Autumn is nearly upon us, and we can’t wait for those atmospheric walks with falling leaves and muddy paws.

It’s also one of the most exciting times of year nature’s calendar because the Solent’s migratory winter birds are back! If you’re enjoying a coastal walk, you may notice species like dark-bellied brent geese, dunlin, redshank and curlew feeding or resting by the water.

Here are five activities you can try as part of an engaging, wildlife friendly walk.

Use grassy verges next to pathways as a natural snuffle mat

Lots of pathways around the coast and countryside are lined with tufty grass, the perfect backdrop for a game of find it – simply sprinkle some treats amongst the grass so your dog has to sniff them out. By keeping to the path you’re giving wildlife the space it needs to thrive, and this easy activity will enrich your dog’s walk and encourage them to use their nose and brain.

Enjoy a sniffari at the top of the beach

The top of the beach is one of the best places to be as it keeps you a safe distance from sticky mud at low tide, as well as the wildlife that feeds on it. You’ll find lots of excellent sniffing opportunities and maybe even some sand to dig in, so allow plenty of time for sensory exploring.

Zoom where there’s room 

Lots of our dogs enjoy off-lead zoomies as part of their walk, and it’s important to pick the right spot so they can run around safely – ideally somewhere open, away from roads and sensitive wildlife. All of our recommended walking routes include a place for safe off-lead time – take a look and find a walk near you.

Practise some essential skills

Add variety to your walk and set aside some time for training. Training should always be fun for you and your dog, so remember to incorporate lots of treats and praise. The ‘in between us’ game is a great way to practise recall, but there are lots of skills you could work on. If you’re in need of inspiration, take a look at some of our helpful training guides.


Whether it’s tug-of-war, a game of chase or ‘find it’, your dog will love interacting with you through play. Playing together can boost your dog’s confidence, strengthen your bond and add another level of interest to your daily walk. An added bonus is that when you’re playing with your dog they’re usually close to you, which enjoyable for you and your pup and great for local wildlife.

Happy dog

Some of these birds have flown an incredible 3,000 miles to get here, all the way from Arctic Siberia, and they are exhausted after their journey. Now, they need lots of time to feed and rest, and we can all support them by walking in a wildlife friendly way. And the good news is, your walk will be just as fun.