Lesson 19 of 20
In Progress

The Rucksack Walk!

The Rucksack Walk is a way of spending time together in a pressure-free, performance-free and safe way. It allows our dogs to explore and use all of their senses.

This is not a training exercise, it is a bonding and enrichment opportunity. There’s no right or wrong way of doing it so don’t put any pressure on yourself and just enjoy it. How long can you make it last? 

While the contents of the rucksack are important, the true magic is in the delivery. Treat everything that comes out of the rucksack as if it were a baby bird. Cupped hands, build the excitement. It’s all very precious so open the bag slowly. 

Sit down together. There’s something wonderful about sitting on the grass or floor with our dogs. If you can’t sit on the floor though, don’t worry – a chair is fine. 

Open the boxes in this order:

  • Novel scent – let them smell it! 
  • The Thing –  allow investigation! See what noises it can make if you rub it, blow it, tap it with your finger, scratch it with your nail.
  • Novel food – let them eat it! 
  • The chew – just ‘be’. 

Slowly close the boxes again and put them back into the rucksack before bringing out the next one.

Where to Rucksack walk?

  • Anywhere – you don’t need much space!
  • At home, in your garden, in the car, in the garage, on a walk, at Dogwood.
  • Ideal for those who are shielding at home – just try to keep the contents as novel as possible. Add a few extra things onto your online grocery order and raid your shed, garage or loft for the novel scent. 
  • If doing the Rucksack Walk outdoors and your dog lacks confidence, start in a safe, familiar place and slowly build up to other areas when they feel more confident. 
  • In time, you can use it in the presence of other dogs or on the edge of a place where dogs are as it creates confidence in new or scary places because it’s a familiar activity and they already know what to do. 
  • Dogs that are easily distracted by the environment will also need to start somewhere quiet. 

When to Rucksack Walk?

  • You can do this every single day! Just be sure to keep the contents of the boxes varied
  • Great for stormy, snowy, horrible weather or too-hot-to-leave-the-house weather
  • After a stressful walk. A great way for you to decompress too!


Which box do they like best? Does that change depending on the contents e.g. do they find sheep wool in the Novel Scent box more interesting than when you put grass in? Did the ignore anything, were they worried about anything? Was their approach fast, slow, average? Did they take the chew away or eat it next to you? Were they less interested in The Thing before you started scratching/opening/interacting with it in some way?

Share your observations in the private Facebook group, or if you don’t use Facebook, email me. Exploration is my favourite Scentventure Compass Point!