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Five tell-tail signs that your dog is a top explorer…

…and how you can hone their skills


If you’ve ever taken your beloved pooch on a Treasure Trail, you may have thought that they were just along for the walk and fresh air. Well, we’ve got some great news for you! Not only will your four-legged friend have a great time, but they can help you on your quest, mission or investigation too!

So, whether it’s a Pup Pirate, a Mole-Hunting Mutt or a Detective Dawg that you need, read on for how to make the most of your canine companion’s expertise and turn them into a top explorer dog!


5 reasons why dogs make excellent Trail explorers


1. They tell you when they’ve found something interesting


When your pooch is curious about something, they’ll hold their tail straight out behind them in a horizontal position. Next time you’re struggling to spot a clue, keep one eye on Rover’s tail; it could be a sign that they’re on to something!


Dog - I think I've found something


2. Their sense of smell is infinitely better than ours


Dogs are far more geared up for sifting smells than we humans are. Their noses have way more olfactory receptors than ours, and the part of their brain devoted to analysing smells is proportionately a lot bigger.

The shape of their nose is also well-honed for capturing the slightest of odours. Whilst we humans use all of the air we breathe in for… well, breathing, dogs siphon off some of their air intake into a separate area at the back of their noses just for determining smells! And when we breathe out through our nose, all the air gets pushed outwards; dogs push air out through the slits in the side of their nose, helping air circulate and bring in yet more odours to sort.

So, if you smell something fishy out on your Trail, you can count on the fact that your treasure hunting hound clocked it a while ago and has been on the alert for some time!


Dog - I can smell something fishy


3. They can stand guard and keep an eye out for any rival explorers while you solve the clues


Treasure hunting is a serious thing; rival treasure seekers could be around any corner! This is why, any time you humans are fully focussed on solving a clue, your pooch can go into paw patrol mode and keep watch for approaching enemies trying to steal your answers.

If you notice your pooch standing with ears up and tail raised, it’s a sure sign that they’re watching and ready to take action if needed. Guard dog, explorer dog, your pooch has so many different roles to play on your quest!

Depending on your dog, they may take different approaches to keep you safe. If you have a growler or a yapper on your hands, a little noise should scare those rivals away. If your pooch is less guard dog and more soppy dog, it can put those puppy dog eyes to good use and distract any approaching challengers with its cuteness.


Explorer guard dog - keeping watch while you solve the clue


4. They’ll sniff out any booby traps and alert you


We already know that your hound has a far superior sense of smell. But this also means that they are master trackers, able to pick up a single scent amongst the millions wafting in the air and hone in on it.

Therefore, having your pooch alongside you on any quest is an excellent way to ensure you don’t trigger any unwanted booby traps. If there’s any trace of pongy pirates or sweaty explorers having gone before you, your four-legged friend will get the first whiff of them and make sure you avoid anything untoward.

If your dog stops wagging their tail and freezes, it may mean that they’ve identified a danger, so put your whole team on high alert!


Don't go up there, it's a trap!


5. Dogs are closer to the ground, all the better to spot those low down clues!


Yes, it may seem obvious, but unless you have a Great Dane, your dog’s legs are likely to be a lot shorter than yours. As all good explorers know, you should look up, down and all around to track down clues on a Treasure Trail, so having more eyes to the ground can only be an advantage!

Dogs are nearsighted, so they’ll have no problem spotting things right under their paws. Plus, they have excellent peripheral vision too, with a range of around 25O degrees. This means they don’t have to constantly turn their heads left and right to spot things like we do and can spot clues off to the sides with relative ease! So if you feel a tug of the lead, give your pooch the benefit of the doubt; they are likely to have spotted something you haven’t! Even if it isn’t the clue you’re looking for, it might be something interesting, you never know!


Explorer dog sniffing out those low down clues


Treasure found!


Most Treasure Trail Explorers treat themselves to something nice at the end of the Trail. Some grab an ice cream, others a drink, while a few treat themselves to a round of mini-golf or other fun!

When you find yourself at the end of a successful Trail, don’t forget to reward your pooch too! Take a treat or give them a nice rub behind the ears. If their tail is in a neutral position with a healthy wag, you’ve got one happy hound on your hands! Great work!


Solved it! Time for a snuggle


How to get your dog Trail-ready


Brain Training for dogs


Most exploring skills come naturally to dogs, and we’re sure your dog already has some top-notch exploring techniques. However, if you feel your pooch is less of an explorer dog than you’d hope, they might benefit from a bit of quest preparation. Why not give some of these training ideas a go:


Brain training for dogs – 10 simple brain games to play with your dog, and the first one is a treasure hunt! Pawfect!

DIY puzzle games for dogs – take a look at these six puzzle games you can easily make at home. We love the look of the Mysterious Muffin Tin!

RSPCA advice on dog training – some great advice on how to train your dog from the RSPCA.


TOP TIP – no matter how well trained your Explorer Dog is, don’t let them run off with your Trail booklet!


Don't let your dog run off with the Trail


Explorer dogs wanted!


Do you have an amazing explorer dog? A fantastic treasure-seeking hound? A top mystery-solving mutt?

We’d love to hear all about them! Head to Facebook or Instagram and post a photo of you and your four-legged friend out exploring on a Treasure Trail. Tag us @treasuretrailsuk, and we’ll sniff them out!

We’ll be choosing our favourites to add to our Pup Parade below!



The TT Pup Parade


Explorer Dog Milo – Trail Writer Ivan’s daughter and her rescue dog often go along with Ivan on his Trail Writing expeditions.


Rosie - Trail Writer Kathy's dad's pooch who's been on a fair few Trail Writing adventures in her time!
Rosie – Trail Writer Kathy’s dad’s pooch who’s been on a fair few Trail Writing adventures in her time!


Kayna – Our Tech guy Tris with his wife and pooch, resting at a clue near St Austell.


Ted, Flo and Lowan helping their owners to count the boards whilst keeping guard for any dangers below!


Looking for more dog related fun?


Take a peek into the amazing world of dogs, check out our top 15 dog-friendly Trails as recommended by our Trail Writers, or search for dog-friendly Trails by region.


20th April 2021

Posted In: Ideas

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The amazing world of dogs


Delightful dog stories


We love a good doggy backstory on our Trails, whether it’s the antics of the faithful boxer Trixie on the Amberley, Box and Minchinhampton Trail or the mystery of dog trainer Ruby Dubidoux on the Aylsham Trail. Of course, we’ve got a few backstories about salty seadogs, but they’re not quite the same…

But, there’s something extra special about the furry friend in our Edinburgh Greyfriars Trail! Bobby was real and also one of the most amazing dogs!


Bobby the amazing dog of Greyfriars


Edinburgh Greyfriars Amazing Dog Story


When John Grey moved to Edinburgh with his wife and son in 1850, he struggled to find work in his profession as a gardener. So, to avoid the workhouse, he took a job as a night watchman with the Edinburgh Police Force.

For company on the long, lonely nights, John took on a new partner – the very good doggo, Bobby. The Skye Terrier became his watchdog, and the duo were inseparable, becoming well-known by the city’s residents.

Sadly, John Grey contracted tuberculosis and passed away from the disease in 1858… but the story doesn’t end there. Loyal until the end and beyond, Bobby stood guard at his master’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard. Come rain or shine, Bobby was there – even when the gardener tried to evict him!

The story of Bobby’s vigil spread through Edinburgh, with crowds descending on Greyfriar’s to peek at the loyal pup. He was well looked after, with the gardener eventually erecting Bobby a shelter and a local Coffee House providing him with a daily meal.


Bobby's Collar - now in the Edinburgh Museum
Victuallers, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


Even when unlicensed dogs in the city became illegal in 1867, The Lord Provost of Edinburgh stepped in to save Bobby by paying for his licence and presenting him with a collar, which is now on display in the Museum of Edinburgh.

After 14 years stood guard over his master, the ever-faithful Bobby passed away in 1872. To commemorate the loyal dog and his heartwarming story, the President of the Ladies Committee of the RSPCA, Baroness Angelia Georgina Burdett-Coutts, sought permission to have a fountain built with a statue of Bobby on top of it. Now the story of Greyfriars Bobby will never be forgotten.


Bobby the amazing Skye Terrier


Daring dogs with important jobs


Dogs with jobs


Bobby wasn’t the only amazing dog who had an important job to do. In fact, dogs have had jobs for centuries, with references to working dogs as far back as Viking Norse culture! From hunting to tracking, herding to sniffing out contraband, these brave pups have been just as busy as their human companions. Check out these amazing working dogs below!


Lagotto Romagnolo


The Lagotto Romagnolo, also known as Italian Water Dogs and Romagna Water Dogs, were originally bred to hunt ducks and other waterfowl in the wetlands around Romagna.

But, after the marshlands were drained and the ducks departed, these fluffy finders were given a new job – tracking down truffles! They are, in fact, the only breed of dog in the world that is specifically bed for truffle hunting. With a keen sense of smell and a love of digging, they’re the perfect pups for the job – and treasure-seeking!


Lagotto Romagnolo


St Bernard


As well as being loving, slobbery companions – we’re looking at you, Beethoven – St Bernard’s have had a vital job for centuries! All the way back to the 1600s, St Bernard’s were bred for rescue work by the hospice of the Great St Bernard Pass.

Made famous thanks to their bravely in alpine rescues in Italy and Switzerland, the working dogs were never actually given formal training from the monks. Instead, the younger dogs learned from the older ones! The most famous St Bernard (apart from Beethoven, maybe) was named Barry and lived between 1800-1814. He saved the lives of between 40-100 people, and there’s even a monument to his bravery in France.


St Bernard


Siberian Husky (and friends!)


Sled dogs have been used in the Arctic for 2,000 years! They were super important for transportation in Arctic communities until snowmobiles were invented and are still used today in some rural areas.

There are many breeds of dogs that can be sled dogs. Their suitability can depend on many factors, including size, strength, stamina, speed, endurance, temperament and appetite – plus the ideal qualities changes depending on whether the sleds are for racing or carrying. However, the most common sled dogs are often the fluffy Alaskan and Siberian huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Canadian Eskimo Dogs and Samoyed.


Siberian Husky


Brave pups who’ve completed explorer training


There are five tell-tail signs that a dog makes the perfect treasure hunting companion, from their sense of smell to their alert level. So there’s no surprise that some dogs are actually being trained to track down historical hoards!

Roxie, Moxie, Pacy, Grizzly and Scout are five very good dogs with one important job – sniffing out ancient artefacts! They’ve undergone rigorous explorer training in America to become part of the K-9 Artefact Finders squad. Although they won’t be tracking down the treasure at historical landmarks, they will be making sure that naughty travellers don’t pinch important relics when on holiday abroad. You can learn all about them here!


Treasure hunting dog


But if you’re not convinced your furry friends are going to track down the lost loot without expert training, think again! Monty, a pup from the Czech Republic, found fame as a historical hoard detector after he unearthed 3,000-year-old buried treasure while out on his walkies!

While happily digging away, he discovered a cache of relics, including sickles, axes, spear points and bracelets, all dating back to the Bronze Age! Most of the artefacts were still intact, which is very rare for that period in history. Monty and his human, Mr Frankota, were given a finders fee, and we’re sure Monty will have been rewarded with ear rubs and treats!


Time to put your tracker dog’s skills to use!


Did you know that over 70% of our Trails are dog friendly? That’s right! And, what’s more, we now have an easy way for you to decide which Trail adventures to choose! There’s no excuse not to bring your fluffy companion along. Now you’re really in with a chance of getting Rover to sniff out that treasure trove! Check out our list of dog-friendly Trails and get out for some family fun with your amazing dogs!



The filter is super easy to use. Simply choose your region from the options and the dropdown list will show all the dog-friendly Trails by county!

Not only will your beloved pooch enjoy their quality outdoor family time, but they can also be a great asset to your Trail-solving team. Whilst some Trails may have parks or other areas perfect for a runaround, on the whole, dogs will need to be on a lead. This means they can easily tug you in the right direction to keep you on track. So get ready to explorer with your pooch, you never know, they might sniff out some real treasure and join the amazing dogs hall of fame!


Family Fun - Dog Friendly Trails


Discover even more exciting ideas to get you and your tails wagging!


We’ve got lots more doggy content about amazing dogs to help you celebrate National Pet Month! Plan your next Trail adventure with our top 15 dog-friendly Trails and discover the five tell-tail signs that your dog is a top explorer.


12th April 2021

Posted In: Ideas

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