It is possible to teach an old dog new tricks, after all.
The Auckland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals has turned three dogs from their shelter into the cutest chauffeurs ever. That's right - the shelter has taught three dogs how to drive a car.
Local dog trainer Mark Vette picked three dogs who would learn how to drive. The SPCA said that they have done this to show that shelter dogs are every bit as smart and obedient as nurtured dogs or dogs from breeders.
The dogs were first trained on a special cart that had a steering wheel and different mechanisms for accelerating, braking, and shifting. That's right - these dogs were learning on a manual transmission, while 95 percent of cars sold in the United States to presumably human drivers are automatic. They were trained using clicks and were rewarded for their efforts with praise and dog treats.
"In this case, we've got 10 behaviors we're all putting together, so each behavior is a trained behavior, and then you put them into a sequence," Vette said in an interview.
Because dogs are easy to train and eager to please, all three of the dogs graduated to the next level. They were then able to drive an actual car on a closed course.
Studies have shown that dogs are every bit as smart as their owners have suspected. In fact, a recent study found that dogs are as intelligent as a two-year-old human child, joining the ranks of parrots and other intelligent animals. Brain scans also indicate that dogs are particularly receptive to human commands, making them naturals when they work with trainers and their owners.
There are things that dogs can do that even humans cannot. One recent study found that dogs can sniff out lung cancer just by using breath samples. The human nose can probably never compare.
Below is a video showing the dogs driving. Next week, one of the dogs Porter, a 10-month-old Beardie Cross, will drive on live television.