Setting up a home boarding/daycare business

(26 Posts)
cowfacemonkey Sun 17-Nov-19 14:53:02

I'm considering a long term career change and keep coming back to the idea of home boarding/day care for dogs. I'm under no illusions that this will be an easy business to run (still slightly traumatised by raising my own puppy!) and it isn't something I plan to rush into. If I go ahead it is something I will spend the next year researching and planning with a view to setting up next September.

I have one dog of my own (Lurcher, 2 years old) and I know what a challenge it has been finding the perfect day care for him. He's been going to day care twice a week and for holidays for the past 18 months and he gets on great with other dogs whilst there but I know I will need to trial him tolerating dogs in his own home. He's my world so if it's a no from him then I won't go ahead.

I have some general ideas of the service I would offer and would like people's thoughts on these two current thoughts?

1) I would like to offer day care/boarding only so no additional dog walking/visits to others meaning I'm not leaving my boarders alone in the house whilst I walk other dogs (my main gripe with a couple of home day cares we tried, fairly certain outside their one hour walk they were just left in the "dog" room for large periods of time). Ddog is sensitive soldier so was hoping to appeal to others who have dogs that need a slightly more nurturing experience! I'm not sure how financially viable this is though as earnings would be limited to boarders although wonder if people would pay more for this this type of day care?

2) Rather than having people pick up/drop off I would collect and return dogs at set times. I thought this might be more useful for those that need to leave the house early or get back after 6. Most day cares I know operate 8am to 6pm. I have thought about transporting and would be looking to get a van with suitable travel cages etc. I would prefer this in some ways to avoid late collections and reduce disruption to my neighbours.

In terms of my home I have 2 rooms that could be allocated as dog rooms, a reasonable size garden and lots of fields, woods and great dog walking routes on my door step to get the dogs out for exercise.

Very long term there is potential to convert the garage and rent it out as a space to a dog groomer as an additional source of income.

Obviously I know I need to consider insurance, license, first aid, dog training etc. But really just wondering how viable a home day care only business is or realistically do most home boarders have to incorporate dog walking and home visits.

Would be really useful to hear people's thoughts. Thank you

OP’s posts: |
BiteyShark Sun 17-Nov-19 15:06:34

For point 1 I think it's a great idea but you would need to get enough daycare dogs to make it viable. I have no issues paying for my daycare but having seen a lot of threads on here and speaking to people in RL spending £10 on a walk is justifiable but £20+ for daycare is too much.

Point 2 would be great for a 9-5 worker but for me I don't work those hours and the ability to pick my dog up earlier from daycare means I get to spend more time with him. If you had only one drop off time at the end of the day then this would put me off but I am probably in the minority.

I think on viability it really depends on what your area is like and the demand.

Gingerninja4 Sun 17-Nov-19 15:31:40

For me I like fact can use same people for dog walking and day care/home means my boy has continuity of care.

There are two of them so back up if one is ill or on holiday operate from 2 houses both licensed .Can you offer that

I trust mine 100% so know not ignored etc

goodwinter Sun 17-Nov-19 16:17:06

I also have a lurcher smile I don't drive, so a daycare or boarder that picks up/drops off is perfect for me.

adaline Sun 17-Nov-19 16:31:07

If you run a daycare you need to be be careful with numbers and space - I think the regulations have changed recently so it's worth checking how much space each individual dog needs.

I'm not sure how practical set pick up/drop offs would be. It would be great for people who don't drive but others may prefer to pick up their dogs on the way home from work, for example. Maybe you could say pick up from yours at anytime, or you'll drop off at home after a certain time if not?

The other thing to consider is what other services operate near you? We have a big dog walking service here and others have found it hard to set up themselves because this family have such a good reputation. There's no point setting up full-time daycare if you don't have enough clients to make it financially viable!

Doggy daycare/walking/grooming is quite a competitive market at the moment. People want to make sure they're getting excellent quality care and if you don't provide it, there's always someone else who will. Make sure you go in with your eyes wide open and think about all the work involved - walking dogs multiple times a day, everyday, cleaning up potential accidents, dealing with potential fights/skirmishes etc.

MadnessInMethod Sun 17-Nov-19 16:33:11

Have you actually sat down and calculated any numbers?

Dog boarding in your home is a lovely idea but it's not big money.

Our dog minders are a retired couple who do it because they adore dogs, to keep themselves fit and active, and to top up their pensions.

1. What's the maximum number of boarders you'll have per day and what will you charge?

My dog boarders are only allowed a maximum of 5 dogs - 1 of them being their own - so 4 paying boarders at £22 for the day. Making them £88 a day. They actually don't like having that many, they prefer two dogs plus their own.

To be honest I wouldn't put my dog with anyone that was minding 7, 8, 10 dogs, as to me that's not dog minding, it's crowd control. Same with dog walkers that "walk" large packs. I see them in my local park and it's not a good walk.

2. The van and pick ups/drop offs is a nice idea and all, but will mean a very big start up cost, and you'll be working a long time before you even start to be in profit.

What if your pick up and drop off times don't suit - eg. My husband will drop ours off at 8.30am and on the days I finish early I'll collect him at 2pm. How would you accommodate that?

stucknoue Sun 17-Nov-19 16:37:39

I'm not sure it's a viable business but our local one does grooming as well, just an idea


MadnessInMethod Sun 17-Nov-19 16:39:04

If you've got the space you'd be better converting your garage and training to become a dog groomer yourself.

You can make in one hour what you'll make for minding a dog for a whole day. Your earning potential is massively higher.

cowfacemonkey Sun 17-Nov-19 16:40:23

Thanks for the replies, it is interesting to see what people require/prefer.

Biteyshark I know what you mean about cost. I used to pay £10 for a 30 minute walk but now pay £20 for a full day at day care which although twice the cost seems like great value and nicer for my dog who comes home sparko from having so much fun all day! I've seen day care locally as cheap as £12 a day and the first one I used was £15 but I just got bad vibes. My day care lady is always fully booked so I guess there are those willing to pay!

Gingerninja4 I couldn't currently offer 2 people operating separately no. I could reconsider the dog walking side if it were all in the immediate area so no travel time and meant only a limited amount of time out of the house.

Goodwinter if I could offer a Lurcher only day care I would! Sadly that might be too niche and I don't have enough sofa's grin

OP’s posts: |
dutchmaster Sun 17-Nov-19 16:43:42

I have a brilliant dog sitter and what makes the difference to me is;
pick up and drop off either 8am or 12pm
and they can stay for half day under 5 hrs or full day up to around 10-12.(14 and 20 pounds)
if I've had to stay late at work or even a random night out they keep him until 7 or 8pm and are able to do so at short notice. so I know he is fed and had an evening walk so will just be asleep until I came home late. I dont like to leave him over 4 hours so this is important.
I'm in a whatsapp group with them too and get updates so always know if hes had a good day or if they have any questions etc.

cowfacemonkey Sun 17-Nov-19 16:51:31

Oddly the grooming side doesn't appeal to me one little bit but appreciate it is a much bigger money earner! Renting out the space to someone else seems like an easier income stream!

I would only board 4 dogs. We could probably accommodate 8 as we have a 3rd room we could use but I think 8 would be a ridiculous number!

The VW van is something we are planning on getting anyway regardless of what I do job wise so I don't really view it as a start up cost.

I have looked at numbers and admit without adding services such dog walking/home visits/transportation fees the potential feels limited!

OP’s posts: |
adaline Sun 17-Nov-19 17:01:30

I would only board 4 dogs.

You're not going to make much from that, even if you are full all the time. Once you've paid for insurance, fuel, sundries such as treats, poo bags, crates for the dogs, restraints for the dogs in your van etc. you're not going to have as much left over as you think.

I think solely offering daycare will massively limit you. I don't know any daycares who don't also offer walking. A big one near here has a husband/wife team offering daycare, and they hire a walker who does a two hour walk every lunchtime including drop off/collection to people's homes. The husband and wife team do the daycare walks separately, and they also offer dog-boarding, home visits for puppies, and feeding/home visits for cats, rabbits etc.

They make a decent living but they work around the clock to do so.

MadnessInMethod Sun 17-Nov-19 17:05:00

Renting out your garage to a dog groomer seems at odds to getting a van and doing pick ups and drop offs to avoid disruption for your neighbours.

Ok so boarding 4 dogs will bring you roughly £80 a day, minus insurance, license, advertising, van fuel, insurance and depreciation costs, don't forget to add in the admin time running your business that you'll spend whilst not actually looking after the dogs, do you end up at an hourly wage you're happy with?

twinnywinny14 Sun 17-Nov-19 17:05:51

My neighbour set up a very successful daycare and boarding business recently. She takes her boarding dogs out with her when walking other dogs for their 1hr walks morning and afternoon- this means the boarders are never left alone and they get masses of exercise. This also tops up her income. To start with she had a largish car fitted with crates for the dogs when transporting them then moved to a van later on when she had more money. The council shell registered with told her how many she could board at a time, she has one dog of her own so this had to be included too

sandycloud Sun 17-Nov-19 17:07:42

I use daycare for my dog. Dog sitter has a key so she picks him up. Goes back to her house usually with 3 others. They get a long walk then he gets dropped back home about 1pm for £15. Also does boarding.

cowfacemonkey Sun 17-Nov-19 17:09:41

Yes I think day care only for 4 dogs is a hobby not a business isn't it?!

The idea of employing someone for a few hours a day could be a potential idea. HOWEVER the reason I dropped my trusted dog walker after two years was because she went down this route and it just didn't work for me (although I think she executed the change in set up badly).

OP’s posts: |
adaline Sun 17-Nov-19 17:22:12

I think you'd make more money setting up as a dog walker too. You could walk 3-4 dogs a time, twice a day and earn as much if not more money than you would setting up as a daycare. If you wanted, you cold throw in the offer of dog boarding or daycare for one or two dogs on top as well.

Is there a particular reason you'd rather just offer daycare? It's quite self-limiting as lots of dogs don't need full-time care in that sense.

shinynewapple Sun 17-Nov-19 18:06:21

What area are you in OP ? (Very little the way of doggy day care where I live)

goodwinter Sun 17-Nov-19 18:06:32

The daycare near me charges £26 for a full day, with drop-off and pickup £3 each.

ineedaholidaynow Sun 17-Nov-19 18:10:48

The rules changed near us, so don't know whether they are countrywide but if you dog board you have to be able to offer separate rooms for each dog (doesn't mean you have to but must have the space to be able to do)

Gingerninja4 Mon 18-Nov-19 05:01:10


Yrs our homeboarder had to show could separate dogs does not need be a room could be using a divider etc

Girlintheframe Mon 18-Nov-19 05:43:48

We use day care. It's open from 7.30 - 6pm, £15 per day (Scotland).
Having set drop off/pick up times wouldn't appeal to me. I usually work 8-4pm and want to pick up Ddog straight away. I sometimes finish earlier, sometimes later and like the flexibility to pick up Ddog when ever I want.
The half day charging isint offered by my day care but is something I would like.
Will you be having puppies? Our day care does (once vaccinated) and has a separate area for them

twoheaped Mon 18-Nov-19 05:46:10

About setting up in December. Borading licenses run from January to January.
Mine cost £305 this time (kennel), some parts of the country are more. Being a new business, you will definitely not get 5 stars and a 3 year license. You could end up paying £100's for a license that lasts only a few months.
You may well be better off starting in January. Just something to consider.

happygardening Mon 18-Nov-19 08:11:53

I work odd hours that often change at the last minute. We go away for a weekend every couple of months. I should also say that I dont have a “sensitive soldier” my dog is a happy go lucky type who likes everything and everyone.
I have a brilliant dog walker/day care/boarder who I’ve found after trying a few others some who we frankly unreliable. She picks my dog up and drops him off this for me is essential; I don’t have time to do it before or after work. She happily steps in at the last minute I have even txted her on the day and she happily helps out, I also very occasionally cancel her with late notice due to my change in work hours again no problem. I use her for day care/boarding and like the fact that she knows my dog and he knows and clearly loves her I wouldn’t want to change to someone else for day care/boarding.
I guess what I’m saying is that IMO flexibility is the key if your offering a dog walking/boarding service I slightly get the impression from your OP that you don’t want that.

cowfacemonkey Mon 18-Nov-19 16:52:17

Lots to think about thank you. Like I said I'm planning on doing lots of research so not about to dive in without thinking about all aspects and preferences for service.

I don't have any objections to flexibility was just mulling over the benefits of providing pick up drop off service at set/pre-arranged times for those who work long hours. In my experience though I have found those who are very flexible are sometimes not the most well run. My previous day care always seemed to have spaces night before/on the day/provides dog walking services all day long too and I was never really convinced she was providing good quality care and ddog was never thrilled to go.

My current dog day care is as flexible as she can be but provides such great service she is always booked well in advance! Ddog loves it!

OP’s posts: |

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