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Free kiwi avoidance training for dogs encouraged



Avoidance training for dogs is a tool which helps reduce the threat dogs pose to kiwi.

Since kiwi were reintroduced in the Brynderwyns in 2013, Marunui Conservation has been organising annual training days.

“As more people hear about it the demand for avoidance training has increased,” says Marunui’s John Hawley. “Our next session at the end of April is attracting bookings from both sides of the Brynderwyns ”

Domestic, farm and pig hunting dogs can all receive training. The method used is the same whether for a first timer, or a refresher to make sure the dog remembers what it has previously learnt. It takes about 10 minutes and involves walking the dog past various kiwi props such as nesting material, feathers or poo. The trainer fits the dog with a special collar and if it shows interest in any item it receives a short, sharp shock. While this teaches the dog that kiwi are something to stay away from it is not necessarily a guarantee that the dog, if uncontrolled or roaming, will not attack a kiwi.

The training is free to owners, funded by the Friends of the Brynderwyns Society, whose chair Martina Tschirky has already registered her young dog for training. She is aware that some kiwi have moved beyond Marunui and may have settled on or near properties that have dogs. She’s keen to play her part in kiwi protection, and says the few minutes involved could save a kiwi’s life.

John Hawley emphasises that dogs are the biggest cause of kiwi deaths in Northland, followed by stoats, cats and ferrets.

“The kiwi’s distinctive smell makes them easy for a dog to track and, having no wing muscles or breast bone, their chests and internal organs can be fatally crushed. We thank those responsible owners who have their dogs avoidance-trained and keep them under control, tied up or enclosed, or on a lead and closely supervised.”

n Training will take place on April 30 at Marunui, 300 King Road, Mangawhai. Booking is essential. Email john.hawley@xtra.co.nz, phone (09) 376 4069 or 027 262 7904.

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