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Do I need a license to look after dogs in my home?

Animal welfare in the UK is forever improving. From 1st October 2018 all businesses offering dog boarding, home boarding or doggy day care services need to be licensed.

Why do I need a dog boarding license?
If you want to avoid a fine, you need to be properly licensed to offer any animal boarding services. It doesn’t matter if you run a boarding kennels or if you look after other people’s dogs in your own home, from October 2018 UK law says you MUST have a license. The regulations apply to boarding kennels, boarding catteries, caring for other people’s dogs in your own home, dog day care, pet sales and dog breeding.

The penalty for either failing to have appropriate licence or not following licence conditions is a fine of up to £500 or a 3 month prison sentence.

From a business marketing point of view, the dog boarding license is invaluable. It reassures pet owners that your business is reputable and that you can be trusted to keep their dogs safe and happy whilst they are staying with you.

Where do I get a dog boarding license from?
Contact your local authority. They will be able to guide you through the process, carry out an inspection and issue you with the appropriate license.

Apply for a license here

What will the licensing authority look for?
The inspectors look for a number of things including (but not limited to)

  • Accurate record keeping and up to date information on the dogs you are looking after
  • Proper safety and hygiene in sleeping spaces, play spaces and around the dogs’ food.
  • Adequate space for dogs to relax, play and eat
  • A sensible ratio of carers to dogs
  • The right level of training and supervision for any staff or helpers you may have
  • Plenty of appropriate mental stimulation for the dogs
  • A daily exercise routine that meets each dog’s individual needs
  • Measures to prevent illness and injury.
  • A plan for what to do in an emergency
  • Being able to handle dogs appropriately and safely.
  • Proper storage of food and medication
  • Understanding how to administer prescribed medication
  • How you store and dispose of waste
  • Facilities to isolate dogs should they develop an infectious illness
  • The qualifications of the business owner and anyone who will be caring for the dogs.

All businesses will be given a star rating according to how well they meet the standards of animal welfare. If you achieve a 4 or 5 star rating you may qualify for a longer licence (2 or 3 years rather than one year). And of course that 5 star rating will show potential customers that your business is reliable and responsible.
Do I need any formal qualifications to look after dogs in my home?
Having at least one staff member with a formal qualification will certainly help fast-track your business to that all-important 5 star rating.

The licensing inspectors need to know that you truly understand what dogs need and that you can keep them safe and happy in any circumstances. Nothing demonstrates that better than the nationally recognized OFQUAL Level 3 Qualification .

The OFQUAL regulated Level 3 qualification covers everything aspect of the licensing requirement and more. With this qualification to your name you are showing the inspectors – and any potential customers – that you are the right person to be caring for dogs. 

PS: It’s also helpful if the people you employ have the qualification too. The higher standard licence (4 or 5 star) asks for a qualified person to be on the premises during the day. If there are more than one of you, you’re covered for holidays, sick days etc.

Where can I study for dog boarding qualifications?
The Institute of Modern Dog Trainers IMDT offers a distance learning course. You can study at home and in your own time. All in all it involves around 60 hours of study. So if you study for around 7.5 hours per week, you can earn your qualification in around two months. But it’s ok to complete the work sooner. Naturally, you will be supported throughout by one of the IMDT’s excellent tutors.

To find out more, click on the link below or contact the IMDT team.

Find out more about the OFQUAL Level 3 qualification  
Visit the website to find out more about animal boarding licenses  
Read the animal boarding licensing regulations here  


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