DOC, in partnership with Kiwis for kiwi, has developed an avian (bird) awareness and avoidance training programme for dogs and their owners.

The programme is designed to educate owners of the dangers their dogs can be to ground-dwelling native birds, and to teach the dogs to avoid these birds.

Following an educational talk, database descriptions of the dogs are recorded, along with contact details for their owners.

Why avian training is needed

Kiwi/bird aversion training helps reduce the number of kiwi and other native ground nesting birds being killed or disturbed by dogs.

Hunters are encouraged to have their dogs undergo this aversion training, and it is a requirement in some regions.

Avian aversion does not allow a dog owner to take their dog anywhere and doesn't override any access requirements for an area. However it meets permit conditions (especially hunting) which require that a dog has been through avian aversion for a specific location where there is kiwi or other ground dwelling birds. 

How dogs are trained

Dogs are fitted with electric collars and exposed to dead ground-dwelling native birds and faeces in a controlled situation. Whilst sniffing these, the dog is 'punished' with a small but surprising electric shock.

Most dogs quickly learn to avoid the birds following this experience. The owner is encouraged to reinforce this message when the dog shows interest in other birds, at home or out hunting. Following the training, certificates of attendance are issued.

Within a year of initial training, the dog is tested for its learned avoidance or, if required, the dog is retrained. This testing or training is required annually until the dog consistently demonstrates strong avoidance. When a dog achieves this standard, the dog is certified for periods longer than one year.

It is not a guarantee as not all dogs are trainable but it does make a difference if the dog has to go into a kiwi area.

Where dogs can be trained

See the training schedule and list of trainers on the Kiwis for kiwi website.

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