New Regulation - Dog Home Boarding 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 home boarding for dogs

New licensing regulations, known as the Animal Activities Licensing Regulations 2018 (AAL), come into force on 1st October 2018. If you have an existing boarding licence it will remain in place until its expiry date (31st December 2018 for most people). When you renew, the new regulations will apply to you.

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?

If you already have a licence you will be familiar with your local councils boarding licence conditions. These conditions vary from area to area and set out specific rules you need to follow such as how many dogs you can have, what records you need to keep and facilities your home needs to have.

As part of the new regulation these are being replaced by standard guidance notes which will apply wherever you live. You can read them in full here:

Depending on your council's current conditions there may be very little change for you or some big changes. Here is a summary of some of the most common queries relating to the dog home boarding regulations:

How many dogs can I have?

Your licence will state the number of dogs permitted on the premises. This number will be specific to you and will be determined mainly by the number of rooms you have but also taking into account other facilities and staffing.

What is a room?

Every dog you are caring for (whether from the same family or not) must have access to a room for itself, where it can sleep, go to hide, and be kept separate from other dogs.

A room must:

  • be of sufficient height for a human adult to stand in
  • have a secure window to the outside that can be opened and closed as necessary
  • have a securable, full height door for access and security (preferably opening inwards)
  • a secure latch or other secure closing device.

The following are NOT acceptable rooms or spaces:

  • A conservatory
  • A bathroom / lavatory
  • Hallway
  • Garage (unless converted to current standards for human habitation)
  • Cupboard
  • Cellar (unless converted to current standards for human habitation)
  • Loft (unless converted to current standards for human habitation)
  • Balcony
  • An outside building,
  • Structure or shed

Can I use a crate?

Dogs must not be confined in a crate for longer than three hours in any 24 hour period and should not be in a crate at all unless they are already used to one, it is part of their normal routine and the dog's owner had consented to it. Dogs can have access to crates for longer periods but the door shouldn't be shut.

Will I need a qualification?

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

Consent from owners

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

  • Board dogs from different households at the same time
  • Allow dogs from the same household to stay in the same designated room (they must still have individual designated rooms even if they don't use them)
  • Use a crate
  • Feed their dogs anywhere accept for separately, each in their own designated room
  • Use enrichment e.g. toys and scatter feeders
  • Give any preventive treatment
  • Allow dogs to use the outdoor space at the same time as dogs from different households
  • Walk their dog with other dogs from different households
  • Walk their dog outside the home environment / garden
  • Let a dog off-lead

Intact Dogs

You can board unneutered dogs, with the only restriction that dogs in season can't be boarded with dogs from other households or boarded with entire males.


There are no specific rules regarding dog's ages. However, you must have written policies in place for how you will manage the needs for dogs under a year old.

Walking Dogs

You aren't permitted to walk more than 4 dogs per person at one time and owner's consent is needed for walking, to walk with other dogs, and to let a dog off-lead. When walking dogs from multiple households they must be familiarised with each other beforehand.

Opportunities to exercise must involve at least one walk per day (two for a higher grading). Consideration must be given to life stage, physical and mental health and breed when planning daily exercise.

Leaving dogs alone

Dogs must not be routinely left alone for more than 3 hours in a 24 hour period, or shorter intervals as necessary for the individual health, safety and welfare of an individual dog.

Dogs from Different Households

You can mix dogs from different households, subject to the restrictions already mentioned on consent and rooms.

Familiarisation Session

Familiarisation sessions are mandatory for all dogs prior to stay. This also includes familiarisation with resident dogs.

What policies will I need?

You will need written policies on:

  • Training for all staff members
  • The process for accommodating the needs of dogs under one year of age
  • The monitoring of new dogs coming into the home boarding environment
  • Feeding regimes
  • Cleaning regimes
  • Transportation
  • The prevention of, and control of the spread of, disease
  • Monitoring and ensuring the health and welfare of all the animals
  • The death or escape of an animal (including the storage of dead animals)
  • The care of the animals following the suspension or revocation of the licence or during and following an emergency
  • A emergency plan in case of fire or in case of breakdowns for essential heating, ventilation and aeration or filtration systems or other emergencies
  • A plan for extremes of temperature and weather conditions (both hot and cold)

What records will I need to keep?

In addition to the current register of dogs, if you don't already, you'll need to keep:

  • Assessments of the behaviour of individual dogs must be monitored daily and changes in behaviour and/or behaviours indicative of suffering, stress, fear, aggression and anxiety must be recorded and acted upon.
  • Documentation of trial familiarisation sessions.

Can I 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 of boarding.

What about day care?

If you offer day care you will also need to comply with the day care guidance, read about it here.

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:

  • Have a designated other person who can cover any emergency or absence of leave so that the dogs are never left alone.
  • A clear plan setting out two walks per dog each day for a minimum of 20 minutes each and an alternative form of enrichment planned for dogs which cannot be exercised for veterinary reasons for the same periods of time.
  • Each dog must have a written daily exercise regime including lead exercise and free running in a secure area. 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 either:

  • A person responsible for the care of the dogs with a relevant OFQUAL regulated Level 3 qualification must be present during the working day.
  • Or, your outside space has two secure physical barriers between any dog and any entrance/exit.


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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