here are a few notes I saved when doing research on boarding dogs.
some of it may be usefull to you.
What Owners want in a Boarding Kennel:
1. 24 hour a day on-site staff.
2. Staffed by adults, not wanna-be veterinarian teenagers.
3. A doggy-daycare type atmosphere during the day, rather than having the dogs lie in separate kennels and released into a yard to play for 15 minutes a couple of times a day.
~~24 hour a day 7 days a week on site staff.
~~big play yards for play during the day (big plastic pools for dogs that like the water)
~~web cams so i could see what my pooch is up to
~~reasonable rates for what i'm getting
Grooming services, pet massage, feeding special diets on request...
well, if you were interested in boarding cats as well, luxury rooms for them with multiple climbing posts, windows, tunnels. Bascially something that will keep their stay interesting and would be ideal for owners who want to board mulitple cats. I too have thought about what a dream kennel would be since DH and I are always talking about little details we would add if we ever ran one. Making it a daycare and a boarding facility would be nice for dogs who are friendly and enjoyed interaction with other dogs. For owners who had dogs that are not able to play nice, I keep trying to think of ideas to pamper them as well, but I mostly keep thinking of just having long seperate walks for them and individual play sessions with employees.
someone on-site 24/7
*private runs for the dogs who don't play well with others
*individual kiddie pools for the pups to play in
*big pool for pups to swim in
*AC/heat to keep them comfy
*individual attention and personal play times
*feeding schedule that matches what we do at home, with our food
Employees who are trained in positive-training methods. They don't need to train my dogs but they should not be of the "yank and drag" persuasion either.
Employees who are currently or have been dog owners and do the job because they TRULY LOVE dogs, not just because it pays well and has nice hours. (There is one employee at my vet that is NOT to touch my dogs, ever)
love everyone's ideas. The only one I would add would be that my pooch has a bath on the day I am picking him up. No matter how clean the kennel is, I always find that Cooper has "kennel whiff" when I pick him up. Not sure how to describe the smell but it's not a doggy scent, it's something else. Maybe the disinfectant used to clean the floors? A spankin' clean dog would be great - I'd pay extra for that.
Much of mine is planned; much is still half-baked!* ;D
Name:* Ruff Life
Daycare or Boarding Services
4 Play Areas - 2 indoor (big dogs/little dogs)
2 outdoor (big dogs/little dogs) Trees-ponds-digging-chasing squirrels
Scheduled kinda like camp w/formal training/playing/sports classes . . . or just freestyle it if your dog prefers
Webcams everywhere - you can watch your dog anytime
Strict dog/attendant ratio (although I haven't worked that out yet)
Pet Partners -in conjunction w/the above - so dogs aren't seeing strangers each time they attend
Therapy Room (w/vet partner) for physical therapy
Spa Room - professional groomers or
Puppy Palace - half baked idea so far; but puppies need special services, & this would be the umbrella
Ruff Stuff - this is the gift shop; would use local talent to create individual & personalized items
Longer hours, I'd even pay extra to be able to pick him up when I needed to.
We are going to Lexington the end of July, and there is one day where I'd really like to daycare him. We are working a horse show on Sat and need to be there at 6AM and done at 2PM. The one kennel we looked at (and it looked LOVELY!) we would need to drop him Friday before 4PM, and wouldn't be able to get him until after 4PM SUNDAY! We wanted to head home before that! Plus I really did want him with me on vacation- that's why he's going! So I may pay a friend to babysit him for a few hours.
I think it would be nice to get a report back when you picked them up. Like a report card and perhaps some training tips if you see any behaviors or opportunities for training that we as pet parents need to do.
Since I am a scrapbooker I would love to have digital pics on your website of my pets in play during their stay as I can't scrapbook a webcam.
Have a look at this kennels - newly opened and catering for a niche market. I haven't used it myself but a friend of mine uses it for her GSP and is very impressed - off lead exercise with lots of play areas including sand pits to dig in and a river to swim in.
They have kept the number of kennels low to provide individual care and even tuck in the dogs last thing at night !!
Obviously they charge a premium but apparently are booked up well in advance. Gordon Country Kennels - Home
I looks basic but my guys love it, a secure paddock where the dogs get free running in their own group 3 to 4 times a day, a reasonable day run and a snug sleeping compartment. I have had a destructive WSS so my deerhound could never take bedding as it was always shredded - so the sleeping compartment has a piece of stable matting for Brice.
Whenever I book (once or twice a year) I am asked how Brice is in terms of his bloat tendency, while I still had Fred I was asked about his eyes so I knew that my dogs are individuals.
Last week when I collected Brice and Piper I was given a comprehensive rundown on their behaviour - good and bad - and in Brice's case I was told how he had been told off which is firm but fair, and as Brice was happily snuggling up to the owner I know my boys love it there.
I want to feed my own food, I want to know meds will be administered and I want to know that if I ask for anything in relation to behaviour (say with a dog in training even if it is basic manners of sitting till released for food) that my wishes will be taken seriously.
I don't need posh, I do need clean and secure and most importantly I need to see my boys calm and happy when going in and coming out.
I think the most important thing is a kennel which really takes the time to listen to individual owners about what they want to be done with their dogs - everyone's needs are different and I'd like to think that the routine that I ask for is being carried out (within reason obviously).
For eg I don't want a kennels to give commands to my dogs or get involved in training in any way (even with good intentions) - it just won't be consistent with what I do. So I'd rather they don't even recall the dogs, if possible.
But other people might feel the opposite, so I think the most important thing is flexibility and not a kennels which thinks they know best or has a one-size-fits-all approach.
I have a friend whos kennels and runs are ramshackle affairs but my dogs always seem to be very happy there. I think the reason for this is that the dogs can see things going on and don't get bored. Hens and pigeons strut about the yard and there are even a couple of semi-tame rabbits that hop around . The kennels are opposite a stable block and the dogs also see the horses being moved in and out and getting groomed etc.
I have been taking my dogs there for about 30 years now . It is ramshackle in appearance but the dogs are well looked after. One of my lab bitches even had her puppies there and they grew up to be very well socialised and just about bomb proof !
I do like the dogs to have the food they are on and am happy to supply it. I like them to be given pills if necessary. I have not had to pay extra for this service and Beecham has 3 lots a day.
I want the pet areas to be as clean as possible.
I have two dogs. I would want them boarded together in a very large cage/enclosure.
I would like the cage/enclosure to have free access to an enclosed
area outside, so the dogs could go out if they needed to.
I want an enclosed play area, where dogs can be given special time (for a
extra fee, of course) by the kennel employees.
I want to be able to bring my own food. I would be willing to pay for that
unless the dog was on a special diet, and if it was and I had a vet note I
would not want to pay extra.
I want a report card kept, of everything the dog does (good or bad) in my
I want to be alerted immediately if somethng seems very wrong with my
dog, like throwing up or diarhea (which is why I want to supply my own
and how do I know I want all these things? Because the kennel where I board my dogs will do all of them. I have gotten quite spoiled by this place, and their prices are not unreasonable.
1. Agree with all of the above.
2. Repeating others, but LOTS of out in the yard and play time.
3. Family owned and operated is great.
Our kennel is special not only because they're so clean, take each dog out in the yard at least 5x per day, groom when needed (wihtout charging extra! and won't accept tips!) but the key ingredient is, they all reeeally love dogs.
When Puppy died I called them (two weeks after, when I could talk about it) and one of the owners cried.
I hear of kennels in Denver that have your dog on web-cam 24/7, shiatsu, you can call your dog on the phone, etc. but even if money were no object I'd take our local ," Your Best Friends" over any other. Knowing they're here makes me more confident to get another dog.
Its also nice when you know the employees are certified for animal first aid and CPR. The kennel I go to has employees who are certified animal care tech's. They not only LOVE my dog, but, they also know what to do in an emergency. They also groom, even for quick cleans I like to know the person bathing knows what they are doing. I wouldn't want to pick up my long coated breed only to find they created mats in the coat.
Boarding kennel tips:
TIPS FOR INSPECTING A BOARDING KENNEL
I was a boarding kennel manager for 13 years and worked in kennels previously for 4 years. I raise dogs and have also managed a Morgan breeding barn and been head assistant at a large pet store (the job from hell) in the bird/small mammal room and fish room.
1. Find out the kennel's normal business hours and drop by un-announced for a tour (Be polite and do not do this in the first hour or last hour they are open). If they will not let you examine the entire facility without an appointment, do not leave your dog.
2. On your tour notice the following things:
Each dog or family group has it's own indoor/"outdoor" run (outdoor runs may actually not be outdoors but should be attached but seperate from the sleeping/feeding area and should be at least 12' long) - some kennels do not have attached "outdoor" runs-unacceptable.
There should be a solid divider at least 3'high between runs.And if your dog is a climber they should have several totally covered "escape proof" runs.
The outside runs should be concrete that slopes so urine drains off. Some feces may be present, but not tons in every run.
Ask how often they scoop and are runs hosed & disinfected every day?
How are feces disposed of? A dumpster is ideal and a pile next to the building is bad Some odor may be present, but should not be strong & overpowering
Outside runs should be surrounded by a security fence of some type at least 6'high, in case a dog escapes from it's run
Windows, exhaust fans, heat & air conditioning are musts
Outside runs should have a roof covering them
Each dog must have water available during the daytime
All the dogs should not act afraid. Some may be shy and some aggressive, but most should seem happy or excited.
3. Will they feed the food you supply (if you want to), give pills or feed twice a day without extra charge?
4. If a dog soils itself will they wash it for free?
5. In the event of an emergency, do they have a 24 hr or on call vet available close by?
6. Do they feed a good quality food?
7. Are the food bowls washed each day?
8. What do local vets have to say about the kennel?
9. How experienced with dogs/cats is the help and do they seem good with the animals? Are any of the employees certified by the American Boarding Kennel Association as pet care technicians or by the Red Cross in Pet First Aid or (this is rare) are any actual Veterinary Technicians?
10. Special notes for cat owners: Are litter boxes dumped and disinfected daily are the cats in a room separate from the dogs are the cats allowed some time out of their cage each day (not with other cats) Windows are great, but any that open must have wire mesh over them to prevent escape. Is ventilation adequate-most cat illnesses are airborne.
11. All good kennels should require proof from your vet of vaccination against Distemper, Parvo, Rabies and Bordetella for dogs and feline distemper combination, Upper respiratory complex and rabies for cats. Alternatively, they may also accept Distemper/parvo titers tests in lieu of vaccination. If ferrets or rabbits are accepted they must be required to be vaccinated against rabies.
12. The kennel help should also check incoming animals for fleas. If an animal is found to have fleas/ticks it will/should be given a flea/tick bath which the owner will be expected to pay for.
How To Not Add Stress to Your Pet When You Leave It At A Kennel
1. Fill out/sign any paperwork before you bring your pet inside.
2. Type or write any special instructions ahead of time and attach it to any special food/medication you will be bringing and bring all that stuff inside before your pet.
3. Do not bring blankets, beds or any toys that you will want returned to you.
4. When you bring your pet inside, simply give it a quick pat and leave. DO NOT make a production about it or your pet will stress out.
5. When picking up your pet, pay your bill and take all belongings/food out to the car first. Then have the help put your leash on your dog or cat into carrier prior to bringing the pet out to you. Do not make a production over your reunion, simply take your pet out get in the car and go. This will also avoid puddles on the floor!
6. Any problems should be reported within 24 hours to the owner or manager.
I think you are on the right track to do those things that you and other customers think need to be done and not to do the things people don’t like.
I think the essence of your plan should be individualized care and play / exercise time with the dogs. To me; that’s the big thing, keeping my dog active to prevent frustration. I don’t care about the wash, groom, etc.
BTW there is no human in the world that can stop unleashed dogs from starting a fight in an open area if they choose to (except perhaps Cesar, haha). So… as much as I would love my dog to play with others, play time will have to be one dog at a time (with a few very rare and strict exceptions). In fact in NC it’s the rule unless you have signed waivers. Even then the risk might be too much.
Let’s say you promise an hour of play a day. That limits you to about seven dogs if you have only one play area and/or handler. At $25 a day that’s a maximum of about $175 for a day when you are fully booked. Not much income especially after expenses. That’s why so many places keep more dogs but only let them out for bathroom breaks.
As for food that’s easy.. Owners must bring their own. You should still stock a small quantity of high quality food in case you run out of theirs. I really don’t see the big deal with returning unused portions and containers as long as they are kept separate and you don’t have other dogs eating from each others, etc. But then again a big ziplock is cheap insurance to prevent problems.
I have left my dog with a “kennel” which was only run as a sideline by a co-worker. He had a typical fenced back yard for play and had the guest dogs there, in the house, or in crates in the garage. They spent the nights in the crates. While this worked it was not ideal and there was a little spat now and again amongst the dogs when they were out together. Did he have insurance and a license? Maybe.
So I moved up to a place that has individual rooms for the dogs with connecting outside areas (each 10x10), slide down doors to close off the outside area in bad weather and at night. (I once lived in a smaller room when I was in college!) They bring the dogs out one at time for exercise; the amount of time depends on how many are there. Every time she has gone here she has done just great, with none of the residual effects you see at overcrowded kennels where they spend all day locked up. However at $34 a day I have to limit the amount she stays there.
If I were you I would start just boarding a few (no more than three) dogs on a part time basis for friends, people at the dog park, etc. Get their feedback and see how it goes for you. This would take very little investment and give you an idea of what it’s like. No outbuilding needed to get started but I would think you would build one if the business gets serious.
I would get a license. They are inexpensive and the inspection may help you have a better kennel. Of course some of the things they may require will mean you have to spend money. Look at the inspection reports on the web site I mentioned to see what kind of things they are requiring. Insurance and possibly incorporating (as a LLC?) are to protect you from losing everything you own if the worst happens. Sounds worthwhile to me!
I see you are only one county over from me. You might want to come visit K9Cabins to see what I consider a heck of a set up. You dont need to go as far as they do but it will give you some ideas, and the owner is very nice. The place I go was based in part on K9Cabins and I went there because K9Cabins had no vacancy at the time.
Boarding kennel startup help
My first and most impprtant question to you is: Have you worked in a kennel before?
If not, then get a job right away in one. You have no idea how much work it is, especially for the Owner. You are pretty much working 24/7. Even with employees working for you, Those dogs are ultimatly your responsibility as the owner of the business, and you will be involved with everything, no matter how much you physicaly work. So if you have never worked in a kennel, then I strongly suggest you do that first. You'd be surprised how many people are not cut out for it. Just because you love dogs does not mean you should work with them.
as far as your idea to run it in your home, I think thats not a very good one (respectfully so). Mainly because I work in these places, and know how messy it can get. Yeah a couple dogs, not much clean up, but get over 10, and its a lot of mess. I can't think of a possible way to correctly sanitize your house. Imagine if a dog came with just one flea. You would have to shut down completely in order to wash everything and bomb the house. If you have a seperate place for dogs to go, preferably a couple different places, then cleanup becomes much easier. If you are running it on your own property, having a seperate kennel and place to sleep will be a godsend for you. And if you want this to grow into anything other than taking care of friends/family/neighbor dogs, then you need to have something more professional than just the inside of your home. Just because its not in your home doesnt mean you you can't make the kennel homey though. One place I worked, we had concrete floors for easy clean up, but had rugs and lots of blankets/beds for dogs, pictures of all our regular clients all over the place, hand drawen pictures of dogs, our owners show ribbons, clients professional pictures of pets, all sorts of things to make it confortable and cozy for the dogs. You are right, environment does make a difference with the dogs and how they get along in a new place. But in your own home, trust me, you will regret that decision.
As far as play groups, I have worked in a few different places that all had different ways of doing things. At one place, There were 2 main yards, big and small (it got more complicated than that, but that was the main breakdown) we would have not more than 10-12 dogs in one yard, and had an inside area as well for those dogs that were "people dogs". our max was at about 35, and that was when we had more small dogs than big dogs. There was always at least one person with each group. So if we had over 20 dogs, 3-5 people worked and were basically assigned a yard, and we rotated yards with each other all day. The worst injury we ever had was when 2 dogs jumped into each other going for the same ball, and one chipped a tooth. our boss and managers did extensive research on fights and we trained all of our employees what the signs of potential fights were, and how to break up that energy before a fight ever happened. Because of that training, we never had one serious fight with the dogs. Another place I worked does things differently, b/c they didnt have the staff to do the same thing. They had many seperate yards, and big huge runs. Small groups of dogs can play together without getting a pack metality and get along. Its harder to do, b/c some dogs are worse with others one on one, but when a dog finds a best friend, its awesome to see them play together the whole time for boarding. we would switch the groups and locations of dogs around so they were always seeing new things. the property was huge, in a orange grove, so the dogs were very stimulated without having to play their guts out.
I live in southern CA so the rates are I guess a lot more here, 35-50 is average. You Definetly want insurance, but do know that a lot of insurance companies will not insure you to board pitbulls, rotties, dobies, etc. The first place i talked about had that kind of policy b/c we had dogs in yards playing together. The next place I mentioned didn't have that kind of policy b/c they had individual runs and yards should a dog not be socialized and need to be alone. You also should consider that. Some dogs are not dog friendly. If you have the kind of setup you are talking about, you could only accept dog friendly dogs, and would have to do much more assessment of the dog (which requires a good deal of knowledge about dog body language and such). If you have areas where dogs can be by themselves, you won't alienate a whole group of dogs that could be customers. I liked being able to board non dog friendly dogs, b/c those dogs are usually fine with people, and great to play with. its not much harder to board them, just more time consuming.
As far as advertising, you shouldnt need much if you are doing a good jobn at running your business. Since you want to start slow anyways, you shouldnt need much more advertising, than maybe fliers at your local pet store, or something like that. First place I mentionjed was always booked for holidays, and very rarely had under 15 dogs in the place, and the owner never did any advertising, not once she'd started the business. She started with a few clients, just people she had met and talked to, and those people just kept referring. She still gets a lot of those dogs in (shes only been in business 5 years), and she is always very thankful to them, b/c they pretty much made her business. The other place I mentioned does very minimul advertising as well. I think the only advertising they did when I waas there was an ad for the new groomer when she started. They also started very small, added little by little, original customers referred other people, and now they are almost always over 20 dogs a day. So really, the best way I can tell you to advertise is to have a good business and treat people well. I would also just put up a website, not so much for advertising, but just for info. Its a good place to put up pictures and stuff, dog owners love that sort of thing and it proves that you are interested in the dogs.
We successfully transformed a house into luxury suites at our boarding facility