Lesson 2 of 7
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The Four Compass Points of Scentventure

Let’s get started! In the following videos I’ve rounded up some of the Scentventure challenges that will give you a quick win and get you started on your road to success. 

All the activities in Club Dogwood focus on one of the Scentventure Compass Points. The Compass Points form the backbone of everything we do – think of them as the four pillars that support a happy and healthy dog.

#1 Scentwork

Sniffing, searching, scenting and finding is naturally highly rewarding for dogs. Nervous dogs increase in confidence, and anxious or overly excited dogs become calm and focussed. Dogs who are normally highly distracted by the environment learn to search with no loss of focus on the task in hand.

#2 Environment

Obstacles in your home, garden or walks are repurposed for adventure. Work on balance, coordination, strength and endurance. The result is physical fitness and wellbeing, calm confidence and a feeling of safety. 

#3 Exploration

Dogs are naturally curious. Humans tend to dislike this curiosity and train our dogs to be more passive. Providing new smells, new sounds, new tastes, new textures and new environments for your dog to explore taps into their natural doggy instincts and makes them calmer and happier. 

#4 Partnership

Spending time together and working as a team builds trust, confidence, love and creates a feeling of safety, which are essential to strengthening the bond you have with your dog. This improved relationship creates a dog that’s more focused on you and ignores the many distractions out there.

That’s my rescue dog Lao in the logo – he was the inspiration behind Scentventure. You can read more about our story below, or skip ahead to the next lesson.

Lao & The Compass Points

You’re here because you’re looking for a solution to your dog’s training or behavioural issues. Do you need to fix their recall? Pulling? Aggression? 

Bad news.

  • Recall training alone won’t fix your recall issues
  • Loose lead walking exercises won’t fix your pulling on the lead problem
  • Socialising your dog won’t stop them being reactive

I tried all that. It didn’t work. 

Lao was handed over to a rescue centre in Italy by a vet who refused to put him to sleep. He had been taken there by his ex-owners, a hunting kennel in Southern Italy, because he didn’t hunt well. As Lao’s physical health started to improve and we started going for walks, I began to understand that he had some complex training and behavioural issues. Although he’d clearly had an awful time with the hunters and had the scars to prove it, his natural desire to chase prey was still strong and I struggled to find a safe outlet for his predatory instincts. 

He would also bark and lunge at people and dogs, even biting them. We kept him on lead and our daily walks became less stressful at least – but they were also boring. Lao seemed unfulfilled and frustrated. I felt guilty.

Back in the UK I started seeking our weird and wonderful places where he could be free to run, sniff and play. Several times I thought I’d found the perfect place… then I’d turn up one morning to find that someone had got there first. My search became more extreme, the places more isolated. I didn’t always feel safe.

When I was at my lowest, desperate, at a complete loss with Lao’s recall, pulling and aggression, I just couldn’t face even one more walk. The pressure I felt to have a perfect dog, to fix his issues! I’d had enough of the judgement, stress, anxiety. 

So I looked for other ways to keep him fit, happy and healthy – and to keep myself sane.

We sniffed, we climbed, we discovered, we relaxed! I invented activities for Lao’s body, mind and nose, and I watched his confidence grow as he realised what he was capable of and the world became a less scary place. We started doing it at home too, and out on our regular walks. I gave it a name: Scentventure.

Lao became happy to walk past dogs and meet new people and we enjoyed off-lead walks together. He was a visibly happier dog and I enjoyed going for walks again. The twice-daily dread of the impending walk, the excuses and apologies, the after-hours walks and bizarre locations became a thing of the past. 

Chipping away at recall was just a small part of it. I’m absolutely certain that the most significant contributor has been the slow but steady accumulation of all the fun we have together, the scentwork, the exploration, the environmentals, the partnership; in short, a life well-lived together.

Scentventure is a complete lifestyle approach to dog training and behaviour. There are four pillars: 

  1. Scent for relaxation, calm and focus
  2. Exploration for allowing dogs to be dogs  
  3. Environment for physical fitness and confidence
  4. Partnership for trust, bond, relationship and problem solving

We call them the four Compass Points of Scentventure.

Think of them as the essentials to help your dog stay fit, happy and healthy. Every walk, every activity you do together should contain at least one Compass Point. By incorporating the Compass Points into your walks and activities on a daily basis, you can be sure that you’re meeting your dog’s needs. 

The result is a happier, calmer dog and a more relaxed you

In Club Dogwood you practice Scentventure from the comfort of your own home and garden, and out on your normal every day walks. The exercises are fun yet practical and as tiring as a long walk to leave your dog calm and relaxed.