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  • Writer's pictureJosephine Bell

Licensed dog minders: what does 5-star mean?

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

Written: Sept 2020 by Josephine Bell of The Dogs House Bucks, dog care and boarding


The Dogs House Bucks is 5-star rated by Buckinghamshire Council - Chiltern District. I thought I'd write about what that means and how it contributes to dog welfare standards in the UK as far as paid for dog minding services go. In 2019 County Councils introduced mandatory dog licensing for premises taking in dogs for dog minding aka walking, care and dog boarding. The Licensing Regulations regarding ‘Home Boarding for Dogs’ is now rather extensive. County councils changed the way licenses are issued, introducing a star rating and a greater number of conditions designed to safeguard dogs in the care of paid dog minders.



Dog licenses in the UK star rating system
UK Council dog licenses include star rating

To obtain a high 5-star rating a dog minding business needs to achieve all of the required higher standards, as well as a minimum of 50% of the optional higher standards. The new conditions were introduced for the protection of the dogs and to ensure that they are properly looked after in suitable conditions. As the list of conditions and criteria is extensive, I have not included all in this article but rather listed the required and optional standards below and a select few of the other conditions. Businesses are assessed by an inspector from the licensing department of the council. Information can be found on Council websites under Licensing/Animal Activity Licensing.


Required by County Councils for licensed dog minders:


There must be a designated other person who can cover any emergency or absence of leave so that the dogs are never left alone.


There must be a clear plan setting out two walks per dog each day for a minimum of 20 mins each.


Dogs must be exercised at least twice per day. Each dog must have a written daily exercise regime. There must be an alternative form of enrichment planned for dogs which cannot be exercised for veterinary reasons for the same period of time.


Optional standards by County Councils for licensed dog minders:


A person responsible for the care of the dogs with a relevant OFQUAL regulated Level 3 qualification must be present during the working day.


Any outside space will have two secure physical barriers between any dog and any entrance or exit.


Other license conditions for dog minders include:

  • Dogs must be accommodated within the home.

  • There must be no use of external constructions or buildings, cages, or runs.

  • There must be sufficient space available to provide an individual sleeping area for each dog with the ability to separate each dog.

  • There must be direct access to a private non-communal, secure and hazard-free external area. The area must be only for the use by the license holder.

  • Each dog must be provided with its own designated room where it can be kept separate from other dogs.

  • Dogs from different households can only be boarded at the same time with the written consent of the owner.

The advantage of obtaining a high star rating is that dog owner clients are reassured that their dog/s is in the best-qualified hands. 5-star ratings are renewed every 3 years as opposed to annually as before. However, with the new regulations, it would appear that County councils are taking a responsible attitude towards animal welfare.


Germany has gone a few steps further than the UK and extended such rules to all dog owners, not just paid for minders. See my other blog article.


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