Sensory Treasure Hunt

Currently a work in progress …

Our aim, to offer a private area where newly rescued, nervous, reactive dog’s, can explore in peace, at their own pace, with their guardian who can also relax, undisturbed by other dog’s and people. Exactly the same as The Secret Dog Garden offers, but on a safe and relaxing walk.

Why? We have a perfectly normal dog who does not find all situations, environments, other dog’s, people etc. comfortable to be around. We understand the pressure on the individual dog and their guardians and would like to offer an alternative safe space.

The point? To empty their stress bucket. The more we do with our dogs, especially newly adopted and reactive dogs in places they find uncomfortable, the quicker we fill them with stress hormones which build up and then overflow causing a reaction. And the more reactions, the more their stress bucket fills and takes even longer to empty. This is not bad behaviour; it is a cry for help.

This also includes fast paced activities which flood the body with adrenaline and cortisol, which again take time to return to normal levels leaving the dog in a high state of arousal and unable to properly relax and sleep. Meaning, the stress bucket does not empty before we do it all again.

By slowing down with our dogs, stopping when they sniff, giving them the opportunity to take their time to explore, be it natures natural scents, or items discovered along our Sensory Treasure Hunt trail such as animal smells (horse rugs and brushes, donkey hair, pheasant feathers), or human scents (old boots, hats and gloves), discovering a treat search amongst poles to carefully step over to enhance proprioception, and finally discovering a delicious treat to take their time to chew on, all promotes natural behaviours which help the dog to feel calm. Allowing the dog to simply be a dog.

Visitors to our Secret Dog Garden comment on how precious it is for them to just sit back and relax and not have to worry. Yet we would really like to expand on this and offer a calm, slow walking experience, where you can just be with your dog in an area where they feel safe, observe their body language, reassure them if required with your own body language, practice your loose leash walking skills, and ultimately deepen the bond between you and your dog.

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