Canine capers: new doggy adventure park opens its gates in East Lothian
Unleashed Dog Parks is offering canine clients a mixture of sensory, agility and socialisation opportunities at a site stretching across more than 12 acres of fields at Pencaitland in East Lothian.
The novel business is the brainchild of farmers George and Jennifer Hood, who own the site, and their Edinburgh-based son Gordon.
Their aim is to provide safe and stimulating spaces where pooches of all shapes and sizes can be let loose to run, jump and sniff to their hearts’ content.
The owners believe the parks are particularly good for anxious or reactive pets that might not usually be allowed off a lead in open public spaces.
The park, which opened on Saturday, boasts three separate adventure areas, each bordered by privacy fencing and a buffer zone to reduce the chances of animals becoming upset or over-interested in other dogs.
Agility equipment includes play houses, balancing beams, tunnels, bridges and a range of platforms to allow dogs to climb, explore and use up stored energy.
Sensory zones include a variety of different textures for the paws, such as wood chips and gravel, as well as sandpits for digging and log and stone piles.
There are also lots of smell sensations on offer, including plants such as lavender, a herb known for its calming properties, and birch trees, a favourite for chewing.
The new parks are already proving a hit with dog owners.
And the family has a raft of plans for the park going forward, including special training days and pop-up events.
Co-owner Gordon Hood reckons the facilities are not only good for the animals but also for their humans, many of whom have been struggling to get through recent months of lockdown restrictions – and a number who have taken on a dog for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic.
He says some people have been using the park as a safe place to meet outdoors with dog-loving family and friends.
Others have been utilising the parks as a secure space to train puppies and get them used to other dogs.
He said: “Unleashed offers a haven for reactive and nervous dogs – and owners – where they can be let off the lead in a safe and secure environment.
“Dogs need to be stimulated and our sensory and agility facilities allow for this enrichment.
“I think many pets are likely to have become more anxious during the Covid crises, picking up stress from their owners.
“A dog’s primary sensory receptor is its nose – it thinks with its nose – and so a sniffing dog is usually a more relaxed dog.
“Now, after having been cooped up with their humans for several months, the sensory areas give them the chance to really get their noses working.”
The site, which offers 50-minute slots for up to eight dogs at any one time in each of the three areas, is surrounded by woodlands and provides parking for up to 30 cars.