Growth in dog ownership creates diversification opportunities
The surge in dog ownership in recent years has provided opportunities for farmers and landowners to diversify into providing dog fields – safe spaces for training and exercise. Hannah James of British Dog Fields explains what is involved.
It is not unrealistic to earn £35,000 per year on a 2-acre plot specifically for exercising and training dogs, says Hannah James. However, setting up a dog field is not as simple as putting up a fence and leaving customers to it, she warns.
As well as fencing, there are plenty of other factors to consider that influence the success – or otherwise – of a dog field venture.
“You will need planning permission and it may be worthwhile to involve a specialist planning consultant.” A fenced area for parking and other security needs to be considered too. “You must remember some of the dogs using facilities like this may have behavioural challenges, so secure fencing everywhere is essential.”
There isn’t an agreed standard for fencing, but given the broad spectrum of dogs potentially using the facility, Hannah advises high tensile, galvanised netting at least 6ft high. Enrichment activities such as jumps or tyres and a shelter or shed are all good to include too, subject to suitability and insurance restrictions, she says.
Management is needed, but can boost customer loyalty
Investing in online systems for customer bookings and reminders is a must. “You need comprehensive public liability insurance and to consider ongoing maintenance as well as how you dispose of dog mess. Every single dog field owner has a problem with dog mess and there is a cost for getting rid of it via your local council or specialist company.”
Customers pay on average £11.25 per hour to use a dog field, she says, but this varies widely according to location, size of field and the other facilities available.
“Running a dog field isn’t seasonal as some people think – it is a 365-day a year enterprise. There are small variations through the year but often busier in the winter when there are fewer daylight hours.
“A dog field doesn’t just run itself. You need to be available to deal with problems and to keep an eye. But get it right and customers will travel to use a well-run dog field they and their pet enjoy.”
About British Dog Fields
Founded by Hannah James, British Dog Fields provides advice and accreditation for dog fields across the UK, along with articles on topics including planning permission and best practice when setting up and running dog fields. Find out more by visiting https://britishdogfields.com/
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