AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, (RTV/CBS News) — A charity in New Zealand is teaching three dogs to drive to highlight their intelligence and encourage more people to give rescued animals a home.
The campaign is part of a push by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to find more homes for abandoned pets in New Zealand.
The three animals chosen by trainer Mark Vette are Monty, an 18-month-old giant schnauzer, Ginny, a one year old whippet cross and Porter, a 10-month-old beardie cross.
Their training began in September with simple movements, such as putting a paw on a mock gear stick, sitting in a driving position and holding a steering wheel.
After five weeks their training progressed and movement was added by mounting training aids on a trolley.
Next step for the dogs was to get in a real car, with a trainer in the passenger seat to help with the steering.
But it hasn’t always been smooth driving.
“We had a couple of days ago the car was going too fast, the trainer nearly got run over, the car, the breaking, the dogs but no, we’ve got it all here now. There’s no excuses. We’ve got to get in there and show that dogs can drive cars. It’ll be ‘dial-a-dog’ the week after this,” said animal trainer Mark Vette.
Now the animals can start a car, accelerate and steer, they are scheduled to show off their skills on live TV next week.
For the final test the dogs will also have to brake as they are driving along a narrow lane.