Three rescue dogs in New Zealand have been taught how to drive a car to prove how intelligent dogs can be, in an attempt to encourage more potential owners to come forward.
The drive for publicity by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals saw Monty, Porter and Ginny spend weeks getting to grips with the 4-wheelers, Sky News reported.
The dogs – a giant schnauzer, a whippet cross and a beardie cross – can change gear, steer and apply brake.
The dogs sit in a driving position on their haunches and respond to the instructions called out from the dog behaviour experts.
Animal trainer Mark Vette and his team began training the dogs by using a mock vehicle before introducing them to a real car – a Mini especially adapted for paws.
“We chain behaviours together… in this case we’ve got 10 behaviours we’re putting together,” Vette said.
“Then you put them into a sequence. 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.
“So we’ll start the car, get into position, brake on, gear in place, back onto the steering wheel, accelerator, take off and hoon (=drive fast) along the straight and then stop,” he said.
However, Vette said that things did not always go smoothly when the dogs get inside the real car.
“A couple of days ago the car was going too fast, the trainer nearly got run over,” he said.
The dogs are scheduled to show off their skills on live TV in New Zealand next week.
For the final test they will also have to brake when they drive along a narrow lane.