Dog lovers who open their own dog boarding or dog daycare business are living their dream: they’ve merged their careers with the pets they’re passionate about. Owning and operating a pet-care business is more than just interacting with and caring for the pups that stay at your facility. As a pet-care business owner, you’re managing feeding schedules for dozens of dogs, tracking, scheduling and confirming boarding reservations and daycare appointments, communicating with pet parents, managing vaccination records, and creating financial reports - among dozens of other things.
To say there’s a lot going on at your new or growing pet-care business is an understatement. But, one of the most critical areas of your facility - and the one that has your dogs wagging their tails with joy - is your dog run—the designated outdoor zones where pups can run, roll, and play to their hearts’ delight.
When pups get dropped off at your pet-care business for a day of play, they need more than a place to stretch their legs and interact with their doggie friends, they also need a dog run that’s safe, secure and can be used rain or shine.
These ideas for your kennel’s dog run and dog run best practices will help your pet-care business stand out from the rest!
Pet Run Best Practices
Have an Outdoor and Indoor Location
Pet-care businesses don’t close when the weather takes a turn for the worse, which is why rain or shine, you need your dog run to be operational.
Individual pet parents can get away with having a small outdoor play area, or no play area at all if they live in an apartment. But your business offers dedicated pet boarding, kenneling, and perhaps even cattery services for many pets at one time, so when customers drop their pups off, they need to receive the same suite of services whether the sun is shining or the rain is pouring.
Because seasonal weather can strike at any moment, building an indoor and outdoor dog run for your kennel will safeguard your customers’ experience and your business model.
Be Mindful of Plants, Powerlines, and Other Hazards
Creating a fun dog run for your growing business starts with creating a safe dog run area. When brainstorming dog run ideas, one of the most overlooked hazards is toxic plants.
Be on the lookout for these common plants, which are toxic to dogs:
- English Ivy
- Peace lilies
If your pet-care business is located in a rural, country or suburban part of town, and your outdoor dog run shares a fence with a neighbor, it's a good idea to take a look at the plants around the fence line. English Ivy, for example, is notorious for sneaking up to a dozen feet from the root of the plant and could easily creep into your dog play area.
Safe outdoor dog runs and play areas should also have:
- Sheltered and shaded areas
- Properly trimmed trees to prevent accidental falling branches
- Avoid areas close to power lines
Both indoor and outdoor dog runs require access to fresh clean water, and only non-toxic, eco- and pet-friendly cleaning products should be used.
Consider the Sizes of Pets at Play
Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and play levels. Dainty dogs and senior pups will need a different style of dog run than high-energy medium and large dogs, and this is especially true when it comes to fencing.
For some athletic and energetic medium and large dogs, a standard six-foot fence might not be high enough to prevent them from jumping outside the designated play area. Smaller dogs, on the other hand, may be able to slip right through a small fence gap.
Fencing isn’t the only consideration when dreaming up dog run ideas for large dogs - or small dogs, for that matter; the size of the dog run is important too. A small dog like a Chihuahua can race around a smaller play area and be completely exhausted by the end of the day. But a Bernese Mountain dog requires a much bigger space to exert the same amount of energy.
Protect Against Digging Dogs
Some dogs love (love!) digging, but most pet parents, and pet care business owners, aren’t as excited about that idea. A digging dog doesn’t just damage the play area ground cover, but digging near fence lines could lead to an unplanned escape.
To keep each and every pup secure, when planning your dog run kennel fencing make sure the fence materials are deeply embedded in the ground, rather than leaving a gap of space between the ground and the fence. It just takes a few minutes for an expert digger to make a hole big enough to go on an unplanned adventure!
Carefully Consider Your Ground Cover
Safe ground cover material isn’t just the icing on the cake of the perfect outdoor dog run kennel, it's also a safety feature.
If your outdoor dog run doesn’t have proper drainage during rainy seasons, you risk standing water accumulating at your dog boarding facility and attracting mosquitos. Wet and muddy dog runs also increase the risk to pups who might slip while playing and injure themselves.
The other reason to carefully consider which ground cover to use at your dog daycare is dog paw safety. While the pad of a dog’s paw does somewhat protect it during warmer weather, keep in mind that when it’s 85 degrees outside, the pavement is 135 degrees. Using materials that will keep cool during hot summer months is crucial to keeping sensitive paws safe.
Consider ground cover materials like:
- Natural and/or artificial grass
- Wood chips
- Rubber padding
- Concrete paths
3 Dog Run Ideas
Simple, Functional Dog Runs
If your dog daycare business is newer, a simple functional dog run is one of the best dog kennel run ideas to test out because they’re inexpensive and can be built quickly. A classic dog run has a simple square or grassy outdoor space (artificial grass works great, too!), and they’re enclosed by a sturdy fence. These runs also require minimal planning, so you can be up and running before you know it!
The downside to this dog run and play area design is that it doesn’t offer much opportunity for enrichment beyond exercise and access to the outdoors.
Hutch Dog Runs + Canopies
A hutch dog run is a perfect space for pups who prefer to play alone, rather than with other pups. These dog runs include an outdoor space, usually with a natural footing like grass or artificial grass, and a shaded “hutch” to provide shade and rest. The space should be large enough for the dog to receive some exercise and take a break in the shade.
Although this dog run idea is a little more time intensive to create, it’s a great option to have so you can meet the needs of all the dogs in your care.
Stimulating Dog Runs
Building a stimulating dog run is one of the best investments a growing pet-care business can make. Not only will it bring great joy to your pups, but it’s a huge selling point to potential customers.
Sensory enrichment activities keep four-legged customers busy and engaged while helping them have the best day ever at dog daycare.
Consider adding stimulating items like:
- water features
- agility obstacles
- play pools filled with balls
- elevated surfaces
- sniff and seek areas
Summing Things Up
Creating pawsitively amazing experiences for your four-legged customers is what you do best.
Building a happy, friendly, and stimulating environment for the dogs in your care will help build your reputation in your community, and make your business stand out among the pet-care competitors who don’t have a dog run area.
Not only will having the right dog run at your pet-care business increase boarding and dog daycare reservations, and turn new customers into repeat customers, but you will be providing interesting activities for all of the pups in your care.
Simplifying your pet-care business with Revelation Pets’ dog boarding and daycare software gives you back time that would have otherwise been spent on manually booking boarding reservations, daycare appointments, or creating financial reports. This extra time is the perfect excuse to plan the dog kennel run of your dreams!
Continue your education on kennel best practices, ideas, and tools with some of our other valuable resources:
- 8 Best Dog Grooming Tools for Your Pet-Care Business. Your team of groomers is the backbone of your business. Give them the grooming tools they need to pamper the pets in your care.
- 5 Brand Loyalty Ideas for Your Pet-Care Business. The competition to acquire and retain customers in the pet-care industry is fierce. Incentivize your customers with these customer rewards programs.
- How to Choose Pet-Care Software for Your Small Business. Software solutions aren’t just for the big guys. Newer and growing pet-care businesses can benefit from online booking tools and features that will streamline your business and delight your customers.