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From Garage Owner to Home Boarding and Dog Daycare Business Pro: The Story of Sam and Small Paw Adventures

Success Stories

When Sam Coulburn of Surrey made the difficult decision to part ways with the garage she had run for 34 years, little did she know that not too far off into the future, she would be running a licensed home doggy daycare, dog walking, and home boarding facility that would have her “staggered and amazed” at how quickly it took off.

When Sam was ready to start her dog business, she wanted to go about it the right way, which included:

  • Making sure she ticked the Ofqual regulated qualification criteria
  • Ensuring she had all the applicable dog care qualifications
  • Having on hand all necessary dog business and pet sitting forms
  • Getting some doggy day care training under the belt

And the Dog Business School proved to be just what she needed.

From Cars to Canines

Beginning at age 17, Sam began working at a car repair and workshops business, and eventually ran the business. But around Christmas 2020, she was ready for a change.  She says she had been pondering the idea of running her very own dog business for about five years prior.

As her transition away from the auto world was approaching, she took advantage of the time to proactively learn about doggy day care rules and regulations, how to start a dog walking business, and to train to become a licensed boarder. She was a listener of the Dog Business School Principal Randle Stonier’s From Wags to Riches podcast. And from there, she learned about Dog Business School’s Ofqual regulated Level 3 award course in Canine Care, Behaviour & Welfare, and it sounded like just the thing she needed to have a licensed home boarding and walking business up and running quickly.

Back to School

So Sam signed up for the Ofqual Canine Care, Behaviour & Welfare course and a couple of other Ofqual regulated dog courses, and got cracking. The entire Ofqual Level 3 regulated course was online, and between the studying, and the essays and assessments, Sam says it was a challenge. “I hadn’t done that sort of thing for so many years,” she said.

But she kept her head down and finished the course in eight months. “It was really interesting. I learned so much,” she says. She learned:

  • How to start a dog walking business
  • The laws surrounding a dog walking business in the UK
  • Home Boarding and Doggy day care from home, regulations and licensing requirements

But the best part of her Dog Business School experience? The support.

“Even with the silliest of questions, I never felt silly asking,” Sam says. She says, “Maybe there were instructors I was supposed to reach out to other than [Principal] Randle, but I always went to him with my questions, and he always responded.” Even today, with her dog daycare and walking business good and launched, she still maintains relationships with and feels supported by the Dog Business School team.

“Recently I had a question, and I just emailed Randle,” she says. “That goes such a long way.”



Making it Official: Bringing Small Paw Adventures to Life

Taking a bang-up online canine course is one thing, but there are a few more logistics that go into establishing dog businesses than that. Namely, one needs pet sitting and walking business forms! And for those, Sam turned to Dog Business School sister site, Dog Business. When asked which forms and process guides Sam got there in order to launch her business, her answer? “All of them.” These included:

  • Terms and conditions
  • Booking forms
  • Schedules

Sam had a website made, created a business Instagram profile, purchased a van that had belonged to a well-established canine professional so it was already outfitted to do all that Sam needed it to, and made the necessary renovations to her own home and yard to be able to meet all the licensing criteria, all of which she’d learnt through the Dog Business School’s various courses.

And due to Sam’s wise planning and moving quickly through her Ofqual regulated dog courses, and other preparation, timing-wise, there was a seamless transition from her old career into the new. The same month, December 2020, that her garage closed, a local authority licensing officer came to interview Sam and to inspect her property, and gave her the go-ahead.

And the business, Small Paw Adventures- a home boarding, and dog walking business for small to medium dogs–was officially launched January 1, 2021. And just how is it going?

“I’m really busy. I’m staggered and amazed,” Sam says. As for how she’s marketed her licensed home daycare and other services, she says having a professional website has helped, she’s established herself on Google My Business, and under the advisement of her web designer, she listed herself on a number of online dog care industry directories.

But Sam says it was the Ofqual Level 3 regulated course in Canine Care, Behaviour & Welfare she took with the Dog Business School that helped her even know how one gets started when they want to know how to start a dog business.

Another thing that makes Sam and Small Paw Adventures stand out when people in her area search for a dog walker, home daycare and boarding provider?

“There are not many licensed boarders around who are qualified,” Sam says. It was of immense importance to her to run her business by-the-book, and be a fully qualified, regulated, and licensed home daycare. She acknowledges that many will establish a dog business, but never go through the licensing process. “This is not legal, and that’s becoming more known now,” Sam says.

She says having the credibility that comes with being fully insured and council licensed—and having the unique disclaimer on her website that she’s “qualified in dog body language” thanks to the dog care courses she took with Dog Business School–puts clients at ease and gives her business a real legitimacy boost.

She says the courses, business forms, and the support that came with them, made her feel “more than prepared,” and said that if she hadn’t taken Ofqual regulated dog courses from the Dog Business School, “I wouldn’t be as confident or knowledgeable as I am now.”

So, cheers to Sam Coulburn and Small Paw Adventures! If you’re in the Surrey, Woking, or St. John’s area and are looking for dog care, see what she’s all about, at, and follow along on Instagram @smallpawadventures.

From Garage Owner to Home Boarding and Dog Daycare Business Pro: The Story of Sam and Small Paw Adventures 3


And if you want to know how to start a dog daycare or home boarding business in the UK and are looking for some Ofqual regulated dog courses, check out Dog Business School’s course offerings and support services like forms, templates and websites from for getting your business started.

We don’t just teach—we also run licensed and established pet care businesses, so we practice and learn every day and share our growing knowledge and experience with you. We help home boarders, dog day cares, commercial boarders, dog walkers, dog breeders, and pet sitters meet national and local licensing requirements, and grow personally and professionally. Join Sam and the rest of our students today!


A BIG thank you to Sam for sharing her experiences – do check her out. A great lesson in how you go from 0-32 customers in 4 months.

If you’re in the Woking area and you need excellent pet care – you’ll find it at SmallPawAdventures