is dog boarding in my home legal?

Is Dog Boarding In My Home Legal?

We have so many ways in this new instant economy to make money that businesses like dog boarding are sprouting up everywhere. To be honest and straightforward the answer to these questions isn’t a yes or a no.

The job of watching a pet while their parents are at work or out of town seems to be a job that anyone can do it. I have heard it all. Eight-year-old neighbor kids walking dogs, the person in between jobs, making some quick money to pay their electric bill by letting dogs come stay with her, and even some full blown businesses that have a bunch of hosts homes everywhere where the company sends the dogs to stay overnight.

prices on website


There Are Big Responsibilities When Considering Dog Boarding

In home dog boarding comes with some huge responsibilities both before they start their business and after. Although focusing on the cute and adorable dream of caring for the pets…sometimes it is neglected.  One of the biggest responsibilities is finding out if they are even allowed to have a dog boarding business in their own home. It is almost implied that if you can sign up for one of these easy to use websites like,,, etc that you very well can make money boarding dogs in your home.

But is it legal?

Think No One Will Find Out?

Sometimes I hear, “Aw, no one cares about me Bella. I am just making a little side money. What’s wrong with that?”

Ah! But people DO know. They find out through seeing different dogs and people come to and from your home. They find out by your website advertising and your facebook page that is posting pictures.

Your neighbors can hear the dogs, they can see the dogs, and sometimes… they can SMELL the dogs.

People know.

And what is worse, is some of the people who board dogs in their home might be building a business that isn’t sustainable.

All it takes is for one person to call the zoning board to have them come knocking on your door. They did this to Kristie Glazer in Philadelphia. A neighbor reported her and they literally knocked on her door ready to nail plyboard on her window frames and board up her home.

Can you believe that?!?!  You can hear the full story here

She had to stop that business and ultimately, made a huge dent in her families livelihood.

Facebook group


You Want To Do The Right Thing, Don’t You?

If you are going to go into business for yourself, don’t you want to know that you are doing the right thing? Don’t you want to go to bed at night knowing that you have proper training, insurance, structures, approvals, contingency plans?

If you don’t, something like what happened at Green Acres could happen and you could have 20+ dead dogs on your hands and criminal charges against you. Or what about these horrible cases that made the news:

  • Dog attacked at in home boarding
  • Dog Attacked and killed at in home dog boarding,no zoning.
  • Dog died sparked zoning investigation.zoning investigation.   The article states: “What we’re now discovering is all these boarding operations opening under the guise of pet-sitting,” said Animal Care and Control Director Dianne Sauve”

Yeah, this stuff is REAL.

You want to confidently tell your clients that your insurance covers you 100% for anything that happens.

You want to know how to properly introduce new dogs to your pack to avoid anyone getting bit in the face or have one of them injure another four legged client at your home. You want to know what happens if one gets out of an enclosure and damages your home or themselves while you are at the grocery store.

This is a very serious business.

Let’s Start With The First Check Mark You Need In Order To Be Up And Running:

Before you can even THINK of inviting dogs and cats into your home in exchange for money, you must look to see if it is even legal OR what you need to do to BE legal.

pet sitting employee manual

DO THIS: Contact City hall and ask if a special zoning license is needed to have a dog kennel in your residential house.

To show you what I mean, I took 30 minutes and googled for you. Here is what I came up with for some locations.

Los Angeles: You need a permit

San Diego –  7 or more pets

Ft Wayne Tx
Residential Kennel Permit $300
Commercial Kennel/Cattery Permit – (Requires Zoning Approval)
* 6-15 dogs/cats $150
* 16-25 dogs/cats $200
* 26 or more $250
* Omnibus Permit $200

Seattle/King County
4 + dogs or cats
Need permit

Minnesota Cities –Very long, you should read through it.

South Bend Indiana – Read Section 5-60

Maricopa County – $328 for a permit.

Utah – no more than 3 dogs in one home.

Louisville, KY – any boarding facility needs permit.

Fairfax County, VA – Depends on square footage

A great resource for looking up your local laws and ordinances is

In the end, don’t you want to know that you are operating a legal business? Don’t you want to know that you have the proper insurance? That you won’t be fined? For some, it is a risk they are willing to take, but how moral is it to be operating (knowingly) and illegal business?


rover dogvacay insurance

No One Said It Is Easy.

In some places, you will do your best attempt and call City Hall but the person on the phone might not know. Or they might not have any laws. Some that do require laws and permits hardly ever have inspections so then all you see are the bad cases in the news when things go wrong.

As a professional pet care provider, let’s do all that we can to bring the integrity of our industry up by doing everything we need to do to operate legal businesses.

If you would like to help the integrity of this article and you locate the statute in your town or county, feel free to add it to the comments section and I will add it to the list above!


Facebook group

40 replies
  1. Walt F
    Walt F says:

    Good article. Rover nor DogVacay tell you that you may need a license or advise you to check with your localities thereby doing a dis-service to their sitters. Love dogs–come work for us makes it seem so simple. However it is not!

  2. Keelin
    Keelin says:

    Just looked up Clark County for Las Vegas NV:

    10 From what I’ve read however PLEASE if you are in NV Read ALL the Details of the sections that apply to us!

    Read the Animal Omnibus Ordinance Sections:

    There are certain animals that are not counted as part of the ten! Example if you watch a service dog that is licensed or in training for certification it would not be counted towards the ten dogs you are allowed to board at a time!

  3. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    Miami, FL Laws:
    4 dogs are allowed to live on residential property that is less than one acre

    6 dogs on 1 to 2 acres
    8 dogs on 2 acres or more

    Keeping more than 8 dogs on a residential property requires a kennel license.

  4. Maggie
    Maggie says:

    Can someone find the NJ laws or Middlesex County, NJ laws for home dog boarding legal dog number amount? How do you really know what is legal to have when it’s very difficult to find the law in your area? And town hall couldn’t answer the questions for you because they didn’t know? Need some assistance! TIA

  5. Carol Kremer
    Carol Kremer says:

    We have a nieghbor who routinely takes in dogs for day care and some overnights. They do not have a safe fence and there is a toddler in next yard. Called Ann Arbor City Clerk and County and no one knows if a licence is required? Neighbors deny having a business or need for a safe fence but have a website advertising their business. What to do?

  6. Kyra
    Kyra says:

    Great article! I am looking into starting an in home dog boarding business. However, I am having trouble finding any laws regarding it. I live outside the city limits of Pensacola FL, in Escambia County FL. I’ve read through all of the local animal ordinances, and can’t find anything. Googled for an hour, and nothing. Can you help me find out? If you would, please email your response. Thank you!

  7. Amira
    Amira says:

    Hi! I can not find out anything for my area:( I live in Indianapolis 46203 . I have a half acre and plan to build a boutique inner city kennel only holding up to 4 dogs – air/ heat provided and it is suppose to be built by my detached garage. I am a master trainer and will offer my services along with boarding and maybe even daycare depends on needs . Super small but want to do this correctly. People around me own more dogs than I would have . I have no kids at home as well. If you can point me in the right direction I would be grateful. Thanks!

  8. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    I just received a letter from my HOA saying Icant conduct a business in my home. My dog sitting business has been humming along quite well for almost 4 years now. I’m not sure how they can say that. Are they going to tell all the people with home-based businesses they can’t operate as well?!

    • Bella
      Bella says:

      Lisa, Correct. You must abide by the HOA rules, the city regulations, etc.
      I am sure they won’t tell everyone… only if they have traffic coming and going from the house, barking, and lots of activity. I totally believe it. -Bella

  9. Lisa Holland
    Lisa Holland says:

    I put in for my LLC and pet boarding Insurance. Got those no problems. Then apply for the home based license in my village. And get denied. Im devastated. Actually trying to get the mayor to talk to his staff. I only do 1 dog every other week and they are denying me.

      • Pam Beckstead
        Pam Beckstead says:

        I live im Murray, Utah and was so excited to possibly start this up as a business…only 3 dogs are allowed in the home. So does that mean at all times or what cuz I already have 2 dogs of my own. So when your getting a boarding license does that mean 3 dogs for the business or 3 dogs counting your own animals? Thnx. Pam

    • Suzi Kitchen
      Suzi Kitchen says:

      You can try getting signatures from neighbors supporting you to present at the town council meeting. Get on the agenda ahead of time by calling and asking to be added to new business and present your case. The council votes on action if it is one, not the mayor.

  10. Todd Pinkston
    Todd Pinkston says:

    Please be informed that just because a city or county allows you to have let’s say 5 personal dogs does not mean that you can conduct a business of caring for 5 dogs out of your home. Once you are charging money then you usually need to apply for a kennel permit and business license. Most residentially zoned properties will not allow you to run a business out of it. This is not the case everywhere but is pretty common practice in most counties and states.

  11. Neeters
    Neeters says:

    I had started a pet sitting business, I looked all over the city website and I did everything I could to find if I needed to do anything and there was nothing. Someone told me that I was against ordnance as I cannot board dogs in my home. This was another pet sitter, she told me where it said it and I never would of thought of looking in the kenneling section as to me meant kennels at the home with dogs. So than we went to the city to get it changed and they said that they would not change us to an commercial pet boarding place. So I just read what you found on for Minnesota and I found it interesting where it says “Unless the city can show that the kennel or pound would be a nuisance everywhere within the city, the city should not adopt an ordinance prohibiting all kennels or pounds. I am going to be taking this to the city myself and showing them.. This is by the state of MN. There are only 2 dog boarders in my city and that is myself and one other person.

  12. Elina Abri
    Elina Abri says:

    Thanks for sharing this information. I’m doing my homework and trying to figure out what I need to do to become a profit business. The problem I don’t know where to look for this information. I live in Buffalo Grove Illinois and I cannot find the amount of pets in the home that I have. Please help me

  13. siobhan
    siobhan says:

    I’m just seeing this and I called my local area because I’ve been with Rover for 2 years now and wanted to start my own business, city hall was just like oh dog boarding has to be a commercial business. Now I don’t know what to do, I’ve been doing this in my home the whole time

    • Bella
      Bella says:

      Yup. Ask them what the limit in your home is. Join my Facebook group and tag me! Jump Start Your Pet Business. Let’s chat in there! – Bella

  14. D Michael Holland
    D Michael Holland says:

    Good Day…
    I will take a moment to chime in on this matter, as I am a professional Canine Behavioral Consultant and have been operating my business from my home for over 10 years. Our business has grown from a 2 bedroom townhouse where we would stage pets in our dining room during their Board and Train or Boarding Stay, to a newly purchased single family home with a Detached Building that we converted into a Kennel, and a complete privacy fence across the ?acre lot.

    We have been licensed and insured from day one and all pets in our care for one reason or another, get the best in care and concern.

    A situation has presented itself when renewing our personal pets (a total of 7) city licensing when we learned that our city only allows for a total of (4). We’ll after securing 5 of the 7 licenses, it was brought to our attention that in order to retain ownership of our existing pack (3 of which are registered Service Animals and the others Canine Training Assistants) we had to seek a Special Exceptions Permit. In lieu of doing so, paying the $250 application fee and providing all the required documents, we were then faced with an inspection of our home.

    Upon inspection by the Director of Codes and Compliances and the City Planning Office, it was determined that our Detached Kennel did not meet the requirement of one- being 10 ft from the nearest property line in which case would not allow for us to stage our personal pets, much less any clients pets. Leading up to the second concern of not being able to host or stage any client pets on our property at all!!!

    Keep in mind that we are in our 10th year of business, purchased this new home 6 months ago to accommodate both personal and professional use, not to mention being faced with seeking a Special Exceptions Permit to retain our existing pets, only to be directed to seek a commercial property if we want to continue to conduct business.

    The irony of all, is that we have never hid nor miscommunicated any of the facts related to our business from any of the licensing agencies, insurance carriers or codes and compliances- who has issued our Home Occupation Permit for the past 7 years. In fact, we are the preferred Canine Behaviorist for the city’s local Animal Shelter and we work closely with many of Animal Care professionals (Vets, Groomers, Day Care and even other local Dog Training Businesses), only to be presented with these new guidelines in the past 24 hours.

    We are indeed challenged at the moment, but we will be exhausting every option before being forced to seek a commercial property. This isn’t something that we expected when simply renewing our pet’s city licensing.

    Canine Obedience And Correction Agency, COACA LLC
    Newport News, VA

    • Bella
      Bella says:

      My goodness! Thank you so much for sharing this and I am so sorry this took me so long to reply. I am just now seeing this. This is an important story! Would you be interested in coming on my podcast, or a FB live, or something like that so we can share this on a larger platform? People need to understand that these things happen. Which is exactly why I wrote this article. 🙂 Always Keep Jumping, Bella


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *