Lesson 7 of 25
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Ugly Walk

Scentventure Compass Point: Partnership

In the previous chapter we talked about the importance of ‘management’ – practical adjustments to the daily routine for avoiding exposure to triggers. Avoid triggers for a temporary period allows our dogs to feel calm enough to learn new training. An excellent way to avoid triggers on walks is to swap your regular walk for an Ugly Walk.

What the heck is an Ugly Walk?

An Ugly Walk is a trigger-free environment. It’s somewhere quiet, unlikely to be popular with other dogs and people because it’s not a place of beauty – hence its name ‘ugly’! It’s generally not your ‘typical’ place for a dog walk. Not all ugly walks are visually ugly – but they’re always quiet.

One of my favourite Ugly Walks is the local industrial estate. It may not be pretty but boy it smells interesting! And when the factories and units are closed it’s so peaceful! We see the occasional person and their dog but it’s always from a distance and there’s plenty of space to move away. These are such relaxing, enjoyable walks for all of us.

Who is an Ugly Walk for?

The majority of reactive dogs are fearful; ugly walks provide them with a safe space where they de-stress, build in confidence and learn the skills they’ll need to manage triggers in trickier environments. 

Familiarity allows anxious dogs to feel safe and secure. Introducing a regular ugly walk and exposing them to the new environment gradually can avoid the overwhelm that often happens on other walks. Take things steady with these guys and don’t stray far from the car on your first few trips. 

The same applies to newly-adopted rescues; an ugly walk allows you to work on building a bond in a stress-free environment where your new family member can decompress from the stressors of moving home, transportation, kennel-life etc. 

Excitable distracted dogs can really benefit from having a break from their triggers too. Their ugly walk is time to avoid practicing those undesired behaviours and to work on achieving the calm and focus that they’ll need to change those behaviours long term. 

Importantly, an ugly walk is also for You. When life is stressful for our dogs, it’s stressful for us too. Just like our dogs we suffer from stress and trigger-stacking and it inhibits our ability to make good decisions and learn new skills. Being able to relax with your dog can help repair the the damage that challenging behaviours do to the relationship; building a successful Partnership that forms the foundation of your training journey. 

Start planning your Ugly Walk destinations now.

  • Check Google Maps
  • Think outside the box – industrial estates are great, large car parks, around train stations, business parks, ask farmers, land owners, business owners
  • Ask other members – we share our Ugly Walks
  • Go there without your dog the first time, to check it out