When dog owners go away on holiday they want to make sure their pets are being well cared for in their absence. In the past boarding kennels were the main option. However dogs can find them to be a stressful environment. Home boarding services have become popular in recent years and with good reason. It’s a great way of providing a home from home for their beloved pets, ensuring their dog is well exercised and given lots of fuss and attention.
If you are considering starting a home boarding service this article will give you all the steps required to do it successfully.
The first thing to think about is your personal circumstances. Are you around at home most of the time to provide the care each dog deserves? Another big factor is your own dog if you have one. How are they with other dogs? Do they enjoy their company? Would they benefit from different dogs staying?
Related article: How to train your dog to always come back when called
You will need to secure a homeboarding license from your local council. An inspector will come to your home to decide if it is suitable. To start the process do a google search for “Home boarding license York” substituting York with your home City. The link for York City Council is here. Review the specific conditions for your council. The ones for York Council can be found here Home boarding conditions
The basics requirements, no matter where you are located are: –
- Identity tags
- Secure garden
- A comprehensive register
- Pet First Aid Kit
- Public liability insurance
Each council has their own rules on the number of dogs you can board at any one time. They also charge different rates. City of York Council currently charge £102 per year payable annually should you wish to renew. You can take out a license at any time of year. Some council’s issue licenses on 01st January of each year, so bear this in mind if you are considering applying near the end of the year as you will not be getting your value for money.
You will need to provide a copy of your public liability insurance before the council inspector will come to your home. There are specialist insurers who provide this and you’ll have to decide if you want public liability insurance only or extra cover such as accident cover for vet fees. Here are 3 companies to get you started: –
Shop around to find the right cover and price for your situation.
Once you have been approved for a license it is time to start taking on clients. Are there specific breeds you would or wouldn’t like to board? Factors to consider are: –
- Energy levels and therefore exercise needed
You will also need to decide on pricing. Have a look at what others are charging to get an approximate idea but don’t use that as your only guidance. It is a big responsibility to provide 24 hour care for someone else’s dog and the price should reflect this. There are also upfront costs such as your insurance and license costs to cover. We currently charge £20 per day (24 hour period).
Advertising is essential to build up a client base. You can post on local facebook groups, Gumtree, get some flyers printed from a site such as www.vistaprint.co.uk and post them in local vets, dog groomers, petshops and on local noticeboards. You can also get stickers printed to put on your van. If you are in York I recommend www.galasigns-york.co.uk/ who did the signage on our 2nd van.
You can also tell others about your new service. Get some business cards printed at www.vistaprint.co.uk and hand them out to fellow dog walkers. Tell as many people as possible that you now offer home boarding. As your clientèle grows you will soon find word of mouth will be your best form of advertisement. Do you attend agility or socialisation classes with your dog? Ask if you can put up a flyer there and tell fellow attendees you are now home boarding.
Do you want to offer home boarding 365 days a year? Are there certain periods of the year you will be unable to take bookings? Have a calendar / diary and record all bookings as well as marking days that you are not available.
You will need to pay tax on your income. Speak to an accountant for specific advice.
Consultations at your home with new clients are essential. This gives you the chance to meet the dog and decide if it is the right fit for your home and for the owner to decide if you are the person they want to care for their dog. It also allows the dog to start the process of getting used to you, familiarising itself with your home and to meet your dog if you have one. Try your best to put the client at ease and lead the process. It can be nerve wracking for them as they want to make sure they find the right person.
Have paperwork ready to complete. You should have a dog information form to record all the information you might need to know. Such as: –
- Clients name / address / phone number / Email address
- Emergency contact details,
- The dogs name, age, feeding requirements,
- Medication if applicable,
- Any behavioural issues you need to be aware of.
- Which vet they are registered with
You will also need a separate form with all your terms and conditions of business.
Ask the client to sign both forms. After the consultation you can scan and email a copy of the paperwork to them and keep a copy for your records. Your email should include confirmation of the dates booked and the total price. We charge a £5 per day deposit to secure the booking which is deducted from the total price which is payable on or before the boarding takes place. We take payment by cash and bank transfer but you could also take paypal payments for a fee.
When the boarding commences it is nice for the client to keep them updated every few days via email, text or whatsapp. You can also take photos of their dog enjoying his stay. It is a good idea to setup a facebook page to show potential clients the dogs you have boarded previously and for clients to leave reviews about their experience of your service.
Homeboarding is very rewarding. It takes time to setup and there are costs involved but once word of mouth spreads about how professional and conscientious you are, you will have many wonderful clients with wonderful dogs to board.
The last consideration is to use a company such as “holidays for dogs” They do the insurance, advertising and administration side for you and in return you get a much smaller boarding fee. At the time of writing that is £10 per day to board a dog after they take their cut of £8.50 per day. Some people would prefer to do this as it takes all the above work out of the equation but you need to consider if £10 a day is an acceptable fee to you to provide care for a dog including walks.
If you have any comments, or would like any further advice please let me know in the box below and good luck!