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Dog walkers and farmers have not always worked together, but things could change as some landowners have started profiting from renting out their countryside fields for pets to exercise inside.

This move helps farmers maximize their land use and bring in additional revenue to their farms. However, not all areas hold the same potential, so farmers must know the locations that do well when leasing out space to dog owners. Dog walking field insurance is a must to ensure you are fully covered.

Demand for enclosed dog walking fields

According to Katherin Shields, founder of Dog walking fields, one of the leading dog exercise directories, Says: “Over the past five year's dog exercise fields have increased considerably. There are over 450 facilities as of today. The safe sites vary from multiple fields with floodlights to small paddocks. Even though Covid-19 has disrupted the industry; Ms, Shield says lots of sites have now reopened but with restrictions on the number of dogs per facility and enforcing a mandatory hand washing routine.

Farmers Seizing the Opportunity

The demand for dog exercising fields has shot up in the last five years. This has led many farmers to lease their idle land and profit from business ideas. For example, David Cross and Kathryn, have a farm located in Wymondham, Norfolk, which has been turned into a safe dog exercising area.

The partners invested approximately £20,000 on improving land on essentials such as fencing, car parking, marketing and have started reaping healthy returns. The popularity of the field has surpassed the expectations they initially set. They open between 6 am -9 pm in the summer, and 8 am-4 pm in the winter. The charges range between £10-£20/hour, and customers can book the land for two weeks in advance.

We have been surprised by the response. We’ve been able to transform the least productive part of the land into the most profitable she adds.

Another family reaping the rewards of leasing out the field is the Cross Family. Before venturing into this business, dogs frequently attacked sheep on the farm. Setting up the field gave them a fresh perspective and a chance to work closely with dog owners. We’re passionate about working with dog owners, and I’d encourage farmers to consider this opportunity seriously”, Ms. Cross says. Apart from leasing the land for dog exercise, they have also made significant improvements on the farm. The site now handles other dog-related services such as canine therapy, pet photography and wellness sessions.

Here is a drone view from an enclosed dog walking field business, namely Pounders Park dog daycare.

Permission and Taxation

There’s a lot of diversification going on, turning land with little agricultural value into safe exercising space for dogs. Any future project requires planning permission from the authorities. The local authorities view the practice as acceptable as no physical or permanent development occurs on the site. Rob Seller, an accountant at ACMole and Sons, suggests that farms consider establishing the business as a separate entity. The land, in this case, should be leased from the main farm for a small fee. This structure will lower the amount of VAT paid by the landowner. Of course, changing land use can have inheritance tax implications, so you have first to assess the situation.

Site requirements

A successful project depends on several factors, including:

Accessibility: The site should be easy to locate, accessible in all kinds of weather. A site plan and accessibility considerations should be detailed when making an application.

Dog management Planning: Creating a detailed risk assessment should form part of your business plan and planning application. Factors can include safety and health risk evaluation and the management of dog waste.

Demand: Think about how near you are from urban dwellers and the services you offer. These can include in-field shelter, professional dog care, picnic benches to group training sessions.

Security: Most facilities are unmanned and use coded padlock and CCTV to monitor access.

Fencing: Your customer will want your facility to have adequate fencing that prevents the dogs from escaping the area. Consider fencing height from between 1.2-1.8 meters (6ft) on average.

Booking: The number of dogs and your opening hours will be part of the planning application. Most farmers now use online booking systems to admit users.

Pricing: Prices can range, but it will depend on service offering and costs.

Insurance: Having public liability insurance is also critical. Pet business insurance can be bought from reputable sources.

Enclosed Dog Walking Fields for Hire FAQ

How Do I Find Land or space?

The ideal land includes fields, paddocks, woodland, warehouse, or any enclosed land. You can either rent, own, or get funding from the community or council.

Rent

You can find desirable land to rent by contacting local farmers in your area. Look for classified ads in your local area with land for sheep grazing or tending horses. You might find some owners are open to changing the use of land. The price of renting can vary depending on your location.

Own

You can find land for sale in classified ads, land agents, auctions, etc. The going price per acre depends on the location and how desirable it is. Areas prone to flooding can be acquired cheaply. In prime locations, an acre can go for a lot more an acre. The good thing is that you can get funding by applying for a personal loan or business loan through your financier. Before you own a piece of land, find out if you have neighbours with livestock or can fence it off. Also, find out if the area has a good access road before you purchase the land.

Community

You can get funding by engaging your community. Find out if people are willing to support you with the money and effort.

What Are the requirements of Planning Permission?

You don’t require any permit if you exercise dogs on a piece of land for 28 days a year. If you’re extending your kennel or dog care business, you’ll need to talk with your local authority to determine the planning permission requirements. An independent planning expert can help you prepare the correct documents for approval. These are the documents required by your local authority.

Site location

Your location should contain two named roads and have several buildings. Show details of your location, including access management, the position of trees, public rights.

  • Write a brief letter detailing what you’re planning to do with land and why
  • Present design and access statement with details that include
  • Show How you’ll dispose of dog feaces
  • Show expected noise levels
  • Show fence height, etc...

What are the Driving access and car park options?

Access, gate code choices can include;

  • Recommend an airlock system
  • Padlock on the gate
  • Codelocks
  • Bluetooth Locks

Ensure your car parking surface is strong enough to take in cars throughout the year, including winter.

What’s the Maintenance Schedule?

Establish how you’ll maintain the facility to keep it clean and functional. Find a way to deal with mud by using wood chips, mats, hardstanding, and reseeding. Also, factor in any maintenance works involving fencing, equipment, or shelter.

Wrapping it up

We hope this information helped if you have been thinking of acquiring or renting your existing fields for secure dog walking. If you don't have land and would like a smaller outlay whilst still generating revenue working with animals head over to our dog walking business guide.