Three shelter dogs in New Zealand have been taught to drive a car by a local SPCA, and one of them will be demonstrating his skills behind the wheel on live television next week.
The SPCA in Auckland had the dogs trained in how to shift gears, brake and steer — all part of a marketing campaign aimed at demonstrating the intelligence of rescued dogs.
The SPCA hired animal trainer Mark Vette to teach driving to the dogs — Monty, an 18-month-old giant schnauzer whose owner was unable to control him; Ginny, a one-year-old whippet cross who was rescued from abusive owners; and Porter, a ten-month-old bearded collie cross who was found roaming the streets.
The dogs underwent five weeks of indoor training to encourage them to touch and move brakes, gear sticks and steering wheels, and received treats along the way, New Zealand’s TV3 reported. Once they mastered the basics, they were given a mock car to practice with.
“No animal has ever driven a car before so what we’re going to do is we’re going to do a straight and we’re going to head off, so we’ll start the car, get into position, brake on, gear in place, back onto the steering wheel, accelerator, take off and hoon along the straight and then stop.”
(Not speaking New Zealandese, we can’t tell you what “hoon along” means.)
“In this case we’ve got ten behaviors we’re all putting together, so each behavior is a trained behavior and then you put them into a sequence,” Vette said. “So it’s a lot to do, and for the dog to actually start to get an idea of what actually is happening takes quite a long time.”
On Monday, Monty the dog’s driving abilities will be tested on the television show Campbell live, shown nationally in New Zealand. (You can learn more about the project on its Facebook page.)
“I think sometimes people think because they’re getting an animal that’s been abandoned that somehow it’s a second-class animal, SPCA Auckland chief executive Christine Kalin to Newscom.AU. “This really shows with the right environment just how much potential all dogs from the SPCA have as family pets.”
(Photos: Auckland SPCA)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, adoption, animals, auckland, bearded collie, brake, car, dog drives car, dogs, drive, driving, gear, giant, ginny, learn, mark vetter, mix, monty, mutts, new zealand, pets, porter, rescue, schnauzer, shelter, shift, spca, stray, taught, trainer, whippet
For years, man’s best friend has been the running partner of choice for many endurance athletes. Their strength, loyalty and enthusiasm make them perfect to hit the roads or trails with.
While dogs are natural running partners, there are a few things to keep in mind when taking your pooch out for your run. Keep in mind every dog is different when it comes to endurance and speed and what works for one dog may not work for another.
To start with, make sure your dog is properly leash trained and the two of you have established commands when it comes to sit, stay, etc. Even though you are running as opposed to walking, your dog still needs to be attentive to you and obey your commands.
As far as gear is concerned, just a regular leash and collar can work for some dogs. If your dog has a tendency to pull, either a regular or sport harness can prevent your dog from choking. A running specific leash can also help by absorbing some of the shock from your dog pulling suddenly. These leashes are made like a bungee cord and are sold at some pet stores, camping supply stores and of course online.
Even though dogs are natural endurance athletes, not all dog breeds are made to run long distances. Breeds like the Rhodesian Ridgeback, Alaskan Malamute and Golden Retrievers are naturally good distance runners because of their body structures and stamina.
While some bigger dogs make good runners, not all big breeds are good for running. A Great Dane, for example, is in fact a very lazy breed and is discouraged against running.
On the other side, small breeds like the Whippet, Jack Russell Terrier and Boston Terrier are considered to be good running dogs because of their endurance and ability to run fast with shorter legs. Regardless of breed, a running dog has to be healthy and free of injuries. If you have any reservations about taking your dog on a run, consult your veterinarian.
Now that you have your mutt healthy and geared up to run, the most important thing to keep in mind is yours and the dog’s safety. If you do more road running, always run on the sidewalk and be aware of other pedestrians and dogs using the same path. If your dog gets very excited around other dogs, it’s a good idea to always make him sit/stay when you encounter another dog on a run. Not only does this discipline him, it reduces the chances of him suddenly lunging for another dog which can actually cause injury to the runner.
Probably the most important thing to remember when road running with a dog is to watch out for drivers at all times. Always use the crosswalk and wait for the pedestrian signal to cross a busy street. Although it seems like common sense to most of us, unfortunately most drivers do not look out for pedestrians on the road.
Off leash trail running with a dog is another great way to exercise your dog. However, before you unhook that leash, make sure your dog is a good listener and responds to your commands. While dogs love to run free, they are unaware of certain dangers on trails such as other animals or uneven surfaces. As an owner, it is your responsibility to look ahead and anticipate anything your dog could get in to trouble with. When out on the trails, always turn off your music and turn on your senses. The trails are full of wildlife that could potentially harm your dog, so it’s better to spot these dangers before he does.
Depending on the distance and weather, bringing water for your dog is sometimes necessary. There are many different kinds of portable water dishes on the market which can fit easily in a hydration pack. Also, if you are going for a longer distance, you might want to bring some kind of food for your pooch to snack on mid run. Dog treats or regular food work well for some but some runners just give their dog what they’re eating.
Although this seems like a lot of information about something so simple as running, it’s important to be prepared when logging miles with your four legged friend. If you want your dog to have a long, healthy running career you need to take a of different things into consideration.
Just like a new runner, dogs have to work up their endurance over time too. Be sure you don’t do too much too fast with your dog to help prevent injury. Also, make sure your dog has enough time to rest and recover just like you. By being careful and starting out slowly, you and your dog can enjoy a long, happy lifetime of distance running.
Emily Cebulski is a long time distance runner, employee of the San Diego Running Institute and mom to Rio, the official SDRI shop dog.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeds, distance, dog, dogs, emily cibulski, equipment, exercise, gear, golden retriever, great danes, guest post, huskies, jack russell terriers, jogging, partners, pets, rhodesian ridgeback, rio, running, running partners, safety, san diego running institute, supplies, trails, water, whippet