11 Things That YOU Do That Drive Your Dog Field Owner Bananas!

11 Things That YOU Do That Drive Your Dog Field Owner Bananas!

If you want to be a good dog field customer, please grab yourself a cuppa and have a read through this!

You’d be forgiven for thinking that dog fields run themselves – they don’t! There’s a heck of a lot more to setting up and operating a dog field than the average user imagines, and there’s rarely a day that goes by when there isn’t some minor customer-related irritation!

When it comes to dog fields, the customer is not always right so ‘telling people off’ is the only way to make sure the field works well for other customers. It’s not a nice job, so following a recent conversation with an exasperated dog field owner, I decided to write a list of things that really annoy a dog field owner so you can do your best not to be ‘that customer’!

11) Not Reading The Rules

Some fields have very specific rules for very specific reasons – if you choose to ignore them, you may be putting your dog in danger but you also might be jeopardising their business. e.g.

  • The number of dogs and cars permitted is often mandated in a dog field’s planning consent – if a field owner is in breach of their planning conditions they can face immediate closure. This has happened several times that I know of and will happen again
  • Not driving on the grass is to stop it from turning into a mud pit which takes months to recover meaning all other users have to put up with it
  • Asking you to reverse in so that you can pull out safely is to make sure you don’t endanger other road users – if an accident occurs outside a dog field that prompts an investigation, the field can face closure or very costly modifications to their set up – all because someone failed to follow simple rules

This list goes on however, this has never been more important than now in 2023 when we have changes to the law that will impact almost all dog fields in some way.

There are many dog fields that will not be permitting XL Bullies (or any other control order dog) in their field for a variety of reasons and doing so might result in invalidating their insurance or worse still, result in prosecution for both the field owner and the user. This may seem like an overreaction but this is a very serious issue facing dog field owners so it is important that users read the rules and terms and conditions thoroughly and comply with them fully. If you want to read more about dog fields and XL Bullies, see this article.

If you’re not sure about any of the rules your dog field sets out, contact the owner as they will be more than willing to clarify for you.

BDF Tip: Read the rules before you book. If there are any changes to the rules after your first visit, your dog field owner ‘should’ send you updates but check regularly anyway, just in case there are seasonal changes you need to be aware of.

10) Tardiness

Don’t arrive early, don’t leave late. It’s not hard.

Here are some tips I use to make sure I don’t come into contact with other field users:

  • Only go to fields that operate a buffer between sessions
  • When visiting a new field, stop in a layby or car park before you arrive. If you’re using sat nav, it’s not difficult to identify somewhere suitable even before you set off. That way, if you’ve given yourself too much time, you can simply wait well away from the field
  • Make sure I’m back in the parking areas with at least 5 minutes before I’m expected to have left. We wash paws, have a drink, take a snack…. And then we’re ready to get loaded and out by the end of our allotted time

Dog fields that enforce buffers are my favourite – I have to visit fields that don’t operate them (or don’t enforce them) and I give myself a big margin on either side of my booked session.

BDF Tip: You can use the ‘filters’ to select fields that operate a buffer if this is important to you.

9) Digging

This is a classic case of, the worse it gets, the worse it gets. One dog digs a little gully sniffing out a mole and the next thing you know there’s a trench in the field big enough to accommodate a squadron of gunners.

Holes are a problem for the following reasons:

  • They can be a trip hazard for dogs and humans (which can become a liability issue if a dog breaks a leg)
  • If a hole is on or near the fence line it’s a problem if the next fluffy customer is a Dachshund, Yorkie, Jack Russell, Chihuahua or a puppy…
  • Looks messy – you might not care what a field looks like but I can assure you that the vast majority of field owners care a lot. This is THEIR land and allowing your dog to dig it up is infuriating.


It’s time-consuming to repair, efforts are often ineffective and it can have an impact on the dog field income if you have to take sessions out of the day to repair holes.

BDF Tip: if you have a digger that you have no control over, visit fields that have great sandpits and use those as a training tool or use a long line in a field so you can put a stop to this type of unwanted behaviour until you can train it out.

8) Broken Toys

This isn’t just broken toys, it’s any toys and I’m guilty of leaving the odd lost ball in a field so I know how challenging this can be.

Anything left in the field can turn into a choke-hazard for the next dog. You don’t know what that dog does with toys, what size they are (so if it’s an appropriate toy for that dog), or if they have any kooky behaviours such as resource guarding.

Broken toys in particular are scruffy and that’s inexcusable.

BDF TIP: In dog fields that supply toys, make sure you put them back in the designated place and if there isn’t a sealed container for them, perhaps ask your dog field owner to supply one.

7) Driving On The Grass

This one has been mentioned but deserves its own section.

This only applies to some fields as many have enclosed parking but where it’s possible to drive on the grass, people do. It blows my mind.

There is only one reason to drive on the grass and that’s in an emergency.

If a field has been granted planning consent, the parking has been considered in detail and it should be possible for you to exit the field, without driving on the grass.

Driving on the grass damages it – if you do it in winter, this can take months to repair.

If you get stuck, not only do you make the damage worse but you can also cost the field money whilst they help you, or you arrange recovery – the next users cannot access the field and so you’ve inconvenienced them too. If you have never taken a dog to a field and then turned around before having your session, you can’t imagine what hell awaits you when you get home.


6) Calling To Reschedule Because It’s Raining (Or Other Bonkers Reasons)

Why asking for a refund outside of the cancellation policy is infuriating:

  • The vast majority of dog fields have a ceiling on their income dictated largely by daylight hours and this can be dramatically affected by weather – if you cancel, they may not be able to fill the space (or want to faff about doing so) and hence lose that income
  • The administration – refunds aren’t always straightforward – they need logged properly (dog fields are a business) and most dog field systems don’t do automatic refunds so it takes time.

Imagine if every time it rained, your boss phoned up and said they didn’t want to pay you today but they’d like you to come on the weekend when it’s sunnier instead. What would you say to them?

I don’t need to explain any more than that I don’t think.

BDF TIP: If your dog isn’t waterproof or it’s too cold, message the field owner and offer the place back so someone else can use it. Do not ask for a refund.

Also maybe consider investing in an Equafleece or Hotterdog (by Equafleece) – they’re a staple in any adventure-dog wardrobe! You can find a wide range on Amazon here.

5) Not Reporting Problems

If you don’t report a problem, more people see it or are inconvenienced by it. A dog field by it’s nature is a remote-control business so relies on feedback during the day from customers.

If you smashed a jar in the aisles at Tesco would you tell someone or just leave it and walk off?

Things we DO want you to report:

  • ANY concern about the fences or gates (phone those in immediately)
  • Broken equipment
  • Dug holes
  • People arriving early or leaving late
  • POO! We need to know so we can identify culprits and ban them!
  • …anything you don’t think is normal

4) Leaving Gates Open

If you’re asked to keep the gate closed at all times, do so.Here’s why:

  • Keeping the gates closed prevents things getting in (rabbits, muntjac, chancers or innocent members of the public)
  • Some fields want them closed because the wind can catch them if they’re not secured properly – 3.6m of galvanised steel is quite a weight
  • Most fields have security locks on their external gates and if you don’t close them, anyone can drive or walk-in
  • Internal gates must be closed as they are there to contain and control dogs – especially important for people with ‘bolters’ with limited to no recall (that’s us).  

BDF TIP: Unless specifically asked to keep the gate open, close it.

3) Offering Advice About Things

I don’t mean legitimate feedback, I mean unsolicited advice.

If there’s one thing I have learned in the last 6 years in the dog field world it’s that everyone underestimates what it takes to run a successful and safe dog field in the beginning. The second thing I’ve learned is that unsolicited advice is very rarely received well!

Having visited 50 dog fields before we broke ground on our first field (it’s now over 200), I still fudged up a lot of things – from being strong-armed by an ‘experienced’ contractor into buying a fence netting that we regretted, and making a parking area that was just too short for big dog walking vans, to signing a lease agreement that had more holes in it than Swiss cheese – I wrote the book on how not to do it.

If you haven’t run a dog field or you don’t have very specific knowledge about dogs or fields the chances are you’re not going to have anything useful to offer.

However – here are a list of things we do want advice or suggestions on!

  • You are a specialist in drainage and have suggestions about our soggy winter bog!
  • You are a botanist and spotted something nasty in the field
  • You are a regular user of dogs and have a feature that you’ve seen successfully done elsewhere that you think could really work

And… the things we don’t want to hear:

  • You would like a coffee machine
  • You would like a loo (you can have one if you can get it past planning, figure out the sewage removal and clean it yourself!)
  • You would like lots of agility equipment (a set of the good stuff is around £15k)
  • You would like ‘socials’ so your dog can play with others (this can be done but requires jumping through hoops, additional insurance and qualified supervision – done properly this is usually uneconomical)

2) Not Being Able To Use A Padlock

I once jokingly stated that 35% of UK adults couldn’t operate a simple combination padlock. I think I underestimated it.

A lot of dog fields have moved to push-pad gate locks – they are better for a lot of reasons however the majority still use a basic 4 digit combination lock.

Removing them isn’t the tricky bit but it baffles me how difficult people find these things to replace. You never quite know where in the day it all went so pear-shaped but it’s not uncommon for people to secure absolutely nothing by putting the shackle through the wrong hole or simply give up and not replace it at all.

My favourite is people inadvertently stealing the padlock and then shamefully calling to confess their crime.

This isn’t really your fault – padlocks are a pain but nonetheless, it’s annoying to get complaints that the padlock is ‘on wonky’ and someone can’t read the numbers to open it. Thankfully there is a better solution now so if you have continuous problems with the padlock at the field you visit, perhaps do a number 8 and offer unsolicited advice and send them in our direction – we can help them with a better solution for their gate!


1) Not Picking Up Poo

I get really sad when I see dog field owners apologising for having to make a point about dog poop in their fields. Nobody is perfect and the occasional missed poo is to be expected. But any dog field owner will tell you it’s never the ‘occasional’ one. It comes in waves, is ALWAYS worse on weekends and like with digging holes, the worse it gets, the worse it gets.

PLEASE try everything you can to pick up your dog poo. Here are a few tips:

  • Keep your dog on a longline or lead until they’ve been
  • Keep poo bags on you at all times so you can beeline to the exact spot without turning your head
  • Put your phone away – I’ve watched CCTV footage of folks ambling around the field engrossed in their phone or SAT IN THEIR CAR, whilst their dog walks themselves at a dog field
  • If the field has a grassy area in an enclosed car park, wait until they’ve been – we have conditioned our dogs to do this and it’s magic!

So in conclusion, here’s how to be the ultimate dog field customer:

Read the Rules & Follow All Instructions!

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