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Hi

I recently started my business which I was thinking would be primarily dog walking with some add ons but have been surprised to discover that the main thing I'm being contacted about is home boarding requests and not much interest in the dog walking at all.

I therefore assumed that there was be a lack of home boarding suppliers in the market place but when I did a google search there appeared to be tons of home boarding suppliers. I'm therefore not sure why I'm getting so many requests for this and I'm wondering whether I should branch into this area.

I'm keen to understand others experience of home-boarding supply and demand before investing in advertising for boarders.

Also I'm wondering if people specifically want home boarders in there immediate area or whether they are content with a home boarder a 20 minute drive from where they live. I'm particularly wondering about this point as the lisencing fees for the local council where I live are much more expensive (they treat boarding one dog as a kennels) than the neighbouring council so it may make more sense to advertise for boarders in the neighbouring council rather than my own if clients wouldn't mind a 20 min driving distance.

What are others experiences as suppliers or as the client?

As a client are you unable to find home boarders? If you are not having a problem finding them but don't want to use those that you have found why is that? What were your primary reasons for not wanting to use them?

Many thanks
 

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The vast majority of my home boarders are my regular dog walking clients, but I have a friend who really only does home boarding. A lot of her clients this year have been people I've sent to her, because I'm full, or they are big dogs (she likes big, I like small), so there is a demand for home boarding without the walking. Probably the reason there are so many is as a dog walker you aren't so limited in numbers - so we walk between 15 and 25 dogs a day - but can't possibly board that many! So there are more home boarders needed than dog walkers.

I'm searching for host families for boarding, but haven't had a lot of luck - like you I have to pay the same as a kennels, so was looking for out of the area boarders where the licence is cheaper. I've had dogs come from quite far to stay with me, but I'm in a real 'commuter town' so there are lots of good road links. In general my regular clients want someone they can rely on, are trustworthy and good with the dogs - I don't think a 20 min drive would put them off, but in my case we would normally collect and deliver the dogs ourselves unless the owner wanted to do it themselves (it's part of our service), or they'd collect/deliver to my house and we'd transfer the dogs on their behalf.
 

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I think what you also have to remember, is that in the main, unlike boarding kennels, people offering home boarders will have tight restrictions on how many they are actually allowed to take in at any one time.

Not that I was looking into it myself (I have 6 of my own) - but someone sent me a link to our local council policy on it, and there was restrictions on how the dog should be kept, outside kennelling mustn't be used at all etc etc

I had no option when we went away but to put my dogs in kennels - the four girls together and the two boys - I suspect few home boarders would have been able to take the 6 together particularly as, even if they had been llcensed for that many dogs, it was the summer.

Kenneling the 6 of them cost more than our holiday, (my daughter was originally coming to stay to care for the older three) - but my mum kindly offered to pay half the kennelling fees to save her having to do this.

The only way I could "home board" is if someone came to my house to stay for the week - the main reason we've only had one holiday in the last 5 years - but I wouldn't be without them.

I suspect there is also quite a sizeable requirement for "doggie daycare" where owners are working full-time.

I've used the services of a dog-walker in the past and she was fabulous - my gang adored her

Unfortunately, I eventually had to cut her loose for financial reasons when our circumstances changed - she then went and bought a petshop because like you, in our area, she found very little requirement for dog walking and wasn't in a position to offer home-boarding.
 

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We have just stopped home boarding but I can tell you that demand is high, very high. If demand is out stripping supply this is good for pricing too. We weren't the cheapest but there will always be somebody that will take that empty slot in your diary. But a word of caution on taking on host families;

A friend off ours we refer to used to use host families but she found they can be very unreliable. You may take a booking for them and then they change their mind or worse still, part way through a stay get a call in the middle of the night demanding you collect the dog because it won't sleep. A real headache for her.
 

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Thanks for the tip. Difficult to know what to do!
 
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