Dog fields or dog parks may seem like a very Americanised concept, but more are cropping up and joining the ever-increasing number of doggy day-care, dog sitters and dog walkers that are available for dog owners to use for their best friends.
Dog parks are predominantly enclosed public areas shared by several dog owners but dog fields are a completely different ball game. Pardon the bad pun.
I recently met with Carolyne Carter of Foxham Dog Field who has turned a one-acre paddock on her Wiltshire farm into a securely fenced area, which is hired out in half-hour intervals to individuals (or groups) to exercise their dogs.
Dog fields allow dog owners the peace of mind to run their dog in a secure space. These areas are perfect for owners of dogs who are unable to run dogs off-lead in public areas due to fear or aggression, to practice recall training or to simply give your dog a quick 30-minute burst of exercise before heading off to work.
As an owner of a dog who had fear aggression, I wish I had discovered dog fields much earlier. I used to use my local tennis court to allow her to run off lead without the fear of other dogs running up to her and dealing with the repercussions that overly zealous dogs had on my own. However, the gravel-based surface caused sore paws and longer on-lead walks did little for her active mind and body!
Having spent the afternoon with Carolyne, watching her rescue dog Ned and his friend Trigger burst around the field, knowing all the while they securely contained within the 6ft fenced perimeter, it was a pleasure to see.
Ned was rescued from Spain and Carolyne quickly learned that he was unable to run off lead on her family farm due to anxiety – when he ran, he ran! It was thanks to him that she opened Foxham Dog Field and now sees up to 20 sessions booked up on busier days with people travelling from within the local area and further afield as they are passing through with their family dog on their way on holiday.
After Wiltshire Council granted the planning permission for a change of use from agricultural land (the field was previously used for pigs), Carolyne and her husband Irving prepared the one-acre paddock. This included levelling and reseeding the ground, installing 6ft fencing surrounding the perimeter, signage, moving the water supply for a wash facility and creating a gravelled parking area. Spending around £8k on converting the field and charging £3 per session for 1-4 dogs.
Users of the field are asked to adhere to a few basic rules including clearing up any mess using the bin provided and making sure their animals are up to date with vaccinations, flea and worm treatment.
You can find out more about Foxham Dog Field in the November issue of Land and Business magazine. If you are interested in finding out more about how to go about setting up your own dog field, contact your regional office for advice from one of the team.