How to Start a Dog Boarding Business: Essential Guide and Tips

How to Start a Dog Boarding Business

Dog boarding businesses have become increasingly popular as pet owners seek a reliable and comfortable place for their furry friends to stay while they’re away. Starting a dog boarding business may seem like a dream job for those who adore canines, but it’s important to understand the ample planning, investments, and considerations necessary to make it a successful venture.

The foundation of any successful dog boarding business stems from proper research, an understanding of competitors, and a focus on profitability. Before diving in, it’s essential to gain experience in the field, whether it be through working at an existing boarding facility, volunteering at a shelter, or using pet sitting services such as Rover or Wag. In addition, securing funding for startup costs, developing an efficient business plan, and choosing the right location will also play critical roles in the overall success of the venture.

Starting a dog boarding business can be a rewarding endeavor, providing a safe haven for pets and peace of mind for their owners. However, aspiring entrepreneurs should be prepared to put in the necessary effort to create a sustainable, profitable, and well-managed business. With diligent planning, dedication, and a passion for animal care, a dog boarding business can be a thriving addition to any community.

Market Research

Target Market

One of the first steps in starting a dog boarding business is identifying your target market. Your target market can vary depending on the services you’ll offer, such as standard boarding, luxury boarding, or pet daycare. Some key factors to consider when identifying your target market include:

  • Age: Families with young children, young professionals, and retirees are likely to own pets.
  • Location: Consider the demand for dog boarding services in your area, and if there’s a high pet population nearby.
  • Income: Different pricing structures may attract different income earners. For example, high-end, luxury services will attract higher-income customers.

Growth Potential

The pet industry is continuously growing, with more and more households owning pets. To gauge the growth potential of your dog boarding business, look into the following factors:

  • Industry trends: Research the trends in the pet industry and analyze how they might impact the dog boarding sector.
  • Market size: Investigate the existing size of the dog boarding market and its potential market growth.
  • Demand: Evaluate the demand for dog boarding services in your area and assess whether there’s room for growth or expansion.


Analyzing your competitors is a crucial part of your market research. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of other dog boarding businesses in your area will help you to build a competitive strategy. Consider the following when analyzing your competition:

  • Services offered: Compare the services provided by competitors, such as daycare, grooming, or training, and consider if you can provide additional, unique services.
  • Pricing: Look at the pricing structure of other dog boarding businesses and position your pricing to attract your target market.
  • Reputation: Research customer reviews, ratings, and testimonials to determine the reputation of your competitors.

Remember to gather as much information as possible and never exaggerate or make false claims. By conducting thorough market research and analyzing your target market, growth potential, and competition, you’ll have a solid foundation to build your dog boarding business.

Creating a Business Plan

Executive Summary

The executive summary should briefly describe your dog boarding business, including the mission statement, company structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company), and the unique selling points that set you apart from competitors. Highlight the main goals of your dog boarding business, such as providing exceptional pet care, creating a stress-free environment for clients, and generating revenue through additional pet services.

Services and Pricing

Detail the specific services your dog boarding business will offer, such as overnight boarding, doggy daycare, training, grooming, and any additional options that cater to your target clientele. Use a table or bullet points to present clear pricing structures for each service, considering factors like location, size of your boarding facilities, staff salaries, and the local competition.

Marketing Plan

Outline your marketing strategy to promote the dog boarding business, including online presence (like a website, social media, and email marketing), offline initiatives (such as flyers, business cards, participation in local events, and partnerships with relevant businesses), and referral programs to encourage existing clients to refer new customers.

Operations Plan

Discuss the day-to-day operations of your boarding business. Explain the roles and responsibilities of staff members and mention any necessary permits, licenses, and liability insurance required to operate legally. Describe the facilities’ layout, how you intend to manage pet pickup and drop-off, feeding, cleaning, and safety protocols. If your boarding business requires a physical location, take into consideration factors like proximity to major highways or public transportation, as well as zoning regulations.

Financial Plan

Provide a comprehensive financial plan, including initial investment, ongoing costs, projected revenue, and growth strategies. Address funding sources (e.g., owner’s equity, loans, investors, or franchising) and develop realistic financial projections to demonstrate the viability of your dog boarding business to potential investors or banks. Include a breakeven analysis, cash flow statement, and profit and loss statement for the first few years of operation.

Throughout the business plan, use a clear and professional tone to effectively convey your expertise in the dog boarding industry. Accurately presenting your business plan will instill confidence in potential investors and demonstrate your commitment to making your dog boarding business a success.

Choosing a Legal Structure

When starting a dog boarding business, it is essential to choose the proper legal structure. This decision will impact various aspects of your business, such as taxes, personal liability, and required paperwork. This section will briefly discuss four common legal structures: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common structure chosen when starting a small business. It is an unincorporated business owned and run by one individual, with no distinction between the business and the owner.

  • Advantages:
    • Easy to set up and manage
    • Complete control over the business
    • Minimal compliance requirements
  • Disadvantages:
    • Unlimited personal liability for business debts
    • Difficulty raising capital


A partnership is a business owned by two or more people who agree to share the profits, losses, and management of the company. There are two common types of partnerships: general partnerships and limited partnerships.

  • Advantages:
    • Simple to establish
    • Shared responsibility for the management and financial obligations
  • Disadvantages:
    • Each partner is personally liable for the business debts
    • Potential for disagreements between partners


A corporation is a legal entity that is separate from its owners, providing limited liability protection to its shareholders. It is more complex and regulated than other business structures.

  • Advantages:
    • Limited liability for shareholders
    • Possibility to raise capital through the sale of shares
  • Disadvantages:
    • More expensive and time-consuming to set up
    • Double taxation: corporation pays taxes on profits, and shareholders pay taxes on dividends

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is a hybrid structure that combines the limited liability protection of a corporation with the tax flexibility and simplicity of a sole proprietorship or partnership. It is increasingly popular among small business owners.

  • Advantages:
    • Limited liability for business debts
    • Pass-through taxation (profits and losses are reported on the owner’s personal tax return)
  • Disadvantages:
    • More paperwork than a sole proprietorship or partnership
    • State-specific regulations may cause variations in the setup and management process

It’s essential to research and consider each of these structures carefully, as the chosen legal structure will have a significant impact on your dog boarding business.

Obtaining Necessary Permits and Licenses

Zoning Requirements

Before starting a dog boarding business, it is crucial to research local zoning laws to ensure your property is appropriately zoned for such a business. This typically involves consulting with local government agencies or contacting a local attorney who specializes in zoning law.

Some factors to consider when checking zoning requirements include:

  • Distance from residential areas
  • Maximum number of animals allowed
  • Noise control measures
  • Waste management requirements

Boarding Licenses

Acquiring proper boarding licenses is essential to operate your dog boarding business legally. These licenses generally involve an application process, which may include submitting specific information about your facility, such as:

  • Maximum capacity
  • Available outdoor and indoor space
  • Ventilation and temperature control systems
  • Emergency evacuation plans

Typically, a dog boarding business will need to obtain a business license and a pet boarding permit. The requirements for these licenses and permits vary depending on whether your business is indoors or outdoors. Indoor kennel businesses may require a permit from the Department of Animal Care & Control. Additionally, some counties and cities have their own local laws, regulations, and inspections to operate.

Health Regulations

Ensuring the health and safety of the dogs in your care is of utmost importance. To do this, your dog boarding business must adhere to local and state health regulations.

Some key aspects of these health regulations include:

  • Regular veterinary care for the dogs in your facility
  • Maintaining proper sanitation and hygiene standards
  • Providing adequate food and water
  • Ensuring proper vaccinations and health records for all dogs in your care

You may also be required to take a pet first-aid class, such as the one offered by Metro Dog, to provide optimal care for the animals in your facility.

Remember to follow all necessary regulations and acquire the proper permits and licenses to establish a successful and ethical dog boarding business.

Finding a Suitable Location

Size and Layout

When selecting a location for your dog boarding business, consider the size and layout of the property. It’s essential to have enough space for dogs to play and exercise, as well as separate areas for feeding, sleeping, and grooming. Additionally, make sure there’s adequate room for office and storage purposes. Keep in mind the following:

  • Outdoor space for dogs to exercise and socialize
  • Indoor areas for climate control and overnight boarding
  • Easy-to-clean surfaces and proper drainage for maintaining cleanliness

Proximity to Resources

Another crucial factor when choosing a location is its proximity to essential resources. Consider the availability and accessibility of the following:

  • Nearby veterinary clinics for emergencies and regular health checks
  • Pet supply stores for food and other necessities
  • Access to clean, reliable water sources for dog hydration

Ensuring your dog boarding business is near these resources will make it more convenient to maintain the health and wellbeing of the pets in your care.

Neighborhood Analysis

Lastly, conducting a thorough neighborhood analysis can help you determine if the area is suitable for your dog boarding business. Take into account factors such as:

  • Demographics: Are there many dog-owning families in the vicinity? A higher density of pet owners will increase the potential customer base.
  • Local dog boarding competition: Evaluate the number of existing dog boarding businesses in the area, along with their rates, facilities, and customer reviews.
  • Zoning and licensing requirements: Research the local regulations and ensure that your selected location meets zoning, licensing, and legal requirements.

In conclusion, finding a suitable location for your dog boarding business involves considering the property size and layout, proximity to essential resources, and conducting a neighborhood analysis. Keeping these factors in mind will help you select a location that ensures the success of your enterprise.

Setting up the Facility

Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

When setting up a dog boarding facility, it’s essential to create both indoor and outdoor spaces for the dogs. The indoor space will be the primary area where dogs are kept and should be secure, climate-controlled, and well-ventilated. The outdoor area should be fenced and provide ample space for dogs to play and exercise.

Some key aspects to consider in both spaces are:

  • Adequate size: Ensure enough room for dogs to move around and have individual spaces for sleeping and eating.
  • Proper flooring: Choose non-slip, easy-to-clean surfaces such as sealed concrete or epoxy.
  • Sanitation: Plan for easy cleaning and disinfection of all areas.
  • Climate control: Ensure a comfortable temperature for dogs with proper heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

Kennel Construction

A crucial aspect of your dog boarding facility is the construction of the kennels. Selecting the right materials and design is important for both the dogs’ comfort and the ease of maintenance. Key factors to consider in kennel construction:

  • Durability and maintenance: Choose materials that resist wear and tear and are easy to clean, such as stainless steel or heavy-duty plastic.
  • Comfort and safety: Ensure kennel design is comfortable and has no sharp edges to avoid injury to dogs.
  • Noise control: Incorporate sound-absorbing materials such as acoustic panels to reduce noise from barking dogs.
  • Proper sizing: Kennels should be large enough to accommodate dogs of various sizes and breeds.

Play Areas

Providing play areas for the dogs in your boarding facility is essential for mental stimulation and physical exercise. These play areas can be both indoors and outdoors, and they should include various features for dogs to engage with.

When designing play areas, consider:

  • Variety of play equipment: Include items such as ramps, tunnels, and platforms to keep dogs entertained.
  • Safety: Monitor play areas for hazards and ensure equipment is well-maintained and safe for use.
  • Supervision: Always have staff available to monitor playtime and intervene as necessary to prevent conflict between dogs.
  • Separate areas by size or temperament: Make sure that different-sized or temperament dogs have their own play areas to prevent bullying or injury.

With careful planning and consideration, you’ll be able to set up a dog boarding facility that is safe, functional, and enjoyable for the dogs in your care.

Providing Essential Services


Grooming is not only essential for maintaining a dog’s appearance but also their overall health. When starting a dog boarding business, offering grooming services can be a valuable addition. Basic grooming services should include:

  • Bathing
  • Brushing
  • Nail trimming
  • Ear cleaning

Feel free to expand your grooming offerings as your business grows, including options like haircuts and special shampoos for different coat types.

Food and Water

Proper nutrition and hydration are crucial for a dog’s health. As a dog boarding business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that every dog in your care receives:

  • Fresh water at all times
  • Balanced and nutritious meals (either provided by the owner or your facility)
  • Meals served at consistent times each day
  • Accommodations for any allergies or special diets

Remember to discuss feeding preferences and schedules with each pet owner during the intake process to ensure consistency and happy dogs.

Walking and Exercise

Dogs need regular exercise for their physical and mental well-being. In a dog boarding business, providing opportunities for walking and exercise is essential. Your exercise program should include:

  • Regular walks (at least two per day)
  • Safe indoor and outdoor play areas
  • Interactive activities like playing fetch or using puzzle toys
  • Group play sessions (if appropriate and with owner approval)

Tailor exercise plans to individual dogs’ needs, taking into account age, breed, and activity levels.

Medication Management

Some dogs may require medication during their stay. Establishing a thorough medication management system is crucial for the well-being of those dogs. This includes:

  • A secure storage area for medications
  • A system for tracking medication administration (times, doses, reactions)
  • Proper training for staff in administering various types of medications

Remember to collect detailed medication instructions from pet owners upon drop-off to ensure accurate and timely administration.

Hiring and Training Staff

One of the keys to a successful dog boarding business is having a reliable, skilled, and dedicated team. In this section, we will discuss job roles, recruitment, and training programs for your employees.

Job Roles

There are various roles in a dog boarding business, some of which include:

  • Receptionist: Handles customer inquiries, bookings, and administrative tasks.
  • Dog Handler: Responsible for feeding, walking, and general care of dogs during their stay.
  • Cleaner: Ensures the cleanliness and hygiene of the facility and dog kennels.
  • Manager: Oversees the day-to-day operations, supervises staff, and is responsible for business growth.


When hiring staff, consider the following steps:

  1. Define the job description, including roles, responsibilities, and qualifications.
  2. Advertise the job through various channels, such as job boards or social media.
  3. Conduct interviews, focusing on experience, personality fit, and passion for working with animals.
  4. Check the candidate’s references and, if necessary, do background checks to ensure safety and trustworthiness.

Training Programs

A well-trained staff ensures safety, high-quality service, and positive experience for both the dogs and their owners. Here are some tips on conducting training programs:

  • Offer new employee orientation to familiarize them with the business, policies, procedures, and the facility.
  • Provide on-the-job training by experienced staff members, focusing on dog care, customer service, and proper use of tools and equipment.
  • Offer opportunities to attend external training workshops, conferences, or seminars to stay updated on trends, new techniques, and methods in dog care.
  • Consider acquiring certifications or licenses for staff members, such as pet first-aid, grooming, or dog behavior training if deemed necessary for their job role.

Marketing and Branding

Creating a Unique Brand Identity

To establish a strong presence in the dog boarding business, you must first create a unique brand identity that distinguishes your business from others. Focus on key aspects such as:

  • A catchy business name that represents your values and services
  • A memorable logo design that reflects your brand personality
  • A distinct color scheme and typeface selection for your marketing materials

Remember to always maintain a consistent appearance across all platforms to build your brand presence and leave a lasting impression on potential clients.

Website and Domain Name

A website is essential for showcasing your dog boarding services and connecting with prospective customers. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Select a relevant domain name that’s easy to remember and incorporates your business name.
  2. Design your website with intuitive navigation, clear calls-to-action, and informative content about your services, policies, and pricing.
  3. Prioritize a responsive design that works well on both desktop and mobile devices.
  4. Optimize your website for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to increase visibility in search results.
  5. Include a blog section with helpful tips and insights for pet owners, further establishing your expertise.

Promotional Materials

Design and distribute promotional materials to effectively spread the word about your dog boarding business. Some suggestions include:

  • Brochures and flyers: Provide detailed information about your services, prices, and unique selling points. Distribute them in strategic locations, such as local pet stores, vet clinics, and community bulletin boards.
  • Business cards: Hand them out during networking events or client meetings to establish a professional image.
  • Social media: Create and maintain profiles on popular platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) to engage with potential customers, share useful content, and showcase your services.

Developing a marketing plan, setting a budget for promotional activities, and considering the competitive advantages of your business will help you make informed decisions and ultimately lead to success in the dog boarding industry.

Insurance and Liability

Types of Insurance

When starting a dog boarding business, it is crucial to have the appropriate insurance coverage in place to protect your business, yourself, and your clients’ pets. Here are some common types of insurance policies you may need:

  • General Liability Insurance: This policy covers legal expenses and damages if your business is held responsible for property damage, bodily injuries, or advertising injuries.
  • Animal Bailee Insurance: This coverage protects your business if a client’s pet is injured, lost, or dies while in your care.
  • Veterinarian Expense Reimbursement: This policy reimburses you for expenses incurred for seeking veterinary care for a client’s pet while in your care.
  • Pet Daycare Coverage: This additional insurance caters specifically to businesses that board animals overnight and may be bundled with other policies.

For example, Pet Care Insurance offers a customized plan for pet boarding businesses starting at $259 per year for 5 or fewer animals per night.

Risk Management

Risk management is essential in minimizing potential issues that may arise while caring for pets. Implementing the following best practices can help you mitigate risks and protect your dog boarding business:

  1. Employee Training: Ensure staff members are trained and knowledgeable in animal care, handling, and emergency procedures.
  2. Strict Policies and Procedures: Develop clear rules and protocols for animal intake, feeding, cleaning, and handling emergencies.
  3. Facility Maintenance: Keep your facility clean and well-maintained to prevent health issues and accidents. Ensure all boarding kennels and play areas are secure, clean, and well-ventilated.
  4. Client Communication: Establish open lines of communication with clients, informing them about your policies and ensuring that all necessary information about their pets is collected.

By taking the time to address insurance needs and implement risk management strategies, your dog boarding business can provide a safe and secure environment for pets while protecting itself from potential liabilities.

Financial Considerations

Startup Costs

When starting a dog boarding business, it’s essential to consider the initial expenses. Startup costs can vary depending on the size and type of your business, but typical expenses include:

  • Facility rental or purchase
  • Fencing and kennel construction
  • Insurance
  • Licenses and permits
  • Marketing materials
  • Office supplies and equipment
  • Initial inventory (food, bedding, cleaning supplies, etc.)

It’s a good idea to create a detailed list of every item you’ll need for your business and research their costs. This will help you develop a more accurate budget.

Budgeting and Taxes

Developing a budget for your dog boarding business is crucial for financial success. To create a budget, you’ll need to:

  1. Determine your expected income and revenue sources
  2. Calculate your monthly expenses (fixed and variable)
  3. Allocate funds for each expense category, e.g., rent, utilities, employee salaries, insurance, and supplies.

Remember to plan for taxes. Different types of taxes may apply to your business, such as property tax, sales tax, and income tax. Consult with a tax professional or accountant to ensure you understand your tax obligations.

Revenue and Profit Margin

While prices may vary depending on location, services offered, and demand, here’s an average pricing for common dog boarding services:

Service Price Range
Overnight boarding (basic) $25 – $45 per night
Overnight boarding (luxury) $50 – $85 per night
Doggie daycare $15 – $25 per day
Additional services (grooming) $30 – $90

To calculate your potential revenue, estimate the number of dogs you can accommodate daily and multiply it by the prices for each service. For example, if you can accommodate 10 dogs and charge an average of $35 per night, your potential revenue could be $350 per day.

Profit margin is the percentage of profit you make compared to your total revenue. To improve your profit margin, consider implementing strategies such as:

  • Offering add-on services (grooming, training, etc.)
  • Charging more for specialized care or handling (seniors, puppies, dogs with medical needs)
  • Running promotions and special offers
  • Reducing costs by negotiating better deals with suppliers or seeking more energy-efficient alternatives

Monitoring your finances and making adjustments as needed will help you maintain a healthy profit margin for your dog boarding business.

Pet Services Expansion

When starting a dog boarding business, it’s essential to consider potential expansion opportunities to diversify and strengthen your revenue streams. In this section, we cover three sub-topics to help you expand your pet services, including Adding Pet Daycare, Pet Sitting and Dog Walking, and Retail Pet Store.

Adding Pet Daycare

Pet daycare services can complement your boarding business by offering additional care options for pets, specifically during daytime hours. This expansion can attract pet owners that require supervision for their pets while they work, ensuring a safe environment for the animals.

  • Useful for pet owners with busy schedules
  • Attracts clients who may not necessarily need boarding services
  • Provides additional revenue

Incorporating pet daycare services will require dedicated space, extra staff, and additional pet care equipment. Make sure to research your competitors’ services, prices, and packages to stay competitive in the market.

Pet Sitting and Dog Walking

Another way to expand your pet services is by offering pet sitting and dog walking. These services are especially beneficial for pet owners who need help taking care of their pets when they are away from home or cannot attend to their pets’ needs due to other commitments.

  • In-demand services for pet owners who work long hours
  • Can be offered as one-time or recurring services
  • Provides the opportunity to work in conjunction with apps like or Wag

Ensure your employees have the proper training, such as pet first-aid classes, and have a clear understanding of different pets’ behaviors to provide professional and safe pet care.

Retail Pet Store

Lastly, opening a retail pet store within your boarding facility can capitalize on the convenience factor for pet owners. Selling essential pet supplies, such as food, toys, and grooming equipment, can add an extra layer of convenience and increase customer satisfaction.

Benefits Examples
Convenience for pet owners On-site availability of pet supplies
Additional revenue stream Sales from food, toys, and grooming products
Enhanced customer experience One-stop-shop for pet owners

Before starting a retail pet store, research the market and competitors. Identify in-demand products and source them from reliable suppliers to ensure quality and variety for your customers.