Many people consider their pet dogs as part of the family. Dog owners who don’t have a pet sitter rely on boarding kennels to care for, feed, and play with their dogs while they are away on vacation or business trips. If you have a lot of patience and love dogs, consider opening a dog boarding kennel. Running a dog kennel can be a rewarding and challenging job if you seek a career in the animal service field.
Write a formal business plan for the dog kennel that outlines your marketing strategy and includes your goals, relevant legal documents, and expenses. Estimate the anticipated cost of renting or purchasing a facility, dog food, cages, toys, and other equipment necessary for starting a dog kennel. Give the business plan to bank lenders and potential investors to secure financial backing or a start-up loan to open the kennel.
Buy or lease a facility with plenty of indoor and outdoor property for the dog boarding kennel. Create partitioned areas where dogs can exercise, sleep, eat, and receive emergency veterinary care. Purchase or build kennels with bedding to house dogs at night.
Hire staff members with strong references and demonstrated ability to care for and interact with dogs of all breeds. Kennel attendants usually feed and water the dogs, clean cages, and make sure the dogs get plenty of exercise, reports the U.S. Department of Labor. Consider hiring a veterinarian as part of your staff to care for the dogs in the event of emergencies or injuries.
Obtain a license through your state or county to operate a dog boarding kennel. Tailor your kennel to meet your state’s specific guidelines, such as staff qualifications, kennel construction and size, dog exercise activities, and hygiene standards.
Post fliers at the library, community center, and local grocery stores or coffee shops to advertise for your dog boarding kennel. Get permission to place a stack of business cards at veterinary offices and pet stores to target dog owners directly.
Meet with prospective clients and their dogs to give them a tour of your boarding kennel facilities and address questions and concerns. Provide a discount for new clients when scheduling a first-time stay for dogs.
Apply to become an accredited dog kennel facility after six months of operation to attract more clients and prove that your kennel provides high-quality boarding services. Prepare to face strict kennel standards and pass an on-site inspection to become accredited through the Pet Care Services Association.
Get permission to set up booths for your dog kennel at parks and local fairs, craft shows, and sporting events to seek new clients. Give out free custom dog leashes or treats printed with your kennel’s name and contact information.
Provide all staff with the proper dog handling and safety training prior to opening the kennel. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, animal caretakers are at a higher risk of workplace injuries because of exposure to bites and physically demanding activities.
2016 Salary Information for Animal Care and Service Workers
Animal care and service workers earned a median annual salary of $23,040 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, animal care and service workers earned a 25th percentile salary of $19,540, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $29,490, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 296,400 people were employed in the U.S. as animal care and service workers.
- U.S. Small Business Administration: Write a Business Plan
- U.S. Department of Labor: Animal Care and Service Workers
- Reading Borough Council: Dog Boarding Establishment License Guidelines
- Pet Care Services Association: Accreditation
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Animal Care and Service Workers
- Career Trend: Animal Care and Service Workers
- dog image by Andrii IURLOV from Fotolia.com