Practical Tips for Dealing with Customers Who Leave Dog Mess in Your Field

Practical Tips for Dealing with Customers Who Leave Dog Mess in Your Field

Anyone who follows a dog field on social media will know that the biggest gripe that dog field owners have with their field management is when dog owners fail to collect and dispose of dog waste.

With a lot of experience in this unsavoury topic and having refused to be defeated by the challenge, here we’ll share our top tips for reducing the impact of this issue – the do’s and the don’ts of dealing with dog waste in secure fields.

Do:

  • Make dog poo bags available in your field
  • Have multiple poo bins
  • Sweep your field DAILY and pick up any stray waste
  • Keep a record of when it’s at its worst

Don’t:

  • Complain about it on social media (trust us on this one)
  • Assume it’s customers with multiple dogs
  • Ignore it and accept it as inevitable 

All Dog Fields Have This Problem

Anyone who says they don’t is probably in their first few months of operation and for some inexplicable reason, people are better at picking up after their dogs when a new field opens. After years of in-depth study into this phenomenon, I still can’t fathom it but it’s just the way it is.

Having grubby fields hurts your business. Big time. Dog fields are under increased competition and failing to deal with a dog poo problem is going to affect the number of bookings you have. Aside from it being very unpleasant all round, there are dogs who have a habit of scoffing ‘other’s deposits’ and if you have one of those dogs, nothing is going to convince you to use a field that doesn’t deal with the matter. 

I know from personal experience that people leaving dog poop in your field is infuriating and time consuming but if you want to retain your clientele when new fields open locally, you have to tackle the issue head on.

First we’ll talk about the things you can do to reduce the problem.

Make Poo Bags Obvious and Available In Your Fields

I will testify that where poo bags are not available, the amount of missed poos is higher. Fact. Investing in a poo bag dispenser, good quality compostable bags, and most importantly, making sure that they are always topped up, will have an instant impact on your dog field hygiene. 

There are plenty of suppliers on the market but very few that are really truly compostable. If you want to know more about where to get truly compostable poo bags, please drop us an email info@britishdogfields.org.

Have Multiple Poo Bins Available

If your field is any bigger than an acre, you will benefit from having more than one bin. In our 2 acre field, we had 4 poo bins and one general waste bin. This means more cleaning, more emptying and more expense. It also means more waste in the bins and less on the ground – something we consider to be worth the effort. 

We also highly recommend cleaning the touch surfaces daily and decant these smaller bins into your main waste wheelie bin, out of sight and out of smell range.

Dog Waste Bin Options

There are lots of bin options open to you – you might want to go for a Royal Park look and spend big on the heavy duty metal or the wood-clad forest style bins but most people go for something a bit more modest – quantity over quality really is the best option in this case and if you want to upgrade at some point in the future when you’re assured of your business model, you can.

Here are some of our top picks at each price point.

Mid-Range Bins – these are robust and can be mounted on posts or fences – they’ll set you back a bit but don’t tend to fade in the sun and are easy to keep clean. These are becoming more popular because they are designed to be easily fitted without faff unlike the budget friendly option.

Cheap and Cheerful:

Caddies – a little harder to fix in place, but these mini-caddies do a good job. Stick a ‘Dog Waste’ sticker to the front (you can pick them up for a few quid here) and you’ve got yourself some affordable dog waste bins. They’re a little harder to keep clean and they fade a little in the sun but if you’re on a budget or have a large field and want a few inconspicuous options, these are great.

Flip Lid – these are a really great floor standing option however, the lids flip up in the wind leaving the bin open to rain and baking sun so make sure that the hinge is against the prevailing wind!

Feeling Spending? For around £425 you can get a really fancy dog waste bin – these are the most durable, easiest to keep clean and look very flash. If you’re going for a National Trust feel in your field then you don’t want your dog bin to let the side down!

Whatever you do, don’t be tempted by a big bin – 25L – 30L is plenty big enough – we highly recommend emptying bins daily and you’re certainly not going to get 25L of dog poo in one day however busy you are!

Sweep your Field Daily

You will never eliminate poo from your fields so on your daily check, make sure you’re using the time to scour the ground and if you’ve been open for a while, you’ll likely know that there are preferred spots.

For those with wild areas, this isn’t always as easy – which means it isn’t as easy for your customers either – mowing on rotation will give you a chance to make sure these areas don’t become cesspits.

Keep a Record

There are repeat offenders. Sad but true. It’s very unwise to chuck accusations around unless you are absolutely certain, but if you are you might want to consider approaching individuals.

Nobody wants to feel spied on in a field but if it’s becoming a huge issue and you have the means to observe your customers, identifying the culprits and having a chat is sometimes all it takes to remedy the situation. 

There are people new to using dog fields, who, despite your best efforts and clear communication, will think it’s your job to clear up after their dogs. If you get the sense that this is the type of person you’re dealing with, you can do worse things that just to ask them not to come back. You must remember that avoiding confrontation with one customer might be costing you the business of 5 others which doesn’t make a whole lot of business sense.

Anyone who has been a customer of ours will know that occasionally we have been known to send out tongue in cheek emails on days when we’ve had some naughty field users. Whether this is to highlight a poo clear up problem or something else, it usually has the desired affect and narrows the ill feeling down to a much smaller group. You have nothing to apologise for when communication with your customers about unfavourable behaviour but making it a little lighter can make it more palatable for those that are not guilty!

Now for the Don’ts!

Complaining on Social Media

I get, honestly I do but there are far more effective ways of communicating with your customers than telling literally anyone who will listen that you have a grubby field, covered in dog poop.

Here’s what you think you’re doing:

Venting your frustration and asking people to be more vigilant about picking up poo which will lead to any culprits having a chat with themselves, realising they’re in the wrong and making sure it never happens again.

Here’s what you’re actually doing:

Telling anyone who will listen that your field is covered in dog poo and it’s got to epic levels. This in turn prompts all your best customers (who don’t leave poo in the field) to make comments of support and chastise all the horrible people who disrespect your field.

Here’s what you’re not doing:

Reaching your target audience. They’re not listening to your rants – if they don’t care enough to do a simple thing like pick up their dog’s poop, they are not listening to you on social media. Trust me. 

Isolate the issue and communicate directly.

Don’t Assume It’s The People With Multiple Dogs

It might be but it’s not always. The best field customers in our experience are the professional dog walkers (and I mean ‘professional’). Not only will they help in your quest for a poo-free field by picking up the odd rouge deposit, but they’ll tell you when things are getting silly. They’re also pretty good at keeping on top of their own canine charges and here’s why – they think, that you think, that it’s them! 

Here’s who it’s more likely to be:

  • People on their phones
  • People having a natter and not watching their dogs
  • People who sit in their cars
  • People who genuinely can’t find it after much diligent searching
  • People who don’t care

Don’t Let It Fester

Ignoring this issue will not make it any better. In fact, if you want your £££££s investment in fencing, land, planning permission etc to go down the toilet, this is one of the easiest ways you can do it. 

We said before – running a dog field is not a passive income but it’s also not hard. Dedicating a few hours a day to really taking care of your business shouldn’t be something you begrudge. If you’re new to the idea of dog fields and you want to know where to start, read our article How To Set Up A Dog Field – 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Begin

No, it shouldn’t happen. But is does – I have met the occasional field owner who is adamant that have never had a poo problem – I simply don’t buy it. The only way this is possible is if you don’t have any customers.

Help Yourself with Good Design

If you’re in the process of designing your field, one of the best things you can do is create a ‘poop pen’. Incorporating a fenced area inside the gate or parking area where dogs can ‘go’ before they run off into the field greatly reduces the amount of waste you’ll clean up from your field. It doesn’t have to be that big – a grassy area that you can wash down and keep short will do the job. It doesn’t suit all dogs but enough will use it to save you some pain.

Gridding! I’ve seen this used in a number of fields and it can be particularly effective in fields that are completely characterless! Using the fence posts as X and Y axis, you can play a game to identify the grid square you saw your dog ‘go’ in which makes things much easier when looking for a needle in a haystack! It only really works effectively in short grass paddocks of less than two acres but it’s a bit of fun and draws attention to your expectations!

Flags. Some fields have a stack of flags that they encourage you to use to highlight rouge poops. Much like the social media issue, I don’t think this works very well – all it does is highlight other people’s indiscretion but they can be useful for spotting holes or other problems in bigger fields. 

A Dog Field User’s Perspective

As a dog field owner, I have always expected customers to pick up the occasional poop. I do the same and have a threshold of 3 before I start getting annoyed. Here’s how I deal with it as a dog field user:

  1. I never search for poos – there are people looking for a reason to complain – I’m not one of them but if you’ve had a number of bad experiences at a field, you might be looking for fault 
  2. I’ll pick up 3 without mentioning it
  3. I’ll pick up 6 if you have bags available 
  4. I’ll message you privately if it’s more than 3
  5. If it’s more than 6 you’ll probably get a more shirty email because that’s not a one-off issue unless you’ve had a pack of huskies in, and even that’s unlikely as they are the best customers in terms of keeping things tidy
  6. I’m going assume you’re not checking your field daily if there are 6+ and that raises a lot more questions in my mind than missed dog poos

Just a few simple suggestions to help with the maintenance and hygiene of your dog field. I hope you found this helpful!

If you’re interested in more useful hints and tips for running a dog field, dealing with dog field issues, improving your field appeal and increasing your revenue, please join the mailing list below.