The UK is a nation of dog-lovers, in fact, recent statistics show that around 26% of UK households include at least one dog. In Suffolk the top breeds are Labrador Retrievers, Jack Russell Terriers, Spaniels and Border Collies; all dogs that need a great deal of exercise.
Dog owners of Suffolk should rejoice, then, at the innovative idea of one dog-lover in Monk Soham: A fully enclosed, 6 acre plot for hire to exercise your dogs without worry.
Debbie; serial dog-rescuer and the brains behind Suffolk Run Free, knows better than most that exercising your high-energy pets off-lead is not always possible. Although a great idea for all dogs; this engaging space is even more valuable for owners or reactive, nervous or just plain disobedient pups.
Introducing: Suffolk Run Free
What is Suffolk Run Free?
A 6 acre plot, fully fenced in (6ft high) for dog-owners to hire. There are toy-boxes, watering stations and even a doggy-paddling pool to add interest for your pet. Dogs can explore wooded areas, ditches, grasslands and meadow.
Who can use the space?
Anyone! Obviously this is a perfect space for dogs who are reactive, or with poor recall (I have one of each!) but even perfectly behaved dogs would enjoy the space as it is designed with four-legged friends in mind. You can book up to 8 dogs at a time so I am already planning doggy play-dates with friends and family to encourage socialisation.
How much does it cost?
Pricing is tiered depending on how long you want to stay and how many dogs you are bringing. 30 minute slots start at £5 for up to 3 dogs.
What’s the story?
As a huge advocate for rescuing dogs Debbie originally fenced the area as a secure space to walk her several rescue dogs. She has created a safe haven for them to run around off-lead and for vital training work to take place.
For me this idea immediately took my attention. I am dog-obsessed! Though not the large, high-energy breeds Suffolk-folk favour; I am the owner of two small fluffies (a pair of slippers as they are affectionately referred to). Both have very differing needs but benefit from some Run Free time for their own reasons.
Yum yum is my darling Pekingese who loves a walk despite her tiny legs. I more or less trust her off the lead, however she’s not very keen on other dogs (Pippa notwithstanding) which can be embarrassing when out walking. Imagine a 6inch ball of fluff very angrily fronting up to a large labrador. Luckily she’s easily tucked under one arm and marched away. So for her Run Free provides a chance to relax and enjoy a walk away from the threat of any other dogs spoiling her fun.
Pippa is my fire-cracker of a Tibetan Terrier. She’s full of energy, mischief and ALWAYS ready to play. Pip’s recall is truly dreadful despite many hours of training; she’s generally just having too much fun to listen! This means she spends most of her walks on the lead. So Run Free is a perfect place for me to put in a bit more training, manage distractions and build up some trust to be able to walk her off the lead more regularly.
When I saw that Run Free had officially launched I booked the very first slot I could and eagerly awaited the chance to let the dogs have a stress-free run-around. There are some rules to adhere to in order to keep all dogs safe and happy so it is worth reading this first before you book.
What was my experience?
After a wobbly start struggling to find the field Debbie came to the resuce and guided us in over the phone, her mobile number is on the website and came in handy! We were met with a warm greeting before Debbie showed us into the field. We secured the gate behind us and went on an adventure!
6 acres sounds a worrying large area for a disobedient dog to hide herself in but in fact, it is split into 3 different areas, one of which can be completely enclosed with a gate. This first field is great for training. You can see the whole area at once so no worries of losing sight of your dog.
Immediately it was clear that this was a great experience for the dogs; especially Pippa who very rarely gets an off-lead walk. She tore around the field having a whale of a time while Yum yum hopped through the long grass at my side. After a few (more or less) successful call backs we were confident enough to move on the second and third areas.
Here there are more interesting places to explore; wooded areas, ditches and even a toy box! After a little exploration we experimented with recall games. With everything so new and exciting the results were mixed – they were both too excited to even be interested in their favourite toy!
I can envisage that after a few visits to explore the surroundings this will be a great space for training. We hid behind trees, walked off in the opposite direction (all the things you learn at puppy classes) and were pleasantly surprised to see they were both following us.
We can’t wait to go back!
The potential benefit is huge here: For training, reactive dogs, playdates, and peaceful walks Run Free is perfect. The website booking system is slick and easy to use and once you know how to find it, the field is easy to access and hassle-free. There are toys, a paddling pool and watering stations: You can tell that the enjoyment of the dogs has been paramount in the design of this space.
Both dogs had a fantastic visit; even if 6 acres is too far to roam for someone’s little legs!
Yes, she did make me carry her back to the car!