A cream and white saluki greyhound cross looks into the camera with blue sky and white clouds behind him

Last month, we took part in The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild challenge with the aim or doing one ‘random act of wildness’ every day. In this blog, Community Engagement Ranger Alice shares her experience of 30 Days Wild, and how taking part with her dogs made it extra special.

A random act of wildness is any action that connects you with nature, from walking in a woodland to watching a sunset. We are out in the natural world every day thanks to our dogs, so when we signed up for 30 Days Wild we knew we had to include them.

So, in the run up to June, I thought carefully about the kinds of things we could do together for 30 Days Wild.

When you sign up for the challenge, The Wildlife Trusts kindly provide you with lots of ideas and inspiration for things you can do throughout the month – some just needed tweaking to make them suitable for dogs to enjoy too (clever as Conrad and Fergus are, I can’t see them painting a wild landscape or making daisy chains any time soon).

By the time June 1st came around, I had a complete list of 30 dog friendly random acts of wildness, and by June 3rd it was clear that this was completely unnecessary.

A black dog holds a stick covered in green-blue lichen
A cream and white saluki greyhound looks out over a lake

As it turns out, dogs are excellent at connecting with nature on their own terms in their own way, and our human plans and lists are of very little interest to them. The carefully thought-out activities I had prepared for Conrad and Fergus went out the window, and I followed their lead instead.

Early on in the challenge, I was going to take the dogs out to smell different kinds of plants like mint and lavender. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the lavender bushes, the dogs just weren’t that interested, but later that day during our evening walk, I was reminded of one of Fergus’s all-time favourite activities that requires no setting up or planning of any kind.

Something Fergus loves to do on his walks is stop, raise his nose to the sky and inhale deeply, taking in all the interesting smells. Normally I just pause, wait for him to finish sniffing, and then we carry on walking, but in the spirit of 30 Days Wild I joined in.

I closed my eyes, breathed in, and tried to detect the different scents of our surroundings. It was a wonderful moment of mindfulness, made all the more special for sharing it with Fergus.

Conrad isn’t one for mindful pauses – the great outdoors is far too exciting to stand still. Rolling in the grass and clambering over fallen branches is much more fun, and the joy Conrad finds in his outdoor antics is infectious. While I decided against rolling in the grass with Conrad, I did look more closely at the natural objects he was so keen to explore. Not only did this improve my ID skills, it also led to unexpected discoveries.

An excitable black dog sits in the grass amongst ox eye daisies

A good example of this is when the dogs were ‘helping’ me with the gardening by digging a hole in the ground. They worked cooperatively and diligently throughout the serious business of hole-digging, and as the hole was off to one side (very considerate of them) I was happy to let them nurture their new mutual interest.

As they dug, I investigated with them – what was so interesting about this specific patch of dirt? I’m still not sure, but by taking part in the exploration I discovered a beautiful, iridescent blue beetle. Possibly an alder beetle, though I can’t say for certain.

A small, iridescent blue beetle sits on a hand. In the background there is a dog's nose.

Completing the 30 Days Wild challenge with Conrad and Fergus brought home how much fun it can be to let dogs set the pace, and how much natural beauty is hidden in plain sight. Looking at nature on their level and exploring it on their terms led me to a great many natural wonders, and made me consider how dogs experience the world in more depth.

My 30 Days Wild plan went off-piste entirely – and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

If you and your dog love exploring the natural world, you might be interested in our blog all about activities that you can try on a wildlife aware walk.