Video: Wildlife-Dog in Training - The Eco Future for Working Dogs
With nature recovery and rewilding the future working dog will be the wildlife-dog!
The summer months kick off the annual round up at LettsSafari parks. This extraordinary multi-day exercise corrals wild herbivores for their annual check up and collection prior to being sent off to other conservation projects. The LettsSafari team is experienced and stretched - none more than their wildlife-dog in training!
Alaska is a border collie who has been trained not just to herd herbivores but also to monitor deer and foxes. She can be seen spotting or steering deer, but not chasing them off. She will flush or run with foxes, but not fight them.
Apparently the border collie has the intelligence of a six or seven year old child. Herding is in their DNA. Alaska started on her own when she was just 10 weeks old. A good border collie can even herd successfully on their own. We tested this theory in the video above by filming Alaska herding a group of ‘unherdable’ Soay - which is British for gazelle!
The Soay in a rewilding context are generally thought of as a proxy for deer or gazelle. Have you ever tried herding deer?!
Soay are famed for being flighty and quite impossible to gather. The moment you try to herd them they scatter and sprint for cover. An aggressive male might even charge straight at you - or past you if your lucky.
In the video Alaska can be seen steering three male Soay down to a gate at the bottom of an open pasture with zero human interference or guidance. She calmly and patiently coaxes them in the right direction. Push too hard and they will scatter and run. Go too slow and they will get bored and play up.
As rewilding projects expand and as more of us get to experience the true wild - it will become increasingly important for us to train our dogs to co-exist with wild animals and not scare them off or worse.
Alaska is a pleasure to work with and to watch in action. Frankly she is equally in tune with the wild and its increasingly rare inhabitants as any wildlife conservationist or activist!
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