New Regulation - Dog Day Care Licence Changes 2018

New licensing regulations, known as the Animal Activities Licensing Regulations 2018 (AAL), come into force on 1st October 2018.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 Guidance notes for conditions for providing day care for dogs

The orginally published Guidelines for day care were ammended 2nd October 2018 and this article has been updated to reflect them.

New licensing regulations, known as the Animal Activities Licensing Regulations 2018 (AAL), come into force on 1st October 2018. You can read the full legislation here:

This new regulation only applies to England. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will retain the existing legislation, but it's likely that they will consider updating the legislation there in future too.

The regulations cover boarding kennels, boarding catteries, dog home boarding, dog day care (and pet sales, breeding and exhibits).

What Changes?

The current system for dog day care licensing varies a great deal between council areas, with some areas not currently requiring a licence at all. This will change with the new regulations and every dog day care in England will require a licence.

If you have an existing licence it will remain in place until its expiry date (31st December 2018 for most people). When you renew or apply for your first licence, the new regulations will apply to you.

How the new regulation will be applied is explained in guidance notes, these are designed to standardise the rules across different councils and will apply wherever you live. You can read them in full here:

Depending on your council's current rules there may be very little change for you or some big changes. Here is a summary of some of the rules included in the dog day care regulations:

Number of Dogs

Each businesses licence will state the number of dogs permitted on the premises. This number will be specific to your business and will be determined by a range of factors including:

  • The size and layout of the premises
  • The type of dogs catered for
  • The qualifications/experience of the staff

It's expected that the ratio of staff to dogs in an established business will be around 1:10 (or 1:8 for a higher grading).


Staff training must be a minimum of an OFQUAL regulated level 2 qualification in a relevant subject, or clear evidence of knowledge and experience. There isn't any more guidance on this yet, but common sense would say that previous experience would include having an existing licence or experience working within an animal care field and training courses such as first aid.

Qualifications that may be counted could potentially include:

  • City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate of Technical Competence in Dog Walking
  • City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Work-based Animal Care
  • City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Animal Care
  • BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Animal Care

Building Design

There are quite a few rules for the environment itself, these appear written with day cares working from commercial facilities rather than domestic settings in mine, so if you are a day care working from home you may need to speak with your local licensing inspector about how they will apply them. They include:

  • Interior surfaces, including floors, must be smooth, impervious and able to be cleaned and disinfected, where appropriate. Floors must have a non-slip, solid surface.
  • There must be at least two secure physical barriers (door or gates etc.) between a dog and any entrance or exit to the property to the outer curtilage to avoid escape.
  • Exercise areas for common use must be suitably drained. Surface ponding of water must not occur and land drainage must be provided where necessary if normal site drainage is inadequate.
  • Where the facility is indoor-only there must be a suitable area provided with a range of substrates to encourage toileting. Individual dogs which do not toilet indoors must be given regular (and a minimum of three) opportunities to toilet outdoors.
  • All internal furnishings must be capable of being cleaned and disinfected.

Can I use a crate?

If crates are used, a dog must not be secured in a crate for longer than one hour in any 8-hour period and must not be crated unless a crate forms part of the normal routine for the dog and the dog's owner has consented to the use of it.


There are no specific details on isolation facilities, just that provision must be made for the isolation of sick/injured/infectious animals and those that might reasonably expected to be carrying serious infectious diseases.

You can use isolation facilities provided by a veterinary practice, providing you have a letter from the practice stating that they are prepared to provide such facilities.

Intact Dogs

Unneutered males and females in season must be kept completely separate. You can cater to them providing there is sufficient separation in sound, sight and where possible smell.


Dogs under one year of age should be accommodated in a separate social group, unless owners have given written permission for them to be mixed with adults.

Walking Dogs

Informed written consent from owners must be obtained to enable a dog to be walked outside the facility. Dogs exercised outside the premises must be kept on a lead at all times. No more than four dogs must be walked at the same time.

Leaving dogs alone

The dogs must be supervised at all times.


All dogs must be screened before being admitted to the premises to ensure that they are not afraid, anxious or stressed in the presence of other dogs or people and do not pose a danger to other dogs or staff. You need to keep a record of the screening procedure for each individual dog.

What policies will I need?

  • Staff training
  • Dealing with emergencies, including extremes of temperature
  • Contingency plan for emergency transport
  • Preventative health care plan
  • Accommodating the needs of dogs under one year
  • Cleaning & disinfection procedure

Consent from owners

You'll need written consent from a dog's owner to:

  • Use a crate
  • Exclude their dog from enrichment e.g. if a vet recommends against food enrichment
  • Walk a dog outside the facility
  • Treat a dog for parasites
  • To decide which veterinarian is used
  • Provide medication
  • Feed a dog

What records will I need to keep?

A register must be kept of all the dogs at the premises which must include:

  • the dates of each dog's arrival and departure;
  • each dog's name, age, sex, neuter status, microchip number and a description of it or its breed;
  • the number of any dogs from the same household;
  • a record of which dogs (if any) are from the same household;
  • the name, postal address, telephone number and email address of the owner of each dog and emergency contact details;
  • in relation to each dog, the name, postal address, telephone number and email address of a local contact in an emergency;
  • the name and contact details of the dog's normal veterinarian and details of any insurance relating to the dog;
  • details of each dog's relevant medical and behavioural history, including details of any treatment administered against parasites and restrictions on exercise;
  • details of the dog's diet and related requirements
  • consent forms;
  • a record of the date or dates of each dog's most recent vaccination, worming and flea treatments;
  • details of any medical treatment each dog is receiving

Can you accept titre tests?

Yes! If you want to you can accept certification from a veterinarian of a recent protective titre test instead of a booster vaccination. The certificate must state that it is valid for the current period.

Star/Risk Rating System

All businesses will be given a star rating determined by welfare standards assessed during their inspection and their perceived risk. Businesses that meet higher standards and have a lower risk will be able to achieve a 4 or 5 star rating and will qualify for a longer licence (2 or 3 years rather than one year).

To achieve a high rating you must do the following on top of the basic standards:

  • Staffing levels will be up to 1 full-time equivalent attendant per 6 dogs kept.
  • Dogs must be provided with a design and layout that provides them with choice. Separate areas for different activities should be provided. This can be achieved by, for example, inclusion of raised platforms.
  • There must be a clear plan setting out two walks per dog each day for a minimum of 20 minutes each or two sessions of access to a secure open area away from the kennel unit. There must be an alternative form of enrichment planned for dogs which cannot be exercised for veterinary reasons for the same periods of time.

Plus 50% of the following (yes there are 3 points - we guess this will mean you need to achieve at least two):

  • A member of staff with a relevant accredited Level 3 qualification must be present during the working day.
  • Ventilation must be a managed, fixed or portable, air system to ensure appropriate temperatures are maintained in all weathers. This can be an air conditioning unit or use of removable fans.
  • Dogs must receive beneficial human interactions throughout the day and these must be documented.

Remember, if you already have a licence it will remain in place until its expiry date. If you have any worried talk to your council ahead of your renewal.

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