How to Start a Commercial Dog Kennel

Create a niche kennel environment to keep up with recent trends.
dog image by Marcin Wyłuda from

Despite a less than robust economy, pet owners continue to spend more on their pets than in previous years, according to a 2011-2012 survey completed by the American Pet Products Association. This demographic provides ample opportunity for small business owners who want to work with animals. In fact, some of the most pet-centric cities in the nation, including Portland, Oregon; Colorado Springs, Colorado and Charlotte, North Carolina offer products and services such as canine social clubs and dog spas. Commercial dog kennels can be branded in new and unique ways to target pet owners who want the very best for their canine companions.

Step 1

Determine the need for commercial dog kennels in your area. Order market research on pet ownership online or contact your city hall's tax and permit division or animal control office to request the number of licensed dogs in your area. This will give you a good idea of the need for a kennel.

Step 2

Create a mission statement to define your goals. If you truly love working with animals, express your compassion and desire to help pet owners with their boarding needs. Above all, pet owners want to know their animals are safe and content in a clean environment.

Step 3

Draw up a business plan which outlines your marketing efforts and your competition. Create a financial plan that lists your salary, expenses and alternate sources of income. Keep in mind that you can attract seed funding with a well-thought and appealing financial plan. Determine if you need to secure financing, such as lines of credit or credit accounts with pet product suppliers.

Step 4

Name and register the business in your local municipality, then create a logo or catchy graphic that is both cheerful and reassuring to dog owners. Keep your brand consistent on stationery, signage and business cards.

Step 5

Obtain the licenses or permits necessary in your jurisdiction. Determine your zoning requirements; you generally cannot open a commercial dog kennel in a residential neighborhood.

Step 6

Contact the Internal Revenue Service to obtain a business tax ID number to assist you when tax time rolls around. You will need to report your business income, as well as employees' or sub-contractors' income. Check with your state board of equalization for a resale tax certificate if you plan to sell dog supplies, toys or treats on the premises.

Step 7

Secure liability insurance for your kennel. Dog bites, dog fights and other unforeseen occurrences can happen when multiple dogs are kept in an enclosed area. Owners passionate about their pets may not hesitate to seek compensation from damages incurred to their dogs in your care.

Step 8

Advertise your new kennel in local yellow pages, fliers or newspapers. Create brochures on your computer that you can leave in veterinarians' offices, grooming salons or dog parks.

Step 9

Set up business accounts with dog product distributors and suppliers. Purchase everything you need to open business. You will need fencing, crates, dog beds, food, treats, toys, cleaning supplies, hoses, play areas and first aid supplies.

Step 10

Set up your kennel. Create isolation areas to segregate dogs when necessary. Keep the dogs' comfort in mind when deciding on flooring; rubber-based flooring provides comfort for older dogs' joints, while sealed concrete in dog runs makes for an effective way to keep the kennel clean. Make sure dogs have shelter from inclement weather. Your kennel needs proper lighting, hot and cold running water, ventilation and sanitation.

Step 11

Form relationships and business accounts with trusted veterinarians and emergency facilities. If one of the dogs in your charge requires immediate medical care, the last thing you want to do is search for a vet who is open at midnight.

Step 12

Splurge on a big open house celebration to showcase your new facilities. Provide free grooming or training seminars. Ask dog food manufacturers or pet food stores to provide samples and nutritional education. Hand out coupons for half-off during your first week in operation.


  • Your kennel may be inspected periodically to ensure you are operating according to your local regulations.


  • Cities and states have different requirements for licensing and building permits. Check with your local tax and permit division for requirements in your area.

Items You Will Need

  • Market research studies
  • Mission statement
  • Business, marketing and financial plans
  • Graphic logo, stationery and signage
  • Business and zoning permits
  • Fliers, brochures and ads
  • Commercial business accounts
  • Fencing, cages or crates
  • Bedding
  • Food
  • Toys
  • Cleaning supplies
  • First aid kit


About the Author

Elle Smith has been an advertising professional for more than 25 years. Her work for ABC, CBS and Sony Pictures Television has appeared on radio, on air, in print and outdoors. In addition, Smith has more than 20 years experience in marketing, graphic arts, commercial photography and print production, and is a licensed real estate agent with property management certification in California.

Photo Credits