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Pets Living Life Naturally

Dogs Driving Cars!?

And they’re ruff… Now the driving dogs have been let loose on the racetrack (and show they really CAN drive a car)

For the four-legged competitors, two months of hard work – and a fair few treats – ensured they were raring to get on the racetrack.

So when the big day rolled around, the only ones likely to get hot under the collar were any bystanders who spotted a Mini hurtling towards them with a dog at the wheel.

Dogs Driving Cars

Two mutts made history yesterday by driving a car down a racetrack. Ten-month-old beardie cross Porter put his paws to the pedals first, steering the Mini down the straight and then turning a corner.

He was followed by Monty, an 18-month-old giant schnauzer cross, who completed the same feat.

As the Mail reported last week, the pair – along with one-year-old beardie whippet cross Ginny – had been taking driving lessons, which began with them learning to steer a wooden cart pulled along on a string by their trainers.

Dogs Driving Cars

In just eight weeks, they progressed to driving a real car – a modified Mini in which they sat on their haunches in the driver’s seat. Their front paws were on the steering wheel, while their back paws were on levers attached to the accelerator and the brake.

After successfully manoeuvring the car around a lab, the leading two were challenged to a racetrack test-drive which was broadcast live online.

They were strapped in with seatbelts and then followed commands from their trainers, who walked in front of the car.
The dogs were all rescued by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Auckland, New Zealand. The charity came up with the idea to train them to drive to prove how intelligent they were.

Animal trainer Mark Vette, who schooled the dogs, said: ‘They are great dogs, each with their own distinct personality.

‘You wouldn’t believe any dog could learn to drive a car on its own but we’ve proven through our understanding of animal psychology and our specialised training methods that intelligent creatures can adapt to the situation they’re in.
‘It really is remarkable and we are so proud of the achievements of our dedicated training team and the incredible SPCA driving dogs.’

Dogs Driving CarsBefore the racetrack challenge, he explained that they treated the training like a ‘film shoot’, in reference to his work in the movies.

He added: ‘We train the dogs to do different actions, touch is the first thing and then we teach them to touch the different objects with the right paw and left paw.

‘They’ve all come through at this point and they’re all going really well.’

The charity behind the stunt now hopes that the public will be so impressed that they will be keen to adopt rescue dogs.
SPCA Auckland chief executive Christine Kalin said: ‘I think sometimes people think because they’re getting an animal that’s been abandoned that somehow it’s a second-class animal.

‘The dogs have achieved amazing things in eight short weeks of training, which really shows with the right environment just how much potential all dogs from the SPCA have as family pets.’

The project was a collaboration between SPCA Auckland, Mr Vette, MINI New Zealand and advertising company DraftFCB.

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