NZPHA Avian (Kiwi) Aversion

The NZPHA Committee encourage all our members and indeed all Pig Hunters and dog owners, to attend an avian (Kiwi) aversion course.

These courses are usually run by the Dept. of Conservation and your local DOC office should be able to put you in contact with the people or person in your area that runs the course.

The courses may vary slightly from one area to another, but the purpose is obviously to train dogs- in our case pig dogs to avoid Kiwi and other avian species.

Some of you will be familiar with these courses and may have already attained an aversion certificate.

In my area Hauraki/Coromandel the course focus is on Kiwi avoidance but I’ve attended other courses-Motu and Whanganui-where the Blue Duck (Whio) has been included in the avoidance training.

The training is free in our area, however I have been told some trainers charge a $20 fee. This may be to cover micro-chipping as some trainers offer this service too. It’d pay ask a few questions so as to clarify things.

Our local Pig Hunting club the Peninsula club runs one or two days a year with the help of the local DOC trainer. We simply contact the local DOC office and organise a day that’s suitable. Booking for the training is a good idea avoiding having to wait around while the dogs heat up in the box. Usually we’re given an approximate time over the phone.

The course is run at a local reserve or quiet road end where there is some scrub or bush- our club day is in the pine forest. The trainer sets up a mounted Kiwi with some Kiwi scent. Your dog will be fitted with a shock collar. You then walk the dog past where the Kiwi is. Most dogs are curious or have a sniff. The trainer then gives the dog a shock.

Over the last ten or so years I’ve had several dogs go thru the programme more than once. Young dogs or fist timers are given a six month or a year certificate.

My current pack have just been thru the training. My two older dogs were given a three year cert. as they showed obvious aversion. They have been thru the training a few times and clearly the Kiwi was something to avoid.

One of the younger dogs was a first timer and received a shock as we walked up past the Kiwi. The Kiwi was set up on a wire and the trainer moved it toward us on the way back past. The young dog cringed and didn’t even want to look at the Kiwi. I prefer to keep my dogs on a lead as a young dog might bolt into the scrub and be difficult to coax out. It’s good to have a lead with a bit of length so you can give them a bit of freedom. It’s important NOT to communicate with the dog if it receives a shock as the idea is for the dog to associate the shock with the Kiwi not with you. 

All dogs are different and may react differently in a real situation so the certificate you are issued will not guarantee a dog won’t do something silly in the bush. If you have chickens or other birds- turkeys, peacocks, etc. it’s usually easy to see if a young dog is interested in them and take corrective action.

I believe it is better to expose dogs to non-target species at a young age whether it be sheep, goats, other stock or avian species and correct their behaviour accordingly. Remember a dog tied to his box or in the kennel isn’t learning much so if you can’t take them hunting let them off – one at a time is easier-and teach them some basics – sit, come, stay or stay away from them chickens etc.
No one wants there dog to be a Kiwi killer. Get your dog’s avian averted and enjoy your hunting.

Cheers James Corban, 
NZPHA committee

Avian Avoidance Dog Certifiers