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.

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!

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.


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.