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How to Run a Kennel

Kennel ownership allows you to combine your animal loving spirit and entrepreneurial mindset to create a profitable business.

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” For animal lovers, running a kennel can epitomize this saying.  

And if you’re interested in working in the pet industry, this is an ideal time considering there are approximately 89.7 million pet dogs in the United States alone. With your heart in the right place and the demand on the rise, running a kennel can certainly be a sound business option.

Let’s take a look at some of the things you’ll need to know if you intend to turn your love of pets into a business.

Get your legal affairs in order

For starters, you need to get the legalities of the business in order. This includes ensuring that your license stays up-to-date and being prepared for yearly inspections. Additionally, you will need to invest in additional training and certifications periodically.

This could include receiving specializations in grooming or obedience training, for example. Extra certifications and specialities like these will help to add value and increase legitimacy of your business.  

Finally, you will want to outline a contract with each customer related to the services you’ll be providing for them. Having a signed agreement between you and your customers will protect you against liability for situations out of your control.  

It’s a good ideal to work with a legal professional to help you draft the various contracts you’ll be using and to ensure that you’ve covered all scenarios.


Be diligent about your kennel’s condition

Pet owners will judge your establishment based on their first impression. Upon the first visit, they will likely want to see the kennels and visit the areas where their pet will be sleeping, playing, and eating.

They will choose whether or not to use your services based on those first impressions. Consequently, it is important to invest not only in the essentials, but the little luxuries such as comfier pet beds and better toys.

Americans continue to be willing to spend more and more on their pets’ care, whether for pet health insurance or boarding, so it will be beneficial for your business to invest in higher quality items that help your kennel stand out among the competition. 


Keep it clean as a whistle

Cleanliness is the biggest factor when running a kennel. Upon walking into your kennel, pet owners should see a sanitary facility that looks and smells clean. Keeping your facility clean requires both day-to-day upkeep as well as long-term maintenance.

Your daily responsibilities will include constantly cleaning and disinfecting the entire kennel space, including the beds, playing areas, and any spots where animals may relieve themselves.

You’ll also need to stay on top of ongoing maintenance issues. There’s a lot of wear and tear in the business of kennels so it’s important that your establishment remains safe and hygienic. This includes replacing dog beds and toys as needed, and quickly repairing any damage to your facilities. 


Implement procedures and protocol

Running a kennel mimics both the hotel and the child care industries. With that being said, you should be following similar procedures to these types of businesses. As with a hotel, a proper check-in and check-out system needs to be established.

This will include outlining specific times for pick-up and drop-off, reviewing the amenities offered, and explaining basic rules of your kennel with pet owners. As you would with a daycare, you must acquire personal information from each and every pet owner about his or her animal.  

This policy will allow you to provide better service based on knowledge of dietary restraints, specific eating habits, exercise routines, or any medications the pet may require.


Be attuned to the wellbeing of pets

When pet owners drop off and pick up their pets, you can be sure that they will be concerned about their furry friend’s health and wellbeing during the time spent apart. In order to provide superior service, there are some guidelines you should follow.

Upon booking, recommend that owners bring their pet’s favorite toy or a similar item. This will help ease any “home sickness” and increase their level of comfort.

Pet owners should also be encouraged to bring the animal’s everyday food and treats. Don’t interfere with the animal’s regular eating habits by introducing new foods in a new, strange environment.

Finally, you will need to inform customers of the vaccinations required in order for their pet to stay at your kennel. Enforcing vaccination requirements greatly decreases the threat of diseases spreading throughout your facility.      

Select your staff wisely

As the proprietor, you may not be as hands-on in the animal interactions. Still, it’s imperative that you hire staff members who have the right temperament for animal care and are able to handle animals of all breeds and sizes.

Moreover, it could be beneficial to hire staff with additional certifications, such as those in grooming or obedience training.

Finally, determine the number of employees needed to properly accommodate and care for  the number of animals you will have in your kennel on any given day. It’s your responsibility to ensure that your employees can confidently care for all the pets under their watch. 


Offer additional services

Nowadays, pet owners want a whole lot more from a kennel than a place for their pet to sleep and eat while they’re away. In 2017, $6.16 billion was spent on pet services such as grooming and boarding, and it is estimated that this number will increase to $6.47 billion by the end of 2018.  

With this in mind, you should consider adding amenities such as grooming packages, obedience classes or daily doggie daycare services. These additional services will not only be key selling points, but will also help to boost your profits even higher.

Capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing

When it comes to pet care, word of mouth will be one of your most powerful marketing tools.  Pet owners comprise a very large community, and find value and trust in other pet owners’ opinions and experiences. One approach to increase positive word of mouth reviews is through relationships with trusted sources.  

Develop relationships with local veterinarians, dog walkers, and pet stores. Pet owners rely greatly on the opinions of these “experts” and will more likely use your service if it comes recommended by one or more of these sources. 

Running a kennel can be a very rewarding venture for any animal lover with an entrepreneurial spirit. And if you follow these tips you’ll increase your chances of success for a lucrative business that will be sustainable well into the future.

Of course, if you feel like this is not quite the right fit for you, why not take a look at the other opportunities available.

Bruce Hakutizwi

About the author

USA and International Manager for, a global online marketplace for buying and selling small medium size businesses. The website has over 60,000 business listings and attracts over 1.5 million buyers to the site every month.


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