About This Field
Waterloo Kennels is a boarding facility near Cheltenham which has three dog fields on site that are open to the public for exclusive hire.
This review is a little different to our normal listing – following experiences at 2 of their 3 fields we were extremely disappointed in Waterloo Kennels for their dog field facilities (this is entirely separate from their boarding facilities which we have no experience of). We believe that in this case, the boarding kennel and dog field business are incompatible due to the requirements of many dog field users.
Booking Waterloo Kennels
We were initially impressed by the website which contains lots of useful information – not as comprehensive as some dog field sites but sufficient for us to know that the fencing of the field we were interested in was 5ft, it was 5 acres and we were excited to visit.
There is no secure online booking system but we called to book. I was offered the availability for the following day and chose a slot from two options – I suggested calling back as the lady I spoke to was also dealing with kennel clients, but she said she would write it down and send me confirmation with the payment details.
I received this nearly 2 hours later – I made an error at this stage which was not to very carefully check the details – something I usually do if I book online but in this instance, because I had been on the phone, and the booking was for the following day, I didn’t. My mistake.
The lady had mistakenly booked me in for the same day, not the following day. This was her mistake not mine – proven by the fact that one of the slots she offered me was in session during our call. These things happen but the learning is that it’s a really good idea to check your booking confirmation to make sure you aren’t disappointed.
There was no additional information for the booking provided on the email other than a sentence directing you to them from the main road.
Arriving at Waterloo Kennels
As instructions were sparce, we did not see the Woodland Walk Paddock immediately, driving straight past, but by the time we had located the paddock, someone else had driven in. The field had been double booked, and after a phone call to the office we were offered a different field – the one with 6ft fencing advertised (but significantly smaller) – so we accepted and the suggestion was made that we switch half way through so both parties had the field they wanted for at least some time.
We parked as instructed and waited for the lady to come and show us where to find the field – I had to call again and by this time is was 10 minutes into our session.
She offered to show us….. we explained we had a reactive dog with us (this is important) and so if she could just explain where, we would make our own way in.
In order to access this field, we had to walk on lead through a kennel yard and in front of a number of kennels (thankfully empty but this would be entirely unsuitable for any reactive dog).
Poplar Piece Paddock
This was the paddock we were directed to. As you can see, the website explicitly states that this field is 6ft fenced. It is not. It is fenced to just over 4ft. I confess that in the mix-up, I did not have my tape measure to hand however, there is not a 6ft fence or post anywhere on the perimeter of that field and we can only assume this is an error on the website as opposed to a mistake in installing or measuring the fences.
The field itself is nice – entirely waterlogged which we were not informed of (that would have been courteous) – the only non-fence related concern once in the field was the large amount of mistletoe berries on the floor – whilst only moderately toxic to most dogs, should be collected in a facility specifically designed for dog exercise.
The biggest concern was that during the first period of our visit in this field, kennel staff brought dogs from the kennel building, past this field, on leads, and then let them off lead within sight of our dogs. At this point, we put our dogs on lead, got back in the car and drive back to the woodland area and waited for the change-over to take place.
The reason this is infuriating is that both our dogs were then over their thresholds. Both had been surprised and antagonised by the presence of other dogs, which we and they were not expecting – please remember, I had specifically told the kennel lady that our dogs were reactive and she was one of the handlers that brought these dogs past us. Had we known this was likely to happen, we would not have agreed to use that field. That should have been our decision, not theirs.
Once we had driven back to the woodland we waited again – the people there were clearly reluctant to leave for obvious reasons, so by the time they had vacated the field, we had 15 minutes left.
I will summarise this field:
- Not 5ft fences all round
- At least 6 unsecured gates (by this point I was quite stressed and forgot to take a lot of photographs – there may have been 8 gates) – leading to other fields, a garden (see image) and the track into the kennels
- The paddock area was completely waterlogged (courtesy to inform people)
- Next user turned up 8 minutes before the end of our session so the little time we had was marred by a customer loitering in their car right up to the gate – they then had to reverse, so that we could leave the field
The sad thing about the woodland walk is that it could be a fantastic secure field – it is a wonderful space, lots of interest and we can imagine people travelling quite a distance to visit.
As it stands, it is badly mis-marketed, the booking process leaves far too much opportunity for mistakes and it is one of the more expensive fields in the UK that we have visited.
We did not contact the business directly to discuss these issues because it is our opinion that if you know that there has been a huge screw up with a double booking at your field, you should fix it at the time if you can and then follow up with a full refund for both parties that were inconvenienced, and offer a repeat visit. Several weeks on, I am still to receive any communication from this business. I do not believe it is my responsibility to tackle them – they have already had my money and my time, and failed to provide the service they advertised.
It is with great disappointment that we write reviews of this nature but as you know, our duty is to ‘say what we see’, reporting on facts that affect potential users of these facilities. With the potential of this facility being so very good, we would welcome the opportunity to advise Waterloo on upgrading their facilities and service to make this a great place for dog owners.
If you have visited this field and something listed is incorrect, please get in touch via email.
* We only list fields as reactive friendly following a visit because reactivity means different things to different dogs! Details can be found on each review in the yellow section. Listed fields field may be suitable for reactive dogs, but we have just not had the chance to verify this.