Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in New Zealand has teamed up with MINI to prove that even discarded rescue dogs are capable, intelligent, and deserving of a good home.
Three lucky dogs named Porter, Monty and Ginny were chosen to begin a few weeks of training exercises with experienced animal trainer Mark Vette. Vette began by teaching the dogs how to sit upright in the drivers seat and position their paws correctly on the steering wheel. The MINI Coopers driven by the canines were fitted with paw-activated accelerator and brake pedals, so Vette spent time indoors in a simulated vehicle setup instructing the dogs how and when to apply the proper pedals.
The greatest challenge was teaching the dogs to recognize and differentiate between several different behaviors and commands. Said Vette, "When we chain behaviors together, in this case we've got 10 behaviors we're all putting together, so each behavior is a trained behavior, and then you put them into a sequence. So it's a lot for the dog to actually start to get an idea of what actually is happening takes quite a long time."
While training an animal to operate a motor vehicle is an impressive feat, the goal is to help raise awareness about rescue animals and prove that they are not second-rate companions. “Obviously we think dogs are pretty smart and amazing. And we reckon, if more people thought the same, more of our dogs would find happy homes.
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