dog Monday to Friday all year round then £75 a week may seem a fair price. It is worth noting that charges vary depending on where you live.
You may only want to do home boarding and if you can have 4 dogs a day, every day of the week that you are not on holiday then an income in the region of £30,000 may be achievable.
I have found that running a dog day care business is extremely rewarding. It is not without its challenges but then that makes for an interesting life.
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