HOW WALKING BRAMBLE ON THE BEACH HAS CREATED A SAFE HAVEN FOR DOGS AT PAW PADDOCK
As a dog trainer on the South Coast working with many dogs who experience trouble on walks, and an owner of a reactive dog, I thought it would be interesting for us to find out more about why so many secure dog walking fields are being established. I spoke to the owner of Paw Paddock, Robert Brown who is the manager of Manor Farm in Donnington, West Sussex to find out more about why it was set up and who it was designed for.
Thank you Rob, for speaking to me today. I would be keen to know why Paw Paddock was set up in the first place:
I have three-year-old Springer cross Labrador, who is 99% okay when out walking but she can be carried away and then she can bolt. Bramble is the reason why I started Paw Paddock. Although I found that she would always come back, but I found that walking her was more a thoughtful process. It was no longer just a relaxing walk where my dog was my companion, but instead, I was frequently having to be aware of where she was and if more than 30 yards away calling her back. I would go to the beach and although she is fine with other dogs, she would get chased and bullied and it was no longer a relaxing experience. She wouldn’t approach other dogs, but there was always at least one who would rush up to her.
I was conscious of her behaviour and her well being but there were times when she was clearly not happy. I still walk her off lead especially on the beach, but I am often biting my tongue as I see things happening which I am not comfortable with. I soon realised that there is a market for a place to be able to walk without having to keep checking in with the dogs and I knew that we had the space on the farm, that I could design what I felt I needed. If was looking for a place like this, then I was sure that others were too. This would be not just for the reactive dog but also for the dog with no recall, maybe a group of family dogs who need time to romp and play together without fear of interruption and the dog who just needs a walk without the fear of being bullied or chased.
How did you find out the best way to design Paw Paddock?
Well I started by visiting about 15/20 different fields - all reasonably busy and fulfilling their owner’s business plan but I felt that a lot of them are missing the ideal for what I wanted– no footpath or no roads alongside or sometimes there was even two paddocks alongside each other where I could see that fence running could be a problem with some of the dogs. Then the fences were maybe too low for the jumpers, or not secure for the dogs who dig or perhaps you had to park outside and walk in. I wanted a relaxing experience for both parties as soon as the car was parked.
So, the design of Paw Paddock is a combination of your ideal field?
Yes indeed. We looked at a couple of fields on our land. We needed to be sure that the entrance was on the farmyard – all down to planning permission to be honest. Then we installed the fencing – over 6 foot and strong and sturdy to keep everyone safe. I wanted a place to drive into and park the car and being security minded, good strong gates that can be locked when you are inside. I didn’t want to have great big warning on the gate, so a simple Vacant/Occupied sign which can be turned around as required, seems to do the trick along with a security bolt at the top of the gate to prevent unwanted visitors. About 60% of the fencing is being used to keep the walk to the field secure, but this does allow the dogs to relax and as they unwind, their owners can enjoy the walk too.
What else have you installed to make Paw Paddock work for you?
We knew there was a need for a shelter and somewhere to sit, so have installed a field shelter, with a picnic bench and table and a seat out in the field. It is about 3 acres altogether and all surrounded by strong stock fencing to height of at least 6 foot and the pathway is made up to make sure that it doesn’t get flooded or very muddy. There is a further gate to prevent the dogs running back to the car from the field. We have now introduced a hard surface track all around the field, along with grassy tracks through the area to make it interesting for the dogs. We have installed a running water drinking system both in the field and by the parking area together with a hose to wash any dogs down. There is also a sprinkler system available, which keeps the dogs occupied in this warm weather. We have two bins for clearing up in the main field and another at the parking area. These are emptied on a regular basis and everyone is very good at clearing up.
How easy is it to book a space at Paw Paddock?
I wanted an easy booking system with quick confirmation of booking and a reminder system to make sure there is no chance of forgetting your booking. There is 5 minutes change over period to avoid dogs meeting – keeping it relaxing. And you can book for 25 minutes – so perfect way of giving the oldies or injured dogs a chance of a walk in a relaxed space without any worry or for 55 minutes for those who need longer. I needed it to be easy to pay and to cancel if need be – that is all now taken care for by the website.
As you have been open for nearly a year now, do you have any plans to expand and make Paw Paddock more fun?
We have added in wooden jumps, a see saw and a platform for dogs to have fun on, so it’s more than just a field to potter around in. There will be more being introduced soon. It is important dogs can enjoy being out in the open and there’s three acres for them to explore, all of which is totally secure so owners can relax knowing their dog won’t be disturbed or upset by other dogs bounding over and can run around in a safe, enclosed space.
As a business model, it seems to be working well, so any more fields planned?
Oh yes lots of plans but not to expand here at Paw Paddock. I would like to keep this as it is and gradually build this making it more interesting and keeping our customers coming back. But yes, expansion to open several new fields on the south coast, using similar plans used here at Paw paddock within the next 18 to 24 months. I will be working with farming partners, to offer customers and their dogs the same relaxing ambience that we have here, and this will help so many more dogs. So many enclosed dog fields aren’t always suitable as they maybe don’t always offer the peace and relaxion that we want to offer. They may have various shortfalls such as due to location – situated near a busy place with all those distractions or perhaps the fence height or structures are not suitable, so there is room for our type of field in other areas and this will help the market to the people we want to attract.
I see you are always open to ideas for Paw Paddock and are keen for customer feedback?
Absolutely, I want it to keep it more interesting for the dogs and owners – so introducing new things here to keep it different and making sure that we are ahead of the curve. Having only been open for less than a year, we love feedback from our customers. This has meant we have improved the pathways around the field, the water supply has been fixed and we recently introduced a second bin in the field for clearing up. And of course, we have the new wooden equipment for the dogs to play on – and more to come, all thanks to feed back from our friendly customers.
With that in mind, I am always available to speak to – I am usually onsite and contactable through, text, email or phone and social media. I want to encourage people to keep in touch and want to create a community on our Facebook page where we can share ideas and we love to see the photos of the dogs enjoying themselves. So do keep in touch and you will see we are reinvesting back into the Paw Paddock to make sure it is the best possible experience for everyone.
Thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us today
I have added details about how to visit Paw Paddock at the bottom of this article, so be sure to check it out.
As regular visitors of the field, both Barney and Skye love visiting and I know they have great fun each time. We love that you don’t see anyone, the field is surrounded by fields, banks of wildflowers and some lovely trees and hedgerows full of singing birds. The landscape is flat – a bonus for those of us who struggle with hills, and you can see Chichester cathedral. You totally relax with the knowledge that just for a few minutes, you don’t have to worry about anything.
As a dog trainer, I frequently recommend to my clients that they book a secure field to help exercise and practice with their dogs. You can relax and then work on allowing your dog to focus on you and build a better relationship with each other. If you have a dog that doesn’t listen and won’t come back, secure a long line on it and let it run. If you have a rescued dog – do the same and be ready with some yummy treats to practice the recall. Or maybe you just can’t let all your dogs off together when out and about – then bring them to Paw Paddock and join the fun.