You’d think it was simple – dog, ball, poo bags.
I’ve now visited over 200 dog fields (a drop in the ocean as the UK now has over 1000!) and learned a lot!
- Not all dog fields are equal
- My dogs are water snobs
- Just because a field says they supply poo bags doesn’t mean there will be any available!
Last week I visited a new field, checked out the details; read everything I was sent; and turned up on time (not early) to explore this new field. There were a bunch of unpleasant surprises in this field which made me glad I had my ‘dog field tool kit’ with me and I thought it might be a useful thing to share with other folks who use dog fields.
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Here are the 7 things I don’t go to a dog field without
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I love discovering some of the imaginative things dog field owners have installed or created in dog fields but it’s really disappointing when the very basics are neglected. Grubby water bowls are a really reliable indicator of a field that isn’t checked daily – but more importantly, they’re gross. I don’t need to go into the reasons why field owners should thoroughly clean bowls daily but I get around this by bringing my own bowls and my own water, just in case.
My dogs are also snobs about water (they’re from the Pyrenees so they have certain water quality standards) so they won’t drink from troughs or communal bowls, water that’s come from an IBC or any other receptacle. Instead, they demand their bowls and fresh running water (or a puddle if the former isn’t available). See what I have to live with?
My Own Padlock
I can imagine the number of dog field owners reeling at the prospect of a customer locking themselves into a field with their own padlock but hear me out because fear not – I’m not setting up a squat!
I have been the victim of someone walking into a field whilst I’m in there, ignorantly bouncing along believing me and my dogs are completely safe. It’s not a common occurrence but it has happened more than once.
Some fields have a bolt on the inside to prevent anyone from inadvertently accessing the field and some have other security features but these fields are rare. The trouble is that there are more new users coming to fields who don’t have reactive dogs or don’t understand the concept and will use the code provided to open the gates and drive in if they arrive early.
All these risks go away when I use my own padlock to ensure it can’t happen. Simple.
(but what about an emergency? A discussion for another blog)
I have a short shackle Squire combination padlock and you can find the ones I use on Amazon below.
If for some reason the padlock solution doesn’t work on the gate at the field I’m visiting, I also have a simple cable lock as a backup – I like this one. I don’t feel like a need to be in Alcatraz, it’s just to prevent accidental walk-ins.
Firstly, I don’t expect field owners to provide poo bags. Many do (it helps enormously with keeping a clean field) but I don’t use them unless instructed to (for their waste disposal solution).
I also don’t use them unless I have to because I’m particular about poo bags – if you want to know more about that murky world – check out this blog.
I take poo bags with me everywhere – I buy them in bulk, they’re in every coat, car door pocket and treat bag we own. This means I never have to use a plastic poo bag – the ones in the fancy park-style dispensers are almost all plastic and there’s no excuse anymore for using single-use plastic to pick up your dog’s poops.
After trying what feels like every poo bag on the planet – these two do the job without offending my eco-conscious sensibilities and you can buy them on subscription through Amazon which makes them even cheaper.
If you would like to support the Dogs Trust, they sell poo bags that are great value and you can find out more about them here. The eco-credentials aren’t as good as either of the above brands but all the cash goes back into a charity I know is close to a lot of our hearts.
Even in the summer, I don’t visit a field without one of these. If you’re not familiar with a Mudbuster, it’s a paw cleaning jar-thingy.
They’re not a solution to a winter mud-fest but they are perfect for washing off green fresh-cut grass stains (we all have fluffy white socks in our house), orange sand stains (naughty dog field owners with builders sand in their pits), and any spores or other regular countryside nasties they can pick up in woodland fields.
If you get the one with the lid you can fill it up with hot water before you leave (or from a thermos) – it has a decent seal and you’re good to go for a quick paw wash.
My top tip is to make sure you get the right size – our collies have a medium but any bigger breed will need a large. This is the one we have.
Some fields ask you to take your waste with you. It’s not ideal (in fact it’s really annoying) but it happens so if you are visiting new fields and you’re unsure about the poo bin situation, it’s useful to have a sealable mini-bin for your car. Just means you don’t have to endure a journey with freshies in the footwell.
This AIRNEX Food Waste Bin is blumming brilliant.
- It collapses so if I’m not using it, it takes up next to no space
- It has a fancy carbon filter thing that gets rid of any smells
- It ticks the eco-credentials to go with your compostable poo bags
Just don’t forget to empty it when you get home! This one traps the smell so well that I sometimes forget. You can pick one up on Amazon.
Why do you need a lead if you’re going to an off-lead dog field you may ask?!
Here are 4 ways I’ve been caught out so now ALWAYS have leads on me
- Not all fields have infield or secure parking (despite what they say) so you need to get your dog on a lead before you get to the security of the fenced field
- I’m neurotic – with good reason. I visit so many fields and the vast majority are safe however, I still do a perimeter check with dogs on leads if it’s my first visit to a field
- Emergencies – there are a few reasons why someone might need to come into the field in an emergency situation and you may have to put your dogs on a lead – it’s unlikely but I do make sure I have leads on me just in case
- Travelling – breakdowns, very long traffic jams, emergency wees etc. There are lots of reasons why you might need to get your dog out of the car when you’re travelling so make sure you don’t forget to have leads for everyone (and a spare in case you need to catch a stray)
Basic First Aid Kit
Firstly, if you haven’t been on a canine first aid course, I highly recommend it.
You can pick up a very basic canine first aid kit in pet shops or a super fancy vet-grade kit for £££s online but we have something in the middle – it has all the basics and things that you would need to make your dog more comfortable before getting to a vet …. with none of the daft stuff I’m simply not qualified to use on my dog like syringes and suture kits. This one is water resistant and has a belt clip so you can take it on walks with you as well as keep it in the car.
So that’s my everyday tool kit! If you want to find out more about travelling with dogs, using dog fields and our favourite tried and tested gear, make sure you subscribe to our mailing list below and if you’re new to using dog fields, there’s a free download you might find useful too!