Do Dog Fields Really Need CCTV?

Do Dog Fields Really Need CCTV?

I really dislike CCTV! I cannot stand being watched.

However, as the dog field business matures, it is becoming increasingly important that fields are run professionally, abide by the terms and conditions of their insurance policies and offer a reliable duty of care to their customers – the presence of a CCTV camera in the car park or entrance to your field can help with these things.

My aversion to cameras started about 20 years ago when my every move had the potential to be captured by a live TV crew who were hiding around every corner of my workplace – a motor racing circuit. It was completely stupid – I was about as far from their focus of attention as it was possible to be, but it still made me uncomfortable and I became proficient at the ‘spin and sashay’ to avoid getting caught in the back of shots.

It wasn’t until I went to my first dog field with a CCTV rig that I realised that anxiety was embedded.

It’s completely unreasonable and illogical but it’s the way I feel.

Irrespective of my personal feelings however, I do think it is wise for dog fields to have at least one camera and in this article, I’ll go on to explain why, where and what set-up can look like to serve you best.

The Benefits of CCTV in a Dog Field

In my opinion, there are very few benefits of having CCTV at your field but those benefits that exist are really important. Here’s why:

The demographic of dog field customers has changed. 5 years ago, the vast majority of people using dog fields were unbelievably grateful simply to have the opportunity to hire them and would often travel a long way to visit them.

If we fast forward a few years, we can see just how the popularity of dog fields has boomed – which is great! However, that boom has resulted in a couple of relevant developments:

What this means is more trouble. And with a business that, for the vast majority of dog field owners is ‘remote control’, being able to monitor and manage some of that is becoming increasingly important.

Who Should Have CCTV at Their Dog Fields?

The short answer is probably everyone but if you operate under any of the circumstances below, it’s even more important.

As a dog field owner, it’s your responsibility to monitor and manage the use of your site. Having people jeopardise your business by breaching planning conditions can be very problematic for a dog field – and with planning permission now being increasingly challenging and stressful to acquire, why risk it all for inconsiderate customers who can’t follow your rules? If you want to learn more about Planning Conditions, what they are and why you need to take note of them, click here.

The potential for folks occasionally turning up to the wrong field at the wrong time is pretty high and CCTV in car parks/entrance areas means that at least you can see what happened in the event of any conflict or confusion

The way in which this legislation has been penned and implemented means that a whole load of admin has been inflicted on the dog field owners who accept banned breeds.

This has pulled into focus that as a field owner, you have a responsibility to know who is in your field and when and without on-site monitoring, you can’t do that. The only way to do this that will cover you in the event of an incident is to have CCTV.

What Changed?

That’s how these things work and yes, there are some who may argue that you can wriggle out of every one of these but unless we want to end up in a more litigious society, it’s time we accept what we our business responsibilities are and what ‘duty of care’ actually means.

Note: if you choose not to take responsibility for the above I can assure you that your field will end up being an unruly hole anyway.

CCTV in the waiting and parking area os a dog field

Strict Liability – Your Get Out Clause?

There has been a lot of discussion about ‘Strict Liability’ and who is responsible and legally liable in the event of an incident at a dog field – regardless of who’s involved.

It’s important to understand the meaning of Strict Liability:

Strict liability refers to a legal principle where a person is held responsible for the consequences of their actions, regardless of their intent or negligence. It usually applies in situations where the activity is inherently risky or involves potential harm to others.

The idea that has been raised is that strict liability applies to people visiting your field therefore you cannot be held liable for anything that happens whilst it is under private hire.

This all sounded like sloppy shoulders to me so we went on a deep dive, and consulted the usual insurance experts, legal bods and the fuzz. After a good few months of speculation, we now know…

It’s not that simple. You must assume that if and when something happens in or in the immediate vicinity of your dog field, you are likely to be found culpable in some way.

You can fight this until the cows come home but case law now exists where a dog field owner is liable for what takes place in and around their field.

What does that mean? It means that you need to do everything reasonable to ensure that your customers are behaving!

Whether that means making sure there isn’t an unauthorised Instagram meet-up in your field, a car/dog too many here or there, or laws/terms and conditions are being observed – it’s on you to do that job.

Things not to use CCTV for

So now we’ve established that CCTV has its place (I say this through gritted teeth because I still don’t like it)… there are a few advisories that I recommend – principally, things that CCTV shouldn’t really be used for in a dog field:

Sometimes people pick their noses. Sometimes people dance around with their dogs like they’re on drugs…. They probably don’t want an audience

I see a lot of people talking about using CCTV to ‘catch’ people not picking up poo. The trouble is that in order to do that effectively, you need full coverage of your field.

As you can see from the video below, the technology is there with the camera system we recommend so you can utilise the ‘Stalk’ function if you wish! I personally think there are better ways to handle the periodic ‘poo problems’ that every dog field owner experiences and rigging the place up like Fort Knox isn’t the vibe I’m looking for in a dog field – I’ve written an article with some suggestions about how to deal with this particular annoyance here.

The Costs of Setting up CCTV in a Dog Field

You’ve got two costs to consider:

The Costs of Purchasing Your CCTV

Purchasing costs can range from a few hundred quid to £1000s depending on the technology you use and how you power it.

Budget Solution

The cheap and cheerful solar setups are ok in some situations but have their limitations – usually, it’s the way they operate. Any motion-activated system puts quite a drain on the battery and if you use the compact solar panel most are supplied with, you’re going to find that it just hasn’t got the oomph required from November to March. In my experience, having something that half works can be worse than having nothing at all but if you’re on a tight budget or just want to test the water and see how CCTV works for you then Reo Link is the ‘market leader’ at the moment for a set up that’s under £200 – you can find deals on Amazon here.

Top End

At the other end of the spectrum you have the shore-powered systems that feed back to monitors. These are arguably overkill unless you have a system already operating on your land and it’s just a case of adding an extension to your existing set-up. I won’t go into these because if you have one you know what you’re doing!

Our Pick – UK based company Rural View

Really what we’ve found to work most effectively is a robust mid-range camera, battery and solar panel combo that has a continuous feed, is designed for monitoring ongoing action, and is reasonably discrete. Static cameras also have their limitations so swivel, tilt and zoom are desirable just to cover all eventualities.

I’ll be honest, I was pretty overwhelmed when we first started looking at CCTV setups and I had heard rumours of other people’s systems not working properly or failing after a short period so I wanted to make sure I picked the right thing. For us there’s equipment being monitored as well as gates so the stakes are high and satisfying our insurance provider was also relevant.

We ended up testing several units (the most popular on the market) and the results were unambiguous. The Rural View setup was significantly better than the others we tried for a number of reasons but not least of all that the guy behind it is a UK farmer, the customer service is UK based and I got a crystal clear explanation as to why the camera we chose actually did the job I wanted it to. If I compare this to the service I got from the other 3 suppliers we tested, it was night and day.

Jack, Founder of Rural View

An Overview of The Rural View Cameras

RuralView provides 4G cameras, that do not require WiFi, which when paired with their solar and battery provide a CCTV system that is powered 24/7.

Reolink, and other smaller solar and battery cameras, are powered on only when the PIR sensor detects a change of heat in the environment. What this means is that they’re designed to be on standby, and only occasionally activated and that means they can be prone to quickly running out of battery in busier places, like your dog field, and also struggle through the winter months.

When running a completely off-grid system that relies solely on the sun, there is always a risk of power issues, particularly through the winter. However, what we found with the RuralView solar kits is they provide a mostly reliable solution all year round. The large batteries in the kits mean the cameras are always on, and can be set to record 24/7. While their solar kits are big and weigh north of 25KG, they are simple to install. It’s just a matter of connecting a couple of cables and you’re up and running.

As many of you know, I really want to promote UK companies but I only do it where I can hand on heart say their product is as good or better for you than the alternatives. Whether that’s price, customer service or functionality. My particular support for RuralView comes from the fact that they took a relatively mediocre product that wasn’t working for them and made a better one that did. The added bonus is good customer service – essential when you’re supplying tech to people like me who really don’t understand the wizardry of solar power, cables and batteries – I’m still baffled at how radios work.

You can find the full range of Rural View products here and you’ll also find links below to the one that we recommend for car park use.

360 4G Zoom Camera & Solar Bundle – The Recommended Set-Up

360 Mini Camera & Solar Bundle – A slightly smaller battery and solar panel – ok for very exposed/ sunny sites

Bullet Camera & Solar Bundle – Static with zoom.

British Dog Field Members also get 5% discount (find details in your members area).

Running Costs of CCTV

The costs are negligible really – just your SIM card. You will need a smartphone to monitor most CCTV setups through an app but if you are running a dog field the likelihood is that you have one already.

We recommend picking an unlimited Data Sim like this one on Amazon which works out at less than £15 per month (make sure you get one that has the right dates on it).

Problems with CCTV in Dog Fields

There are some problems associated with having CCTV in your dog field:

Solar Set Ups

Solar panels are the same as cameras and batteries – there are too many different options and getting the right tool for the job is key.

If you can position the panel in full sun AND discreetly that’s a bonus but full sun wins if it’s not possible to achieve both.

It’s also worth noting that not all solar panels are created equal – the general rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for.

Your Legal Obligations

It’s not difficult to fulfil your legal obligations – you have to make people aware they are being recorded (you can’t hide a trail cam in the hedge and play spot the lazy-poo-picker). You also have to make it possible for people to access this data.

You can buy signs the signs you need relatively cheaply from Amazon – there are loads to choose from. They tend to range from the budget type (a bit ‘building site’) to a fancy fandango ones.

You can get lovely wooden signs that are much more in keeping with the rural environment from Amazon and Etsy (or you could find someone local to make one to your specification).

British Dog Fields Tips for CCTV in Dog Fields

To sum up we’re going to give you some of our tips for operating CCTV in a dog field!

And finally….. do not use a fake system and declare you are using it to catch poo-perpetrators on social media! What it actually does is damage your relationship with your customers – you are not protecting them which they could rightly believe you are doing by having security cameras. Some people are reassured by their presence so a fake one is disingenuous (and it doesn’t work for anything we’ve discussed here).

British Dog Field Members: Don’t forget you get a 5% discount on all purchases at Rural View so remember to log in to find out how to redeem your discount for this and see other supplier offers.

Read more about setting up and running a dog field here:

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