By Cherry Beaver, Trustee, Puketi Forest Trust
The Department of Conservation recently organised a kiwi aversion training day at Puketi Forest in the Bay of Islands. The training course was well supported with over 60 dogs and their owners attending ― luckily for the trainers not all at once!
The training days are a really important lesson for any dog that is likely to encounter a kiwi. It is an important tool in teaching dogs that kiwi are something they should stay away from.
As part of the training three model kiwis are placed along a small bush track. The dog wears a collar and receives a mild electric shock when they pass and sniff the kiwi. Generally they only need one shock and they learn to avoid the next bird.
I took my dog Nichol, and I was amazed at how fast the process worked and how the dogs learn to avoid the kiwi so quickly.
The training is not foolproof and it is recommended that dogs complete the training each year, but many kiwi could be saved if all dogs went through this simple and effective training.